What was it that made you want to get involved in worship  music? Did you already play an instrument or did this provide the motivation for you to learn? Did you attend a worship conference, or was it simply singing along to music at Church? Perhaps you went through a particular hard time and worshiping God through music gave you the strength you needed to get through.

Please share your testimonies here!

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Wow, thanks Greg. Quite a journey! Petra - brings back memories :-)

Can you elaborate on this part if you don't mind as I didn't understand it: "the fractional rule of instrumentation".


When I was in jr high school I started taking organ lessons. My folks bought a home organ (Conn) and my kid sis and I were signed up to learn.  The summer after my freshman year at HS I took some music classes including theory and chord voicing so I learned to play by chord sheets on the organ. A year later I changed churches (with my parents approval) to a small pentecostal "hilbilly" church that had a bunch of guitar players (and occasional banjo).  They had a REALLY old beat up Minshal organ and asked if I could sit in and play with them.  They said fine, so I did. (I had to tune the organ to the guitars - each of the 12 notes individually)


I learned a lot there. It really gave me an appetite for playing praise music.

Michigan Tech?  Wow.  Have not heard from anyone from that place since I graduated college in '77.   I had a good friend who was a guard on the Mich State hockey team and they played Tech frequently. My roomie and I may have even hosted a Tech hockey player or fan in our dorm room.

Back in 1978 the keyboardist for a church asked me to play drums on a special song for the Sunday service.
I've been a drummer and worship leader since that day in 1978.

Okay, this could be even longer than it is, but here we go.  Got my first guitar in 1959 (age 7), learned to play from my dad's country songbooks, and since I couldn't read notes, I just made up melodies.  Wrote my first song about 1962, over the next few years, wrote a lot of greasy teenage love songs (GTLS), heavily inspired by the Beatles.

1968 or so, at pentecostal church camp, Friday night and I still hadn't spoken in tongues.  The pastor was coming around praying for each person, but somehow skipped me - but at the same time, I heard God saying, "Charles, I want you to write me some songs."  Went home and was disappointed to discover I was still writing GTLS.

Early 70s, playing guitar for a church youth choir (these were int he days when "Pass It On" was the controversial new Christian song) and a smaller group; finally started writing some "Christian" songs, though they're not what I would consider "worship" songs.  Baby steps.  1978, helped put on a Christian Music Camp including teaching about "songleading" (which I didn't like) and "songwriting" (which I did).  Through the 1980s, wasn't really aware of the "worship music movement," even though we actually did visit Calvary Chapel (Maranatha!) a couple times.

1992, next new church, just starting and the pastor's wife was a choir director, so that's what we were having, but when they passed around the "what vocal part do you sing?" sheet, I put down "1957 Stratocaster."  Within a year, we had enough people (and a small enough space) that we had to go to two services, and the pastor had said all along that "when we go to two services, I want to do something different  I don't know what that is, but I want it to be different."  I was sufficiently different, so he and I started researching and planning.  First contemporary service 12/5/93.  I was buying songbooks (Maranatha, Integrity, Vineyard, Scripture in Song) and finding songs and we were working out all our logistical issues.  April 2000, we moved into our own building and I was considered to be the "expert" on sound systems, so I got to plan out a lot of what we'd do in the new building.  I wasn't a big fan of projection, so we just printed songbooks, 20 or so songs and a new book every 3-4 months.  New Songbook Sunday could be exciting...

A big part of my interest in being WL at this time (and I wasn't the "songleader" at the very first, but the guy who was kinda flaked out after a while and I'd seen enough of what he did that I felt ok taking over) is that it gave me an outlet for my songwriting, and from '94 to '02 or so, I wrote a lot of worship songs and we included a mixture of those in our services.  Not to brag, but I am actually a fairly decent songwriter...

2002 we got a new pastor and she and I just didn't get along, so I "retired" (I was already 50) so she could bring in someone who she could work with.  I played bass for a while, stopped enjoying that so just set up the sound system on Sundays and then went to adult SS during the contemporary service. The new songleader was NOT interested in using any "original" music in our worship, so that kinda squelched that part of my interest as well, though I did continue to write some worship songs (and a lot of other stuff) over the years.  Sometime during this pastor's tenure, we also got into projection (MediaShout), though I didn't work with that at all.

Summer 2013, the pastor informed the then-WL that finances were such that the WL was going to have to become a volunteer position, so he decided he was being called elsewhere; I stepped back into the WL role (I am not the main singer, due to some face pain problems that may come back one day, but I play guitar and I'm the chief organizer, and I do lead singing when our regular lead singer is going to be away).  Two more years and I'll be 65, and I keep thinking that that may be a good time to retire again, but we'll see.  FWIW, I came back as a volunteer, but at some point the pastor informed me that the church had decided they should pay me, what did I think was reasonable, and I said, "well, less than B_ was being paid..."  Snarky, snarky, that'sme.

Thanks for explaining that Greg - makes sense now!

Greg Newhouse said:

The fractional rule is the idea that the more instruments we have, the less they may play. It's what leads us to play on the guitar mostly in the upper register, and ever more simply and lightly, so as not to interfere with the register of other instruments.

@Charles Wolff

Thanks for sharing that testimony. Found it really interesting. It must be strange/fascinating to see how music in Church has evolved over the last 50 years!

I was recently listening to a track by a well known worship team that had 4 or 5 guitarists, a couple of keyboard players, backing singers + bass and drums, maybe horns etc. Granted it was youtube (though I've heard them live too) and all you could get was a wall of sound, even though parts are carefully created to give each instrument it's own voice. I am inclined against anything more than a 4 piece + singers these days, as far as possible, from the POV of the team having clear voices. On Sunday I played at a larger gathering with 2 other guitar players on stage, and it was sometimes a case of "look for gaps". When the sax/whistle player took a solo I'd stop playing completely to leave space.

Phil Williams said:

Thanks for explaining that Greg - makes sense now!

Greg Newhouse said:

The fractional rule is the idea that the more instruments we have, the less they may play. It's what leads us to play on the guitar mostly in the upper register, and ever more simply and lightly, so as not to interfere with the register of other instruments.

It's hard to answer the OP, because the process wasn't clear for me so much as it being something I just automatically did when I became a Christian.

A part of it was discipleship - the guy that spent a lot of time with me as a new, healing Christian, played & sang so I bought a guitar & was playing out within a year. The youth group put a worship band together and I was playing lead by then, plus soon after started leading worship in the youth group of another church and playing for a band in a third church.

Shortly before getting married (aged just 20) we visited the church we felt we should join. They wanted to play a song that the guitarist didn't know, so I wandered to the front, negotiated the guitar from her & played the song before handing it back. It was just natural to be involved, and apart from a couple of breaks along the way, I've been involved ever since.


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