Travelling Dreams, Travelling Teams: A Talk With Thomas Throgmorton

by Ethan Horst

Full Transcript:

SB: What is travelling worship team? What is the goal for it on Grace’s Campus?

TT: Do you want a deep answer or the classic answer? Because the classic answer is a worship team that travels… Essentially, it’s a group of musicians that gather to glorify God in our actions, to worship him and praise him as we travel. We’re traveling around the country to different schools, youth groups, youth retreats. We’re getting ready to do a youth retreat at the end of September, the weekend of the 29th; we’re going to a youth retreat that Grace Polaris Church in Ohio is doing. They asked us to come lead worship for that, so we’re doing a couple sets for them. We’re practicing for that; we’re doing about 15 songs, so it’s quite a bit of a time commitment, but it’s nice because not everyone in the travel team is a worship arts major. For some of us, that’s what we feel called to, but for others, we have business majors, but I just really love to play music and I love to glorify God in that. So this is just a really good opportunity to be able to [be at] an even more of an involved level than even chapel band, to get outside of the college… to interact with other Christians, and even those who aren’t saved, to them the passion that we have for the God who saved us… That’s our goal and our mission in this ministry is to glorify God and show others a passion for God and that doesn’t mean you have to be a worship leader in a church or a worship arts major, or even a worship arts minor. It just means having a passion, having a gift, and using that to glorify God rather than self.

SB: How did it get started? How did you get involved?

TT: This is kind of a cool story. My freshman year, we, me and a couple friends, were talking about coming into Grace, and I really wanted to start a travelling team. My other choice besides Grace was to go to Cedarville, which has a pretty big travelling group… I really wanted to be able to start something like that and I had some friends… who shared the same passion, so we began to pursue that together and try to figure out if we could do that. We met with some different people in leadership and they said, “as much as we like the idea and we would like to, there’s not really a need for it at our school right now” … so we would have to do it with no real backing from the school, and as freshman we couldn’t really make that happen. So we shelved it and didn’t really touch the idea again until … the worship arts department started up… Wally [Brath] had all these great ideas for these things he wanted to do and one of them was that he wanted to start a travelling worship team… He approached me about it and… sat down with me and said, “hey I really want to start this travelling team to go out to different high schools, different churches, to youth groups and tell people about Grace College and tell them that… we have this new worship arts program”… He more or less just said, “I’ve been… looking for someone who can lead this as a student and I think you’re the guy for it. Would you be interested?”… And it was cool to see how God had orchestrated giving me that passion, and when I tried to pursue it [my freshman year], it was… God saying, “not yet,” with Wally coming here and a great friendship with him… and getting… to work together in ministry has been really awesome.

SB: What’s a day in the life of the team look like?\

TT: We meet once a week and we practice for a few hours… from 3:30 to 5:30 and we try to run as much music as we can and practice as much as we can. It’s expected that, as musicians, [we] take this seriously; it is a job, so it’s something that we all feel we’ve been called to, for at least this season of our lives, so we expect everyone to take it seriously. We hold each other to that standard of not just practicing one day a week but taking time outside of that to sit down and… at least listen to the music, getting familiar with the songs so that you really know them, looking over your music, practicing your music on your own time, and figuring out how you can play parts better….

SB: So this is a paid position?

TT: It is. We get paid for the time we practice together and for the time we are on the road… when we’re there and setting up and playing. We get paid for that time. It’s not a lot of time and it’s not a lot of pay, but it is nice that we are compensated for that. Again, it’s meeting weekly to practice and then normally weekends that we’re gone, weekend gigs, so that might be leaving early Friday morning and getting back Sunday night or leaving Saturday morning and getting back late Saturday night. It could be a Sunday morning at a church or a Sunday night at a youth group. On a rare occasion, it could be a Tuesday or Wednesday night at a church youth group as well.

SB: Where do you want the team to go from here?

TT: The ideal would having more than one person in each position, because there are certain times that maybe something comes up, someone has a family emergency or something like that, and they can’t go. That leaves us with an empty spot, which changes the dynamic of a band quite a bit, so having more than one person in each spot gives us the freedom to play with… travelling with a few people, if it’s an acoustic kind of set for a weeknight, or we want a huge band, we just have a ton of people, because we’re doing a crazy, get-hype kind of concert for a youth event. It depends, but to have that kind of flexibility would be nice. Long term, we would like to have more than one team. Ideally, we would like to have a couple teams where we can be going out to different parts of the country, having multiple teams out on a weekend, going to different events. I know that one thing we’re really looking forward to is playing at Momentum over the summer. We’re playing there as well as trying to get involved with some different summer camps and churches over the summer when we have more time to travel and almost on tour constantly for a couple weeks out of the summer.

SB: How would a student get involved with this?

TT: Chapel band just did their tryouts so we are looking through candidates from there. I would encourage anyone who didn’t try out for chapel band if you have a passion for music, if you want to glorify God with your gifts, get ahold of us and send an email to music@grace.edu and enquire about it. Even though we’re not officially doing auditions, I have nothing against getting together with someone and listening to them, hearing them out, and seeing what they can do… And even if [you’re] not… on the team right now, maybe it’s next semester,… it never hurts to get connected… I feel like a lot of people really love to play music, they really enjoy it, but they feel like they’re not good enough for something like this. Don’t let fear stop you. You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don’t take… It’s cheesy, it’s over said, but it’s true. If you don’t try, you can’t succeed. Sure you can’t fail, but you can’t succeed either… Make it a learning experience… try again another time. I’m a firm believer in the fact that the only way to truly fail is to stop trying. So don’t let fear hold you back.