I am celebrating 20 years this year of being a part of Worship Arts Ministry through the local church. No, I'm not that old...ok maybe.
As a gift for me, our HHICC Elders have given me a 3o-day sabbatical that begins Friday, January 11. It will be spent on rest, vacation, connecting with close family and friends, and visiting a few churches and being a part of their worship experiences.
I dont' feel like I have been doing this for 20 years, but when I think back to what was going on in the church 2o years ago with regard to music, it hits me. We have come A LONG WAY, baby!
I grew up as a Pastor's kid, playing and singing in church, but I "techinically" start counting when I became a part of the Sounds of Liberty at LU and Thomas Road Baptist Church. As one of the keyboard players at the time, I had weekly responsibilities to prepare for services - rehearsals, serving planning - all of those things. We didn't have email, we didn't have Planning Center, and we kept LARGE NOTEBOOKS with all our music and charts that I made endless copies for the players (legally, of course!)
I was a part of the transition in churches where we gave people every option you could imagine in the span of seven days. At one of my first churches, I played piano for a traditional service with an organist - hymns only. The 2nd service was a mix of hymns and some worship choruses. The 3rd service was contemporary which meant all worship choruses. I had three Sunday services to help rehearse the team, write charts, and prepare musicians. We had a Wednesday night service that was a mixture and we did a college service on Thursday nights that was totally Christian rock. I'm exhausted just typing all of that!
I was "a keyboard player who sang" for most of the first 7 years of my ministry life. Then one of my Worship Pastors asked me to lead a song in our services that he wanted to introduce..."Shout to the Lord." This was the first song I led as a worship leader. I was so nervous and not very confident about my voice. I had been around some amazing singers my WHOLE life and I knew my skill level. I'm so thankful for different amazing women artists - Jen Carrozza, Trace Balin, Paula Dunn and Lisa Jones - who came alongside me and encouraged me to use what God had given me. They helped me to recognize I WAS a singer and to lead as God provided opportunities. I became the Worship Leader at NorthStar Church in 2000 and God has continued to open doors for me to lead Woship and invest in other worship artists within every church I have served.
About five years ago, I realized I was not going to be able to conect with the musical landscape that was taking shape in churches if I did not learn how to play the guitar as a worship leader. I had been given a beautiful parlor size acoustic years ago by an amazing guitar player who challlenged me to learn to play. I started watching videos and connecting with all my Worship Leader friends to learn their "cheat chords" (Thank you Daniel, Will and Eric!) I was totally suprised by my team at LCC in March 2011 when they gave me a Telecaster and an amp. I'm happy to say that our Guitar Section Leader (BP) says I'm now the best Electric 3 player we have at our church! This just means I do 8th notes really well and in time :-)
It has been a privilege to watch the Modern Worship movement be birthed and develop to what it is today. As I watched the Live Stream of Passion 2013 last week, I recognized clearly that I was witnessing the next generation of Worship Leaders. Not on stage...in the crowd. They will be our future leaders in the local church.
I think about my future and what God has for me and who I will be investing in to come alongside me in my local church in this next season of ministry. I look forward to seeing the 13 and 15 year olds we have been blessed with in our team and what God is going to do with them in the future.
I know I've not been the perfect leader. I've made some poor choices along the way in so many areas. I'm going to blog during my sabbatical about the lessons I have learned through my journey. But today, as my sabbatical is within three days of starting, I am reflecting on the journey and the blessings of it. I'm thinking of the many people that I have had the privilege to create with and do life with every day and I am blessed...truly blessed.