“It’s All About Relationships…”
This "matching service" is the mission of Celebration Ministry Staffing, a national organization Matthews joined last year after his retirement from Christ Memorial Church in Holland.
"We help churches find worship pastors and help candidates find what God's plan is for them with churches," said Matthews, 65, from his Holland area home.
The Nashville-based agency is less than three years old but already has an established track record in helping place worship directors and other staff in church leadership.
A few weeks ago Matthews and an associate visited a church north of Grand Rapids. They met with church leaders and pastoral staff, determining what the church was seeking and then looking at possible candidates. "We really do a lot of homework," Matthews said.
A RICH MUSICAL HISTORY
A Philadelphia native, Matthews was born into a Christian family and raised in a church that allowed young people to use their gifts in worship. "That's always been on my heart through the years...to provide younger people those opportunities," he said.
In high school he sensed a call to do music and ministry as a career. After completing a music education degree he took a position at a church in the Philadelphia area. He moved to begin a 20-year run at a church in suburban Detroit, then came to Holland and Christ Memorial. "Three churches in 40 years," he beamed.
Through nearly all of those decades he teamed with his musical brother Ron for around 600 total concerts, most in the summertime.
The Matthews Brothers were regulars on the seasonal "camp circuit," performing in spots such as Maranatha Bible Conference in Muskegon and the Christian Reformed Conference Grounds in Grand Haven. Each plays trumpet, piano, organ and contributes vocals, providing a remarkable number of musical combinations.
Christ Memorial has a legacy of enduring worship/music leadership. When Matthews arrived 17 years ago he replaced the retiring John Bright, who still attends the church and sings in the choir. Matthews and his wife also remain there playing in the church orchestra. Jeremy Hoekstra succeeded Matthews as worship leader.
"Three generations of worship leaders serving together," Matthews noted. "I had the best cheerleader in John (Bright), and I hope to be that with this young fella (Hoekstra)."
Hoekstra says he's glad Matthews is still around. "He's been nothing but an encouragement to me, and truly has the heart of a pastor."
TURNING THE PAGE
Meanwhile, Matthews now has much of his focus on the bigger picture – in bringing together worship leaders and churches.
"It's a good service," he says of assistance provided by Celebration Ministry Staffing.
"Some churches say, 'We can do this ourselves,''' Matthews says of the search process. "Then they get 40 resumes and ask, 'What do we do now?' Or the opposite: they don't get any (resumes) and they ask 'What did we do wrong?'
"We do a lot of that work, with vetting and matching candidates."
As in traditional staffing agencies, services are free to the candidates. Travel and all associated costs are paid by the hiring ministry. The actual fee is "no risk" in that it's not collected unless the hired person is in place and functioning for one year.
"Our motto is: it's all about relationships," said Matthews. "Sometimes someone can look great on paper, or a church represents itself a certain way. But chemistry is so important."
There's an increasing realization that worship leaders' primary function is pastoring/shepherding volunteers and music/worship workers. There is also an administrative workload.
"We were talking recently that those of us who got into (church music) thinking that music would be 90% of the job; found out that 90% of the job wasn't music."
Perhaps surprisingly, the more "public" part of the role – selecting music, rehearsing and executing worship – is comparatively small.
PART OF A NEWER OUTLOOK
Matthews has three grown daughters: one of them and her husband have led worship.
"If I'm able to help anyone, I'm willing," Matthews said. "I do coaching of younger worship leaders free of charge. I just want to help them use what God has given them to serve...for the church and for future worship leaders."
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