Pastor of Worship in Music Update
It was almost three years ago when Howard Geis approached the elders with tentative plans for his retirement. Last summer it became apparent to Howard that this transition should take place in the fall of 2016.
The elders soon began an in-depth, three-pronged process by looking historically at music in our church. They searched the Scriptures for a sound Biblical stance on worship in general and music specifically. And lastly, they talked with a variety of churches in our area to discover what they were doing to both edify believers and develop music that is attractive to a wide range of people (such as are represented in our church family). Prayerfully the elders developed a Pastor of Worship in Music Profile, formed a search team, and appointed Chad Kositzky as the interim music leader.
The search team accurately represented a cross-section of the church family and consisted of Dennis McGee (Chairman), Josh Duggan, Joy Fischer, Cindy McWilliams, Tracy Rader and Pierson Whittington. Driven by prayer and with a heart to search for the very best candidate according to the profile, they began receiving a number of resumés. There were some excellent candidates with exceptional skills put forward, and while several candidates had some of the qualifications, only one man seemed to possess the full spectrum of qualifications.
The profile the elders put together is extensive. They began with spiritual qualifications before looking at musical qualities, and in keeping with the rich heritage of pastoral leadership in the music ministry at HBC:
- They desired a man to be first qualified as a pastor with a strong conviction for discipleship and a track record of discipling men.
- They desired a man with a heart for evangelism and missions.
- They desired a man to lead our worship in music from a heart of personal worship and love for God.
- He must be a man whose basic theology and philosophy of ministry line up with that which is stated in HBC’s by-laws and expressed by the elders.
- They desired a man who will pursue excellence in music leadership with an ability to lead the congregation with a sense of joy, awe and energy, and be conversant and comfortable with both contemporary and traditional music styles.
- The elders believe that music must be God-honoring, gospel-centered, primarily congregational and participatory, and diverse and focused on the spiritual growth of the people.
- The candidate should be sensitive to where people are and lead music that is expressive of who HBC is as a church, and while not “attractional” in the sense of being designed to reach a certain demographic the music should be attractive.
- There are specific things that the elders also desired: proficiency to lead a choir and orchestra or band; a working knowledge of audio/visual equipment; the ability to play more than one musical instrument (preferably piano and guitar); and the ability to wear multiple ministry hats, such as assisting with HBC’s website, communication, shepherding, etc.
While the team anticipated that the search process could take up to two years (most churches experience that), God providentially opened doors and the team was led to Zach Sprowls. The search team, elders and pastoral staff have had extensive conversations with him and his wife and with the references he listed. All unanimously agree that Zach is the man to come and lead HBC’s ministry of worship in music. He will be at HBC to lead our music in the worship service on April 30, and will meet with those who might be interested in being a part of the music ministry (the choir, band/orchestra, and audio/visual) on Wednesday, April 26 and various groups throughout the weekend. HBC members will be asked to respond with a vote of affirmation for the elder’s recommendation after the morning worship service on May 7.
Zach grew up in the church and was homeschooled from the third grade up. His grandfather was a pastor and musician and his father began pastoring about six years ago.
After graduating with a dual major in Bible and Sacred Music, Zach spent two years in an intern program with Bob Kauflin and Sovereign Grace Music – learning about worship leadership, song writing, recording, and producing and arranging. His major instrument is the piano and he also plays the guitar and drums.
For the past five years he has been associate/assistant pastor and worship in music leader at Grace Church, an SBC church in Gainesville, VA. He teaches piano both privately and through a music education group Contemporary Music Center. He writes music and has recorded a number of retuned hymns and original songs that he has recorded and released. For a sample of several of his rearranged hymns on piano go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPjA0Vocp6M (It Is Well with My Soul) and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XS6_mMbc3os (Come Thou Fount.)
He also founded Chartsource LLC, a company devoted to creating string arrangements and transcribing sheet music for companies and artists. The mission statement of his company is to serve the local church through the creation and retail of sheet music designed to bridge the gap between traditional and modern styles of music.
His resumé listed his skills/strengths. (He began by saying: I am happy to share my weaknesses, too!)
- Personal – Pastoral, ambitious, avid learner, theologically-minded, able to teach.
- Music – Can sing and play multiple instruments (piano, guitar, drums, etc.); can play both by ear and read music; am comfortable in various styles, can write and arrange music.
- Because of my experience as an associate pastor, I can think holistically about a church’s ministry and incorporate what I do into the broader vision of the church. I also have experience discipling individuals and working to build community within a small group setting. Additionally, because of my business experience, I have developed some skills in WordPress websites, content management, online marketing and social media strategies.
- Family – He and his wife, Beth have two children, Lydia and Darren.
Join us in welcoming Zach as he visits on April 30! Please continue asking the Lord to guide us through this process.