Miller crosses cultural, life boundaries through gift of music
As a 10-year-old “obsessed” with the Beatles who picked up a guitar in her native Prairie Village, Kansas, Lindsey Miller was starting a journey for how she would serve God for the rest of her life.
Miller, a 2013 Master of Arts in Church Music graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary who is based in Nashville, Tennessee, has played with well-known Christian artists Danny Gokey, third runner-up in the 2008 American Idol contest and Grammy Award nominee, and Lauren Daigle, a two-time Grammy Award winner. Miller has also played in country music star Brett Eldredge’s Christmas tour.
“I accepted Christ when I was 12 years old after attending church camp,” Miller recalled, explaining that she believes “the whole process was just being discipled” as she grew up at Wornall Road Baptist Church in Kansas City, Missouri, and Nall Avenue Baptist Church in Prairie View, Kansas. “It was just a matter of time before I understood all that and that I needed Jesus in my life” and that she would “devote my life to Him,” she added.
Miller moved from playing classic rock, including Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix, to playing jazz and becoming “really involved in the jazz program at my high school,” she remembered. Describing her dad as a “big jazz fan,” Miller said her father had a collection of jazz records that she “was starting to get into.” Additionally, she was challenged by her high school band director who told the band students the members of the high school jazz ensemble were “the best musicians in the whole entire school.” Miller said she was “inspired” and “wanted to be the best musician in this whole entire school” and wanted to be a part of the program.
The interest in jazz music was not fleeting and led her to move from Kansas to Denton, Texas, to enroll as a student at the University of North Texas. As a student enrolled in the university’s jazz program, Miller said she played in a rock band, but she said her “experiences with that were pretty discouraging” because “it was just not the environment” she wanted.
“At that point, I think God put it on my heart to pursue a graduate degree in church music at Southwestern Seminary,” Miller remembered. “I feel like that was more like of a reset time where God could just work with me and tell me, ‘You’ve had these experiences, and they weren’t what you thought they were going to be but I have another path for you that’s going to lead you to where you can really have a ministry and speak to a lot of people.’”
During her time of study at Southwestern, Miller said her “most inspiring” and “informative” classes included her worship class and philosophy of ministry class because they proved to be “beneficial” in “developing a theological foundation of why we are doing what we do in ministry.” She also cited the classes she took in conducting as today she works with the Nashville Symphony and the Phoenix Symphony, among others, and having the “knowledge of how to watch a conductor and how to work in those environments” has helped her in those performances.
Miller explained that music is not only a form of worship to God and a ministry because “it’s a form of art that you can take anywhere in the world.”
Music “crosses cultural boundaries and all sorts of life boundaries where you can bring the Gospel message in contexts that you couldn’t just by speaking to someone,” Miller observed. “I always tell people that guitar is great because you can take it on a mission trip and use music as a way to talk to people who maybe don’t speak the same language as you, or don’t have the same cultural context as you, but they understand music.”
While music is a way to “present the Gospel message,” Miller said it is also a way to “bring joy and hope to people.”
“People don’t usually go to a concert because they want to feel bad about themselves, they go because they want to receive a message of joy or inspiration,” Miller noted. “I noticed playing with these different artists, how that really gives people just a message of hope that you probably couldn’t do otherwise, just speaking to someone one-on-one.”
Miller explained it is “the theological foundation that I received in the worship and philosophy of ministry classes has really helped me keep grounded in what I do every day.” Miller, who serves as a volunteer in the music ministry at Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood, Tennessee, said that she has opportunities to “talk to people about why music is important to churches” and “why choirs are important” she teaches “why music is a necessary part of worship.”
As part of the worship team at Brentwood Baptist, Miller said she can “play for quite a bit of worship services” and the church’s nine multi-campus sites. Because the various sites “are focused to different demographics,” Miller can play in various worship settings and environments.
While Miller concludes that she enjoys the “challenge” of playing music, ultimately her favorite aspect of playing music is “being a part of something bigger than yourself.”
Through using her musical talents and skills, Miller knows “God is greater than one individual” and as she plays and serves she is “contributing to His work across many spectrums.”
*Photo credits: Hayley Gjersten, Courtney Lynn Reed, and Continuous Motion Productions