A New Gig

I’ve been a little behind in posting for a couple of months. This has spoiled my two-and-a-half-year consecutive posting winning streak like a two-out home run in a tie game at the bottom of the ninth. But at least this break from blogging doesn’t come close to my prior dry spells, and I have a much better reason than general apathy this time!

In February, I was tapped to be the Creative Arts Director for the Kingstowne Communion, a church plant that is connected to my and Gina’s home church.  I’ve been learning that a new church plant is basically church from a small-business or entrepreneurial point of view. You’ve got to think on your feet, be innovative, and just handle everything differently and with a much smaller group. My job involves many roles, but by far the biggest is to be the guy that many contemporary churches would call “worship leader” or “worship minister” (or some other combination of those words). From a musical perspective, this is my first permanent gig.

Sometimes I look at this opportunity as a natural extension of my playing time with the Wesley Foundation as well as the past year or two playing with the praise band at Aldersgate UMC, and that’s probably true. But I was never the bandleader in either of those situations and very rarely did I ever find myself in a position to be the center of attention while playing. So mostly, this is a brand new experience for me, and I haven’t been outside my comfort zone this much in a while.

Why do I say it’s outside my comfort zone? Well, aside from the center-of-attention deal, I also have historically not been very vocal or “out there” with my faith. I’ve always been conscious of not wanting to seem too “preachy,” though I don’t like the negative connotation of that word since many of my friends do, in fact, get preachy for a living. Anyway, how does a guy like me get out there in front of a crowd and sing songs of praise?

If you figure it out, let me know! (Hah!)

But seriously. It really just involves a large amount of trust and faith in God that I’m doing the right thing. And if I’m doing it correctly, the musical choices and arrangements will speak for themselves, as I interweave words, prayers, lyrics, and songs into a service that is meaningful to those in attendance. I’m not likely to change the style of my faith conversations on a personal level, but I am learning that if I take some piece of my internal faith and translate it externally, everything starts to feel more natural.

Maybe none of this makes sense, and it’s still hard for me to pin it down. (See what getting out of your comfort zone will do?) But I’ve also come to realize the responsibility that was never really there when I was simply volunteering to play music. I am one of the main architects of the service now – I am one of the people whose job it is to help the congregation follow the Wesleyan ideal of “moving toward perfection.”

So this is a big deal to me, and I want to get it right. Ever since I got the job I have been pouring my heart, soul, and nearly every spare waking moment into preparing and learning. I discovered very quickly that one does not just become a worship leader overnight. I attended a worship leader conference this past week that helped immensely. I’ve sought advice from others who have been there. I’m reading books. I’m practicing songs and researching music theory more.

I haven’t studied this hard since grad school.

It’s a few months in, and I’m definitely still not there yet. I haven’t even been able to try out the new ideas I’ve learned in just the past week. But luckily our community is awesome, our pastor is awesome, and there’s every reason to believe there are many exciting times ahead. I’m also blessed to have a great group of volunteers on the team, one of whom is of course Gina, a never-ending source of encouragement.

And here’s the best news: every week is a chance to get better, God willing. I gotta believe He’s got my back.