Music has a special place in delivering the gospel of the Lord; but rather than just singing a song, it is important to understand the true meaning of the message at hand.

Those words have been the mantra for me as a Christian artist for more than 20 years; and with every lyric written and every performance given, I have tried to hold fast to this truth.

Whether through dialogue or song, I believe theology must be at the epicenter of worship to create a powerful experience that celebrates the significance of Christ’s word. This philosophy should be the guiding force behind educating the next generation of contemporary Christian worship leaders.

Too often, theology in music is left by the wayside. Students spend hours toiling away in college classrooms learning the intricacies of music theory and technical storytelling but little time zeroing in on how theology relates to the songs they are writing and singing or videos they are producing.

At Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Ariz., Dr. Jason Hiles, dean of the College of Theology, and I set out to create a new program that prepares the next wave of worship leaders for careers in contemporary ministry and the Christian music industry. The Center for Worship Arts will give students a strong biblical and theological foundation, while arming them with knowledge in musical performance, production and worship leadership.

The goal is to expose students to theory and hands-on application and give them the opportunity to collaborate with peers, professional artists and worship leaders, while working with mentors from the worship and music industries. Ultimately, developing their prowess in arts with a sound theological background will establish graduates as Christian mainstays.

It is said that each of us spreads the word of Christ in our own way. For years, I’ve been blessed to do so performing on stage. But it wasn’t until I was truly aware of the chasm in the classroom that I understood how I can use the talents that Jesus gave me to help others spread the word. My calling is to help students truly find their purpose in Christ.

That’s important, knowing that Christ’s message sits on the shoulders of the next generation of worship leaders.

Bart Millard, the lead singer of MercyMe, is a strategic adviser and director of the Center for Worship Arts at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona.


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