First Wesleyan Church, Flint, MI
Last week, I looked at the Indiana Wesleyan years. We stayed for two years in Marion, while the Lord showed us His plans. During this time I continued to assist Dr. Guy at Lakeview and continued to hone my skills. I was still primarily a bass player and vocal director. Occasionally, I would lead worship, most times with my bass with a great band. A very few times I led worship from piano and also on acoustic guitar.
I felt led to send out my resume and before long I was contacted by church in Michigan. This was to be a full-time worship position. We had several phone calls and a face to face interview. It was all set, we were moving to MI. It seems my dream had come true. I had finally arrived (or so I thought.)
Since these posts are about influence, that’s what we’ll look at. One thing that was cool was that there was a solid Wesleyan support group. The churches and the pastors got together regularly for worship, prayer, and breakfast. One of the highlights each quarter was the Fifth-Sunday Sing. Each church would take turns hosting. There would be a time of congregational singing, and special music brought from each church. This was always an enjoyable time. Because I was the only paid worship staff at any of the churches, I led most of these events. The most memorable was the Super Sunday Sing. We had a time of worship, followed by fellowship and food, followed by the Super Bowl. That night I led worship and played drums. It was very cool.
In addition to a close knit group of Wesleyan pastors, there was also a close-knit group of evangelical pastors. It gave me a good taste of what ministerial associations should be. This has been an influence even now. I enjoy fellowship with pastors across denominational lines. One of the best services we had with this group was a Good Friday service. I led worship with our praise band; and led a community choir. I was a very inspirational service.
Musically, I was trying out my wings. This was a full time position, so I was responsible for a wide variety of tasks. Those tasks included directing the choir, praise band, preparing worship for Sunday AM, PM and Wednesday PM, leading the music/worship committee. In addition, because of my computer background, I also put together a nice computer system and network. I would lead worship a variety of ways; just leading, playing keyboards, or playing bass. My musical influences during this time were Brooklyn Tabernacle, Maranatha Music Worship, and Integrity Hosanna! Music.
I came to First Wesleyan with a bachelor’s degree in Church Music. This means while I had the proper musical training, I did not have any ministerial training. During this time I had my first visit with the DBMD (or District Board of Ministerial Development.) This board is responsible for those pastors who have not yet been ordained. I wasn’t sure that was in my call, so they recommended that I at least get my Special Worker’s License. That means, I would have to attend classes again. My pastor forwarded my some information about this new program called FLAME.
Little did I know at the time, this would become a huge influence in my ministry. It sounded like an interesting way to get my class work done, so in the summer of 1999, I headed south to Indianpolis to attend (what was at the time the 3rd) FLAME. It was there I met Wayne. Wayne is the face and voice of FLAME. It was something for which God gave hime the vision. I had to borrow my senior pastor’s car, the church let students stay in their building for free. The bad thing was I forgot my sleeping bag and pillow. Thanks to the generosity of a fellow FLAME student, they loaned me a sleeping bag. There was something about this conference, something that I had never experienced. There was fellowship (in the koinonia sense of the word), academics (My Wesleyan Church History class was taught by Dr. Melvin Deiter, who really is the church historian) and spiritual renewal. It was amazing. This FLAME was completely different from the current FLAMEs especially in the area of worship (There was none, except for Wednesday night, when the host church led a time of worship before communion.) Those six days at FLAME made a profound difference that I wouldn’t realize until much later.
Our stay in Flint was a short two years. I still miss Halo Burger and Coney Islands. You have to be from Flint to understand. In the spring of 2000, Pam and I sensed God was calling us in a new direction. Like I said before, being the worship pastor was all I had prepared for, I wasn’t quite ready for the next turn. We resigned without knowing where God was leading us next. We interviewed for several worship positions but those doors all closed. What was happening? Didn’t God understand what I had prepared for and that I had really enjoyed these past two years? What would be next? What became a growing concern was that we were running out of time. Where was God leading us now? What would become of all I had prepared for?