It's a common phenomenon: Pastors and music directors regularly express a desire for a more symbiotic working relationship.
"As worship becomes more sensory-rich, the degree of collaboration needed between worship staff and team members rises," said Marcia McFee, who served with Mark Miller as co-designer of 22 worship services for the 2008 United Methodist General Conference.
To share what they learned during the General Conference experience and in their local church work, McFee and Miller are offering "The Art and Technique of Sensory-Rich Worship," Jan. 13-16, 2009 at Zephyr Point Conference Center at Lake Tahoe. Geared toward local church teams of from two to four people, the event will focus on striking a balance between form and freedom, allowing room for authentic encounters with God.
"Mark and I had a wonderful experience planning and leading together," said McFee, "but we had to have some 'come to Jesus' moments of honesty about the differences in our working styles."
Those "come to Jesus" moments can be avoided for only so long in a local church setting before the congregation's experience of encountering Christ begins to suffer.
"We pray that pastors, worship leaders, and musicians will see this as an opportunity to consider balance," said Miller. "Often music directors want or need more lead time for planning music than preachers want to, or have time to, give. Or pastors get frustrated with music directors who pick music that seems unrelated to the message of the day. With solid planning as the foundation, they can then learn to let go and trust the Spirit to work in the moment."
Sessions at the event will deal with liturgy, music, improvisation, design, understanding working styles, and more.