Worship is a balance of both ‘emotion and knowledge’
“Looking back, I can see God's hand leading me as I prayed and grew in my faith. He is challenging me now to understand my role at UBC, ministering to a diverse group of people and creating a balanced worship style.” – Matt Bowen
“I have felt a nearness to God since I was a young child. Even when my family did not take me to church, I prayed each night. I had a Godly grandmother whose faithfulness led me to a profession of faith when I was 13 years old. My faith became very real and I immediately cleaned up my language and chose better friends. It was my grandmother who gave me my first guitar and paid for lessons. The Lord gifted me with a genuine love for this instrument and, even when I was very young, I began to lead worship in a small church.
“In high school, I initially resisted joining choir because I thought it wasn't cool for a teenager to sing. A short time later, I realized how much I loved singing when I surrendered to His leading and joined the choir. It was an awesome experience! I sang and played guitar at my family's church throughout my high school years.
“At 18, I felt God calling me into music ministry and I decided to move to Sydney, Australia to be trained. That year helped shape the way I worship today. In Texas, I had been in a charismatic church that seemed to equate faith with an emotional response. After my experience in Australia, I was hungry for the Bible and theology.
“When I returned to Texas, I led worship at a small Bible church. I experienced a major culture shock, going from the charismatic church of my youth, with hands raised constantly and people speaking in tongues, to a service where people just stared at me stoically. I came to realize God was teaching me that worship should involve a balance of both emotion and knowledge.
“At 19, I was at a crossroad in my life. I passionately felt God leading me to major in music, but I didn't believe I could get a music degree with my lack of musical education. On my dad's advice, I enrolled in business courses, first at community college, and then at the University of North Texas (UNT), but I dropped them when I discovered a path to become a music major. I felt God leading me each step of the way as He prepared me for ministry and I was able to earn a degree in music from UNT.
“While at UNT, I continued to serve part time as worship leader at my church, and it was there I met Maddie. She was the Godly woman I had prayed for, and we married six months before we both graduated from college.
“Right before we married, I gave up the part-time position at my church and sent out my resume seeking a place of full-time ministry. Since God had opened doors quickly for me up to that point, I thought I would find a church in a very short time. Unfortunately, most full-time positions required more experience than I could offer.
“Life became even more difficult when Maddie became pregnant. We prayed constantly and were disappointed God had not provided a position. Three months after leaving the church, our savings were depleted, and I took a warehouse job. I also accepted a position working part time as a contract worship leader at a large church where God provided me with an awesome mentor.
“It was here, with the guidance of their worship minister, that I gained both experience and confidence. And after adding “large church experience” to my resume, a full-time position opened for me at a church. God did provide, but the position came in His timing and after a lot of prayer.
“In November, 2017, the Lord brought me to University Baptist Church. Looking back, I can see God's hand leading me as I prayed and grew in my faith. He is challenging me now to understand my role at UBC, ministering to a diverse group of people and creating a balanced worship style. He has blessed Maddie and me with three children and taken us through an adoption experience where He had to work on my heart. I pray throughout each day and thank God for His guidance and blessings in my life.” – Matt Bowen, as told to Nancy Cotten