Award-winning gospel singer and Pastor William McDowell is currently hosting a four-week intensive featuring a masterclass of leaders worldwide to equip all Christians, not only worship leaders, to live out their Christian faith.
Hosted by McDowell, his all-new Deeper Worship Intensive “Team Edition" features speakers including: Darlene Zschech, RT Kendall, Don Moen, Matt Chandler, A.R. Bernard, Rich Wilkerson Jr., Kirk Franklin, Levi Lusko, Bob Sorge and many other pastors, worship leaders and authors. The diverse lineup will serve as a master class in leading multiple courses that will equip individuals and their ministry teams.
"It's really the marriage between presence and pragmatics. So really, what we have is a group of people who are presence carriers, or what we call presence people, people who have encountered God, but really taking a pragmatic approach to really talking about it and lifting up the hood and saying, 'OK, I know you've seen how these things operate but these are the principles behind it,'” McDowell told The Christian Post of what to participants can expect from the program.
The intensive began Monday and will run through May 10. Topics covered each week will focus on worship and devotion, leadership, spiritual discipline and music application.
While the Deeper Worship Intensive is typically an annual four-day event that draws people from all over the world to McDowell’s Deeper Fellowship Church in Orlando, Florida, this year it's being held online.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the pastor and his team to reimagine how they would reach people, which provided them with an opportunity to reach “beyond borders.”
"I think this is crucial because the Kingdom is a borderless thing. We have national borders but the Kingdom has no borders in that sense. So it really allows us to expand the Kingdom in a way where we've taken all of that instruction from the four-day intensive and made it online,” McDowell told CP in an interview (watch below).
"Because of the opportunity to do this online, not only does it allow us to reach across the world [for] anyone who wants to watch, but it also afforded the opportunity to increase our content,” he added.
Each masterclass, which is about an hour long, is led by different world leaders of all ages, backgrounds, and creeds from the United States, Australia, the African continent and beyond.
"It's literally bringing together a consortium of voices, or what I call the convergence of voices, to really begin to practically teach people in a masterclass-type setting, one-on-one setting, to practically teach people and give them pragmatic tools to walk out in this life of worship,” McDowell detailed.
"I think it's important, number one, to draw from a wealth of experiences," he continued. "We're prayerful about everyone. It's not to say that one voice is better than another voice, that type of thing. Obviously, we have a myriad of different perspectives that allow us to see this tapestry of what God is saying.”
The esteemed gospel singer emphasized that the various speakers featured as part of this year's Deeper Worship Intensive are a convergence of “multiple” Christian “streams” that come into one.
“We're all in the river of God, but we may have different tributaries that we're flowing in,” he explained. "What we really wanted to do was diversify our perspectives. Because a lot of times you can be in your lane, hearing from your folks that you think are the ones that you should draw from. What this allowed us to do, particularly in the virtual space, was to have a convergence of multiple perspectives, multiple nations.”
He acknowledged that this event is perhaps the “most diverse” gathering he has ever had, specifically the diversity in the myriad of experiences and perspectives.
"There's not many gatherings where you'll see some of these same people in the same gathering. So you can have people that you may be used to hearing from in places of worship, like a Darlene Zschech or a Don Moen, but at the same time you can have a theologian like RT Kendall, or a speaker like Matt Chandler,” McDowell continued.
"I'm excited about every single one of them. You're talking about multi-generations, multiple experiences, multiple perspectives all converging into one, to really begin to invite us into the practical ways of walking out this Christian faith.”
Deeper Worship Intensive is not only for worship leaders, he said, it’s for all “worshipers.”
The massive event was something McDowell said he dreamt about over 20 years ago.
“I didn't know this is what I was seeing, but this is what I was seeing. The Lord has been working [out] the steps to bring it to pass,” he shared of his vision.
The co-author of the new book,The Only Answer is Prayer, revealed that he never prayed for this massive dream. Instead, his prayer was a consistent posture of “yes.”
