June 22-26, 2020

Animate is a five-day summer program in worship leadership for teenagers and their adult mentors. It is sponsored by the Center for Worship and the Arts on the campus of Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. Using biblical, Christ-centered principles, students hone worship leadership skills, adults sharpen their mentoring tools, and everybody works together to reflect on the intersection between worship, theology, and the arts. 

Register today

Ambassador Program

The Ambassador Program starts with you. Your gifts, your passions, your interests. When you register for Animate, you’ll choose a track based on the topics that you’d like to explore in depth through workshops on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons.

Many worship leadership programs exist across the country. The Ambassador Program sets Animate apart. Through the Ambassador Program, we are giving young people the skill, ability, and knowledge for every kind of artistic work in the church.Exodus 35:30-35

Four Tracks


Want to beef up your music skills? This track is for you. The music track is for students who want to learn basic music notation, sharpen skills on their instrument, and explore the beauty and power of music in a worship setting. By the end of the week, you’ll have been introduced to the nuances of reading lead sheets and chord charts and playing in a worship team. [P.S.: Your voice is an instrument!]

Spoken Word (Preaching or Theatre)

Want to practice presenting scripture, sharing your story, preparing and delivering a sermon, and witnessing to the work of God in the world through words? The spoken word track is for you. The theatre emphasis is for students who are interested in drama and have a desire to proclaim scripture and the Gospel through public performances or scripture and poetry. The preaching emphasis is for students who are interested in preparing and delivering a sermon through public speaking. By the end of the week, you’ll have tools for presenting scripture in an engaging way, and speaking about your faith with confidence in a public setting.


Do you desire to use your gifts from the back of the worship space, through media ministry? This track is for you. The technology track is designed for students who want to learn to use audio and visual means to enhance worship. By the end of the week, you’ll have been introduced to the basics of sound systems, audio mixing, lighting design, and even film production.

Visual Arts

Want to explore how visual arts can fit in the life of the church? This track is for you. The visual arts track is for students who have a passion for connecting themselves and others to God through the visual arts. By the end of the week, you’ll have tools for creating works of art and displaying them for others to see.


You’ve chosen to focus on an area of study, but there are still other topics you want to explore. Each Animate participant will attend an elective class during the final hour of toolbox time. Choose your top four choices in order of preference and we’ll do our best to assign you to your top choice. Class sizes are limited and will be filled in the order in which registrations are received.

  • The Art of Creative Journaling
  • Biblical Storytelling through Tableaux
  • Brass Instruments in Worship
  • Creative Writing
  • Dance in Worship
  • Filmmaking
  • Graphic Design
  • Intro to Global Worship
  • Intro to Organ
  • Lighting and Stage Design
  • Photography
  • Race, Class, and the Kingdom of God
  • Rehearsing and Leading a Band
  • Songwriting
  • Theology of Biblical Worship

Animate Philosophy

Mentoring young people for faithful worship ministry in the twenty-first century lies at the heart of the Animate philosophy. By encouraging thoughtful, artistic, imaginative worship planning and leadership, Animate seeks to help students and their mentors better understand and facilitate the dialogue of worship. We hope they will, in turn, further enhance the worship life of their local congregation.

Through Animate, teenagers become conversant in multiple styles, expressions, and idioms of worship. They will be inspired to invigorate the mission of the church, foster a richer imagination about who God is, promote a deeper level of participation in church life, and create a greater desire to live a life of humility and conviction in the world.

What’s the result? We believe Animate has the potential to raise up a generation of multi-lingual worshipers and worship leaders: teenagers who are biblically faithful and contextually aware, historically informed and culturally relevant, spiritually sensitive and prophetically challenging, theologically imaginative and artistically astute, locally connected and globally engaged. Informed and inspired by interdisciplinary studies in worship, preaching, music, theatre, dance, visual art, architecture, and film, they will learn the art of collaborating with others to create artistic liturgies that will inspire a rich life of faith.

Read more about our beliefs and core convictions.


A $75 non-refundable deposit is required for each participant at the time of initial registration.

Cost for Animate
Dates With Adult Mentor Without Adult Mentor
Early Bird Rate
$549 $599
Regular Rate
$599 $699
  • Includes housing, meals, Animate t-shirt, artistic supplies, transportation for off campus events, and all Animate activities.
  • Does not include travel to Birmingham or the Samford University Campus.
  • Individual registrations will be paired with same-gender roommates of similar age.
  • Adults cannot room with students.
  • Individuals who request a single room will be billed an additional $200 for the week.
  • Thanks to the generosity of donors to the Center for Worship and the Arts, we are able to award a limited number of student scholarships for Animate 2020. The deadline for applying for a scholarship is February 1, 2020.  Email cwa@samford.edu for application.


Registration is open through May 1, 2020 or when Animate reaches capacity.  Students can attend as an individual, with a friend or with a team from their church or school.

Register today.


  • Check-in begins at 2 pm on Monday, June 22, 2020
  • Check-out is at 11:15 am on Friday, June 26, 2020

A typical day at Animate includes worship, small groups, workshops, free time, toolbox sessions, evening showcases, and late night in the village.

Download the 2020 Schedule

Guest Artists

We’ll announce Animate 2020 guest artists soon! Be sure you’re following us on social media (@samfordcwa) for the big release.

What Will We Do?


Experience a wide range of worship styles and practices, led by Samford students with help from guest artists.


Think about worship, theology, and the arts. Gain practical skills in worship leadership through workshops utilizing CWA's innovative, hands-on teaching methods.

At Animate, you’ll learn from various guest artists alongside Samford University faculty.


The whole week culminates in Thursday’s Festival of Worship. Students plan and lead a 15-minute worship service with their small group and they worship with friends who have done the same.


A goal of Animate each year is that participants would have the opportunity to engage with guest artists.  Guest artists will present showcase events, as well as teaching toolbox sessions.


Students and adults are placed in small groups throughout the week to reflect on the week and to learn spiritual practices.

Who Can Attend?


Animate is open to any student who has completed 7th grade through 12th grade and is interested in becoming a better worshiper or exploring vocation in a worship and arts related field.


Not only will students hone worship leadership skills at Animate, but adults have the opportunity to sharpen their mentoring tools.

You get the most out of Animate if you attend with a team of students and adults from your church or school. We strongly encourage teams of students and adult mentors from churches and schools interested in deepening the connections between worship, theology, and the arts in their local context. (Adult mentors should be 21 years of age or older.)