J.K. Weger has been minister of music and worship arts at Ash Creek Baptist Church in Azle, Texas, since 2016. From deep in the heart of one Texan, he shares his background and thoughts on music, church and ministry. To suggest a Baptist General Convention of Texas-affiliated minister to be featured in this column, or to apply to be featured yourself, click here.
Where else have you served in ministry, and what were your positions there?
• Minister of music at Highland Terrace Baptist Church in Greenville
• Minister of music at First Baptist Church in Killeen
• Minister of music at First Baptist Church in Paris
• Worship pastor at Woodlawn Baptist Church in Austin
Where did you grow up?
How did you come to faith in Christ?
One Saturday, a friend invited me to go to church. He needed a ride, and my car was running. I was more than happy to take him.
An amazing thing happened. I was caught off guard completely by the worship, music and preaching. I couldn’t begin to imagine this whole religious “world” was going on around me that I didn’t even know about.
My heart was stirred so much that I asked my boss—I was a supervisor at a hardware store—if I could take every Sunday morning off from work and come in at 12:15 p.m. I also arranged to be at as many of the Wednesday night youth group meetings as possible.
It took a while for me to process all of the information I was learning about God and spiritual things. I can relate with the two guys on the Emmaus road: “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us” (Luke 24:32)?
After a little more than four months of total immersion into Christianity, during a revival at North Side Baptist Church in Weatherford, I walked the aisle and accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
Where were you educated, and what degrees did you receive?
• East Texas State University, now Texas A&M, Commerce, Bachelor of Music Education
• Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Master of Arts in Religious Education
About ministry life
Why do you feel called into ministry?
During Christmas break in my second year at East Texas State University where I was studying to be a high school choir director, the Lord changed my heart and called me into full-time church ministry through music.
What is your favorite aspect of ministry? Why?
Sunday morning worship. Prompting and seeing people engaged and connecting with God, each other and his kingdom in corporate worship lets me feel his pleasure and reaffirms my calling and the purpose in which I was created.
What one aspect of ministry gives you the greatest joy?
Introducing someone to Christ and seeing that person accept him as Lord and Savior.
What one aspect of ministry would you like to change?
Worship wars. I want all Christians to have a focus on the One whom we are worshipping instead of the style, era or preference of worship music.
How has your ministry or your perspective on ministry changed?
I have experienced a total overhaul of music ministry and Sunday morning worship in the church since I started serving on staff in 1981. Most of it was good, but not all.
My perspective has grown as I have in my understanding of biblical worship and making Christ the focus of my attention, affection and praise. No longer am I “up or down” based on how many were in the choir, orchestra or congregation or how well they sounded.
How do you expect ministry to change in the next 10 to 20 years?
I actually think over the next decade or two the pendulum will swing back toward the singing of old hymns, as well as new spiritual songs that have deep theological and spiritual teaching and meaning.
Name the three most significant challenges and/or influences facing your ministry.
• Busyness of folks
• Lack of commitment to church and its ministries
What do you wish more laypeople knew about ministry or, specifically, your ministry?
The misperception that one needs to be a trained, music-reading musician to be an active participant in the music and worship ministry.
My favorite choir and band members are the ones who are in rehearsal every week, learning not only the ins and outs of the music, but the “why” we’re singing that particular song and how God could be speaking through us in worship.
Who were/are your mentors, and how did/do they influence you?
One of the best things I’ve ever done to help me in ministry was joining Texas Baptists’ Singing Men of Texas in 1986, in particular the North Central Chapter. I’ve been an active member of this group every year since and while serving five different churches.
The men in this group go and present sacred music and worship through the context of a monthly concert and during regular mission trips. But the networking, mentoring, encouragement, support, advice and deep friendships I have received over the years have far outweighed any time and effort I’ve given. And as a bonus, I get to be a participant and not the leader!
What did you learn on the job you wish you learned in seminary?
How to plan, implement and be a good steward of the church budget for areas I lead in the church. Organizational and recruitment skills.
Other than the Bible, name some of your favorite books or authors, and explain why.
• Prayer by Timothy Keller, because it is a comprehensive study and practical guide to using the best resource available to all Christians.
• New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp. Dr. Tripp has tremendous insight and wise counsel for believers as they start the day.
• A Diary of Private Prayer by John Baillie offers prayers for each morning and evening every day of the month that keep me centered and help me pray for others and myself in ways I would not always think.
What is your favorite Bible verse or passage? Why?
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, NIV).
This verse reminds me the life I’m privileged to live and the ministry in which I serve is all because of his work in me. I am not to control it but am to allow him to lead and be in control.