Thursday, December 27, 2007

Brandon Scott Thomas

Last Sunday, my good friend BST announced that he was resigning as the worship leader Otter Creek effective immediately. I've had a little bit longer than that to process this news but I can honestly say that it doesn't feel any better now than it did when I first found out.

I remember very clearly 12 years ago when Brandon came to OC. Buddy Arnold had just resigned after 37 years of leading worship there and in comes this 26 year old guy to take his place. I was both leery and excited. Leery because Buddy had been a surrogate grandfather to me and it was difficult to imagine anyone else leading worship. Excited because I knew from his tryouts that Brandon would continue in Buddy's footsteps by leading us on into new frontiers of worship. And he did. From the first praise team being on the first two rows of the congregation to instrumental worship on Saturday nights occasionally to the monthly Celebration worship services every third Sunday night. And that doesn't even include the ground breaking work at Zoe.

You know the interesting thing to me about Zoe has always been how much of an oasis it is for so many around the country. At Otter Creek, I think we take for granted the freedoms we have in worship whereas so many others look forward to the Zoe weekends as that time when they can break out of their shells. Anyway...

For the first 7 years of Brandon's work at OC, he and I were acquaintances. We would say hi to each other and had done some work with each other, but when I came on board 5 years ago as the tech director, our relationship started to grow. By necessity, a worship leader and tech director should work pretty closely, on lyrics and presentation and sound checks and running sound. Over the years, I've been able to distinguish little motions that BST makes to know what he's asking for, whether to turn himself up in the monitor or turn a specific person down. I know how he likes things run from a sound perspective and I know that the lyric changes on MediaShout need to be about a half-line to a line early because there's no guarantee that he'll remember what the next screen is, especially if it's another verse or new song. Professionally he and I have clicked.

And personally we have too. It's very easy if you just watch him in worship to think that he's a performer. And in some ways, he is. Because that's a part of who he is, but even moreso he's a worship leader. And to write him off as a performer is to degrade him and the work he's done for the last dozen years. I've learned his heart, both from his blog and conversations we've had. I know his heart for worship and leading other people into worship. And that's something that can't be faked.

Brandon's not perfect. He can be picky, he can get into a snit at times, and sometimes he doesn't answer email :-). Seriously, though, he has his quirks and can seem aloof at times, as I'm sure I can, when I'm in the middle of trying to get things done. He's not God's gift to worship ministry, but he is a tool that God has used to bring Otter Creek to what is is today. I trust that God will continue to have us in His Hands as we look to the next person to step into Buddy Arnold's and Brandon Scott Thomas' shoes. But it's weird having gone through this 12 years ago and I now have the same feelings that I did back then. It's going to be very weird to see someone besides BST on that stage. I hope God continues to bless Brandon and Sheryl and the kids (and mom, too) and I know that our relationships won't be ending with him not being OC's worship leader any longer.

I thank God for bringing him to Otter Creek and I thank Brandon for being such a good friend and co-worker over these last five years. Blessings, bro.

9 comments:

Amy said...

Phil, I'm just checking on my Bloglines for the week and wow! It sounds like Brandon will really leave a void, and I know you will miss him.

It is neat to read how the two of you work so well together - that is a huge key to effective ministry. I appreciate your behind-the-scenes efforts that are so vital to the whole worship experience, even if the only time I personally benefit is the first weekend on October. :)

Elysa said...

For a few years (before God moved us from Otter Creek and Nashville to Raleigh), Kevin and I were blessed by the way that God used Brandon to lead worship at Otter Creek. God truly uses the gifts of those who aim to be His empty vessels for the benefit of the entire Body. We add our best wishes for Brandon and his family to yours, Phil.

judy thomas said...

Thank you for the good words, Phil.
You helped Brandon look and sound good--most people do not know how important tech people are to their worship, until something messes up.
I appreciate you and Sheryl immensely!

Brandon Scott said...

Amen to what my mom said! You and Sheryl are a true blessing. I am grateful for our friendship and I am grateful for your hard work and heart...

Thank you for the kind words!Praying for you guys tomorrow.

Clarissa said...

Well put, Phil. Feeling it all, from a distance ...

Anonymous said...

I've been to a ZOE conference. Brandon and Zoe are nothing but performers looking for applause and approval of men. They make worship something like that show named American Idol. Lighting candles and raising ones hand in the air does not facilitate worship, it brings focus to the "worshiper" being worshiped.
It sickens me the exclusiveness of Praise Pods such as ZOE Clique.
It was really sickening at the end of the conference which was Sunday morning worship. Both Praise Pods (College C of C, and Zoe Clique) competed with one another, and at the very very end, praise and glory was given to some lady named Sandra.
I never once heard the elders of the College C of C give praise and glory to God.
Zoe Clique is exactly that: A clique of the young, and exclusion from worship for the elderly.

Wade Stapleton said...

Anonymous - unless you've "done life" with Brandon and Sheryl, you have no idea who they are. I can tell you with with 100% certainty that they're not "looking for applause and approval of men". Brandon is one of the most authentic Christian men I've ever met. Perfect? No way. Real? Absolutely.

Clarissa Cox said...

Wow, Anonymous. I have worshiped alongside many joyous elderly brothers and sisters under the leadership of ZOE, whose desire is only to point others toward our Lord. I am sad for the bitterness you seem to feel. I pray you haven't poisoned other people against these Godly brothers & sisters that comprise ZOE. God used one of them to save my marriage, and another to give me guidance as to how to use my gifts to edify the Body. They are the real deal and would never seek to exclude you.

Anonymous said...

Just so long as the songs they choose to "perform" are the ones ZOE Clique approves of. Brandon is so phony and you all are sucked into his "genuine" love for The Lord. I see you Clarissa have been taken in by Zoe Clique's exclusiveness. I have heard BST say: "I would rather see people not participating in worship and listening to me sing than just sing for the sake of singing."

Template Designed by Douglas Bowman - Updated to Beta by: Blogger Team
Modified for 3-Column Layout by Hoctro