Feb 26, 2008

Campus worship pastor David McKinney spreads his love for music and God

by Aubrey Blankenship

He is the guy behind the keyboard. He reads the birthday announcements and leads the campus praise band in “Everlasting God” and other favorites. Growing up in Georgia and not into music until ninth grade, 24-year-old David McKinney would never have guessed he would be at Liberty working, learning and serving God as the campus worship pastor.
“I tried out for ministry teams as a senior in high school and got used to receiving the ‘We’re sorry, we regret to inform you…’ letter in the mail,” McKinney said.
McKinney first became interested in music as a high school freshman when a powerful musician at church inspired him.
“There was no passion at first,” McKinney said. “I am so energetic that I can’t do much for long, but I sat down at the piano at home, and the next thing I knew, I was asking Mom for lessons. It was absolutely one of those things that God just planted in my heart. The Lord gave me the desire to play for hours and hours.”
That was over nine years ago. His audition as a keyboard player for Light Ministries was his first experience playing with a band.  And, as they say, the rest is history.
“The Lord just ran with it,” McKinney said.
McKinney has since graduated from Liberty with a Worship and Music Ministry degree and is now 15 credit hours away from completing a Masters of Arts in Worship. In his fifth year as a member of the campus praise band and third year as the campus worship pastor, McKinney’s love for God is as evident as his love for music.
“Music is a tool, an avenue, a highway that allows people to safely drive up to the throne of Christ,” McKinney said. “As a worship pastor, my job is to keep the traffic clear, point to the road signs and make the path as simple and easy as possible. I have leadership responsibilities, but I’m just here to provide an opportunity to worship. The seven of us on stage are responsible for making sure our hearts are right, and then we’re just going to worship the Lord and let the students join us.”
McKinney is excited about a new, live recording of the campus praise band to begin in May 2009. The CD/DVD will feature original songs and will be released in September 2009.
The band enjoys working together, sometimes performing up to six times per week, and McKinney often puts in a 70 to 80 hour work-week that involves preparing and playing for upcoming events.
When not on the job, McKinney likes to hang out with friends and go to Liberty games and events. Friendly and personable, McKinney enjoys spending time with students and supporting the student body in any way he can. He is an enthusiastic coffee drinker but not a fan of Starbucks, so students may find him downtown at the Mezzanine, Joe Beans or at home drinking his cherished Brazilian coffee.
McKinney is also a roommate, friend and accountability partner of Johnnie Moore, Chris Deitsch and Michael Miller.
“We’re the four single campus pastors,” McKinney said. “We’re all polar opposites, and sometimes we want to kill each other.”
Opposites or not, McKinney is truly awed by the Christian fellowship and accountability that he and his housemates have experienced. McKinney does not sing, minister, work or travel without this stable and God-fearing support network.
“For campus pastors, summers are really cool,” McKinney said. “The Lord has allowed me to go to so many countries.”
McKinney’s position as a campus pastor often takes him away from home and out of the country. Calling himself an “Anglophile” — meaning he loves all things English — and falling in love with almost every country he sets foot in, McKinney’s next stop is the land of cocoa and parrots as he leads a Light Ministries team to Brazil this summer.
“Or it may be a surprise trip to London, if I get a lot back on my tax return,” McKinney joked.
McKinney does not see himself at Liberty forever. He enjoys his position, but he is letting God map out his future path. He has a heart for local church ministry and hopes to move in that direction, wherever that may be.
“Whenever someone asks me ‘What are you going to do with your life?’ I say: ‘Something in full time ministry. Probably using music. Anywhere in the world,’” McKinney said.

Contact Aubrey Blankenship at anblankenship@liberty.edu.

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