Worship leader candidate: 'God must become greater'
No one has to tell Braden McKinley the power of worship.
God used a summer camp worship service when he was 12 to first show him his need for Jesus Christ’s saving love, and he responded by accepting Christ as Lord and Savior on the spot.
“Since then, by His grace, I’ve sought to commit myself to growing in the knowledge and love of Christ,” McKinley says. “My daily prayer is to live for His glory in all areas of my life in a way that will communicate His saving love to those I encounter.”
That faith journey takes its biggest step in miles March 13 when McKinley, his wife, Ashley, and their sons Thatcher, 1, and Grant, 3, literally travel across the country from Vista, Calif., for him to be officially presented as Triad’s candidate for contemporary worship leader.
Since March 2011, he’s served as minister of music and worship at Torrey Pines Christian Church in La Jolla, Calif.
While at Triad on March 13, McKinley will:
- Lead the Triad Worship Band in the 9 a.m. contemporary service
- Play offertory/special music in the traditional worship service
- Talk to deacons and Executive Leadership Team members
- Meet the church in a Q&A at 7 p.m. after Sunday Night Adult Classes and other activities.
Voting on McKinley will begin online (and in hard copy form for those without electronic access) immediately after the Q&A and end on Sunday, March 20.
Lead Pastor Rob Decker first broke the news about the search for a contemporary worship leader during the Sept. 20 worship services, explaining that Jared Hoots wanted to step away from the worship leader part of his role to focus more time on leading Triad’s Radiate high school student ministry group, and his growing family.
More than 20 people applied for the position after the church advertised it in November. A search team led by Executive Pastor Tim Gerber and Hoots as well as deacons Michael Bowers, Greg Cooney and Charlie Pearson, Triad Worship Band members Mandy Freeman and Tony Artimisi, and church member Jason Johnson narrowed the pool to the three finalists interviewed via FaceTime video conferencing in January.
The committee invited McKinley for in-person evaluation Feb. 17-19 where he met with the search team, Pastor Rob and other church leaders, and led the Triad Worship Band in a practice session.
“The band and search team felt Braden was a great fit musically and personally,” Hoots said. “He has a great voice, commands the stage, gives clear instructions, and is a great musician but also is a very humble and approachable person. The word many use to describe Braden is ‘genuine.’ ”
McKinley is being unanimously recommended by Pastor Rob, the search team, and worship band members.
The position at Triad would be McKinley’s latest leading worship. Before serving at Torrey Pines, he directed music at Good Samaritan Church in San Diego. He graduated in 2008 from the University of California, Irvine, with a double major in music and drama.
Other musical experience includes stints serving as composer-in-residence for the San Diego Opera and as music director for the University of San Diego.
McKinley,who is currently pursing a masters of worship degree, credits a Christian mentor at UC Irvine with showing him how to use his talents singing, and playing the organ, piano, guitar, and other instruments to point lives toward Christ.
“I felt a strong conviction my senior year of college to combine my desire to serve Christ and my love of people and heart for music into pursuing a future in ministry,” he says.
McKinley says the discovery of Triad’s job posting online caught his eye because his and his, wife, Ashley, had been praying about new ministry opportunities in the kind of community and setting that would best support the family’s faith development, make use of their gifts, open new avenues of service, and bring about some other desired changes.
One, for Ashley, is having more time to be a mom and serve in ministry since she's currently lead speech and language pathologist at an area hospital to, in part, provide health insurance coverage for McKinley and supplemental income for her family.
As they explored Triad, the two also were excited to learn about the church’s Miles of Hope for Orphans ministry, since they have been foster parents themselves, and about the Kids Street Children’s Ministry, and many others.
“Kernersville in particular has great appeal as a place where we can raise our boys and instill the faith and values we feel are essential to raising God-honoring men,” McKinley says. “Our oldest son will soon be school-aged, and we desire to have our boys grow up in a community and be part of a church that fosters and helps children develop strong character.
“I deeply admire Triad’s passion for the Gospel, God’s Word, and the strong emphasis on spiritual growth for all ages,” he adds. “I personally connect with Triad’s approach to worship with its passion and authenticity while being rooted in the Gospel message. And I can sense God’s work in everything I have learned about Triad, and know my family would be greatly blessed to serve and grow there.”
When it comes to worship, McKinley says his life verse is John 3:30: “He must become greater; I must become less.” Worship, he adds, is not a one-time response, but an act that propels daily obedience to Christ to the Glory of God.
He defines worship as having four elements:
Response: “Worship is a response to God’s revelation of His nature, His character and His Word, which comes to full realization in the person and work of Jesus Christ: His life, death, resurrection, and future reign.”
Declaration: “In worship, we corporately declare the salvation of Christ that is available to everyone through his atoning death on the cross. We proclaim these truths and internalize them.”
Formation: “Worship produces change in the heart of the worshipper where a greater love for Christ and a more complete surrender to His will are both nurtured and cultivated.”
Community: “Worship creates rich fellowship within the community of believers. Singing, praying, and engaging in His Word together draw us closer to God which unites us under the cause of Christ.”
“In worship, the most important thing for me is that the Glory of God manifested in Jesus Christ remains the focal point of our worship,” McKinley concludes. “Our worship is completely about Jesus: exalting Him in reverence and humility, rejoicing in His salvation, and being formed into His nature. Jesus is the incarnate Word of God (John 1:1) and the ‘founder and perfecter of our faith’ (Hebrews 12:2). My mission is that we glorify God through keeping Jesus at the center of everything we do.”