Eric Kneifel combines ministry and music in a whole new way. His recently released FREE EP blends classic worship with original and heartfelt lyrics. His ministry is more than releasing albums and touring, he has a heart for the worship leader and seeks to help worship pastors by filling in as they take a break to renew their own hearts for ministry. Embolden: When/how did you first receive the calling to begin music ministry? Eric Kneifel: I first began leading worship when I was in junior high and high school; our junior high pastor was leading the team at the time, and had a heart for training and building up young worship leaders and musicians, so he really pushed me into the role. I believe my first response was much like Moses’ initial response to God when He called Moses to ministry. My exact words were: “I can’t lead! I can’t even sing!” Sure enough, my ‘calling’ was our pastor nudging me along the way, and to this day, I’m so glad he nudged and encouraged me as the Lord guided him! I’ve been leading worship in various churches ever since, and have spent the last several years passing the torch and developing/training other young worship leaders. E: How did you see God working as you began? EK: Initially, as I started stepping out of my comfort zone to start leading worship, I saw the Lord really build my confidence, as well as my faith in Him. I believe taking on that added responsibility as a spiritual leader in our group truly challenged me to pour through His Word and understand it well so that I could lead effectively. As I’ve grown as a worship leader, I’ve also seen God work in many other people’s lives, especially the worship team members around me. I’ve loved building up other young worshipers in their talents, and watching their heart for the Lord transform their lives. Worship in a congregational setting is great, but worship through our daily submission to Him is when we are most effective and can see the Holy Spirit do amazing things inside and outside the church walls. E: What Scripture has been particularly encouraging to you in your ministry? EK: Actually, I’ve sort of stolen my wife’s life-verse for myself: “Many are the plans in man’s heart but it’s the Lord’s will that prevails” (Psalm 19:21). We’ve gone through trials of patience-building, several moves through different states and seasons where we couldn’t wait to get to our ‘promised land’. This verse has been key as we’ve leaned on the Lord’s understanding; it’s been a great encouragement to us, knowing the importance of waiting on Him, as our decisions can be so feeble-minded if we try to take steps without Him. E: How have you seen God working recently? EK: I think when you truly see God’s hand is when you’re in fellowship with His body. It’s hard to see Him working if you’re not praying for people or caring for others’ needs. My wife and I lead a small group at our church, and we pray for each other and share prayer requests every week. It’s in these times when I can truly sense God’s spirit uniting us, sharpening us and allowing us to become His vessels to share His word with non-believers. E: Where do you sense God moving/growing your ministry? EK: I left a paid worship position so my wife and I could be more involved in our local community and serve more throughout the week. My heart is to serve churches in our local region and help when a worship leader or pastor needs a break. Many churches don’t have a backup when their main worship leader is gone, or often times only allow staff two Sundays off in a year, which can quickly drain someone in their ministry. My hope is that by supporting local churches in their ministries, they can be encouraged and equipped to be more effective leaders. E: What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out their music ministry? EK: I would say you have to have a true heart for music and for spreading the name of the Lord. There’s not much money in a music career, even for many big-name artists, so without those passions burning inside you, it’s easy to become discouraged. Also, seek out a mentor. Perhaps it’s an elder in the church, or perhaps it’s another worship leader/pastor at a different church, either way, it’s important to have someone in your life who can keep you accountable in your spiritual life and your goals, and can encourage/challenge you along the way. There are many churches in need of worship leaders, so I pray that if you have even the smallest tug in you, let down your fears and find ways to get involved. We need more people to challenge His bride to continually seek His glory on a daily basis! You can download Eric’s new release EP for FREE here. Find out more about Eric’s ministry, music and upcoming album at his website.