Carlos Navarro (the newest member of The Singing Company) talks about his journey from learning an instrument to becoming a leader in his division, and now becoming a member of a territorial worship team.
Who influenced you early on? Who taught you to play guitar?
My Dad was my biggest influence. I remember from an early age that he was always leading worship at our church, and I wanted to play with him. When I was around age eight or nine, my Mom gave me a guitar, but I didn’t really have anyone to teach me. YouTube really didn’t exist like it does today. My Dad played guitar and piano but I only saw him play piano on Sunday, as he worked weekdays from five a.m. to eight p.m. When he got home, he would be too tired to teach me. After months of waiting and asking someone to teach me, I discovered that my Mom knew some basic guitar. She pulled out an old book of handwritten lessons and from that book I spent the next two years playing three chords: D, G, and A, without anyone to tell me what to do next.
How did you get started playing in your worship team?
After my first two years of playing guitar, I began to watch one of the members of our worship team at church. I studied how and what he played and would try and memorize everything. Then during the week, I would try to remember and imitate what he had played. As our worship team began to grow, my Dad would allow me to play along at practice, but from another room. I did that for two more years. So, after two years of playing D, G, and A chords, and then two years of mimicking from a back room, I finally got my big chance to play with our church worship team when our normal guitar player was ill and couldn’t come. That was really my first taste of being in a worship team. It wasn’t easy. People didn’t see the hours and years that I put into practicing guitar. For me, my guitar wasn’t a hobby. It became a place where I met with God. When I struggled, I would come back to the songs that we played in the worship team to help me connect with God.
What made you want to be part of the Territorial Worship Collective (TWC)?
My first musical experience with The Salvation Army was attending the Central Music Institute in 2017. The amazing thing about that week was that I had never seen so many young people involved in leading worship. Another occasion that influenced me was our division’s monthly prayer and praise nights. Seeing worship bands at both of those events made me want to be a part of something that involved other youth who shared my passion for music. When the Territorial Worship Collective started, I was excited for the opportunity to get involved with youth my age from across the territory. I learn from, and with them. I like that the focus of the Territorial Worship Collective (TWC) is to train up worship leaders from all across our territory.
What did you learn during your time with TWC, that prepared you to be a leader in your division?
I had never led a group before and was comfortable playing my guitar from the back of the band. So when I was asked to lead for the first time, I tried to remember some of the principles that you, Josh, had taught me at CMI and with TWC. I thought about what Eric Himes has done with The Singing Company and tried to model that with my group. Concepts like how to manage the group, how to become “arrangers,” how to prepare to teach a song, and how to mentor the people in your group. These are some of the things I’ve taken to the group I lead monthly for divisional prayer and praise nights.
What are you looking forward to about ministry with a territorial group like The Singing Company?
The Singing Company is an amazing blending of musicians of Asian, African, Hispanic, and Caucasian descent. It really doesn’t matter what we look like or what we listen to; we are all a part of the Body of Christ. This demonstration of diversity extends to the music also. We can worship in a variety of ways. It can be as a praise band of piano, guitar, drums and bass, a songster group, a brass band, or whatever type of musical group you have. I think the thing I look forward to the most is leading worship with a diversity of expression, and bringing this to the congregation.
Do you have any advice for people just starting out?
Don’t give up. You may spend two years learning three chords and that’s okay! Or you may spend two years practicing in the back of the hall. Don’t give up. God will use your gifts when the time is right. You may feel like you are spending hours and hours doing the same thing over and over, and you may feel like you are not getting better. . . don’t give up! Most importantly, keep the focus off yourself, making sure you are dedicating your gifts and talents to the Lord.
Interview by Josh Turner (USA CENTRAL TERRITORY)