Behind worship: What it’s like to be a church musician

Logan Lindahl, worship leader at Faith Evangelical Free Church, has been playing the guitar since he was in seventh grade. (Hallie Lucas | The Collegian)

The sun hasn’t even risen, yet early Sunday morning, musicians across the Manhattan area are conducting sound checks.

Steven Robinson, sophomore in music education, plays the piano at University Christian Church.

“It’s an awesome church,” Robinson said. “We have a really talented pool of players.”

The group is made up of students and teachers both, although most are students.

“It can be kind of weird at first to play alongside your teachers,” Robinson said. “Sometimes they might make suggestions about your playing, but they don’t make you feel uncomfortable.”

Ben Worcester, instructor in the School of Music, Theater and Dance at Kansas State, is also the music and production minister at University Christian Church. Worcester said that out of the entire worship team at the church, four out of every five are student musicians.

“Working with students is one of my favorite parts,” Worcester said. “Seeing students grow in faith and musical ability is really rewarding, but some instruction does take place. It’s all about encouragement.”

Worcester plays the piano, but takes a back seat to help coordinate other teams, such as the soundboard and lights.

“I’m only playing on stage about one of every three weeks,” Worcester said.

All of the musicians follow a similar schedule so they don’t feel overused, he said.

“I really enjoy playing my keys on stage, but I also enjoy watching from the sidelines,” Worcester said.

Worcester said he enjoys both aspects of his job because he gets to watch his students grow.

“Being behind the scenes and being on stage both feel the same because I can still see my students grow,” Worcester said.

On the other hand, Logan Lindahl, K-State alum and worship pastor at Faith Evangelical Free Church, leads the worship band every Sunday morning. Lindahl is in charge of everything worship-related, ranging from the technology crew to the band on the stage.

“Ninety-nine percent of the time, I’m on the stage playing,” Lindahl said.

Selecting songs for services is another of Lindahl’s responsibilities.

“I like to pick music that ties into the overall message for that day,” he said. “The songs that take place before the sermon are more about preparation.”

The worship teams at Faith and University Christian Church have similar Sunday morning preparation schedules. The teams are expected to be at church before most churchgoers have even gotten out of bed.

Worcester arrives by 5:30 a.m. every Sunday and expects the musicians to be there by 6:45 a.m. At Faith, Lindahl prepares for his service by praying at 6 a.m., with his team showing up at 7 a.m. for rehearsal.

Both worship teams prepare together for about an hour before services start. The rest of the day, the musicians perform at every service.

“It goes by really fast, but one of my favorite parts of the experience is when people come up and talk to us in between services about the music,” Robinson said.

Playing during a church worship service is incredibly fulfilling, Lindahl said.

“I love what I do,” he said. “I feel called to do this. You have to make it a priority to be involved in the church community before you can play on stage. Music comes second.”

Robinson said it’s rewarding to use his musical talents for church worship.

“Using talents from school and applying them is really rewarding,” Robinson said. “It’s definitely worth it.”

Every Sunday morning, these students get that opportunity to see gratifying that experience really.

“When you’re on that stage, you see God working in people’s lives,” Lindahl said. “It is the sweetest moment.”