I’m not sure he realizes it, but my Dad is the one that got me started as a worshiper, which is what led to me becoming a worship leader eventually.
When we first moved to St. Louis, we started attending a church I didn’t like very much. I was 8 years old, and bored by the worship time at that church, so I would normally draw on the bulletin with a pen. I remember at some point my Mom & Dad telling me that worship was important. I could draw during the sermon, but had to participate in the worship time. This church wasn’t exactly good at engaging people in worship, in my opinion. It was very polished, with a full orchestra and singers – kind of like a Branson stage show. Not very personal. Nonetheless, worship was important.
Eventually we left that church and went to our first Vineyard church. Then I got a taste of what worship could be – personal, engaging, approachable, and welcoming. I think that may have been one of the first churches my Dad really loved too – at least since I knew him. I know being at the right church made it easier for me to engage, but it was still my Dad’s example that helped the message sink in. Worship is important. Relationship with Jesus is really at the core and foundation, and singing songs that reflect that relationship helps.
Later on, that church got off track, to the point that having the Holy Spirit show up in a powerful way was all that mattered, to the detriment of relationship, between people & Jesus, and between people and each other. If you’re familiar with the “Toronto Blessing” or the “Renewal”, that is where things eventually went wrong. I plan on writing more in depth on that someday, but for now, it’s important to note that my Dad was very good at helping me and my brother and sisters keep a good perspective throughout that whole time. Even when he was very uncomfortable with how things were going, he always encouraged us to experience the Holy Spirit, even if it was very strange at times, and participated himself. He never allowed us to lose perspective though, that the most important thing was loving Jesus, even when the exciting things passed. I think his influence by itself probably saved me from a lot of the heartache and feeling of disappointment and abandonment in that church that many of my friends experienced.
My Dad would tell you that he is not musical and he probably isn’t in the same way or degree that I am, but that didn’t stop him from encouraging me when I wanted to pursue music more deeply. He didn’t do it perfectly, and there are times that he’s been skeptical about my resolve and persistence, but in the end, he’s always been my biggest fan when it’s come to me leading worship, and that’s the kind of thing a son really needs from his Dad.
So, today, to my Dad, Mark Schulte I want to say Happy Father’s Day. I love you Dad.