A Look Behind the Leader: Carter Lezman
The worship pastor at All Shores Wesleyan Church in Spring Lake began his new job in January of 2020.
"I came from a church of 150 to one of 800 to a thousand; and from a volunteer team of 20 to around 70," recalled the Kalamazoo-area native. "The pace of work was a lot faster and more demanding," he added.
Then in March of that year came the COVID-19 pandemic. That brought a whole new set of adjustments for the 28 year-old singer-songwriter. From in-person meeting limitations to online streaming of worship, Lezman and his crew had to roll with the punches and keep things moving forward. That's in addition to supervising his three-person staff, organizing and encouraging volunteers, and keeping connections seamless with All Shores' two satellite campuses in Coopersville and Muskegon.
Maintaining a proper work/life balance has been a juggling act he has called one of his key challenges. Fortunately, he's had some good pastoral help along the way in setting boundaries and allowing for "Sabbath" periods. "I'm finding time for rest and family, and I'm thankful my team understands that," he said.
A WORSHIP PASTOR STRUCTURE
Lezman is much more than a "music guy." He is one of six members of the church's senior leadership team and is part of an "on-call" rotation among all the pastors on staff.
He administers a worship department that includes three division directors - worship, production and communication.
"As a worship pastor I'm charged to give vision into the church's worship culture, and to pastor the entire worship team," Lezman said. "I spend a lot of time connecting with our volunteers and caring for families."
He estimates he works more than 15 hours per week in planning, preparation, rehearsing and executing Sunday worship, which includes two services at All Shores and one each at the other campuses. The sites share the same sermon/teaching via video link, but each has its own music.
All Shores' worship style is contemporary/modern. A couple of their recent song favorites: "Graves Into Gardens" (Elevation Worship) and "Reign Above It All" (Bethel Music).
Still feeling a COVID impact, worship numbers are from 400-600 at the home Spring Lake campus on Cleveland St (M-104). There are 60-80 each at the other locations, plus usually 150 or more online.
In the responsibility grid, Lezman reports to All Shores' executive pastor Steve Rimes. "(Carter) has a deep heart of compassion and love for God," Rimes said. "He exhibits that deeply and it translates into how he leads worship."
FOLLOWING A CALL
Lezman grew up with church music. He studied trumpet in school but learned guitar well enough to help lead worship for his youth group.
He was a pre-law student (history and political science) at the University of Michigan. "But God had other plans," he said.
"I graduated and got a job but found myself feeling called back to worship and music... it was a call I couldn't ignore. "
Lezman realized that the gifting and passion God had given him was to be used for His service.
He took a job at a small church, feeling honored simply to be leading worship. The calling grew and eventually led him to All Shores.
A singer-songwriter for most of his adult years, Lezman released some original tunes on a 2018 project called "Stand Out."
THE BLESSINGS OF LEADERSHIP
Lezman says the most rewarding thing in his role as worship pastor is seeing the positive changes in the lives of the people he serves.
One example: "Someone told me that a couple of years ago he had no engagement in worship and actually was bored at times during the service," Lezman recalled.
"But now he feels so engaged that he finds himself singing the songs during the week... I'm just so grateful to hear that kind of transformation story."
The worship pastor says he personally appreciates the music of Jeremy Riddle, a worship leader and recording artist currently serving a Vineyard Church in Southern California.
"(Riddle) wrote a book called 'The Reset' which was life-changing for me," Lezman said.
He also values the fresh and diverse sounds of the worship-based group Maverick City Music.
Meanwhile, Lezman has been busy preparing music for the Christmas season, with the church-selected theme "The Promise." "I think there will be some special Christmas music releasing this season," he hinted.