His level of “surrender” to God was a “yes” to God before the question was even presented to him. Two decades later, McDowell is seeing God do far more than he ever could have prayed for. He hopes his event will help people understand how to cultivate the presence of God wherever they are.
"The desire of our Father is to have [an] intimate relationship with His children,” he explained. “He has set that out as His will; He has set that out as His desire. Many of us are limiting what we can experience because we're limiting what we either are willing to do or what we think God wants to do. His ultimate desire, His ultimate will, is that we know Him and be known by Him.”
"In gatherings like this, what this does is, this equips every believer to awaken that dormant thing that God has put inside that longs for relationship and then begin to say, ‘this is how,’” McDowell maintained.
The father of five said many people have an encounter with the presence of God and it “awakens a hunger” in them but then have no idea where to go from there.
"So for everyone who is hungry, for everyone who's ever had a drawing of the Lord, something that awakens you to the fact that there's more than this, there's more than what I'm experiencing,” he said the multi-week event is for them.
McDowell assured that each featured speaker will serve as an example of what they do daily and the principles they hold on to.
"Most people are immersed in atmospheres, that they do not know how to navigate, they don't know how to, for lack of better word, create, no one ever taught them,” he continued. “So we are relying on spiritual gifts and we're relying on experiential things and we're relying on observation, we're not actually being given tools and principles.”
"The truth of the matter is if we, who have gone through certain experiences don't then codify some of the lifestyle disciplines and things that are necessary, what begins to happen is it dilutes generation to generation,” McDowell maintained.
The spiritual leader said in this day and age many people are doing things based on observation, but they don't actually know how to cultivate it.
McDowell noted that inviting the presence of God to move during worship is an emerging ministry that kicked into high gear within the last 40 years.
"The way that worship happens now, what we call the modern worship movement, did not exist this way, even 20 years ago,” He detailed. “You had a lot of pioneers, who were blazing trails. Now what we have a need of, is to make sure that we raise a generation that is not only skillful in musical leadership, but also skillful in leading their life. So it's really peeling back the covers of the idea of leading songs versus leading people into a lifestyle of worship and encounters with God.”
Since its inception, The Deeper Worship Intensive has seen many miracles to date.
"Its intent is to be an instructive, pragmatic environment. However, its intent is never to leave out the presence of God. So there is both demonstration and impartation,” the “Nothing Like Your Presence” singer told CP.
"In the first DWI, pretty remarkable, the Lord began to move in one of the sessions in a significant way. We began to flow in the gifts of the Spirit, word of knowledge and the Lord began to heal people in the room,” McDowell testified. “It was actually one gentleman who came, a pastor in a wheelchair, that gained movement in his legs for the first time. It was just amazing to see how the Lord was beginning to work in his body.”
"I'll never forget, there was one worship leader, his eyes looked like they're about to come out of his head, because his eyes were so wide. I remember he looked over and said, 'Oh, my God, I've never seen a miracle before.' Because miracles were breaking out all over the room,” he added. "Here's the thing about it, once you experience God in that way, you can't go back to say He doesn't do that.”
McDowell said despite the fact that some do not believe in the miracle-working power of God, whenever you find yourself in an environment where He does it, “you can't now say that He doesn't do that.”
Deeper Fellowship Church, a ministry in which this reporter is a member, the supernatural movement of God is a normal part of the atmosphere.
“We never take it for granted," McDowell assured. "It's never become usual. It's never one of those things where we're like, ‘Oh, that's just a miracle.’ No. We honor what the Lord is doing every time.”
McDowell hopes the Deeper Worship Intensive reminds people that, “You don't add fire to fire to keep fire going. You have to add more wood to fire which is a dead thing. It's giving God more of yourself in order to keep your fire going.”
“We really wanted to create avenues of conversation among teams so that cultures can change,” he said.
McDowell added that he doesn’t feel protective of sharing his spiritual secrets because, “You can’t leave a legacy in the Earth if everything that you have is in you.”
He's also partnered with North Central University in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to give attendees who complete the four-week course a Professional Education Certificate in Worship Leadership.