My Three Greatest Ministry Influences

Recently I was thinking about who my three greatest musical/ministry influences are. Here’s who I came up with (and the first will surprise you).

1The first musician to influence my work and musicianship was, believe it or not, the Christian singer Carman. His songs were musically kitschy, his performances were over-the-top, and his theology was shaky, but he was bold, accessible, and engaging. As a very young boy, my borderline infatuation with Carman resulted in years of backyard concerts and elementary-school talent show performances of his songs. This was all used by God to do three important things: get me comfortable singing in public, teach me the power of private worship, and help me see the value of congregational engagement in worship. Later, in my teenage years, God exposed me to a broader and more mature pool of Christian musicians and worship leaders who allowed me to grow, but the foundation was laid by a childhood love for an eccentric contemporary Christian music performer (as much as this gets me teased by my friends!)

The second and most influential musician in my life was the man my father hired to be our church’s youth and worship director when I was seven years old. Tim MacGowan became a hero to me, a model of a faithful husband and committed father, a full-time minister who led with strength and humility, and an excellent musician whose goal was to see his congregation exalt and encounter God together each week. He trained me as a young musician to play skillfully and humbly and to lead worship in an accessible, not-distracting way. Beyond music, he was a mentor and a friend to me, eventually serving as my best man and continuing to this day as one of my closest friends and continuing ministry influences.

After continuing to lead worship as much as possible throughout my teenage years, I became familiar with the ministry of Bob Kauflin. Bob had a major influence on my practice and theology of music and worship leading. His unwavering commitment to (1) the celebration and proclamation of the good news of the Gospel in corporate worship, (2) excellent musicianship, (3) the leading and ministry of the Holy Spirit as he points to Jesus, and (4) corporate worship as an act of pastoral care profoundly impacted my work and musicianship. God used Bob’s ministry to cultivate within me a deeper love for God’s glory, a theology of music and worship, and a desire to see worship leaders use music more effectively to help congregations see and savor Jesus Christ.

My Church

This coming Sunday (May 13th) is my church’s last Sunday on our campus. After a long legal battle with the Episcopal church, a denomination from which 97% of our congregation voted to separate in early 2007, God has made it clear to us that our congregation of 3,000+ members is being led away from our comfortable surroundings into something that will stretch us and grow us and shake us in more ways than we can imagine. We will vacate this campus by midnight on May 15th. After that, it will belong to The Falls Church Episcopal.

I’m a sentimental guy, so it will be hard this Sunday to lead worship for the last time in our Main Sanctuary, and to say goodbye to these worship spaces, offices, and classrooms that hold so many good memories for me. I’ve learned a lot (!) here and seen God work in amazing ways. This has been a second home for me. I’ve gotten engaged, married, and had two little girls while working here.

But I’m really excited to be a part of this. Sure, I won’t have a new office until September. And I’ll now be experiencing what so many of you who read this blog experience every Sunday, and that is the joy of worshipping in rental facilities, and setting up and tearing down equipment week after week after week. But in my (almost) eight years I’ve never experienced this level of freedom and joy in our corporate worship, so if moving out of our campus is what it takes for that to happen, then sign me up.

So, my apologies for, yet again, letting things go very quiet around here.

And also, if you think about it, please pray for The Falls Church (Anglican) as we move out next week, and for The Falls Church (Episcopal) that they would faithfully preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this place.


I just got back yesterday afternoon from a two day all-staff retreat with the people I serve alongside at my church. Good fellowship, bad karaoke, and an embarrassing attempt on my part to play ultimate frisbee. Because of that, this blog has been more quiet than usual this week, and might be a bit quiet next week as well as I’m taking a week-long seminary class at Reformed Theological Seminary’s Washington D.C. campus.

I thought it might be helpful to give you a brief update on what’s going on in my life these days.

Starting seminary
I have felt a strong call over the last few years to pursue theological training, and so starting next week I’ll begin a Master of Arts in Religion degree from RTS. I plan on remaining in full-time ministry at The Falls Church (or as close to full-time as I can realistically manage) while taking one or two classes on the side per semester. I’m really excited.

My prayer is that through my studies over these next few years I’ll be more equipped to serve the Church and that my heart will be more and more a heart after God’s. I’d be grateful for your prayers!

Next month will be my six year anniversary at The Falls Church. Time has flown by. God has been incredibly gracious in giving me the chance to make mistakes, grow and mature, work with incredibly humble people, serve under a godly pastor, encounter various “trials of many kinds”, and have a lot of fun at the same time. There have been incredibly difficult moments, but over all it has been a wonderful season. I’m thrilled to see what God has in store in the coming years.

A couple of things I’m looking forward to are:

  • Partnering in ministry with Simon Dixon. Simon has been on staff at Holy Trinity Brompton for 21 years, where he has been instrumental in developing a culture of Christ-centered, Spirit-filled corporate worship, a member of the worship team, an organist, choir director, a leader in prayer ministry, and lately a participant in leading some Worship Central events. In September, he will be joining the staff of TFC as our Director of Worship and Music. He is a godly, humble man, and I’m incredibly grateful to God for bringing him to TFC. You’ll meet him through this blog in the coming months.
  • This blog. I started this blog about a year ago out of a response to the Lord’s leading. My goal has been to “help worship leaders lead better”, and it’s been a joy to “meet” many godly, humble, and gracious worship leaders who have found the blog helpful. Every post I write is just as much for me as it is for anyone else, so if no one has benefited from the blog other than me, it’s been worth it. I’m excited to keep writing, sharing resources, expanding the types of resources, re-tooling the layout, and learning.

God has blessed me with two wonderfully beautiful ladies in my life. My wife, Catherine, is a precious gift and support to me, and Megan is a daily source of smiles, squeals, snuggles, and joy. She’s 8 1/2 months old now and we love her more every day.

And as you can tell from the picture to the right – loving her is not hard at all. This was her first time in a swimming pool and the cold water didn’t bother her one bit.

Our heavenly Father loves us infinitely more. What a joy to be his child and worship him. And what a privilege to lead others in doing the same.