Worship Leadership (Ministry)

Prayers at Dawn | Piano Instrumental Interlude [Episode 104, September 30, 2018]

Prayers at Dawn – Piano Interlude

My morning prayers began well before dawn on this significant day.   This is the day that I close the book on eleven years of ministry at St. Simons Community Church.   Sunday, September 30th, 2018.

Although my alarm was set for 6:30 AM, sleep eluded me and I found myself awake around 4:45 AM.   By 5:00 AM I was enjoying my time of devotion and prayer.  This piano composition came shortly afterwards.    The emotions that were swirling around me were numerous, including excitement but also some pain, grief, and anxiety.   Would I be able to lead our team on my final Sunday without breaking down?   Would I break down in tears on stage in front of nearly 1,000 people?  Would I be so overwhelmed with emotion that I was unable to effectively lead our band or congregation?    What would I say to the people that I love so dearly who are so sorry to see my departure?   What would I say to those who, for whatever their ultimate reasons, were instrumental in my dismissal?

This interlude is rather short but brought me a sense of peace as I played.   I love to play these and linger in the spaces, uttering simple phrases and prayers as I play.  Many times I just say “Lord, come”.   My desire is that the music will touch thousands and thousands of souls across this planet and bring them peace and comfort.

I’m excited about the dawn of a new day.  It’s a new season.

Listen:

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Seasons Come, Seasons Go (And We Don’t Control the Weather)

Seasons Come, Seasons Go

Dear Friends,

As many of you have discovered over the past couple of days, I was released from my position as the Worship Pastor at St. Simons Community Church early Monday morning. As I have been saying this week, “Seasons come, seasons go, and we don’t control the weather”!

Although I’m disappointed and saddened by the decision, it was not a surprise or shock to me. Over the past year, the leadership has expressed their concern about my ability to effectively lead our congregation into a more meaningful worship culture. These conversations were difficult but were always conducted with a heart of love and respect. At my request, the leadership has given me the opportunity to lead our congregation one final time this coming Sunday, September 30th.

I am overwhelmed with the emails, texts, messages, phone calls… Instagram private messages, tweets, Facebook Messages – I mean… you guys really get creative in how you want to communicate with me, haha! Seriously, the outpouring of love and support has been breathtaking and I honestly cannot possibly acknowledge or respond to every one of you. Please know that I see and hear you and I am so grateful for your encouragement.

As I told my 4 kids, I am proud of the work I did for the Kingdom of God through the ministry of St. Simons Community Church these past 11+ years. I hold my head high because I am proud of the legacy I leave behind. I am proud that my dismissal was based on the desire for a change in direction and not because of any policy violation, correction, unethical, or moral behavior. (I also told my kids that there will always be someone who can’t accept that and will speculate as to ‘what really happened’ and that they can be assured that this is true).

 

  • I know that God is good.
  • I know the Church, in all of it’s imperfections, is good.
  • I am at peace and although greatly disappointed, I am excited about what God has for us in the future.

Nearly 12 years ago, the leadership of SSCC approached who was currently serving as their worship leader – someone who had helped start the church and led faithfully for many years. The season was over and it was painful to say “we love you and thank you, but it’s time for a change”. That transition opened the door for me to come and serve for over 11 years. I will forever cherish the time I have spent at SSCC. I’ve seen enormous, significant life-change through this ministry. I know that the leadership’s decision to initiate another transition was not easy and was painful for them as well. They have been honoring to me and have been extremely gracious in making sure that my family is taken care of during our time of transition.

SSCC is blessed beyond measure with a richness and abundance of talent and selfless, faithful singers, musicians, and technicians who made my job so easy. I will terribly miss making music and worshiping with this amazing, diverse team of people more than anyone can ever imagine. I love them deep to the core!

SO WHAT’S NEXT?

What’s next is the question everyone is asking me. The truth is, I have no idea. I’ve always been an entrepreneur of sorts and have lots of ideas. Although I recognize that I must be flexible, our heart is to remain in the Golden Isles. This is our home, our kids are deeply involved in this community and well frankly, this place is just special to us.

I’ve always had an e-commerce company as a side-hustle and I will be investing a lot of my time into building those brands. With more than a dozen years of e-commerce experience I have a vast amount of knowledge and education that I will be offering as a consultant. But as everyone knows, my primary passion is, and always will be, music.

I will continue to compose weekly piano instrumental interludes for my “Worship Interludes Podcast” that has now exceeded over 130,000 downloads in over 170 countries. I’m approaching a major milestone of nearly 1 million “plays” of my piano music on Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, and YouTube. I’ve been holding off on releasing new piano albums and I now have time to devote to more composing and writing.

