Since her attendance of a church retreat in London, Eleanor has generously devoted her time to worship leadership in her church, but also in her surrounding community. As an 11th grader, Eleanor has served her church, school, and friends in numerous ways. She leads worship for her church’s youth group every Sunday night, and also has the opportunity to serve in her church’s main worship service once a month. In addition, she leads worship at her school’s FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) meetings.
Eleanor had a transformational experience while in London. She learned more about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and there was called to lead worship. Upon her return from London, she was skeptical of her ability to lead in her church, let alone her community. Yet—not by coincidence, she believed—her church had decided to implement a worship aspect to the Sunday night youth group meetings. This was the opportunity to which she had been called—where her gifts and passions intersected with the needs of her community. Eleanor now regularly plays keys and also sings in the worship band at these meetings.
In addition to these services, her worship pastor asked Eleanor to begin serving on Sunday mornings once a month. When she serves here, she functions as an adult member on the worship team, attending rehearsals, participating in prayer sessions, and taking her own time to prepare both musically and spiritually. To best prepare, she practices the accompaniment and rehearses the vocal harmonies before rehearsal and the service. She also takes intentional time to pray over the song lyrics, asking that the congregation might receive and understand the weight of the words.
Worship leadership has become Eleanor’s passion and something she actively and regularly chooses to invest in. She often refers to sermons she has heard in the past for guidance. Eleanor specifically recounts a sermon she heard from Ed Corke, revolving around the idea of worship songs being like a Hallmark card— the lyrics are the prewritten message, yet no one ever gives a card with just that message! The best cards are those that also contain a personalized message. In the same way, Eleanor believes that it is the calling of the worship leader to model, for the congregation, the personal confession and praise that should accompany the lyrics when worshippers sing these songs.
Eleanor attended Samford University’s five-day summer program in worship leadership, Animate, which is offered through the Center for Worship in the Arts, this past summer. She was able to learn more about leadership in the church, and even participated in a songwriting class with guest artist Urban Doxology. Later in the week she was able to lead worship for peers using one of her original songs. She was thankful to grow in her worship skillset at Animate, and then even more excited to bring those skills back to her home church.
One of the most meaningful worship experiences for Eleanor post-Animate was leading a high school worship night in her town. The entire service was student-led, involving music, spoken word, and other elements of worship, all of which Eleanor shaped from her Animate experience. It was a beautiful evening, and Eleanor was overcome with joy from the Holy Spirit, as well as humbled to be given the opportunity to use her gifts to lead God’s people in worship.
Eleanor is grateful for the mentors in her life, including her worship pastor Jared, who has continued to encourage her and give her opportunities to lead at church.