My name is Andrew Johnson and I’m 22 years old. Before coming to Northbrook Alliance Church, I had attended Crossroads Alliance Church since I was in the third grade. I was involved with leading worship there at Crossroads since before 2007. I am currently serving as President of Unashamed Worship Ministries and as a worship leader for the evening service for a Brooklyn Center church.
I was raised in a Christian family and have gone to church since I was a baby. I even played the role of baby Jesus in our church Christmas play as a newborn. I knew about the Bible and Jesus. Initially, I placed my faith in Jesus Christ when I was 5 years old. I was listening to the radio (KTIS) and I heard a boy about my age on Focus On The Family speaking. It seemed as though he had so much joy. I wanted that joy. I prayed to receive Jesus Christ shortly after hearing that boy on the radio.
In seventh grade, I recommitted my life to Jesus after hearing a teaching entitled “Hell’s Best Kept Secret” by Ray Comfort. It explained the law (The Ten Commandments), grace, and repentance. I recognized that a perfect and holy God saw me as a lying, thieving, adulterer at heart — deserving of Hell. But God, being kind, sent His Son into the world to be crucified on the cross to pay for my sin. It really revolutionized my Christian life. Since then I have grown in my knowledge of the Lord and His Word. I have learned that Christianity is a relationship and not just a religion.
There have been many definitions offered for the word “worship”. I believe the one that best defines worship is, “A response to who God is and what He’s done in light of who we are and what we’ve done.” I believe, Romans 12:1-2 describes what our response should be to God in light of what He’s done (as outlined in the preceding verses, Romans 11:30-36). “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2). The result of worship is transformation!
1 Peter 2:4 says, “As you come to him, the living Stone–rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him– you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:4-5). In the original Greek, the word “come” can signify the act of worship. As we draw near to God, He is transforming us into a worshiping community so that we might “declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9b).
My perspective on worship radically changed when I realized that Christ is our true worship leader. Everything He does is for the purpose of glorifying the Father. He calls each person to worship – each person playing a unique part. He calls a pastor to proclaim God’s Word as an act of worship. He calls some to sing praise as an act of worship. I believe He has called me to be what the Old Testament calls the “chief musician” or what we call the Worship Director.
The goal of the worship leader is much the same as a pastor in relation to the Word of God. A pastor’s goal is to implant the word of God into people’s hearts by preaching (Romans 10:18); the goal of a worship leader is to implant God’s Word into people’s hearts through music and the emotional connotation that comes with that music.
I am very experienced both with music and with leading worship. My father was an excellent musician. The only reason I bring this up is because I believe that the Bible indicates in 1 Chronicles 25 that musical talent runs in families. I have a rich musical background that began for me personally when I was in the third grade. It was then that I joined my elementary school orchestra and began learning to play the viola. In orchestra I began to develop a vast knowledge of music theory. Before my freshman year in high school, I began to teach myself the guitar. Since then, I have grown in leaps and bounds in my musical skill and knowledge of music.
It was my guitar playing that led Rev. Jeffrey B. Jarvis (former Worship Director at Crossroads Alliance Church, now Senior Pastor at Christ Community Church in Excelsior, MN) to invest in me and allow me to join 5th Sunday as the back up acoustic guitarist. Since then, I have been leading worship in our church (for the youth and congregation) since 2007. Every time I lead worship, I feel an “energy”. I believe this is not just a feeling, but an affirmation that I am walking in my spiritual gift of music. In addition, others have affirmed that the gift of music is one of my spiritual gifts. The gift of music is the gift whereby the Spirit enables certain Christians to praise God through music in such a way as to enhance the worship experience of other believers.
My favorite worship artists are Steve Fee, Kristian Stanfill, Hillsong, Chris Tomlin, Lincoln Brewster, Desperation Band and Jacob Kuiper.
I would encourage any worshiper reading this to meditate on God’s mercy and grace. Rather than God giving us what we do deserve, God gave us what we don’t deserve. We should worship not out of obligation but out of gratitude that God chose to save a wretch like you or me.