A Look Behind the Leader: Zack Ferrell of Christ Community Church

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

ferrell Zack2    Zack Ferrell took the road through Nashville en route to his new position as worship leader at Christ Community Church on Forest Hills Ave. SE.

     “I was born in southern Michigan but we moved to Nashville where I spent the majority of my growing up years,” said Ferrell, 24, during a recent interview.

     But the worship leader returned to Michigan just last summer and began work at Christ Community in August.

     “It’s been an interesting journey with relocating and getting plugged in here,” he said.

     Zack’s father was also a worship leader, and a young Zack came of age around music and church - running song lyrics on a screen, playing various instruments and helping out in other ways.

     “Through the years I got more involved and felt called and had many opportunities to be mentored by a number of Christian musicians around Nashville who are involved in churches,” he said.

     One of those was Lindell Cooley, a singer-worship artist who pastors a church south of Nashville. Ferrell has traveled with several other artists and has performed at church camps and at special events.

                   HIS NEW CHALLENGE

     When he was looking to relocate to the West Michigan area (where he has family ties and where his fiancé is originally from) Ferrell knew he wanted to continue his involvement in leading worship. He’d been in discussions with Christ Community for several months before he committed to the worship leader responsibility.

     In his part-time role he leads music rehearsals and meets with senior pastor Lynne Kammeraad to plan music and other elements of worship.

     “That kind of communication is something I’ve been big on in any church I’ve worked with,” Ferrell said. “It shows on Sunday mornings whether a worship pastor and preaching pastor have communicated.”

     He said they’ve been working with various sermon series month-to-month, emerging with an order of worship where each song can relate to the message topic.

     When he began work in August, Ferrell was given a stack of songs the congregation was familiar with. He’s been working through many of those – including Matt Redman’s “10,000 Reasons” and various songs from “Passion” movement artists such as Chris Tomlin and Kristian Stanfill.

    He’s responsible for leading a single worship service for anywhere from 75 to 100 persons.


     Ferrell is still getting to know the congregation, which has warmly welcomed him. For now he is leading with acoustic guitar joined by several vocalists. (You can see an example of his leadership on the song “Let Faith Arise”)

     “I’m focusing over the next few months on building it out to more of a full worship band,” he explained. “I’m working on a lot of basic spots like bass and keys, but just had someone express interest in playing the cello, which would be an interesting addition.”

     He noted that he’s already done some initial work on Thanksgiving and Christmas season music.

     Ferrell himself is largely self-taught, playing guitar as well as several bluegrass instruments such as mandolin and banjo. He is also a drummer.

     His variety of music skills served him well down in Nashville. He met his fiancé Marina when he was pulled in as a guitar player for her at a songwriting event. He accompanied her at several songwriting showcases. (The couple has a wedding planned for next spring – Marina has also relocated to West Michigan).

     “I never really went out on the road for any extended time,” he recalled of his Nashville music interests. “But there was a period where all I did was travel from church to church doing youth events, church camps and leading worship.”


     Ferrell went to college for a business management degree, although he did take a number of music classes. In addition to his church position, he works as an arts tech designer.

     In the meantime, preparing and executing music for worship is his main focus. He has found music from the “Passion” albums a good resource.

     “Our church has a scattering of age groups, so it’s awesome that I can get a “Passion” CD with a variety of artists and versions of some of the old hymns,” he noted of songs such as “O For A Thousand Tongues” and “Amazing Grace.”

     “These are songs that I can play on acoustic, lead with a contemporary feel yet people are familiar with the lyrics.”

Just the facts:

Who: Zack Ferrell, 24, single

What: Worship leader

Where:  Christ Community Church, 2400 Forest Hill Ave SE, Grand Rapids; www.christcommunitygr.org; 616-954-0331

How: Leads worship, oversees worship team and rehearsals, assists in worship planning and song selection

Philosophy on the role of the arts/music in worship: “Worship doesn’t come down to a particular song. I don’t lead worship from an entertainment point of view. Worship is an expression of your day to day life being Jesus to a world in need of him. As we come together in corporate worship, music helps us focus upon and express our various praises to God.”


Editor’s note: If you have a suggestion of an area church music leader for a profile in this column, please send the information to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Author Information
Terry DeBoer
Terry is journalist who writes for newspapers, magazines, newsletters and websites. His most frequented “beat” is arts and entertainment. He is married with two children and lives in Grand Rapids.

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