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KBC equips young people to help churches in first Student Worship Camp

Stephanie Patterson of Little Flock Baptist Church conducts a vocal master class with students. (Kentucky Today/Marina Shelton)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) – Sixty students from Kentucky and several other states gathered on the campus of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Boyce College this week for the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s first Student Worship Camp.

Organizers said inspiration for the camp was sparked by the drastic changes in church worship in recent years – with guitars, drums and keyboards replacing the traditional organ and choir in many churches.

Jameson Porter receives one-on-one instruction from a Boyce College student about playing the keyboard in a worship band. (Kentucky Today/Marina Shelton)

“As that landscape changed, we needed a way to be able to help our churches make that transition,” said Jason “Bubba” Stewart, KBC Worship and Music Consultant.

Stewart said churches will increasingly need help from young people.

“We’ll be investing in these students,” Stewart said. “Hopefully, they’ll be a better musician when they leave this week, and they can go right back to their churches and plug into their ministries and be leaders, which is what we so desperately need right now.”

For one week, students were immersed in the world of worship – learning to improve their vocal and instrumental skills.

“Students are passionate, they’re excited to learn a new skill, they’re excited to pick up a new instrument,” said camp coordinator Matthew Bone, who is also worship pastor at the First Baptist Church of Pikeville, Ky.

“As a worship pastor, there is no greater opportunity than to send a student to spend a week growing a skill they’re passionate about for the purpose of coming back and plugging in the way that they already are in the local church,” he said.

The students were able to sharpen not just their musical skills. There was also a learning track for the technical side of worship – audio and video.

“Our technical people have become just as important as the guitar player or the piano player on the stage,” Stewart said. “Without the tech person in the back making sure everything is running smoothly, you’re going to have a dysfunctional service.”

Fourteen-year-old Averie Popp learned to run an audio board to help her church – Cedar Grove Baptist in Stamping Ground, Ky.

“I volunteered to help on the board in the back because they only had a few people doing it,” she said. “They only had two people going in a rotation, and two people running it by themselves is very difficult and hard. So, me and two of my other friends volunteered to help.”

Popp said the camp was a great experience, and she plans to pass along what she has learned to her friends.

The training also extended to the theology of worship – how God is worthy of worship.

“This is … not a music clinic. This is not just private lessons,” Bone said. “This is a biblically based, Gospel guided camp in the world of biblical worship. Our goal is that students understand the scope of what the Bible teaches about who they are, what they’re created to do, and what their mission is for the kingdom.”

Students are engaged in an elective course about Biblical worship. (Kentucky Today/Marina Shelton)

The camp attracted students from 40 churches and served as an example of the power of the Cooperative Program.

“Without the Cooperative Program, there’s no way we would have the funds in place to actually have this event. We’re just very grateful for what the Cooperative Program does for us,” Stewart said.

Bone agreed, saying such funding made the camp possible.

“We depend heavily on cooperative Baptist funds,” Bone said. “We depend heavily on Kentucky Baptist churches to send their students to partner with us as leaders.”

Popp said the camp helped her build confidence – not just to run an audio board – but eventually to help lead worship on stage.

“I don’t need to sing perfect notes. I just need Jesus, really, and I just wish everyone else could see how important He is, and how He changes everything,” she said.

Stewart said plans are to make the Kentucky Student Worship Camp an annual event.

“My dream is for 10 years from now, to come across a worship leader who tells me, ‘Hey Bubba. I was at the very first Kentucky Student Worship Camp. I want to thank you for investing in my life. And now I’m able to serve the kingdom with the talent that God has blessed me with.’”