Pfeiffer has chapel services each Wednesday from 10am-11am. There are no classes during that time. And students actually get “credit” for going (cultural credit, that is, of which you have to have a certain number to graduate). At least it was that way when I was a student there.
My first job was as an early service pianist…and part of my responsibilities included starting a youth praise team. I was a junior in high school. So I worked with the youth praise team, taught myself how to play the guitar, and started learning praise and worship songs and leading worship in various settings.
As a freshman at Pfeiffer, I realized that our chapel services…well, they just…started. There wasn’t gathering music or anything to “get people in the Spirit,” it just…started with a welcome and then with a hymn usually played on the organ. So I asked the chaplain at the time if I could play some gathering music, and he was happy for me to – so I started playing praise songs on the piano before chapel services started.
I’m a little fuzzy on the timeline, but eventually I got others to join with me and we ended up forming the Pfeiffer Praise team. Aren’t we CUTE!?
We played for youth groups in the area, for chapel services each week, and, honestly, we struggled to get along at times. We loved singing and playing music to glorify God. (And, as you can tell from the pictures above, we thought we were pretty cool.)
Anyway, while all this was going on, I had switched majors to Christian Ed. and Music and for some reason, sometime during my junior year, I applied to be a Peer Chaplain. Long story short, I didn’t get it. And I’m so glad.
Part of why I didn’t get it was because the new campus minister wanted to help me further develop the Pfeiffer Praise Team. I had run into some obstacles here and there with the team…one of which was finding time to practice. I thought I could try to make the praise team a class (like for credit hours). The music faculty frowned on that…I remember one of them saying, “that’ll never happen.” Guess what – it happened!
Almost every week of my time at Pfeiffer I led music during our chapel services. It was such a blessing to be part of a team to lead others in worship. And I don’t know if I’d have been able to do that and be a peer chaplain. (Actually, I would’ve been an awful peer chaplain. I applaud the committee in turning me toward the Praise Team and away from the chaplaincy.)
My experience with the Pfeiffer Praise Team has been invaluable in my ministry with youth. There have been times where I wasn’t sure what else was good with my ministry…but music was what bonded my youth and I together…it was the open door when other ways were closed.
Not only has music been a catalyst for forming relationships with my youth but it has been one of the ways we have experienced God together. Through singing and then discussing a song – especially the weird songs (what does this song “madly in love with you” have to do with God? why does it say “‘my heart and my soul, lord, i give you control’ – why would we give control to God? i like being in control!”).
I can’t imagine my life or my ministry without music. This morning I led music with our praise team in the early service; our closing song was “I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me.” One of the verses is “I’m gonna sing so God can use me… anywhere, Lord, anytime.” There were times during my younger years that I was hesitant to play piano or lead singing because I was insecure about my musical talents. My dad would get frustrated with me because he believed I should always be ready and willing to step up and use my gifts when they were needed.
I’m so thankful that the pianist at our church when I was a child was willing to give me a chance – thanks, Ms. Paulette, for teaching me how to play the piano. Thanks, mom and dad, for paying for alllllllll those years of piano lessons and pianos. Thanks to Clyde and those at Christ UMC Drexel for hiring a teenager with no experience…and for the youth there who inspired me to learn guitar. Thanks to my high school chorus teachers for teaching me and giving me experiences to accompany our high school choirs. Thanks to Pfeiffer for the opportunity to develop the Pfeiffer praise team and for those who supported and encouraged us. And thanks especially to my dad, who helped me realize that music is a gift from God…a gift that I was given to use, not to hide under a bushel.