HI, I am Stewart “Jake” Gandolf, founder of the Worship Musicians Association (WMA).
I founded WMA in 2009, because it seemed crazy to me that our worship band would work so hard together to play for both the kids and student ministries at our church, but never play again outside its walls. I also wanted to connect with other worship musicians in our community and play as a guest musician for additional churches. So, I created a Meetup group, reserved a room at Saddleback Church, and 20 worship musicians joined me for a three-hour jam. (Some of those people remain involved with the group to this day.)
The atmosphere that first night (August 27, 2009) was electric, and it was apparent many worship musicians also want to connect and play with others. From there, we developed a monthly format called “Worship Nights,” where the music evolved from jams to include established bands, bands that formed and rehearsed just for that evening and open mics. The music quality soared and you could feel the Spirit in the room each time we got together.
Our group grew quickly, and soon members started to develop friendships and find opportunities to play with each other, outside of our worship nights. What’s more, people began to reach out to me about creating worship nights in other parts of Southern California, and to date, we’ve had about 200 worship nights throughout our region. Total membership is now over 2,000 people.
I felt led almost immediately to create something much bigger than our local group, so I decided to create a website that would enable musicians from around the world to easily connect with each other. We had many false starts, but we finally launched this website in December 2016.
The group is non-denominational, and everyone who performs or enjoys worship music is invited to participate. Jesus was inclusive, not exclusive. Our group follows the same model.
There is no WMA staff. Our leadership consists of me and a handful of musicians who volunteer their time. I own a healthcare advertising agency, and God has blessed me to the point where I have been able to invest my own money into the group and website. Along the way, however, I have received a few unsolicited (but much appreciated) donations from group members.
Going forward, I hope to receive advertising and sponsorship money, so that I can grow the website and group even more. While I am not actively seeking donations, we will occasionally accept them. I also will eventually sell products on the site to help support our group.
We welcome volunteers. As leader of the group, owner of an ad agency and a family man, I (infamously) rarely have time to play anymore. So we need leadership at the global level, and local volunteers to run worship nights and events.
I hope you find the site useful, get involved, worship together and spread the Word.