The Importance of Worship Training: An Interview with Jaye Thomas
[Worship is] understanding who God is, and then standing in the place of saying back to Him what He reveals to our hearts.

The Importance of Worship Training: An Interview with Jaye Thomas

by Adam Wittenberg
8/9/17 Training and Events

Jaye Thomas, the new director of the Forerunner Music Academy at International House of Prayer University, is a Dove Award-nominated singer, songwriter, and worship leader who impacts people across the globe. Here, in his own words, Jaye shares about the importance of worship training and ministering to God from a prophetic and eternal perspective.

You’ve been leading worship at IHOPKC since 2008. What are you excited about in your new role as Forerunner Music Academy (FMA) director?
I am excited about this new role because the prayer movement is still such a young movement in the earth—it’s largely run by 18–25 year olds—and I’m excited about being a father to that generation.

I’ve been leading worship for 23 years, since I was 17, and I have learned a lot along the way. I’m excited to take that wealth of information and knowledge and pour it into a younger generation, raising them up as prophetic worship leaders and singers at the end of the age.

It’s been my heart’s desire for some time now, as I’ve gotten older [Jaye turned 40 in January], to find myself in the role of a father. I want to take what I have been given and use it to father the next generation, so God’s just placed me in a natural position to be able to do just that. I never imagined it would be in this role, though.

What is the link between being a father and being a teacher?
One of the primary roles of a father is actually to give identity, to give purpose. Fathers historically have been responsible for naming the child, by doing which they’re actually stamping them with identity. This is what the Lord does to us when He takes us in, calls us His own, and gives us His name.

And at Forerunner Music Academy that’s essentially what we’re doing. We’re taking people who know that they are called by God, they know that they have a purpose—the eighteen to twenty-five-year-olds—who are coming in and saying, “I don’t know where I fit in life,” and we’re giving them identity.

Sure, we’re instructing them academically, theologically, and even musically, but that is precisely giving them their purpose and identity for what they’re going to be doing, both now and for all of eternity.

So yes, this school is highly personal but yet it is also highly academic, so I think one bleeds into the other.

How does knowledge of eternity influence how you worship now?
It’s one of the main things that has struck my heart over the last 10 years of being here, something that unfortunately I never thought about as young worship leader.

When I sang about the glory of God, I was singing about primarily only a now reality of the glory of God—seeing His manifest presence through signs and wonders, miracles and healings, and the shekinah glory, if you will.

But I never really thought about eternity until I came to IHOPKC and began looking, for myself, at the reality of eternity, which we see a beautiful picture of in Revelation 4.

What’s talked about all the time here is the reality of standing before the Lord on the sea of glass, mingled with fire, and worshiping Him with our whole hearts, and saying back to him what He’s already said to us about His person—that the glory of God is the nature of God.

It’s understanding who God is, and then standing in the place of saying back to Him what He reveals to our hearts.

I never thought about eternity, but this is what I’m going to be doing forever; this is what’s already been happening for all of eternity, and into the age to come—the invitation is there for us to take part in that.

So I’m excited about giving that perspective to a generation of students so they understand the why behind what they’re doing.

How will the eternal perspective prepare students for life after FMA?
Undoubtedly, the students that we’re training in the school, upon graduation, will not only go on to lead prayer meetings in houses of prayer. Some will go into mission fields, some will go into full-time occupational ministry, and some will do other things.

But my hope is that no matter what they’re doing, and no matter what sphere they’re doing it in, they’re doing it from the heart or the mindset of eternity and the reality of Revelation 4—that the Lord has given them a divine invitation to press past what can happen now. Although we want the fullness of what can happen now, we hope to impart to them an eagerness to press past that into the reality of what we’re being invited into for all of eternity.

Because I think that when a worship leader has that perspective, when singers and musicians have that perspective, that perspective actually translates into the way that they worship. Then the people whom they’re leading in worship get invited into that same reality without even knowing it.

It’s a beautiful reality to watch happen in a room—to see a whole room come into one heart, one mind, to glorify God with the understanding of eternity—all from the mindset or understanding of the worship leader’s heart. This takes worship to a whole other level!

I often say it this way—the eternal reality for every believer, whether you’re a worship leader or not, is worship. It’s the primary thing that we’re going to be doing. We’re not going to need signs and wonders in the age to come, we’re not going to need the shekinah glory of God—we’re going to be face to face with Him!—and so to be invited into that reality now is amazing.

Why is worship training important?
I’m encouraged, or struck, by the command to play skillfully before the Lord (Psalm 33:3). One interesting thing about playing skillfully is often the word skill in that verse gets mistaken for the concept of excellence, and so a lot of people are saying, “the Lord’s calling us to excellence, so thereby we need to go get trained.”

It’s actually a different reality, because Biblical excellence actually has nothing to do with skill. Excellence is where skill starts, because excellence is a reality of the heart.
There are 43 references to excellence in the Bible, and 40 have to do with an internal reality before Lord, our heart posture before Him.

When the Bible talks about playing skillfully, skillful is actually just fine tuning our abilities. We’ve heard that “practice makes perfect,” and that’s a lie. Practice does make better, but our skill does not produce anointing. However, I believe that anointing rides on the wings of skill, and the more skillful we are, the easier it is to tap into the anointing.

