Worship Leader Institute MAIN

What’s a song leader to do? For decades there have been scarcely any opportunities to study a capella worship leading in an academic setting. Even university programs won’t give you the secrets of the worship leaders who get invited to the big conferences – the ones who light up the room and get everyone singing.  Such courses can’t because they’re concentrated on Bible and music fluency almost exclusively. And who’s got four years to invest, anyway? You want to give your best for God and your congregation, but you’ve got to lead worship now.

What if you could get these secrets, all of them, in a week? Sound like a great opportunity? That’s what Keith Lancaster, founder of Acappella Ministries, has created with The Worship Leader Institute, the world’s premiere training resource for comprehensive a capella worship education.

But how are you able to load so much content into one week? It’s simple, because many of the secrets themselves are simple. In fact, at a subconscious level, you already know much of what makes for powerful, charismatic worship leading. It’s a matter of putting in the right work and getting coached.

To unlock your own potential as a worship leader, you need to:

1. Learn the fundamentals so you know what to practice.

2. Find a safe, comfortable outlet to practice and practice.

3. Get feedback from experts and peers.

4. Repeat.

Camaraderie is also an integral component of your success at the institute, so we encourage bonding through paired exercises and shared meals. After the institute is over, you will be added to a private networking group for alumni, allowing you to utilize other students’ experience and feedback well into the future. We feel this network is one of the most valuable ongoing resources you will receive.

As a worship leader, you know you’ve been charged with a sacred task. You want to take your job seriously, giving your best for God’s glory. Discover the art of the craft. Equip yourself with tools that fit your calling. Cultivate a skill set and relationships that will last through eternity. Apply for The Worship Leader Institute now to begin your journey into excellence.


“It was more challenging than any business seminar. The experience greatly exceeded my expectations.” – Joe Lennon, former president of Fidelity retail distribution, Mansfield, Massachusetts

“This is probably the most rewarding experience I’ve had in my life.” – Mark Shinnerer, a second year student from the Sunset Church in Carlsbad, New Mexico


Because The Worship Leader Institute uses the four-tiered structure described above and only includes the most relevant principles for worship leaders, we cover a lot more ground. But make no mistake, the time may be brief, but this is an advanced course for those willing to dedicate themselves to intensive coursework. We explore nearly every facet of what a worship leader does and what a worship leader needs. And it turns out, it’s a lot more than just starting and leading songs.

WLI’s curriculum centers on what we call holistic worship leading: the first three and a half hours of each day are reserved for core competencies which we consider to be a non-negotiable skill set for effective worship leaders.

 Bible Study – Scripture memorization – Scripture Recitation
Facial Expressions – Microphone Technique – Eye Contact
Stage presence – Body Language – Directing – Public Prayer
Transitions – Breath Control – Tempo Management – Dynamics/Contrasts
Extended Rests and Holds, and Cut-Offs

Holistic worship classes serve as the foundation for the institute, but you can expect a lot more when you arrive. The afternoon sessions of WLI cover advanced topics including music theory and ear training, voice care and management, worship planning, worship technology, vocal tuning, and conflict resolution.

There’s even exclusive content for students who return for the multi-year track, including additional one-to-one sessions with faculty, who include:

  • Keith Lancaster, resident musicianary at Park Plaza Church of Christ
  • Gyula Cseszko, a choral and orchestral conductor from Melbourne, Australia
  • Mike Rogers, music professor at Dallas Baptist University
  • Melissa Kirby, speech language pathologist at Vanderbilt Voice Clinic
  • Robert King, choral director at Lipscomb
  • Melissa Lancaster, Vice President of Acappella Ministries
  • Shane Coffman, Worship Minister at Memorial Drive Church of Christ and director of the Tulsa Workshop
  • Gary MoyersAcappella alumni and current director of Moyers Design in Lubbock, Texas
  • Anthony Lancaster, vocalist for the group, Acappella
  • Robert Oglesby, director of the Center for Youth and Family Ministry at Abilene Christian University.
  • Randy Gill, Worship Minister at Otter Creek Church in Nashville, TN
  • Jaime Highfill, Voice Coach for Charis Music Studio, Owasso, OK



The Worship Leader Institute is a week long course in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  The  2015 session is scheduled for July 24 – 31. During the week you can expect lectures, break out exercises, homework each evening, a peer reviewed final, devotionals and shared fellowship meals.


Worship Leader Institute candidates must:

  • Master the use of a pitch pipe including:
    • How to easily find starting pitch
    • Agree to use it when starting every song during the Institute
  • Know how to read music including having all the key signatures memorized
  • Know and be comfortable directing different time signature beat patterns
  • Provide letters of recommendation from elder / church leaders;  and
    • Will ask for a prayer group to support you while in attendance at the Institute
  • Be familiar with Keith Lancaster’s Praise and Harmony song arrangements to ensure that everyone is familiar with them when we use them for course work.
  • Agree to commit to attending the entire Institute; this is not a “come and go” type of conference.


You must apply to be accepted to attend the Worship Leader Institute.  As a part of your application package you must pass a music knowledge test and be recommended by an elder or minister from your home congregation.  The application and music knowledge test are available as downloads below.

Send your application, deposit, completed music test, and a letter of recommendation from an elder or minister from your home congregation to:

Acappella Ministries
Worship Leader Institute
900 N. Dixieland Rd.
Rogers, AR 72756

For more information contact:

Bill Brunkhardt
mobile (615) 681-7105
email bill@acappella.com 


The registration cost for 2015 WLI is $1995.00, if paid in full prior to March 1, 2015.  After March 1, tuition will be $2495.  A deposit of $495 is required to hold your place and the balance is due by June 1, 2015.

If tuition is paid in full by December 31, 2014, you will receive your choice of five (5) Praise and Harmony CDs OR a set of song slides for one of the Praise and Harmony albums.

Group discounts are available for congregations looking to send more than one person to WLI. Two students from the same church will receive a $100 discount each off the regular tuition rate. Three or more students from the same church will receive a $200 discount each off the regular tuition rate.

The registration fee covers: instruction, tuition, refreshment breaks, notebook and materials, some lunches, admission into the WLI private FaceBook group and orientation.  Registration fees DO NOT cover: hotel, travel, any meals not provided by event, rental car, or any unexpected expenses.

Any student withdrawing before June 1, 2015 will receive a full refund.  Between June 1 through July 1 a $695.00 cancellation fee will be charged for cancellation requests received .  For cancellation requests after July 1, an $895 cancellation fee will be charged.  ALL CANCELLATION REQUESTS MUST BE IN WRITING.


We hold a block of hotel rooms and you will be responsible for the payment for your room. This is a suggested hotel, not mandatory, yet we strongly encourage  all participants stay together in one location in order to increase camaraderie with your fellow students and instructors for assistance with completing your nightly homework.  We will try to accommodate you by helping you find a roommate if possible to save you money. You will get the hotel information after you have been accepted.


When the WLI class reservations are filled, students may be added to a waiting list by submitting an application packet with deposit. You will be admitted to the Institute on a first come, first served basis as openings occur.  The deposit is intended to hold your place and will be refunded in full should an opening not become available.


We are now accepting applications for the next Worship Leader Institute.  There are a limited number of spots available in a class, so you must get your application, music test and deposit to Bill Brunkhardt as soon as possible, and no later than June 1, 2015.  Below you will find the application and test in individual PDF files.


Worship Leader Institute Music Test

Worship Leader Institute Application