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Ministry Highlight | Jazz Ministry
By Dave Franco

When Steve Schisler gave his life to Jesus as a young man, he immediately fell in love with the freedom that comes with knowing Christ. That is why he is a jazz musician running the jazz ministry today.

What’s the connection? Steve grew up with a dad who loved jazz and played it from his stereo every chance he could. It turned Steve into a music nut and he began to learn different instruments at a young age. As Steve grew older, he put his ability to play the guitar, bass and drums to good use with different rock bands formed from friends around his neighborhood. But while he loved all the different kinds of music they played, it was jazz that he secretly held closest to his heart.

“I love all forms of music,” says Steve, “but jazz is always trying to break free of its constraints. I love the fact that jazz invites the players to create it right on the spot.”

Years later when he came to Rock Church, he saw that of all the ministries, there were no jazz bands. This was his chance.

He went through the process of creating a ministry for jazz players, but didn’t do a very good job of articulating the vision when he tried to promote it. “I was trying to create a real jazz band,” offers Steve, “but what I got instead were a lot people who didn’t play jazz, or didn’t play an instrument at all and thought that this would be their chance to learn. I had to tell a lot of them I wasn’t going to be calling them back. They were not that happy to hear that.”

But once the musicians with jazz backgrounds began to step up, Steve suddenly felt his vision was being fulfilled: a group of musicians who, like him, were committed to calling the Holy Spirit down and into the freedom of jazz to create what it was going to sound like on any particular evening.

“We don’t rehearse,” says Steve, “we all just know the basic structure of the songs, and then we pray for the Holy Spirit’s leading. Then we count down to the first downbeat and off we go. What ever happens, happens. We have a band leader and it’s the Holy Spirit.”

The band shares the love of God and prayer with all those who come up to say they have been touched by the music, which is often. Their repertoire includes some standards as well as hymns they have jazzed up.

They also perform nearly anywhere they are requested—averaging 20-30 gigs a year—and play monthly at the Ronald McDonald house to bring a little cheer and the presence of God to the families of the children who are there.

“Life requires a lot of thinking about heavy things,” adds Steve. “But music, especially jazz, suddenly makes you stop thinking, and feel. I think that’s why people like to hear us so much. I think they are responding to the fact that no one is really in control. Something bigger is happening around us.”

For more information about the Jazz Band Ministry, click here »