By Shannon Baker
COLUMBIA, Md.—Phil Gifford, currently serving as pastor of Towne Baptist Church in Joppa, Md., will serve as a part-time Mid-Atlantic Baptist Network Church Strengthening Strategist in the areas of worship and music.
Broadly speaking, Gifford will work with churches who want assistance in evaluating and resourcing their worship ministries. In addition to networking and equipping current worship leaders as well as consulting with lead pastors, he also seeks to develop an intern project to help develop new leaders.
Prior to coming to Towne, where he has served since October 2010, Gifford served as a pastor of worship in churches in Yorktown, Va., and Johnstown, Pa. Both of these churches provided different styles of worship, granting Gifford experience with contemporary, traditional and blended worship, as well as experience with multiple services, a weekly television ministry, and a large choir/orchestra ministry.
While earning his undergraduate degree from Liberty University, Gifford served on the Sounds of Liberty musical worship team. As part of the university’s Worship Collective, Sounds of Liberty performs nearly 100 concerts annually, ministering in some of America’s largest churches and organizational events.
“This allowed me to be involved in worship at churches of every style and size throughout my three years on this team,” Gifford said, explaining the experience ultimately led him to serve as a full-time worship pastor.
“While in college, I began to feel God leading me into full-time ministry. As I realized God’s calling on my life, I switched my major from music to biblical studies and began to fall in love with the Word of God,” shared Gifford, who grew up as a pastor’s kid.
“Educationally, this love for God’s Word has led me through a master of divinity degree from Liberty University and eventually a doctor of ministry degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary,” he said.
Graduating in December 2012, Gifford focused his doctoral project on the relationship between the ministry of preaching and the ministry of music/worship within the local church worship experience.
“[The project] allowed me to take my passion for preaching/teaching and my passion for musical worship and see how they relate in the congregational worship experience,” Gifford said, who now serves as an adjunct professor for Liberty’s School of Divinity.
“Because I have a background in both worship and pastoral ministry, I believe this makes me uniquely equipped to serve as a church strengthening strategist in the area of worship ministry. My heart as a pastor in the area of worship has always been more focused on building a theology of worship, rather then simply focusing on music alone,” he said.
“Toward that end, I desire to mentor worship leaders, connect and resource leaders, and help pastors across our convention build not just music programs, but worshipping congregations who will reproduce leaders to serve contextually in the various styles of our diverse and growing network.”
Randy Millwood, the Network’s team strategist for church strengthening, affirmed, “Phil recognizes that, with so much variety regarding worship among our churches, an army of influencing, generous leaders will need to work together to strengthen this function of a Church, and he is committed to finding and releasing them!”
He added, “Phil’s familiarity with new tools of communication should help us connect pastors who lead worship—whether single staff pastors, volunteer music leaders, or part-time/full-time worship pastors—in fresh & meaningful ways.”
Gifford is married to Pam, and they have 3 children, Caelyn, Jackson, and Hannah.
The Giffords are in the preliminary stages of planting a church in South Bel Air, Md., where they currently live. The area, which has a population of about 48,000 people and very few churches, is separated from their current church by I-95.
“After living in this specific community for five years, God has put a burden on our hearts to reach these people where our current church isn’t reaching and where there is little evangelical engagement,” Gifford explained.
“We love the people of Towne, and they have been supportive of our new call to plant this church,” he said.
Contact Gifford at email@example.com or (800) 466-5290, ext. 214.