What are your roles and responsibilities in your church?
I’m an elder at Crestmont Alliance Church outside of Pittsburgh, PA. I meet at least once a month with some of my dearest friends on the planet for food, fellowship, theological discussions and to talk about the issues at hand. It’s a wonderful time of worship and I always look forward to it. I’m a non-staff Ministry Leader of the Worship Ministry where I oversee the vision and direction of the church’s worship as it pertains to our corporate singing. I handle the scheduling of the volunteers on Planning Center and implement healthy systems for the delegation of planning and executing all aspects of the Sunday service; from rehearsal to walk-in music to congregational readings.
Tell us about your church (style of worship, size of church, what church looks like in your part of the world, how the church is impacting the community, etc.):
We are a small, old church with a new fire blazing. Many new families are coming and one of the church’s greatest needs is a larger nursery! We have a little over 100 members in our tough, blue-collar, Western Pennsylvania town where emotions are usually reserved for football games. To see people open up in the worship of the Lord is a work of the Spirit indeed! Our church is very active in the community, especially reaching out to those in our inner city. We send people on annual mission trips and support the Foreign Workers in our denomination, but we realize the importance of being a blessing to our own community as well.
What is the spiritual climate of your city?
Aliquippa and the surrounding townships are predominately Catholic. In our Protestant church, we intentionally incorporate liturgical congregational readings of our own creation as we know we have many visitors from neighboring Catholic churches where readings are often the norm. Of course we never attempt to recruit people from other churches. “Jesus only is our message,” and if people are getting that message elsewhere, we trust the Spirit to lead as He will. Our city is a desperate city. Since Big Steel left the area in the 80’s, unemployment and poverty have been a real issue. We want to make sure that our church congregation points people to our Greatest Hope: Jesus.
How do you prepare to lead?
Even though all the songs are chosen at least 2 weeks in advance, in conjunction with the topic of the sermon or Communion Sunday (2nd Sunday of each month) I reserve Saturday evening after the kids go to bed to play through the set, not only to re-acclimate myself with the songs so that I’m not trying to learn them Sunday morning at rehearsal (our only rehearsal!), but it enables me to worship the Lord through those songs one on one before I worship the Lord in front of people. That prepares my heart to embrace the words of the songs more than anything else.
Besides your phone and computer, what gadget could you not live without?
I refuse to have more gadgets than my phone and my computer! I was born hundreds of years too late. …but maybe my DVR.
What apps, software, instruments, or other tools do you recommend?
Larrivee Acoustic Guitars sound fantastic and there is no keyboard that sounds as good or feels as real as my Yamaha CP-300. I bought it in 2007 and nothing has surpassed its awesomeness.
What’s your workspace like?
Right now, it changes depending on the day and the weather. My workspace is my home, where my children are home schooled. I shift from the guest room to the sunroom to the back porch. I like to think of it as a season where creativity happens because I’m desperate for a relegated place to be creative and don’t have it. That’s what I tell myself. I have plans to retrofit our old, scary shed in the back woods to be that creative place in the near future.
What are you listening to right now?
To calm my mind: Gregorian chant in the mornings, movie soundtracks in the afternoon and Yo-Yo Ma or Miles Davis at night. But I just bought the new Martin Smith Album: love it! And Paul Baloche’s new French album, Glorieux, which has a lot of his songs from Same Love which is one of my favorite albums.
Can you share a recent set list with us?
We started having Nights of Worship at our church this year, very unplugged and not in the Sanctuary! Last week we had our second one and squashed about 100 people in the foyer. We scattered the musicians around the perimeter of the room and sang the following interspersed with Scripture:
In Christ Alone (Getty)
King of Heaven (Baloche)
Lord I Need You (Maher)
Nothing But The Blood (Traditional)
Lay Me Down (Tomlin)
O God Our Help in Ages Past (with a new chorus I wrote and will never play again! Live and learn.)
No One Higher (from my new album)
Great Is Thy Faithfulness (Traditional)
How Great Thou Art (Traditional)
Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert? How does it affect your leadership style?
Introvert. Meaning that’s where I go to recharge, as opposed to a crowded place: where extroverts go to recharge. Ministry involves people and I pour myself out whether on stage or in conversation, but I need time with my family and I need alone time to be able to pour myself out again.
What is your relationship like with your senior pastor?
We have two Senior Pastors and I grew up with both of them. Nearly everyone in current leadership at Crestmont grew up at Crestmont. My Pastors and I hang out whether it’s to discuss Church or not. We are friends and our families live life together, it’s the reason we moved here.
Any advice you want to give to other worship leaders?
We need to use more Scripture in our sets. It’s sharper than any double-edged sword, it doesn’t return void and it much more powerful than our commentaries or opinions.
Fill in the blank. I’d like to see Paul Baloche answer these same questions.
You can check out Aaron’s new album, Morning Rises, on iTunes!