...and this is how it all started...

Today, Russ challenged people to come up with their "origin" stories regarding involvement in worship ministry. I thought that was a cool idea.

I came to the Lord rather late in life, in my thirties. Now, prior to that, I had only dabbled in music, though I had always had a strong desire. I had a Strat from the time I was in college, and could strum out some cords, and could play some chords on piano, but that was about it. There was really no music creation going on in my family, though there was always lots of music appriciation. I grew up listening to the most eclectic mix of music you could imagine, from Fats Waller and Glenn Miller to Arlo Guthrie to Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons to Van Halen to Vivaldi. Nothing was out of reach, nothing was bad (except country...) and I liked it all.

Fast forward to 2001, when I was rudely awakened by God. Leaving the music I loved behind was hard for me. Then a couple of fortuitous things happened. First, I met a guy named Jim, who was a music teacher at a local school. Since we shared a love for various styles of music, we spoke often and in depth about this. He taught me how to play an instrument called a bodhran. Now, for those of you who don't know what that is, it's a Irish frame drum, kind of like a tambourine but much bigger, with no bells. You play it with a tipper or a beater.

Now, at this point, the worship team at Gospel Light was undergoing a transition. Several members had left, and they were down to a piano player, a conga player, a bass player and a couple of singers. So I had spoken to the worship leader, and was invited to join.

Round about this time, something else happened. A couple from New York showed up out of nowhere and offered to our pastor to provide music instruction at a very low price, provided they could use the church to do it. Several people signed up. They taught vocals, piano, guitar and drums. I took six two-hour lessons on drums, when they disappeared as suddenly as they had came. But something had happened. A spark had been ignited. We gained several vocalists and two fledgling guitar players out of that six weeks, and I moved to playing a full drum kit.

I played as the regular drummer for three years. Along the way, other drummers came along as well. We also had transitioned some of the singers, a couple of bass players and a couple of piano players. Then one guitar player left for college, and the other would be going the following year. I made the descision to try and take up guitar.

After several months of lessons, I began to play during worship, turning the drums over to another player. This is where I've been for the past three years. I feel God has blessed me tremendously in this area. Music seems to come naturally, and I can easily switch between all of our instruments as needed. (In fact, several of us are "multi-instrumental" so we like to switch up, sometimes during the same service.) As I've mentioned before, I am largely self-taught, and I work hard at it, both guitar and piano. I spend more time in personal practice than rehearsal.

As to leading, I don't sing, so I don't "lead" per se... Our team does have a fairly democratic approach, and I tend to do most of the arrangements, keep records and music, and lead from the guitar while others sing, although often Justin will lead from piano as well. I do provide a "leadership" aspect to the team all of whom are younger than me, and will often find training resources for the team. Last year, several of us began providing live accompaniment for our gospel choir. Usually my role there is piano. I also provide technical oversight and help to the media team.

I've been working hard toward preparing for the album we will be recording soon, as I will need to be more technically proficient there than in a live setting. I'm finding that new experience challenging and rewarding.
Since my pastoral calling right now is elsewhere - Children's ministry - this will probably be where I stay as far as worship leadership goes, at least for the forseeable future.


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