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Integrity Worship Institute Online

September 17, 2010

Earlier this year, the Integrity Worship Institute launched their online school of worship, the hugeness of which can’t really be over-expressed.

Integrity has done more than perhaps any other modern group of people to promote genuine, “in Spirit and truth,” worship in the body of Christ. The record label is constantly nurturing artists and worship leaders, and making available to the rest of us some of the best, most inspired worship music you could hope to get your hands on: John Mark McMillan, Carlos Whittaker, Israel Houghton, Abundant Life Ministries, etc.

The Integrity Worship Institute has been taking it a step further and actually training musicians and leaders – musically and theologically (is that a word?) – so when they announced that a full spectrum of classes would be available online, I think angels probably rejoiced.

Over the summer, I got to experience a little piece of IWI Online.

I only took one class (and actually, I didn’t finish it ‘cause my summer spiraled out of control with a quickness – no fault of IWI’s), so while I can’t testify to most of the teaching, I can tell you that the program is fantastic.

Integrity is working with Columbia Southern University to provide their online university, because – I was told – CSU has one of the top rated online universities in the country. I love that from the word Go, Integrity was looking to work with the best.

The partnership is a little confusing at first because CSU has prerequisite classes about the online system, and you’ll get a lot of emails from CSU. I was talking to a counselor from CSU and a rep from IWI, and each mostly knew their side of the program so there was some confusion at first. In one case, CSU had requirements that IWI didn’t maintain, so I got a couple reminders to do something that IWI told me I didn’t have to do. Once the signing up/registering/first week is over, though, the rhythm falls into place.

The 101 class I was in, was definitely a college class. Make no mistake about it: CSU is not running a slacker university through the web. Each week I participated in the class discussion board, and turned in two assignments based on the lesson: one more reflective and another more research-based. Each week the lesson included a chapter of my text and a 45-60 minute video teaching. There were some final essay-type assignments at the end of the eight weeks, but – like I said – I didn’t make it that far.

And – like I said – my failure to complete the class was no fault of CSU or IWI. In fact, if I had invested in the class, or was actually seeking a degree through the program, I’m sure I could have made it work.

The instructor for my class was very understanding of my work schedule (Kids Camp and Youth Missions Trips), and very willing to work with me. I got a couple of personal emails from him welcoming me to the class, and sharing some casual feedback on my assignments. Definitely a personal touch I did not expect from an online course.

CSU is similarly invested in each student’s success. No college student likes “How To” prerequisite classes, but their short class on how to use the website was quick and immensely helpful. Their site provides absolutely everything a student needs to stay organized and on-task. I even got weekly emails from CSU reminding me that my Discussion Board posting was due that day, and my assignment was due on Sunday. If you’re busy with the rest of your life – as I assume most people enrolled in on-line courses are – those emails are lifesavers.

Final answer: I love it.

If you’re a high school student who wants to be a worshipper or a worship leader – look into IWI. If you’re a college student and you know you were created to worship, check out this online program – whether you’re majoring in something else and you want to learn more about worship, or you’re majoring in music/worship and you want to supplement your studies.

If you’re a worship leader or on a worship team already, get on their website and look over the program. You can learn more, be better, take your congregation and your team further. I know you’re busy, but if you can commit to a season of burning that midnight oil, you won’t regret it. and I know IWI and CSU will be with you all the way.

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