Tuesdays are big for Moses Mares of Calvary Christian Reformed Church in Holland, Mich.
“My whole day is wrapped up in planning for worship the following Sunday,” said Mares during a recent interview.
“I look at the scriptures and the teaching topic, I make sure I get proper music packets together, I research stories behind the songs and plan for our weekly rehearsal that we have that night.”
That’s eight to 10 hours of worship prep in one day alone. Mares estimates that more than half of his full-time position as worship arts director is directly connected to Sunday worship.
“I do have a part-time assistant (Lisa Schoonveld) who helps with leadership of the vocal teams and is part of our creative team that meets regularly,” Mares added.
Senior pastor Frank Wevers is also part of that team, and clues them in on upcoming sermon topics and scriptures as they seek to creatively enhance the message.
"Moses combines a wonderful set of musical and creative skills along with an authentic concern for nurturing and encouraging his volunteers,” said Wevers. “He’s built a deep volunteer base of musicians and artists and they love to work with him.”
ALL THINGS CREATIVE
Mares oversees all of the church’s creative arts efforts – whether stage design, video, drama or audio-technical. He also coordinates volunteers in three worship areas – technical, vocal and instrumental. (The church has a part-time media director).
“We rotate four worship teams – weeks one to four each month,” said Mares. “There are occasionally conflicts with schedules, but we do a good job of keeping each other updated and try to schedule three months out.” Mares’ wife Tessa is one of those involved.
A typical Sunday morning “platform” team features two guitarists, bass and drums with 3 to 5 vocalists. Mares leads from the keyboard and also sings. He’s responsible for two identical Sunday morning services, which draw a combined 1,600 worshippers.
Mares said Calvary’s worship style could be termed “modern,” but the church doesn’t shy away from doing hymns. “There are probably some people who would say they wish we would do more,” he noted.
Some of the songs on Calvary’s “playlist” of late: “Waiting Here For You” (Jesus Culture) and “Open Up The Heavens” (Meredith Andrews/Veritcal Church Band).
A “Kids Shout Choir” occasionally participates in worship as well as a small adult choir around the major holidays. Mares said he likes to incorporate different instrumental groupings in worship – brass, strings and other instruments.
“We like to be creative,” he smiled.
LIVING A LEGACY
Mares – who has both Puerto Rican and Mexican heritage – has a family history of Christian service.
His grandfather was pastor of the one of the area’s first Spanish language churches. His father was guitarist in a band that played around the country for many years. Young Moses recalls watching his dad and uncles perform.
“I was inspired to do not only music, but had a passion for ministry as well,” he said of his Christian upbringing.
Moses learned to play largely the way his dad did - by ear. He plays guitar as well as keyboards.
“I had someone – a mentor – who taught me how to read chords,” he said. “Once you get that and you get a working knowledge and a feel for it, you can figure out ways to get better.”
After graduating from Holland High School he completed a theology study program at Christ For The Nations in Dallas, Tex. He planned to be a youth pastor. But music turned out to be his first calling. He was part of a traveling music group while in Texas.
When he returned to Holland in 2006 he started a music internship at Ridge Point Community Church. That turned into a worship position which he held until three years ago when he went crosstown to Calvary CRC.
MORE FOR MARES
The worship leader said he has written several songs, but there are so many good worship songs out there that he simply doesn’t do a lot of songwriting. But Mares has a vision for worship that will keep his creative juices flowing.
“When you think about worshipping the creator God and how it comes together and reflects his creativity, then the ‘crown of beauty’ will be placed on us instead of ashes (Isaiah 61:3). I think that’s powerful.”
Just the Facts:
Who: Moses Mares, age 30 - married, two children
What: Worship Arts Director
Where: Calvary Christian Reformed Church, 400 Beeline Rd. Holland, www.calvarycrc.org, (616) 396-7550
How: Leads in worship and coordinates worship music teams, oversees various creative arts including stage design, drama, and technical; is part of church creative team.
Philosophy on the role of the arts/music in worship: The creative God that has made every great and little thing made us and lives in us. And if he lives in us then everything we do in worship should reflect that creativity as much as possible. And the arts are a way of reaching people in a powerful and positive way.
- Next Article: The Summer of Our Lives
- Prev. Article: Author Lysa TerKeurst talks about new book “The Best Yes”