In the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon writes: "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the sun." For Shane & Shane, the current season can be distilled in one word: discipleship.
After more than a decade of relentless touring, where the duo played everywhere from the college circuit to worship arenas to far-flung places, Shane & Shane have shifted the focus of their ministry. Rather than cramming as many dates on the calendar as demand will allow, the dynamic praise & worship duo—known for their celebrated guitar work and trademark harmonies—are pouring their lives into others, discipling musicians and training them in their craft.
Putting their convictions into practice, the result is The Worship Initiative. What began as an organic spark of an idea has developed into an online resource and community for all things worship. More than just a digital jukebox for worship geeks, however, The Worship Initiative is a one-stop shop for training, a hothouse environment where all—musicians, worship leaders, budding songwriters—can grow and flourish in their craft and creativity and devotion to the Lord.
"Just making music and playing concerts, I know that there's a small aspect of discipleship involved in that," Shane Barnard says. "But we want to encourage people to go to the Fountain, enjoy the Fountain, drink from the Fountain. That's the ethos of The Worship Initiative. Not just training in songwriting and musicianship."
In addition to kickstarting these resources for worship leaders, there is also a new record in the can. Aptly titled The Worship Initiative (Fair Trade Services), this is Shane & Shane's best offering to date. And true to the spirit of the site, the album showcases mostly other people's worship songs, infusing them with passion and sweeping guitars and stunning harmonies.
From "This I Believe," a modern hymn that is studded with references to the Nicene Creed, to the Isaiah-drenched "All The Poor and Powerless," to "Seas of Crimson" ("by far our favorite song on the record," says Barnard), the entire record is a labor of love that echoes the heartbeat of The Worship Initiative project.
"We love this record," Shane Everett says. "We want to set the table for people to experience the Lord on a daily basis. We want this record to really encourage people in their walk."
Also on the record is "God of Ages Past," a song inked by Barnard that is essentially a vulnerable chitchat with God, one that doesn't shy away from authentic questions. Barnard muses: "It essentially says 'If you really are my only hope, if you really are all that I need, if you really are the One that satisfies my heart, if those things are all true, then soften this cold, hard heart. Because I've got a long way to go to believe that kind of a thing.'"
Many of the songs on this record are staples from Shane & Shane's set list at the Porch, where they lead worship every week for a few thousand souls at Watermark church in Dallas. The songs also spring from a songwriting class they taught for five years, as well as experiences at the Linger Conference, an event that holds special significance for them. But ultimately, every track on this album dovetails with the mission of The Worship Initiative, which goes back to discipleship.
"On a higher level, The Worship Initiative is to really train them in devotion more than train them in craft," says Everett.
But the training is there. For members who want to be a part of an online community where iron sharpens iron, The Worship Initiative is a full-blown ecosystem of worship, where a member can get a ringside seat to the building blocks of praise and worship. But the goal of the site is not simply to teach worship leaders how to commandeer corporate songs in the spotlight, but to crack open the songs and explore the inner workings of what we sing—melody, instrumentation, vocals, charting and the like. It is to go behind the superstructure of the song and tap into the deep things of God.
As it happens, every song on the site—over a hundred strong—gets deconstructed and put back together again, in full view of the member. "There is boot camp for songwriters and musicians where we explore every aspect of a song—drums, guitar, keyboard, bass, mandolin, even vocals," says Barnard. "There is also a devotional for every worship song, as well as charting and university classes for theological training."
The upshot: What started out as two guys mentoring to just a few has morphed into a large discipleship. Yet, the core of The Worship Initiative is about two men who are highly skilled in their craft and who are pouring their lives into others for the sake of the Kingdom.
Shane Everett sums it up: "We wanted to create an opportunity for people to love Jesus in what they do."
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