In 1990 I returned to Anaheim and rejoined the staff at the Anaheim Vineyard. At this time John was ready for us to expand what we were doing to include others in leading and developing other worship teams for the Sunday services. This was primarily in my opinion a good thing, but it certainly opened up the, “I'm of Paul” and “I'm of Apollos “ door. People developed an affinity for certain worship leaders and because I was coordinating it, I would hear about it.
Over the next few years we had several worship leaders: Kevin Prosch, Cindy Rethmeier, Scott Brenner, Larry Hampton, Daphne Rademaker, Andy Park, Eddie Espinosa, Jeff Searles and myself from time to time. By the way, it was interesting to watch Kevin try and work within a 30-minute time frame in a normal worship service. Anyone who has ever been in a conference setting with Kevin knows that he is fully capable of doing one song for 20 minutes! Everyone was a pleasure to work with and it certainly continued to expand on and improve what we were doing. But like I said, people had their favorites and it was a bit of a pain to have to listen to some of the whining. One Sunday morning a woman came up to me and very matter-of-factly asked me why I allowed a certain person to lead worship. I asked her why she was asking me this and she, without blinking, said, “Because he doesn't have the Holy Spirit.” To this day I don't have words to express just how goofy that kind of thing is in my mind. What did she have a Holy Spirit meter that she carried around? People can be nuts!
I became the senior pastor of the Anaheim Vineyard in December of 1994 and was also the President of the Board of Vineyard Music. By this time, John's oldest son, Chris, was the general manager and really led the company. I didn't do much more at the time other than over see the Board meetings. I had enough on my plate succeeding John. Yikes!
During the early to mid 90's Vineyard Music continued to flourish and expand around the world. It was during this time that Brian Doerksen had moved to England to spend a couple years helping mentor and develop worship in the U.K. It was during this time as well that Come, Now Is The Time To Worship was produced and it simply rocked. It was the best thing to come out of the Vineyard in a long time. Of course today we know some of the names of people who Brian brought along and involved in the worship movement, Kathryn Scott, Brenton Brown and Tim Hughes to name s few.
By 1997 I left the Vineyard and although I have reviewed a couple of projects for Worshipteam.com, I haven't had much contact with it and don't know what the history from that time forward is.
What I do believe, though, is that that something very special happened in those early days that I think can be linked to a lot of what we are seeing today. It's not that it was the only influence or even the epicenter, but I don't think there is a doubt that what we did had impact. The truth is John and Carol had insight into that which was way beyond what I could see. One time Carol came up to me and told me how important what I was doing was, and that it was going to play a part in impacting worship around the world. I thought she was nuts. Many years later I had two experiences that brought back those words to me, both of these occasions occurred as a result of insomnia. I was flipping through the channels early in the morning and I came across an interview that was taking place with women on a couch in a very nice setting. I could tell it was some sort of infomercial but it was done so well I felt compelled to stop. There was some music playing quietly in the background and as the woman finished her story, the music swelled and I recognized the songs as one a friend of mine Maria Barnett had written called Breathe. Carol's words came back to me and I sobbed. I was so overwhelmed by what has taken place over all these years.
One other thing that galvanized the truth of Carol's “prophecy” again took place while I was channel surfing early in the morning. I came across a segment in which Michael W. Smith was sitting at a piano playing and singing a worship song. As the camera panned back, there were other recognizable artist singing with him and as it panned back further you began to see the audience, in the front row were George and Barbara Bush, along with others like Condoleezza Rice; the room was filled with recognizable national figures, and there was Michael leading them in the Martin Smith song, I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever.
Even though I have been away from Vineyard worship for a long time, and haven't contributed anything in this arena in years, I will always treasure the privilege I had to have been able to participate in even a small way in a ministry that has blessed so many people throughout the world over all these years.
I will leave you with one last anecdote. Years ago at Anaheim Vineyard there was a young boy, probably 11 or so, who used to always come down to the front of the church and just get lost in worship. He was always fully engaged in worship. He wrote me recently and told me that when he was 19, I had prayed over him and prophesied some things that he said he has been “Watching unfold before his eyes” over the past several years. His name is Jeremy Riddle. He wrote Sweetly Broken, a song that appears to be one of the best and most powerful songs to come out of the Vineyard in many years. Pretty cool!
I love where worship is today. I love the young worship leader/ worship artists! Heck, I don't know what they are called! How about young Psalmists!