I didn't choose to become a church pianist. I was in high school, attending Grace Gospel Church in Chicago, when our regular pianist moved away. Since I had endured piano lessons, the mantle fell on me. My skills hovered somewhere between John Thompson Levels II and III. I was hardly ready for prime time.
For the big day, I learned "To God Be the Glory." The leader led, the people sang, and I played. I finished the song about two measures ahead of the congregation (what I lacked in technique I made up in speed). But it didn't matter. They loved me enough to overlook my mistakes, and they loved God enough to worship him anyway.
Each week I practiced one new song, and each Sunday our congregation endured not only my narrow repertoire but also my nervous accelerando. We had heart, and we had spirit, but no one would have accused us of excellence.
I blush a little as I think about it. Still, when I am tempted to envy big-league churches with their drama, orchestra, and professional ...1