My first piano lesson took place on August 17, 1978, just six weeks shy of my seventh birthday. My piano teacher was Mrs. Carwile, who taught me notes and scales and musical pieces, first via Theodore Presser books, then by the color-coated John Schaum books. She even helped me cut my teeth on playing hymns on the Broadman Hymnal.
I moved to Michigan and learned classical pieces, continuing that quest through Virginia into Florida, where Terri Mullins continued to teach me in a backroom at the local Radio Shack that her family owned. In college, I learned from the incomparable Marlene Woodward-Cooper at Palm Beach Atlantic University. During my time there, I learned jazz (mostly self-taught) and consumed massive quantities of Dave Brubeck, Bill Evans, Chick Corea, and the master, George Gershwin.
It wasn’t until I was a Music and Youth Pastor at First Baptist Church of Clewiston, Florida, that I published my first piece of music (a 22-measure call-to-worship that was a new setting to There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy). It was then that I felt like a real musician. Learning notes, learning scales, learning chords, playing with independent hands, classical pieces, jazz, then composing.
That journey parallels how I feel regarding my journey in ministry.
- Learning the notes: learning the basics of pastoral care and preaching.
- Scales: Learning how to get the church moving toward reaching folks for Jesus.
- Chords: Playing more notes at once: preaching, pastoring, administration, counseling, etc.
- Classical pieces: preaching straight from the Word of God, staying true to what’s written on the page.
- Jazz: taking the chord structure from the piece (the Word of God) and improvising, giving color to the song—all the while interacting with the ‘audience’ (congregation) and staying true to the chord structure of the piece (the Word).
- Composing: as a musician composes a new piece, so too do pastors and churches move to ‘compose’ new churches.
While I know I’m a pastor, and nothing will change that calling, God is moving in my heart to lead my church to plant other churches in Denver. I’ve begged God to keep me here to make this a reality, and to give me wisdom to take the next steps in being a mobilizing and multiplying church.
No matter what, we are on a journey—either a musical or ministerial journey.
What a joy!