Worship Matters OCTOBER ~ 2021 ✞
Personal Worship Story
Recently during Discipleship Hour I shared a little from my own journey in worship leading and ministry. For this edition I thought I would go a bit deeper and share with those who weren’t able to attend those Sunday mornings. (Follow this blog online on the Prairie Tab website)
As I child I attended Edson Baptist Church with my parents and eventually, five younger siblings. We had an organ, a piano, and hymnbooks for Sunday morning, Evening service, and Wednesday night prayer meeting. I’m thankful for this rich heritage of hymn singing and still know most of these by heart. One day a visiting musician came with a guitar and taught us a few of the new choruses. I loved it! Our church soon began to sing these along with the hymns. My parents were the youth leaders at the time, and I remember singing “It Only Takes a Spark” and “Kumbaya, My Lord” around the fire when allowed to stay up late with the youth group. In grade 2 I begged to take piano lessons. My parents relented and purchased an upright Heintzman which I still have in my home. Soon I was doing special music, singing in cantatas and choirs, and then playing the piano for church. I enjoyed music but did not often encounter God during those times – partly because it was stressful trying to hit the right notes and partly because I had no idea what worship was about.
In college and university, I studied music and was part of traveling singing teams and the chamber choir. There were glorious moments, such as performing Haydn’s The Creation at the Vancouver Orpheum, and wonderful memories, but still very little understanding of what it meant to worship. It wasn’t until joining the worship team at Pacific Community Church in Cloverdale, BC, that I began to be taught the basics of worshiping in spirit and in truth. During that time I learned about commitment, sacrifice, obedience, and surrender. I learned to sing simply so the congregation could follow. I learned to take my eyes off myself and onto Christ, and God asked me one Sunday morning to raise my hands as an act of obedience. I had recently experienced the great grace of God and it was His mercy and compassion that led me to repentance, and repentance led to fuller expressions and surrender in worship. This softening of my heart began the real journey of growing as a worship leader.
In the years to come, my heart softened even more through personal suffering, illness, and depression. During the deepest times of despair, singing along to worship videos online lifted up my head. I learned that praising God and honouring Him brought light and hope into dark times. I learned that feelings are less important than the facts of who I am in Christ, and that worshiping my Creator and Saviour was life-giving and spiritually sustaining. Dylan and I led worship for 8 years at Edson Baptist Church when we moved back in 2006, and at PTC since 2014. The biggest lessons I’m learning today are that God desires simple obedience over sacrifice, His presence over our musical preferences, and character over charisma in leadership. His grace continues to inspire me to press on, until my worship comes solely from loving Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God.” Psalm 51:10 Pam Graham, Worship Coordinator