The reality is, I’ve been either a part of a worship team, or leading a worship team, practically every Sunday since I was in high school. (With the exception of my wayward freshman year at Georgia Southern University, that is!). For the first time in over 30 years, I am not obligated to be on a stage or platform every Sunday. I just may enjoy having church in a deer stand or on a river. I will enjoy asking God where He wants me to go. For the first time in over 20 years, I may be able to spend Christmas Eve with my family. Make no mistake, the sacrifices I’ve made for ministry have been more than worth it. I am forever grateful for the time that God has given me to serve such an amazing congregation who have demonstrated their love and commitment to Jesus in so many ways.

We are grateful for your love and prayers.

Love and peace,
Fred

Reflections on Bethel Worship Night

Bethel Worship Night Tour - Jacksonville, FL

Bethel Worship Night Tour – Jacksonville, FL

Let’s just say it’s been a while …

A while where I was free to dive head-first into praise and worship without the responsibility of leading
A while where I had an extended time to soak in an atmosphere that I was created for
A while where I was the one receiving fully instead of giving

And I’m here to say … “it was good”.  My soul is stirred and my spirit filled.

Fresh off the 2015 Iron Man Men’s Retreat from SSCC, I traveled down to Jacksonville to participate in the Bethel Music worship night tour.  Honestly, I was tired and although I was expectant, there was a part of me that was struggling with the “I’ve been there and done that” attitude.   It’s an attitude that comes up in my heart many times after attending and leading thousands of worship services.   It’s an attitude that has a stench of arrogance and price that God has been revealing in my heart.

It’s no secret that the worship culture at Bethel leans into what most would call a charismatic feel.  I’ve always hated that label for the very reasons of the imagery that probably comes to mind when you read this sentence.  Yet, that’s my background – that’s my home.  Passionate, unbridled praise and worship is my happy place.   Spontaneous musical flow where a brand new song and prophetic-filled messages come forth are deep in my well.

It’s also no secret that the 60-70 minutes of time we have at my home church on Sunday mornings isn’t modeled this way.   I knew that when I signed up.  There’s a philosophy of ministry here at SSCC that is true and it works and the Holy Spirit moves in powerful ways in our church. I’ve also been around the block enough to know that you can never compare a “worship night” event to most Sunday corporate gatherings for the simple reason that the people who attend a worship night are, for the most part, passionate about expressive praise and worship.

That being said, I felt myself remembering what it felt like to push further and deeper in my worship.   Those are the cliche’ words that people throw out that confuse people and if used carelessly, tend to cast judgment on a worship service that doesn’t “look or feel” like the Bethel worship last night.   For me, I simply mean I had that time through song and reflection (I sang a lot and I just got on my knees and listened a lot .. prayed a lot … ) to unwind and find myself progressing into a powerful encounter with God.

My heart was stirred … not to try and come back to St. Simons and recreate a blow-out worship night (although we do that several times per year).  My heart was stirred with the fact and reality that God’s Presence is available to me like that EVERY … SINGLE … DAY.   It simply requires my time and effort.  

I drove over an hour to get there.
I stood in line for almost as long as we drove — a line of expectant, hungry-for-God worshipers that wrapped around this huge facility.
I stood/sat/kneeled on that floor for a few hours.

Essentially, I used an event as a catalyst to pursue God’s presence.

I quickly realized that the deep, intimate place I found myself in was freely available to me in my home … in my car .. in my studio … on our beach … and I was grieved that I’ve allowed LIFE to rob me of consistently making this time of worship a priority.

At the same time, I was stirred to return … and prayerfully consider a venue or environment where I could flex those old muscles of leading from a more spontaneous, prophetic mantle for no other reason than ministering to God and allowing Him to minister back to us.  I am eager to setup a room, gather a few trusted musicians and vocalists who can flow, and invite whomever wants to come … and just worship.   Sing whatever songs come to mind.   Play and not sing.  Sing the new song.   Pray and respond to what God says.

Honestly, I’ve been a bit burned out on the produced, huge worship nights.   They are powerful and give us that mountain top experience, yet they are physically, spiritually, and emotionally demanding on our team.   I am ready to prayerfully start planning the next one … but at the same time, I want to chase after more of my own time in God’s Presence and a more casual, less-produced venue where the only real effort in making it happen is sitting down, plugging in, opening the door, and letting it flow ….

To the folks at Bethel … thanks for refreshing my soul.   I know from experience how HIGH you are, yet, how DRAINED you are.   You refreshed my soul and stirred my spirit.   You handed me a shovel so that I could dig up some wells that have been filled in for a long time.  (Genesis 26:18)

Forever grateful,
Fred