Many children enjoy learning to play an instrument, but the cost of music lessons can be out of reach for some families. United Methodist Congregation in Dallas, Texas offers youth bible study, music lessons and a chance to join the church praise team.
(Locator: Dallas, Texas)
On Sunday mornings, at Christ's Foundry United Methodist Church, the house band rocks!
On Sunday afternoons, 50 children and youth gather, hoping to follow in their footsteps.
Here, children can learn guitar or bass, take some lessons on piano, or try out the drums. Melissa Lara is ten. Her mom is proud of her for learning an instrument.
Melissa Lara, Christ's Foundry United Methodist Church:
"When I was a little kid I always hear songs with the guitar and it sounded really good. And so I decided, 'Why not play guitar for once?'"
Minerva Lara, Christ's Foundry United Methodist Church:
"When she started in this program, I mean, she's…we didn't think she'd like it because she usually likes to start something, and like, 'Okay, no, not anymore.' But now she's like…sometimes we say, 'Okay, what about we don't go?' 'No, no, no. We have to go. Have to take the class.'"
The ministry is called Amazing Grace because every child who completes fourteen weeks of lessons and masters the popular hymn gets a donated guitar to take home.
(Youth band performs) "That saved a wretch like me…"
Christ's Foundry is located in a lower income, heavily Hispanic suburb of Dallas, Texas.
(Pastor speaks to churchgoers) "It is a healthy fear."
Pastor Owen Ross says the music program started as a way to give kids a positive outlet and keep them away from drugs and other dangers in the neighborhood.
The Rev. Owen K. Ross, Christ's Foundry United Methodist Church:
"A mother came to me and she says, 'Pastor, we're losing our kids.' So that's how the program got launched, to do 45 minutes of Bible study and 45 minutes of guitar. And since then we've had hundreds of graduates come through the Amazing Grace guitar program."
The eldest graduates teach lessons to the beginners, and lead Sunday worship.
(Band performs) "Let me know the struggles…"
Christ's Foundry has the praise band this pastor always dreamed of. However, Ross says Amazing Grace isn't just a music program but even he didn't understand that at first.
The Rev. Owen K. Ross: "My motives were not right. I was just wanting musicians. God had to put a change in my heart first…say, 'No, this is all about discipleship.' It's about helping young people grow closer to God becoming not musicians but worshippers and using their talents to worship God."
Amy Spaur is the associate pastor and band leader.
(Amy sings) "I'm tired. I'm worn. My heart is heavy."
Amy Spaur, Christ's Foundry United Methodist Church:
"Those youth mentors and I have a time of devotion together, of Bible study and of prayer. And those youth mentors, when they go into their classes to teach the children and youth music, they start with devotion, with prayer."
Berenice Baeza, Christ's Foundry United Methodist Church:
"I enjoy teaching the kids. When I'm with them I talk about God and they…. I don't know. They make me happy 'cause…I don't know…I see them grow, too. And they learn a lot from what we as mentors do."
Oscar Lopez, Christ's Foundry United Methodist Church: "I see exactly what I found in myself, which was them getting into the music. And I guess it flows through them. And they get the hang of it pretty quickly."
Amy Spaur: Christ's Foundry United Methodist Church:
"In fact, I've had more than one little girl say, 'I want to be like Berenice when I grow up. I'm gonna play the keyboard in church.' And I've seen the way the little kids look for them outside the music classes as well."
At Christ's Foundry, making music is building leaders and bringing young families to church for the first time.
Amy Spaur: "We have a lot of kids who are coming specifically for the music classes who had never come to a worship service here. They're starting to come on Wednesday nights to our children's programming, they're starting to come on Sunday nights and Sunday evenings to worship and it's really provided a bridge into the community."
(Musicians perform together) "I once was lost but now I'm found. Was blind but now I see."
The Amazing Grace Guitar Ministry began at Christ's Foundry in 2010. The music worship academy continues today. For more information, contact Christ's Foundry.
This video was first published on July 12, 2014.