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#FridayFeature- Joel Gerlach

Welcome to Feature Friday! This is the section of our site where we get to gather around, learn from one another, create together and get to know each other. For the next couple of months, we will be introducing you to a different person in our region who is involved in making worship happen.


Tell us about yourself!

Hi! I have been married for almost 17 years to my wife Sarah and we have a little girl (6.5) named Iris. Sarah teaches art and photography at a local Christian school where Iris attends. When we go out, I find myself asking my wife if we can get some iteration of Asian food (Thai, Japanese, Pho) 9 times out of ten. It has been an uphill climb. Fortunately with Terakawa Ramen I have found the one suggestion that is getting me to "yes."

What church do you serve at?

Blue Route Vineyard outside Philadelphia. The drummer on my team right now works with the lady that invited me to a Bible study in Pittsburgh in 1998 where I met my wife. Almost everything good in my life goes back to that night, so in some small ways it's full circle. Uh, so I go to Blue Route Vineyard.

In what way do you serve the worship team?

I lead, playing piano or guitar and try to sit in playing piano as much as I can.

What is a book that changed your life?

At a very important time in my life, close to 20 years ago, I found two books by Philip Yancey "What's so amazing about Grace" and "The Jesus I never Knew" and in a sense that would be the beginning of what I would consider to be my "real" walk with Jesus.

How did you first meet God?

I grew up with believing parents so in a sense I always "knew" God. There's always been kind of hook, a gentle pull, that I've never wanted to pull all the way out, even at the worst times.

Do you write songs? If so, who are your influencers?

I'm very much to the left side of writing. When you say "we are more to the left," that is horrible business-speak where what you mean is you need to get your butt in gear. If I had any influences though, it would be a singer-songwriter like Ryan Adams.

What is a worship song that your church is engaging with the most?

At the retreat in November we were introduced to "king of my heart" and at both of our campuses it's just been a huge blessing.

What is something that you like to do outside of your Church?

I like running a lot. I have to do it because of my job, but I have grown to enjoy it very much. I also like reading to my daughter, while working on my shadow career as a voiceover person. And just laughing with my wife Sarah.

What aspect of worship ministry gives you the most joy?

The way our room is set up at BRV, you can tell when people begin to engage. And when they're singing back at you loudly enough, and entering in just overall, it sets up this harmonic or spiritual resonance where it's no longer me and my friends on a stage 18 inches higher than everyone else, but all of us together celebrating God. It's a product of a lot of things including, as I mentioned, our physical space but it's also a tribute to the enthusiastic worshipers at our church.

What is the best piece of advice or training event you have ever experienced?

From a strictly musical standpoint, my dad gave me very good advice really early on which is: make sure what you're doing sounds good. I think that's really good advice for a new musician because you get to a level where you can finally make "music" and it's intoxicating and you can kind of get swept up into it. But actually you're just kind of banging away, as was the case when my dad popped his head in my room that night. The further along I go this advice continues to have legs, because to me it speaks to listening to each other, making intelligent choices in what you play, and overall just staying outside of yourself enough to be a little bit self-critical.

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