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Worship Leader Highlight: Rich Kirkpatrick

By Admin on October 04, 2009
rich-kirkpatrickWhen and how did you know you were called to worship ministry?

This was a long process for me, but as a kid as young as eight I knew God wanted me to serve him in some special way. When I was in music school I was introduced to Christian music by my girl friend who sent me tapes and sheet music in the mail. I remember simply sight reading a song in my practice room only to find that the woman practicing next door to me pounded on my door and demanded to know what in the world I was playing. She took the song and it changed her life and mine. I saw how God can use the medium of music.  I was reminded how God touched me in worship settings growing up. In just a few years I was leading worship in a church plant in Southern California.

How do you prepare a setlist and how do you prepare yourself for leading worship?

I prepare by thinking. What I mean is that I think through what I know of the pastor's sermon direction, scripture and what is going on in my church. I think through the content of lyrics and how they tie together each song. My focus is to create an experience, but I have learned that leadership is thinking. I prefer to run this through a planning team and have done that for the last year and a half.

There are musicians to schedule, tech logistics to document and production issues to address. Besides the administrative side of things, I attempt to reinforce our values each week at the end of rehearsal for our team. Leading worship to me is a team effort. I am a leader of that team, but its not really all about me. The better I lead my team, the better our team will lead worship.

Personally, I know leading worship is more than just the platform. I keep myself in community with my mens group, small group and fellow leaders as much as possible. This keeps me grounded. Those of us who live in front of people have to realize some of our greatest ministry happens off stage in the quieter places with those closest to us.

What do you see God doing in the current worship movement?

I am not sure what the current worship movement is, to be honest. What I see is a lot of confusion and dissatisfaction from our church attenders and ministry leaders. With worship leaders the amount of songs, training materials, books, conferences and ideas can be deafening. I see a need to be simple. I believe God wants us to rely on him and not on the latest thing out there. At the same time, wisdom says we should be aware of our times which change rapidly before our eyes. Keeping things clear, simple and about following Christ makes sense to me. Allow people to be diverse and let God work through cultures, rather than demanding others be like us.

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Rich Kirkpatrick is a worship pastor and blogger in Temecula, CA.

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