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ICW Hosts Worship Leader Boot Camp

By Brett Wilson | March 7, 2013

Former Hillsong Australia's Tanya Riches leads worship during the ICW boot camp at First Baptist Church Berkley.
Photo courtesy of David M. Edwards.

On Saturday March 1, Regent University's International Center for Worship (ICW) held its worship leader boot camp, "Writing and Ministering God Songs," at First Baptist Church Berkley. Last weekend's workshop featured songwriting insights from worship artist Tanya Riches, originating from Hillsong, Australia and ICW creative director David M. Edwards.

Edwards, who also teaches in Regent's School of Divinity, said these workshops are the lifeblood of the center's purpose. The ICW hosts several boot camps a year to provide worship leaders from the mid-Atlantic region a place to refresh before they return to their own congregations.

"They trust us, they know that we bring quality—it's a hallmark of Regent; it's in our DNA," said Edwards. "When worship leaders come to our boot camps, they know they're going to get great hands-on training and a spiritual perspective."

A large part of Edwards' spiritual philosophy is derived from his realization that, "you can't lead where you haven't been." Edwards is able to guide others in encountering God in a fresh way by staying in dialogue about worship, reading scripture and constantly challenging himself theologically. This generates new ideas, spurring vitality in Edwards' own life.

"There's something about being creative that releases something in us that is so like the Lord," said Edwards. "But when we lose that, we lose a sense of wonder in our worship."

In her work as a singer-songwriter, Riches keeps the "wonder" in her worship by constantly reminding herself who Christ is to her before she begins her craft.

"I think [Christ] reminds us that he was Jewish on the edges of the empire—not rich," said Riches. "That's the form of the body that he chose to take, and there's something really powerful about that."

Riches explained that songs that have the potential to draw believers closer to God are not always the ones that are played most frequently on the radio. This is something she keeps in mind as she writes music of her own.

"I think songs are a powerful tool for discipleship and growth," said Riches. "And the full power of them isn't really realized if they're just for sale."

Edwards said that in his experience as a worship artist, he has learned that music is a vehicle that has the potential to drive worship, but is not necessarily the definition of worship. He challenged the boot camp participants to simply slow down.

"We just run our lives so 'lickity-split,' and we never stop to look and see that we're surrounded by God's glory," said Edwards. "That's the thing about worship; sometimes it's so simple that we miss it."

Riches agreed, and said that even sometimes the best worship leaders aren't those who are on the platform singing or playing an instrument, but are the ones who are on the ground passionately worshiping God.

"Those are the ones who are open to God really stirring them," said Riches.

One such worship leader is third-year divinity student Robin Wrice. Though she is pursuing her master's in Practical Theology with a concentration in worship, Wrice claims the greatest strength of her ministry is not music, but encouragement.

"I'm always right up front with my thumbs up, because I love seeing the body of Christ built up," said Wrice. "That's part of winning souls for Christ."

While a student of Edwards', Wrice also serves as an associate minister, as well as a worship core leader of First Baptist Church Berkley. She was thrilled to participate in coordinating the boot camp and to have Edwards and Riches speak into the lives and culture of the 147-year-old church. She takes her involvement with the church and with ICW, as well as her role as a worship leader, earnestly.

"You really are affecting people's lives, because in turn, their life is going to affect somebody else's," said Wrice. "That's serious."

Learn more about the ICW.


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