Sixteen Cities is one of the bands leading worship for FUGE camp in 2017. They lead worship at The Heights Baptist in Dallas, Texas and spend the rest of their time traveling around the world leading worship for camps, conferences, and churches. Sixteen Cities are big fans of good coffee, Mexican food, and the great outdoors.
We love camp. In fact, every summer we spend most of our time leading worship at camps all over the country. Being a part of what God is doing in the lives of young people is incredibly humbling, and we feel truly blessed to do ministry full-time. But our band didn’t start this way. And to be honest, we never thought that we’d be playing music as our full-time ministry.
The ministry of Sixteen Cities started in the simplest of ways: a Bible study at our public high school. We went to a school of roughly 3,000 students in a suburb of Portland, Oregon, where the scenery was breathtaking – with mountains, forests, and rivers everywhere – but the spiritual climate was dark and cold. As freshman in high school, we attended an event at our school called See You At The Pole, where students gather around their school’s flagpole to pray for their friends. Given the size of our school, we were expecting to see a large amount of believers, but were discouraged to see only two other students there.
At first, it was defeating to know how small the Christian community was at our school. But after some prayer, we felt God calling us to start our own student-led ministry to reach our campus for Christ. We thought it would be cool to meet each week to pray and sing worship songs together. The only problem was that none of us knew how to lead worship, let alone play an instrument. We were just normal, average freshman, without any special abilities or talents. But we were passionate about lifting up the name of Jesus and reaching our friends, so we started getting together to learn worship songs. We were terrible at first, but we never gave up and continued to meet and worship God. It wasn’t long before dozens of students started to attend our gathering at 6:45AM in the morning, and after the first year, over 100 students were coming to worship and pray. We started spreading our ministry to other high school campuses, and by our senior year there were over 500 students at our school’s See You At The Pole. Needless to say, God had done a mighty work on our school campus, and we were astonished that the Lord has allowed us to be a part of it.
After graduating from high school, we were conflicted about what to do next. We had college plans and scholarships lined up, but felt like God might be calling us to something different. On an evening in late August, while at a friend’s birthday party, we stood in a circle and asked each other if we all felt the same about God’s plan for our future. With full confidence, we all agreed that God was calling us to lay down our own plans and surrender our lives to full-time worship ministry. We were just 18 years old. We thought that it would be for just one year, but God has something different in mind. This September, we are celebrating 12 years in full-time ministry.
Following God’s plan for our lives led to some incredible experiences. We began writing songs and making our own music, and eventually signed a record deal with a label in Nashville. We recorded multiple albums and have had songs on radio stations all over the world. We’ve even toured with some of Christian music’s top artists and ministered to hundreds of thousands of people. We’ve seen God do amazing things through our ministry, but it all began with a simple act of obedience as freshmen in high school. Surrendering our lives to Jesus changed everything.
Our heart has always been to point people to the reality of Jesus Christ and to glorify Him in everything we do. Our journey with the Lord has been full of challenges and giant leaps of faith, but God has never let us down. In the summer of 2012, we took another step in obedience and moved across the country to be part of a great church called The Heights Baptist in Richardson, Texas, where we currently lead worship on Sunday mornings.
Throughout everything, God has always been faithful to provide. Even though we laid down college to pursue a life of ministry, God made a way for us to finish our degrees while traveling full-time. And now we are entering a season of starting families of our own, and are continually grateful for God’s blessing in our lives. We’ve seen firsthand that God is good Father, and that we can trust Him no matter what comes our way.
We hope our testimony demonstrates that God has a unique plan for all of us, and that all He asks is that we surrender to Him and follow wherever He leads. For apart from Christ we are nothing, but through Him anything is possible. See you at camp!
Written by Josiah Warneking, Lead Singer
Social Media: @SixteenCities