RIO RANCHO (BNM) – Worship4Life Camp is seeing long-term impact from its church leadership training approach. Joining the efforts of local churches, the camp’s attendees learn how to participate in technical teams, vocal worship teams and instrumental teams in their churches. Eventually, they can become leaders. Some campers even learn how to prepare and preach a sermon. The Baptist Convention of New Mexico sponsors the camp, held each summer at Inlow Baptist Camp.

Worship4LIfe Camp, a student leadership camp, equips middle and high school students to serve in their church. Students select a focus group and spend the week learning about life-long worship and leadership from New Mexico pastors and church leaders. Focus groups for the week include an audio/visual group, a creative arts group, a drums and percussion group, a bass guitar group, a keyboard group, an acoustic and electric guitar group, a group for orchestral instruments, a vocals group, a student praise team group and a teaching group.

At the camp, students spend time honing their craft and learning from experts. Students also pair up with an adult leader who provides biblical discipleship and life advice. The students learn how to serve in worship and leadership for the rest of their lives. Every summer, more students are trained and mentored for service to their churches in the future.

Anna Parker is one example of how a local church and Worship4Life Camp produced a worship leader. Her experience illustrates how the synergy of local churches, camps and collegiate ministries is producing church leaders. She is the daughter of Kevin Parker, the BCNM’s media services director and editor of The Baptist New Mexican. She attended the camp for four years during high school. Each year she chose vocals as her focus group.

In addition to singing, Parker also plays guitar and violin. Currently, Parker serves on the worship team of a BCNM church plant, Awaken Church, Rio Rancho. She uses her skills helping to lead the congregation in worship each week.

“Anna has jumped in as one of our team members with her guitar and voice on the worship team. She has plugged into community group with other young ladies and has made herself available to help with our Show Up Saturday (monthly outreach projects). I cannot wait to see how else Anna pours into people and to watch her grow in her walk with Christ,” Matt Flores said. Flores is Awaken’s planter.

Parker told the Baptist New Mexican that on the second week of school in her freshman year at Eastern New Mexico University, Portales, she attended Christian Challenge. There, she discovered that a young man she met at Worship4Life Camp, O’Shaun, led worship at CC. O’Shaun was a vocalist who did not play an instrument. So, when he saw Parker, he enlisted her to play guitar and sing with him. Together, they led music for their fellow students. Their initial connection was at Worship4Life Camp, where they both learned to use the skills needed for leading others in worship.

Parker shared that, while living in Aztec, where her dad was a pastor at the time, she mostly played the violin at church. She took guitar lessons from a church member, Rick Watson, who offered free lessons. Watson is a deacon in the church and serves on the church’s praise team. Parker became a regular member of the church’s praise band and even helped Watson teach others to play guitar.

These days, she focuses on guitar and singing. She said that she applies the ideas and skills she learned at camp in her ministry at Awaken. Parker said that she sees her camp leaders occasionally and stops for a quick visit.

“The purpose of Worship4Life camp is to equip the next generation of church leaders to use their gifts for the Lord, whether they are leading worship, playing the drums, running the tech booth, teaching the Word, using drama and acting, or whatever else their gift may be,” said Nathan Culberson, the director of W4L camp. “It is my heart, as well as the camp’s, that students attending camp can return to their city and immediately use the skills they acquired at W4L in their local church. There are many examples of this happening across New Mexico and beyond – including myself and Anna,” Culberson said.

The Mission New Mexico State Missions Offering helps BCNM camps continue partnering with local churches to offer experiences like Worship4Life Camp and other camps to Baptist New Mexicans of all ages.

Kevin Parker contributed to this article.

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