I’m a huge fan of guys who are invested in the local Church, and Fred is one of those guys. Fred leads in a little slice of heaven called St. Simons Island down in Georgia. He’s been leading worship for over 20 years, and has been leading in the local church for almost as long.
He’s more than your average singer with a mic & 4 chords, as he has a composing and theory background as well as some interests in e-commerce. I appreciate guys who want to do more than simply write some charts and setup a rehearsal, but rather want to see Jesus made known through a thriving and healthy worship ministry.
I think you’re really going to dig Fred’s responses, so go ahead and dive in!
Name || Fred McKinnon
Church & Role || St. Simons Community Church, Worship Pastor
Main Instrument || Piano / Keys
Fun Fact || I’m totally an artist, composing and playing music, yet, I’m totally a business-entrepreneuer at the same time, and own a large e-commerce company “on the side.”
1) How did you learn to/get into leading worship?
Well keep in mind, I’m 44 years old here. So I witnessed the birth of what we call the modern, contemporary worship music. I listened to Maranantha cassette tapes. I owned the very first official “Integrity Music” cassette and was in their club for years. I got just about every “Hosanna Music” CD ever made.
I fell in love with the sound and quality of the early Integrity releases and determined that one day, I’d work at that company. I took that drive into Georgia Southern University where I got a Music Degree, double-majoring in Piano Performance and Theory/Composition. During college, I was active on praise teams at my church and was introduced to the Vineyard and much of the renewal/revival music that came out of the Vineyard.
After college, I was offered my first job as a music minister in Vicksburg, MS. Since then, I’ve never looked back.
2) What is the most helpful habit you have developed as a Worship Leader?
I would say that one of my most helpful habits has been to delegate leadership. We are blessed to have numerous people who are capable of planning and leading a worship service that I frequently delegate leadership to. Beyond that, I find it helpful to delegate vocal leadership of individual songs, based on key and style to the vocalist(s) that are most suited to lead that particular song. It gives more ownership to the team and puts less focus on “me.”
3) What has helped you develop as a Worship Leader?
So many things. Blogs, relationships, conferences, and frankly, over 25 years of “in the trenches” experience. Also, I’ve developed through the collaboration of a small leadership team we have in our church that helps to oversee the music ministry.
4) What’s one thing you wish you would have known 10 years ago?
I wish that I could have seen and predicted the current “trend” that has younger people, specifically, many millennials, moving away from the modern, performance-driven worship format. We felt this and saw it coming before it was trendy and feel like we’ve been ahead of the curve at our church, but only because we have surrounded ourselves with collaboration from multiple generations.
5) If you could only give one piece of advice to a growing Worship Leader, what would it be?
Don’t go at this alone. Prayerfully form a small leadership group to help oversee the music ministry and direction of your congregation. Let it involve your core worship leaders, your pastor, but also a few people outside of your demographic. Some older people who have been around for a while — their perspective is extremely valuable.
Get your eyes off of whatever the trendy, famous “worship church” is right now, and don’t try to become like them. Be true to who God made YOU to be, and be true to who YOUR congregation is. Be willing to sacrifice your personal preference in style and music for the demographic of your church. And lastly, and most importantly … boycott the “WHOA WHOA WHOA” from your lyrics forevermore. (Just Kidding!)
I love what Fred was saying about originality and being true to who God has made your church to be. There is no real benefit in trying to be someone else or trying to force a specific style that doesn’t fit your church but fits your preferences. There is something to be said for putting the good of your church ahead of your own preferences, good stuff!
In addition to Fred’s own website, he supports a great site called TheWorshipCommunity.com, where worship leaders can join and discuss everything worship! There you’ll find a blog, discussion forums, and other great resources to help you do what we all do on a weekly basis. This is a great opportunity for you to join a community of other worship leaders to ask questions, gain insights, and to grow as a worship leader.