Musician Jeff Eenigenburg gives his father, DTS grad Larry Eenigenburg (Th.M.), credit for his passion for ministry. Having grown up as a pastor’s son in Roanoke, Virginia, he said it was his father’s example as a pastor and a dad that led him to Dallas Theological Seminary.
“He played a big role in my life as a model and a discipler,” he said. “He was always there at all my basketball games, and we did lots of activities together. I miss him greatly.”
His dad passed away just before Jeff began seminary, and less than six weeks after he and his wife Caroline were married.
“It was a ‘deep’ time, in the sense that I experienced a deep sadness mixed with the deep joy and hope of the Christian life—I knew I would see him again in heaven.”
He said this also significantly impacted his mindset as he began school. The courses were even more spiritually enriching for him as he felt his loss so strongly.
“The truth seemed deeper, like there was more at stake. My sense of loss gave me a sense of how much could be gained.”
Both of Jeff’s parents were musical—his father directed the choir at his church, as well as pastoring. Jeff took piano lessons from the age of five, began the cello in sixth grade, and started the guitar in ninth grade. He eventually stopped playing the cello in high school because, he said jokingly, in order to graduate his credit hours were required for “the lesser things of the world.”
In college at Moody, Jeff originally pursued an education degree with a minor in music, but after the first year he decided to focus on education. His reason was two-fold: his allergy problems were making music practice challenging, and he was somewhat frustrated with his competitive nature comparing himself to others in the music program.
His sophomore year, he and Caroline met in a Greek study group. The group started with five people, but quickly dwindled to just to the two of them. They began dating a semester later.
Jeff and Caroline were married after college and came to DTS right after their honeymoon. Along with his class work, Jeff also began to lead music for their youth group at North Highlands Bible Church.
His vision for his future ministry at that point was to be a pastor and also a music minister, along the same lines as his father’s ministry. But as they got involved in a spiritual formation group, this idea was challenged, and God used this to clarify their vision. He realized that the idea of putting a sermon together every week was exhausting to him, while he found music ministry energizing. He now calls music ministry his “heart’s passion.”
“I’ve found from my experience with the youth that leading music offers plenty of opportunities to pastor, it’s just that the medium is different—songs instead of sermons.”
He sees a great need for music to advance the systematic theology of the church, which is where his seminary training comes in.
“A lot of praise songs are focused on a few particular themes, but don’t represent the full breadth of Christian doctrine and practice.”
With this switch of focus, Jeff changed his track last May to Media Arts in Ministry, which has been a welcomed change of pace. Because DTS doesn’t have many course offerings in music, Jeff has been the first student to initiate a cooperative music program with the University of North Texas and Southwestern Seminary. Music courses he has taken at the other two schools have replaced media arts core courses and electives.
And as for the preaching courses he had already taken, he said, “I know they won’t be wasted. Even as a music minister, you need to be able to have a pastoral presence with the congregation, like you would in a sermon.”
In the future, he sees himself using technology to produce musical tools that are beneficial to the church, such as a CD of songs written to reinforce a pastor’s sermon series.
Jeff has already put together one CD as his internship. Together with Henry Rogers, corporate chaplain at Interstate Batteries, he created a Christmas CD called “Shepherd’s Song,” which combines original music with a spoken message about the meaning of Christmas.
“The quality of the CD exceeded my highest expectations,” Henry said. “And the response was amazing—people were even requesting additional copies to send to friends and family.”
“Jeff was a joy to work with. He has such a passion for what he does,” he said.
The following two songs from Jeff's CD "Shepherd's Song" are available for download:
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