Creating the Next Generation of Church Leaders

December 15, 2022

In 2018, the Center for Christian Music Studies was invited to join a research initiative, funded by a grant from the Lilly Endowment, to examine the religious lives of youth across the United States. The church music program designed a grant project surrounding Worship Lab, the annual training camp for high school musicians. Over the past four years, the Center for Christian Music Studies (CCMS) has successfully built relationships with churches, primarily across Texas, to assess how young people are engaged in music and worship ministry program.

As phase 1 of this research initiative ends next year, the latest research shows strength in three key areas in the continued hope for the church, especially through the eyes of young people.

Church/Program buy-in: Youth are motivated to go beyond simply participating in church activities when they are given specific leadership opportunities. Many churches are actively investing in and encouraging their youth to lead in large corporate settings.

Transformation: Students returned from the Worship Lab with new energy and a level of enthusiastic engagement. Many of the students have taken ownership of their teams and are eager to invest in extra work.

Building bridges: Students who have participated in Worship Lab over the past four to five years are now studying music, worship, and religion in universities around the country.

"We are excited for the continued opportunities to work with church leaders and high-school youth, to better prepare students to lead in their local contexts," said Chason Disheroon, associate director of the Center for Christian Music Studies. "Additionally, the CCMS will soon begin exploring new worship initiatives around children in worship."

To read an extended report of CCMS's work and to learn more about the initiative, visit

Read a recently published article featuring Chason Disheroon, who discusses the joys and challenges of empowering youth to lead worship in their local congregations.

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