As a child, Christianity played an important part of my life. Prior to my birth, my parents helped plant a small Missionary Baptist Church in Pomona, California, where my father was a deacon. I guess it's fair to say that I was "born" into the church. I can't remember a time when I did not go to Sunday School and attend services twice on Sunday and every Wednesday evening. The small church was very traditional and very conservative and became the way I thought all churches should be. There was, however, a focus on Jesus and his teachings which has served as a foundation throughout my life.
I remember at some time, probably when I was around nine years old, that the message of "Jesus loves the little children" suddenly turned to "repent or go to hell". It was quite a hard change for me to take. I had visions of the second coming, when Jesus would crash through the ceiling of the church and personally escort me to hell, since I had not yet repented and been baptized. It seems that through all my Biblical training, unfortunately, I did not have a clear idea of what becoming a Christian was all about. When I was eleven, my father told me that if I would "go forward" and submit to baptism, that he would buy me something. So, I followed his suggestion and instead of receiving Christ as my savior, I became the proud owner of a used billiard table. Although I had gone through the motions, I knew that there was no assurance of my salvation. I had no relationship with the Savior.
As my family moved to another church and I entered my teen years, other stresses began to pull on my life. Having listened to the popular music of the day, my abilities on the guitar, bass, and piano began to move in a direction that was not deemed "proper" for use in a Christian setting. This further alienated me and caused me to enter the secular arena with my music. By age fourteen, I was playing at wedding receptions, parties and bars and making very good money. Although at the time I saw my success in this as a way to meet financial goals and meet girls, I realize now that God trained me musically in "the world" in ways that the conservative church would not, but needed to. Although I do not condone it, my experiences have been invaluable in developing my worship leading and music evangelism.
After fooling pastors, friends, and parents for several years, I finally accepted Jesus as my Savior when I was sixteen, while I was driving to church. I was baptized again at age eighteen. However, there was little Christian growth until much later. Unfortunately, I believed that becoming a Christian was an event, sort of like turning on the light switch and forgetting about it. It took a while until I came to the understanding that it is a continual process of becoming more like Christ through study, prayer, worship and fellowship.
I went to college, received my degrees, got married, and continued my career in Christian service. I became successful writing and recording albums of my own material and presenting Concerts throughout the Southwestern United States. This eventually led to a Concert tour of New Zealand in 1988, where I met and traveled with Greg Burson, a prophetic pastor/minister, for the first time. God used Greg to introduce to my wife and I a new understanding of the Holy Spirit. Being a "good" Baptist, I believed that the Holy Spirit was a silent partner in my relationship with Christ and that the gifts of the Spirit had passed away long ago. During this trip to New Zealand, I saw the power of God demonstrated first hand to me for the first time. People were healed, delivered, and supernaturally gifted before our eyes! I saw strongholds broken in my wife's life and her countenance change in an incredible way while in New Zealand. As a result of this witness and further study of the Word, I began to give the Holy Spirit permission to work through me as He wanted.
Although I had "led songs" for years and had even been involved in a contemporary Worship Team at a large "Seeker" church, it was not until I allowed God to release His Spirit in me that a true anointing for worship came upon me. Concert opportunities became more scarce as requests to lead and teach about worship increased. Since I was lacking in any formal "worship" training, I studied scriptural worship and the teachings of other worship leaders to form my understanding and basis in ministry. In 1990, I was called as Minister of Worship to Bethel Christian Fellowship in Chino, California. As an innovator, I was given permission to develop a worship philosophy "from scratch". Although there were battles against traditions, opinions and change, the Lord moved with freedom in reestablishing Bible-based worship at the Church. We experienced an understanding and release in free praise, gifts of the Spirit, dance, and other Biblical examples of expressions in corporate worship. We also trained and sent out worship leaders for congregational, kinship, and evangelistic purposes.
While serving at Bethel, there were two new and distinct areas of worship birthed in me stemming from "free praise" in the congregation. First, there was a release of the prophetic in song, both through myself and other members of our worship team. These prophetic songs both encouraged and confirmed God's vision personally and corporately in the body. Also, there was an outpouring of intercessory song in both the worship team and congregation, as we sang our requests to the Lord. Worship is a natural way of communication between the Father and His children.
I've been on staff at several churches, large and small, in the years since the Lord released me into worship. From 1999 through 2005, I was a part of The Remnant Worship Team, a duo that lead worship throughout the United States at churches, camps and other event. As I have grown older and more mature in the Lord, I have realized how important the diversity of His body is. In my younger years, I often limited my opinion of what God’s work could look like. I now realize that there is a place in the world for seeker and charismatic churches, AND everything in-between. I also see that I can function through my calling as a worship leader in a variety of situations and denominations.
As I always seek the "next step" that God has for me in Worship, I remember the specific call and anointing that I feel He has placed in my life. He has called me to be an innovator, pressing forward and never growing too comfortable or stagnant. However, he has also called me to be a restorer: stripping away those ideas that are man inspired and returning to Biblical modals of praise and adoration. Finally, He has called me to be an equipper, training worship leaders and team members in a deeper understanding of worshipping our Lord "in Spirit and in Truth".
1. Humanity was created by God to worship Him. Scripturally, we are commanded to worship the Lord. Worship is of fundamental significance to the life of the believer and to the corporate life of the church. Worship should not be treated as a "prelude to the sermon" or "a selection of songs to make us feel good".
2. Worship is for God and should be directed and focused toward Him. However, it is a two-fold communication process. As we worship our Lord, He touches us. As the Christian grows in worship, he/she gains knowledge and grows closer to the Lord.
3. Worshipping the Lord in "Spirit and Truth" can result in healing, deliverance, repentance, salvation, and gifts of the Spirit.Worship is also effective in spiritual warfare and is warfare in its very nature.
4. Scriptural worship includes, but is not limited to, the following: singing, bowing, kneeling, giving thanks, praising, singing with our spirit, clapping, dancing, shouting, lifting our hands, being still, meditating, lifting our eyes, bringing offerings, and playing instruments.
5. The Minister of Worship/Worship leader is a minister of the gospel and should be anointed and called by the Holy Spirit for his/her specific ministry. He/she should be sensitive to the Spirit's desires and the needs of the body, allowing for growth and maturity in personal and corporate worship. I consider myself an innovator, not a maintainer.
6. The Worship leader must be comfortable with the style and content of music he/she leads and allowed freedom in song selection as the Spirit directs. Personally, I lead in a contemporary style, singing as I play the piano or guitar. I enjoy leading with one other person, or with a worship band. I am also comfortable leading alone.
7. The Minister of Worship should train and disciple other potential worship leaders in the body, teach and train the body in Biblical worship and discern the needs of the worship ministry in regards to personnel, sound reinforcement, and musical direction.
8. The Minister of Worship should be accountable to the Pastors and/or Elders of the church. According to Levitical models, the Worship Minister should be supported financially by the body.
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