This summer, Dustin Kensrue will make the move from Orange County to the Eastside to lead worship at the Downtown Bellevue church. Here, he writes about how God called him and his family to make the big move.
“Well . . .” Exhaling mild expletives in unison, my wife and I turned to look at each other with a strange mixture of excitement and bewilderment. “I guess we’re moving to Seattle,” she said as I alternated nodding an agreement and shaking my head in shock.
We were seated across from Pastor Thomas Hurst, the lead pastor for Mars Hill Downtown Bellevue, and had until a minute prior, been all but certain we would be returning south to continue in my work as worship director for Mars Hill Orange County. A month prior, Pastor Mark had asked me to consider moving to Bellevue and to serve alongside him there, take on a larger role in leading the worship ministry across the churches, and help to spearhead the newly formed Mars Hill Music. I had considered it, prayed out about, talked to a ton of people, and finally decided to fly up north and see if God would show up and change my mind.
An Audacious Call to Shake Up Worship Culture
For the past few years, I have felt a growing burden and calling to invest more and more of my time and efforts towards worship music. This seemed strange at first, since I don’t actually listen to any worship music and have never been very much of fan of most the music sung in churches. But God slowly began to show me that he had specifically gifted and uniquely trained me to enter into this fray and fight to make a difference. Despite apparently having told my wife at one point that I would never be a worship leader, a year or so again, I felt called to start leading worship at my home church and soon began to. When Mars Hill was going to plant in Orange County with my good friend and former Thrice manager Nick Bogardus as the lead pastor, I knew that I was supposed to sign on and serve there.
Over the last few years God, continued to give me a bigger and bigger vision of what I eventually I’m called to do, and given me the audacious goal of shaking things up in worship music culture and the church at large. I have a passion to see more songs that are 1) more cross/Christ-centered, and also 2) engage the culture directly, rather than endlessly recycling the Christian subculture. Despite my fears at failing and my doubts in my abilities, I am firmly convinced that this is God’s calling on my life.
Pastor Thomas looked at us and calmly but firmly said, “You don’t need to decide whether you are called to Bellevue or Orange County. You need to decide if you are called to this position to influence all of Mars Hill Music, and if you are, then you need to move up here.”
But I wasn’t convinced I had to move to Seattle to pursue that calling. Both my wife’s family and my own are in SoCal. I love the church we’ve planted down there and the people we’ve planted it with. My wife and kids have friends here. The weather is amazing. The schools are great. I’ve lived here my entire life. On top of that, my father was terminally ill, and at the time we didn’t know how long he would be with us (he’s since passed away). But despite all of that, we knew that if God were calling us, we would have to go. So my wife and I flew up to Bellevue to look around, have me lead worship at the church there, and see if God would show up and change our hearts.
Follow God’s Call—Wherever It May Go
The area was beautiful, the people welcoming, and the staff amazing. But still we sat there at lunch, explaining how we still didn’t feel called to move. That’s when finally Pastor Thomas looked at us and calmly but firmly said, “You don’t need to decide whether you are called to Bellevue or Orange County. You need to decide if you are called to this position to influence all of Mars Hill Music, and if you are, then you need to move up here.” That instant my wife and I both felt the truth of it confirmed for us. With the majority of the resources, leaders, and musicians in the Northwest, I would need to move to do what I felt God was calling me to.
From the beginning we had been ready to do whatever the Lord called us to, and now that it was clear, we started packing up and put our house on the market. God faithfully has provided a buyer for our home and a great new home to lease in Bellevue. Despite the hardships of moving and the sorrows of leaving loved ones behind, we have been growing in excitement day by day, looking forward expectantly to the see the story unfold that God is so clearly writing. As long as he keeps opening doors, my family and I will keep walking through them in the strength that he gives, and the joy of his salvation.
Dustin Kensrue was the lead singer of the acclaimed band Thrice for the last 14 years. On June 19, Thrice played the final show of their farewell tour in the OC at the Observatory, on the same stage where Mars Hill Orange County holds their Sunday services. He became a Mars Hill deacon last year.