Interview: Worship Leader Magoo del Mundo

Magoo del Mundo is a worship leader and bass player in the Philippines. Recently, Magoo talked to Worship Links about managing a team, the future of worship ministry, and avoiding heavy meals right before leading worship.

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions for us. It’s truly appreciated! The first question is an easy one. Tell us a little bit about yourself in five sentences.

I’m Magoo del Mundo, a Filipino Worship Leader and Song writer. I currently lead Building Bridges, a worship team composed of music ministers from different Churches across Metro Manila. Along with the team, I train and equip different music ministries from the different denominations and churches in and around the Philippines. I’m a speaker and lecturer on music ministry development & leadership. I’m also the Worship Director of Building Bridges Ministries, a foodie, a dog lover and-oh yeah, I play bass!

How did you get started in worship ministry?

I started in the ministry when I was 12 years old. My best friend got into the team to play second keys a few months before, so I wanted to play in the worship team too. I know, it wasn’t the most holy of motives, but that’s how I started my journey in worship. I actually started in the team as a guitarist but switched to bass when one of the drummers suggested the instrument, saying that it fits my playing style more.

What’s your basic process for planning a service or worship set?

I start by asking for the week’s topic and reference verses. After that I look for songs that are similar to the theme. I also make sure that the songs I choose are singable for the congregation that we lead. In terms of arrangements, I re-write charts as necessary, depending on the skill level of the musicians I have with me for that Sunday. I make sure it is challenging enough, but attainable with the current skill sets. All of this is done under a prayerful attitude. If a pastor doesn’t like a song or an arrangement, I trust their judgement and look for a new song or do another arrangement.

Desert Island Worship Mix: You’re trapped on a desert island, and for reasons too ridiculous to explain, you can only have one CD with five worship songs on it. What are they?

Hmmm, that’s kinda hard… After much though, those would be:

  • 1. Mourning Into Dancing – Ron Kenoly
  • 2. To Him Who Sits on the Throne – Justo Almario & Abe Laboriel Sr.
  • 3. Moving Forward – Israel Houghton
  • 4. Your Presence is Heaven – Israel Houghton
  • 5. Awesome in this Place – I forgot who sang it but it’s old school Integrity! Music.

What have you found are some of your greatest challenges in managing a worship team?

I’ve been blessed in the sense that the team I currently lead are composed of really amazing, humble and down to earth people. But based on experience, it has got to be the differences in opinion. Musicians can be very passionate about their preferences, and sometimes teams can lean towards what they prefer rather than what the congregation needs. Or what the directive from the pastor is. I’ve had countless instances of trying to get musicians to “submit to the program” literally. I understand where they are coming from but I also understand that we are to submit to the authority placed above us as well.

How do you handle the balance between being a musician and being a manager?

I always remind myself that I am a minister first, a leader second and a musician last. This always helps me set the priority in things: from song selection, to arrangements to even settling creative and relational friction that crops up once in a while. At the end of the day, I always ask, what would best minister to the congregation I am leading worship in?

What scriptures speak to you the most about worship?

Romans 12:1 – it presents a holistic view of worship, that it isn’t just about the music or the songs, or the stage or the Sunday ministry. It’s an encompassing lifestyle, a daily mindset and a conscious decision.

If you could give one piece of advice to up and coming worship leaders, what would it be? Conversely, what’s some advice you wish you’d received earlier on?

Remember that we are Ministers First, Musicians last. In my early years in ministry, I got so focused on the music I totally lost the fact that I was called to be a minister first. Having that realization and mindset helps me let go and not feel offended when things don’t go the way I want them to and it also acts as a reminder for the entire team to be intentionally relational with our congregation. We aren’t just musical stage aesthetics or the front act during a the service, we are also called to enjoy the fellowship of our brethren, and at the same time, get to know them better as well. We are ministers first, musicians last. I really wish someone told that to me when I was starting – and that’s why I’d like to share that with the next generation of worship leaders.

What do you think worship in the church will look like in ten years?

Musically, I’m sure it will be diverse. There are still parts of the planet where they are still discovering Don Moen and Hillsong circa 90s. And you have the more progressive congregations that are into the latest music. But I’d like to believe that the worshipscape will be better represented by the different ethnicities and nationalities that also are seeking and worshipping God. It would be nice to hear the different nations lift their own songs of praise and worship in their own tongue, their own style and their own musical aesthetic. I don’t know if it will look like this in 10 years, but I’d like to believe it may be a few steps closer to this.

Any new worship artists on your radar at the moment?

Carlos Choi is definitely on it. I’m also really digging Nikki Fletcher’s album and so are the songs of Tom Read.

What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done while leading worship (that you’re willing to share)?

I was leading worship for the Will Graham Celebration in Bicol – that’s one of the provinces in the Philippines. So you have a massive crowd gathered, they’re all revved up. We’ve just finished the first song, which my sister led. And I was about to lead the second song. I had a hefty meal before I went on stage (a mistake… I know) and so half way through the first verse I burp into the microphone! I saw some of the team members trying to suppress their smiles. Yeah, it was pretty embarrassing, so I pretend that the mic cable was busted and was trying to fix it while I continued on singing. But I’m sure my face was really red at that time.

Thanks again for answering our questions. If people want to find you online, what’s the best way?

Thank you for having me! They can find me on Facebook. I’m also on twitter and on Instagram.

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