Sam Souder ('10) | Bible, Missions and Ministry

sam souder

Music has been part of Sam Souder's life for as long as he can remember.

"I've always grown up around music," he said. "It's just always been part of who I am."

His father was a worship director at the church their family attended, and Sam led his first worship service at age 6. He had already started taking piano and voice lessons at 5, and continued to study through junior high and high school.

I believe that when it comes to worship, God hears the heart before He hears the music.

Sam's interest in music also helped define his high school involvement. He was a percussionist in the band and competed in UIL music competitions, in which he did solo work and small ensembles. He did improvisational piano work and took private voice lessons as well.

So it made sense that when Sam came to ACU as a worship ministry major, he immediately became involved in musical activities. He was a member of the University Chorale his freshman year, then joined ACU's premier chorale, A Cappella. Sam was involved in A Cappella through his junior and senior years.

Last year, Sam was chosen to be a Sing Song host, a prestigious honor that combines the roles of singer, entertainer, and student leader. The annual performance, which includes acts from social clubs, classes and student groups, is one of the biggest events of the year for ACU students. 

"Sing-Song has been a huge part of my time here," he said. "It was one of the most amazing experiences of my college career."

Sam also leads worship at Southern Hills Church of Christ, a local congregation, and led worship at ACU's Summit conference this fall. He has worked with Kadesh, ACU's summer leadership camp, serving as a devotional leader and as part of the staff.

Sam particularly loves with working with campers at Kadesh - he enjoys the enthusiasm and excitement of young people who are learning to lead each other in their walk with God.

"It was phenomenal," he said.

This past summer, Sam worked with the First Colony Church of Christ in Sugarland, Texas, as worship ministry intern. He says he learned a lot about the ministry aspect of his job, as well as the importance of leading worship in a congregational setting.

A jump-start for personal worship

He believes worship on Sundays should jump-start members' personal worship for the rest of the week. Toward that end, praise teams need to learn to model worship rather than simply giving a performance.

"It’s an ongoing heart issue," he said.

In an atmosphere of increased dialogue about worship styles and the purpose of worship, Sam finds himself looking for a balance between boldness and grace. "Balance between knowing your competency, skill levels and serving with humility," he said.

But even though Sam respects the need for a professional ethic in worship ministry, he also recognizes the need for a servant heart.

"I believe that when it comes to worship, God hears the heart before He hears the music," Sam said.

And when he's standing before a congregation, leading them in worship, he lets go of the professional anxieties and allows himself to participate in the communal experience of praise.

"When it comes to Sunday morning, I'd rather worship than work," he said.

Sam looks forward to being a worship minister at a congregation. From his experiences as an intern and through various leadership activities, he knows what responsibilities the job entails. As a congregation's worship minister, he would be in charge of preparing the order of worship, preparing praise teams or bands for the weekly services, and working with the pulpit minister. Although that list sounds like a tall order, Sam is ready to take it on.

"Right now, I would love to be a worship leader somewhere," he said.

But in that role, Sam knows that he can't always control what's going to happen. He knows that part of his job is to reach out to people who are experiencing the gamut of emotional and spiritual needs. And he realizes that in the end, he is merely the vessel through which God can work in His mysterious ways.

"I think there are some issues where you just let the Spirit lead," he said.

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