Excellence can produce skill, but not the other way around, because when we are excellent at heart, then we’ll want to do what it is we do well before the Lord. And that’s where the school comes in.

We provide a wonderful opportunity to train raw, natural talent to become both excellent of heart and skillful on the instrument, which is a perfect formula for a man or woman after God’s own heart!

With your new role at FMA, will you still be teaching students?
Yes! I’m going to be teaching a class that we’re calling a worship practicum. Essentially this class is going to be a 16-week class that is focused on the why behind the what.

We’re going to take the entire first semester for all of the freshmen and sophomores to focus on why are we even here, why does this matter? I don’t want to just make them skillful. Essentially I’m taking the first semester to focus on excellence, and the semesters afterward to focus on skill.

I’m also going to be teaching an advanced course called choir, which we’ve had for a number of years. It will be one of the only musical classes for the first and second year students.

In addition, I’m going to be training in harp and bowl labs, which will train students to lead either in a prayer room and a non-prayer room context, like a Sunday morning or conference, because leading in those settings is completely different.

I want to raise up students with a prophetic spirit that allows them to go anywhere and worship at any time.

What are your goals for FMA in this next season?
This is a lofty goal, a lofty vision, but the leaders and I, including Dr. Terri Terry, the associate leader, have a lot of vision to see many things happen within the school.

We want to see a fully integrative and interactive online school platform for the music school, so we’re looking into that.

Another thing is we have vision and opportunity to have regional schools, both domestically and internationally, raised up and taught by current students, as well as affiliate schools and affiliate locations.

And then thirdly, we’d like to be able to broaden our curriculum to include things not limited to music like prophetic art, prophetic movement and dance, and also a higher level of skilled, prophetic songwriting.

We have songwriting classes now and they’re phenomenal and the instructors are incredible. We want to be able to stretch that and take that to the next level as well, both for prophetic music and for corporate worship.

That’s important. There’s a profound lack of congregational songs that are being written specifically for congregations to sing, for instance, hymns. The skill level, language, and heart posture that one has to have to write a hymn, what does that even look like?

To write modern day hymns that will last through the generations—we want to be able to reach into that—beyond just more of the modern anthems that are being written today.

What are some challenges related to these goals?
Certainly with growth comes tons of challenge and labor and growing pains, and some of the obvious ones are certainly staff and training for staff.

Funds are always an issue because obviously with more funds we’re able to do so much more, and even scholarship more students and reach more students in many different ways.

We want to have a music production program in our school. That’s going to require faculty, training, and equipment. We want to be able to offer the full spectrum related to worship, not just instrumentation, but everything related to instrumentation.
So, yes, faculty, training, and money for equipment are probably the three roadblocks that we have right now.

What is the Lord doing in the worship movement in this generation?
He’s doing a lot! Because I have the opportunity to travel both globally and domestically, I get excited and humbled to see with my very own eyes what we hear about all the time—this language that God raising up a worship movement across the earth.

I’ve been in the secret places of Southeast Asia, where there really are prophetic voices, strong prophetic singers, who are prophesying over their city and over their Muslim nation, and doing it skillfully and doing it for the Lord.

He has done that, the Lord has done that. It’s not like they came to our school. They didn’t come to IHOPU. The Lord is doing that all across the earth, and we want to partner with what He’s doing.

For example, in Southeast Asia, we want to partner with what God’s doing with the underground church in China, where we’re hoping to plant a regional school within the next year.

Or in other places like Poland, and Israel, God Himself is raising up a witness to His Son, and it has nothing at all to do with a fad or a popularity thing or a momentary movement.

It really is something that God is doing. That we get to be at the tip of the arrow here in KC, kind of leading the charge in that, is a beautiful, terrifying, experience that I’m really honored to be a part of.

What would you say to anyone considering worship training at FMA?
I want to say to potential students, for those who may be considering a full-time ministry school of any kind, to strongly consider IHOPU FMA.

The training and teaching is excellent, bar none, and I’m excited about the distinctive elements that we offer that make us stand apart from any other school—and I’m not just saying that because I’m the director!

To have full-blown training in the context of a 24/7 prayer room is so unique—it’s not happening anywhere else in the world. We would love to send you some information, and we’d love to get to meet you. We do have scholarships available, and we’d love to just talk more and share information with you.

So come and visit, give us a look. We’ll take you on a tour. Just strongly consider IHOPU FMA.

To learn more about the Forerunner Music Academy at International House of Prayer University, as well as IHOPU’s schools of ministry and media, visit Fall registration is currently open, and scholarships are available. Contact for more information.

Adam Wittenberg


    A Detroit native who was raised in Vermont and Connecticut, Adam worked as a newspaper journalist until 2012, when he moved to Kansas City to complete the Intro to IHOPKC internship. Afterwards, he earned a four-year certificate in House of Prayer Leadership from IHOPU and is now on full-time staff in the Marketing department at IHOPKC. He also serves in the NightWatch (overnight prayer hours) and is active in evangelism. He, and his wife Stephany, have a vision to reach people everywhere with the good news of Jesus Christ.

    Tell us what you think