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Audience of 1 is primary focus of Saddleback worship leader

LYNCHBURG, Va. (BP)–Whether it’s an audience of 10 or 10,000, it’s all the same to Rick Muchow, worship leader of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif.

“I do it like I always do — for an audience of one,” he said. “It’s all the same when it’s connected to Jesus.”

Muchow has been the music director at Saddleback for 16 years and manages the “Magnification Ministry,” which currently involves more than 1,000 people. The worship team he works with is all about relationships, first with God and then with each other. In a church of 15,000 members, they provide music for five weekend services and numerous other events — including this fall’s SuperConference on the campus of Liberty University.

Muchow was born in California and moved to Greenwich Village in New York City with his mother when he was 6 years old. There he developed a love for music and theater. After moving back to California, it was during the play “Godspell” that some of his senior high Christian cast-mates led him to the Lord. It radically changed Muschow’s life, and after God began to deal with him about music, he sensed it was what he was called to do.

“We’re all called to be worshipers,” Muchow explained. “The difference is when you accept Jesus you start to worship Him instead of other things.”

For a while Muchow played in a Spanish-speaking band, “The Gospel Expressions,” and learned that serving God meant doing whatever was needed and not being the superstar. In 1979, he received a bachelor’s in music from San Jose State University. He went part-time to seminary for a couple of semesters but felt they “weren’t ready for my type of music.”

He was contacted by the pastor of a small church near where he lived in Warm Springs, Calif., who asked him to do part-time youth and music. Muchow never thought about working in the church but soon confirmed his calling and spent a few years there before going to Gilroy, Calif., to join the staff of First Baptist Church, where the pastor didn’t particularly care for Muchow’s music style but felt it was a way of reaching the community.

Muchow then went into full-time concert work for a brief while until his wife Laura asked him to have a permanent address by the time their first son was a year old. At that time Rick Warren offered him the position at Saddleback and Muchow accepted. He said he had prayed to be a part of an explosive ministry years before, and after praying with his wife, they decided that Saddleback was where they were to be and to raise their family, now numbering five children.

Muchow advises anyone who feels called to worship ministry to get involved with a local church because that’s where you develop a heart for people. He encourages students to take internships, get as much hands-on experience as possible and to incorporate vision and strategy in their music.

“Worship is a lifestyle,” he said. “Songs and style are not as important as targeting who you’re going to reach.”
Muchow has a column “Ask Rick,” where he can be contacted at encouragingmusic.com, and a CD, “West Coast Worship.” Justin Faulconer is a journalism student at Liberty University. (BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: WEST COAST WORSHIP.

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  • Justin Faulconer