November 21, 2016

By Ryan McLouth

Sometimes people ask me how I got involved with worship music. I love hearing other people’s stories, and I love sharing my own story as well. When I was a kid, I had three primary experiences with music. I played trumpet in the school band, played guitar and listened to rock music at home, and sang at church. All three of these experiences were very different from each other. From the style, to the method, to the delivery, each was a very different paradigm. In school I was instructed, read music and practiced with some discipline. At home I would listen to music with my family and on my own for hours, taught myself to play the guitar and did not read music. At church we would open a hymnal and sing a song from the page usually accompanied by keyboard. I didn’t really understand how it happened, but I knew that it worked.
    
When I transitioned to college, I had many varied experiences as a music major studying guitar, but I also stayed engaged with church music. I sang for the university choir in churches, sang in church on the weekend, and played contemporary worship music for student worship services and conferences.
 
After college and during graduate school, I had the opportunity to participate as a worship musician in many different churches, leading many different styles. From contemporary acoustic worship, to poppy electric Christian rock, to country gospel and bluegrass, to classic hymns, I enjoyed all of it. There was always one thread that carried through as well: I knew I was in the right place, doing the right thing.
    
Now leading worship and teaching future worship leaders has become my full-time career. It is truly the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I get to make music, teach young people, and stay active in my faith every single day. For me, it feels like all of my skills and experiences came together in the right place to make what I do a reality.     
    
I also get to visit a lot of United Methodist Churches. I love this part, too. I get to see how your congregations do worship, what technology you use and hear the testimonies of Christians throughout the state. From Woods Chapel UMC, to Salem UMC in Ladue, to Kings Way UMC, to WOW, everybody does it a little differently, and everybody has a different story. That’s the part I’m interested in—your testimonial. I want to hear your story about church music. I want to hear what you enjoy, the challenges you face, triumphs and what got you into it. What keeps you into it? Write to me and let me know.

I want to hear your story about church music. I want to hear what you enjoy, the challenges you face, triumphs, and what got you into it. What keeps you into it? 

    
If I can be a resource to you, your congregation, or if you know a young person interested in being a future worship leader, please let me know. You can reach me at 660-651-9964 or email me at rmclouth@centralmethodist.edu.