A Look Behind the Leader: Mark Courtney

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in People

MarkCourtney2Mark Courtney is responsible for preparing and producing worship each Sunday at Daybreak Church in Hudsonville. Yet you’ll rarely see him on the platform leading the congregation.

“I think of myself as a painter who is in the room painting a work of art, trying to paint the best picture possible,” said Courtney, Daybreak’s creative arts director.

Courtney is a producer, working behind the scenes providing leadership and direction for the group of volunteers that assists in worship leadership.

“For us, Sunday mornings are like a big production – they receive every ounce of energy we have,” he offered. “We embrace the creative and believe that it reflects God….we’re not afraid of really letting people’s talents shine on the stage,” he explained.

The artistic gifts within the church are revealed in areas such as drama, dance, video, sound, lighting, staging and other visuals. Musically, a “house band” of a half-dozen or so members backs up a smaller vocal contingent.

The musical style is very much pop, according to Courtney, and the opening song in each of their two identical services is likely a mainstream tune such as “Rollin In the Deep” by Adele.

Last month they opened with a Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas song.“From there we’ll do things that we feel are meaningful and help take people in a direction or on a journey,” Courtney said.

The leaders produce a 13-minute package of worship songs each week. Current tunes in the mix include “Nothing Is Impossible and “Like a Fire” (both tunes from the Australian worship band Planetshakers), and “One Way” from the Hillsong collection.

The musical producer is Steve Anzivino, a local percussionist who has been part of several bands and ensembles and is adjunct music faculty at Aquinas College.

THE WORSHIP PROCESS

Courtney said the planning and execution of worship takes up the bulk of his work week. Worship leaders have a methodology that includes:

*Inspiration (seeking new ideas that facilitate the “heart of God”)
* Assembly (administrative function of coordinating elements of worship and volunteers who will execute those elements)
* Execution (a focus on excellence with high content)
* Evaluation (reviewing the details of each service with the goal of making improvements)
If that sounds detail-driven, it suggests the church’s detail-oriented worship. “We’ll do 50 light cues on a typical Sunday,” Courtney noted.


The producer reports to Daybreak executive pastor Claudia Dupin, who happens to be married to senior pastor and church founder Wes Dupin.

CREATIVE PATH

Born and raised in Lewiston, Idaho, Courtney studied music at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and then at the Lionel Hampton School of Music.

“I played piano starting at age 13 and began composing right away,” recalled Courtney, who also performed in school bands, jazz bands and choirs.

His early ambition was to write music for film scores. “But right after I graduated with my masters, I was, like, struck by lightning and God persuaded me that I needed to go into ministry,” he said.

His first served as a church music director in Wisconsin. A musical mentor from Courtney’s college days (John Innes, long time staff musician for the Billy Graham organization), referred Mark to a friend in West Michigan named Wes Dupin. Dupin had begun a Jenison-area church plant out of the Wesleyan-based Kentwood Community Church. Courtney interviewed and came on board.

“Now I’ve been here for 18 years,” said Courtney, who has seen the church move from meeting in school facilities to its own campus on Baldwin St.

GROWING INTO THE ARTS

Courtney said he had been at Daybreak for about 10 years when he approached Wes Dupin about moving in the direction of “creative arts director.”

“He asked me what that meant,” Courtney said.“I told him I didn’t really know, but I thought I’d like to explore it.”

Daybreak and Courtney had their creative gifts in high gear for “World Party 2000,” the New Year’s Eve 1999 celebration at Van Andel Arena that ushered in the new century before a sold-out crowd, with a cast of 700 and a million dollar presentation.

Courtney was the show’s creative director, conceived with director-friend Kerri Keany who worked for the Disney Corporation.

Another creative outlet has been the Christmas season production of “Luminaire,” an original program performed in the "cirque du soleil" style of visuals and music. The church just completed its sixth year of producing the event.

“I believe that God intends for his creative work in us to be fully displayed for everyone to see,” Courtney noted.

Editors 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." target="_blank"> This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Author Information
Terry DeBoer
About:
Writer: West Michigan Christian News August 2011 – Present (1 year 6 months) Monthly publication and web site with news, features, and information of interest to the West Michigan Christian community Feature writer: Muskegon Chronicle April 1996 – Present (16 years 10 months) Writer: Kalamazoo Gazette July 1991 – Present (21 years 7 months) beat includes convering contemporary Christian and Gospel music feature writer Grand Rapids Press May 1988 – Present (24 years 9 months)

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