Zero. That's the number of people who came to Gateway Generate's most recent Night of Worship. Pastors David and Alena Moore and the Generate worship team of young worshippers had worked diligently to decorate and build an elaborate set for the platform in the Southlake Campus Auditorium. It would be their only Night of Worship in 2014, and even the smallest details needed to be perfect. Hundreds of yards of twinkle lights were strung from the rafters, and a small chapel facade was constructed to be the centerpiece of the stage, around which the musicians would play. They rehearsed for weeks and treated it like it was the biggest night of their lives—except nobody came. 

David and Alena talk about the night as if it was a success, and in fact it was. Leading up to it, they heard the Lord ask, “Would you go to all this trouble if I was the only One invited?” Without hesitation, they answered, “Yes.” So the team rehearsed for weeks, prepared the room and their hearts, and set up to play for an audience of One. “It was a heart check for all of us,” says David. “But, it ended up being one of the greatest times of worship I’ve ever had. We had a blast!” The team warmly refers to the night as the Generate Night of Worship, “Just for Jesus.”

On Friday, February 20, Generate’s Night of Worship will return, and this time everyone is invited. And instead of sending the kids to children’s ministry, families are encouraged to worship together.

“There are families with young kids who come to experience the presence of the Lord together,” says David. “It’s even okay if they run around.” Who knows, they might even be Gateway’s next generation of worship leaders. 

Ten years ago, Pastor Thomas Miller saw a need to raise up worshippers, and he enlisted David and Alena to start Gateway Generate. They weren’t on staff at Gateway, but they took the role in a volunteer capacity. The goal was to take young singers and musicians from within Gateway’s community to develop their talents and teach them how to lead a congregation in worship. However, David says it’s never been about music as much as discipleship. “If I had to boil everything we do down to one statement, it’s that we want to know God and to be known by God,” says David. “Playing our instruments has always come second to us.”

However, in the beginning, David and Alena had to focus on both the spiritual side and the skill side. During the first audition, 15 teenagers showed up. “We had them all play together, and it was just awful,” says David with a laugh. “But we didn’t have any other options, so we called them all back together and said, ‘Congratulations! You made the team!’ Alena and I had to teach them how to play their instruments.”

After more than a decade under their leadership, that same group has gone on to be some of the most prominent players and singers at Gateway, leading thousands of people in worship. “It’s the most fulfilling thing to see our team walking out their callings and loving what they’re doing,” says Alena. And now, a new generation of worshippers is coming up. 

On a recent Wednesday evening in Southlake, the fresh-faced Generate team sets up to lead worship for Gateway Students. This time, however, David and Alena Moore are nowhere in sight. Instead, Josh Coad, one of the first 15 kids who tried out for Generate a decade ago, is leading the team. He directs the youth with the same skill and confidence of David, his predecessor and now close friend. To his left are Ezra Cohen and Jessica Sheppard, also original team members.

However, on this night, most of the team is made up of exceptional teenagers—one senior whose safety school is Princeton, another senior who has the makings of a drum virtuoso, a freshman who invents new electronic sounds just to use in worship, and more! Just before the service begins, a crowd of kids known as the “Worship Mob” gathers in the hallway. While they won’t be on the platform that night, their job is to blend in with the students in the congregation and lead worship from their seats. The same thing takes place at each of Gateway’s campuses. From the musicians to the Worship Mob, they all come each week to submit themselves and their talents for worship.

The vision has been passed down well. The first generation of Generate is now leading the charge while a new generation is discovering what it means to know God and be known by Him. “You can know a lot about somebody, but they might not know you,” says David. “That’s what we want our team to be known for—being people who know and love God and aren’t satisfied with just being great worship leaders and great musicians. When they go through a hard time they’re found in Jesus. They’re a worshipper through it all.” 

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