We are so excited to introduce you to our new Associate Worship Minister, Elijah Gibson. To help you get to know him better, we took some time to ask him about his background, his passion for worship ministry, and what he's looking forward to in this role. We hope you enjoy reading his story below, and be sure to give him and his wife a warm welcome when you see them around campus.
Q: Tell us a little about your family and your background.
A: I was born and raised in northeast Birmingham and went to Clay-Chalkville High School, but my parents joke and say that I was born here at Brook Hills. My family is originally from Liberia, West Africa, and The Church at Brook Hills was instrumental thirty years ago in bringing my family to the states. Liberia is an incredibly war-torn country and is moving forward in bits and pieces from the civil war that took place there. At the time, there was a lot of unrest and the Lord was really kind to bring us here and settle our feet at The Church at Brook Hills, and then spring boarded us to other things that He had for my family in Birmingham.
I am married to Hannah Gibson. She is so, so wonderful. We met at the University of Mobile where we both went to college and both later worked on campus. I worked in Admissions and coached the Women’s Soccer team before moving up to the DC Metro area, where we went to McLean Bible Church. I was the Pastor of Worship and Young Adults at the Loudoun campus.
Q: How did you come to faith in Christ?
A: When I was about seven years old, I started to understand more about who Jesus is, and I really wanted to know Him, love Him, and serve Him, but I didn’t quite know what that meant. Four years later, I remember very vividly, I was downstairs in my house and it just smacked me in the face: God has an incredible love for me, and that it is because of my sin that Jesus died for me. And I just remember feeling His love in that moment and started weeping. I went to my mom and said, "I think I understand a little bit more."
It wasn’t until after living sinfully through high school and part of college that the Lord grabbed me by the collar and shook me. The Vice President of Students at the university was addressing us about an issue on campus and said, "Those who don’t believe in Christ are watching us, and our example shows them who Jesus is. We are not going to be people who take the easy way instead of the right way, because the world is doing that. That’s not for us." And everything just made sense. I remember thinking, "Elijah, live for the Lord. That’s the only way to live."
From there, He just started shaping me more and more to desire His Word, know His Word, and truly trust in Him. I’m not incredibly trusting when it comes to putting things in other people’s hands. I want to have control, and it was like God was saying that’s not how this is going to work. And so, as I’ve learned piece by piece to relinquish control, and I still have a lot to learn, He has shaped my life in a way that I couldn't write any better.
Q: What is your background serving in a worship ministry capacity?
A: I started really liking music in college and thought it would be a great career, but I wasn’t really thinking about it in the area of the church. My father is a minister, and for the longest time I decided I wasn’t going to do full-time ministry. I thought it wasn’t for me. But God is funny and said, "Yes, it is for you." It wasn’t until late in college that it was evident that God was saying, "This is something that you’re going to be doing to serve the church in one way or another."
The Lord used some really awesome people at the University of Mobile to grow my appreciation for the little bit of musical ability that I had, and they helped me to grow and hone those skills and abilities. One of the guys that discipled me at the church we were at in Mobile, Joe Langley, took me under his wing and said, "We are going to take this ability and we’re going to use it to glorify the Lord. I’m going to teach you what it means to lead people in worship."
From there, I grew a love for leading congregational worship. The Lord took that, and in our comforts and in thinking Mobile would be our home for a while, He plucked us out of there and took us to the DC area to serve at McLean Bible Church. Though new to full-time ministry, the Lord used us and grew us in so many ways.
Q: Why do you think worship is so important?
A: The Lord calls us in His Word to "Sing," "Sing," "Sing," all over the place! If we see the apostles, David, Moses, and all of these people in the Bible who are all singing and pointing to the goodness and grace of Jesus and who He is, and they are calling us to sing, then that is important.
I also think songs are an incredible way that the Lord has allowed us to hide His Word in our hearts. When I leave a service and I think about a song lyric, it takes me to a place in the Word. I want to help lead and point others to God’s goodness, grace, and love in His Word through the songs that we sing. It is such a high mission. The fact that we get to do it is incredibly important for the life of the believer.
Q: How do you approach leading worship on a Sunday?
A: I think through the lens of, how do we tell the story of the gospel in light of the word that is going to be preached that week? Also, I think about the God, man, Christ, response model. We look at the holiness of God, much like we see Isaiah when he has a vision of the throne room of God, and when we see the holiness of God, we realize that we are sinners. We realize that God has met us in our sin in order to bring us to Him, and then our response is praise. Our response is going. Our response is telling. So, how do we do all that through song on a Sunday morning based on the word we are in? This worship team does it really well, and I’m really thankful for that.
Q: How has serving in worship ministry impacted your walk with Christ?
A: It has taught me humility and what it means to exercise humility. God has been really gracious to give me a talent that I could be using in many ways, but He has brought me here to use it this specific way. Something I have learned and was taught by Joe is that there will be a lot of very kind and well-meaning people who will say a lot of kind things about the abilities that God has given me, and I have a choice in the matter to give glory to God or to glorify myself. I have a strong tendency to want to glorify myself. Every single time I’m on stage, there’s a fight between if I am going to glorify the Lord or glorify myself in this moment. I am incredibly imperfect in that battle, but God has turned that battle around in so many ways to where He is glorified. I’ve learned humility in allowing the Lord to shape the little that I bring into something that He desires for His glory, and I want that to reflect in all aspects of my life.
Q: What are you most excited about stepping into the Associate Worship Minister position at Brook Hills?
A: I love the idea of resourcing the church for worship in various ways, such as writing songs, developing worship leaders, and working on a team that has one mind and one focus of seeing the church declare the praises of Jesus.
We’re also excited to be closer to our families and to see the Lord bring things in a full circle in thinking about how He has connected us to this Brook Hills community in various ways over our history. As we’ve gotten to know this team, as we’ve visited this church on numerous occasions, and through talking to others that we know here, we have thought and said, "There is something special here." We love the global focus and the church’s desire to see families grown and cultivated here. We’re excited to plug into this community as we see the things that God is doing through it.