Twenty years ago last month, Randy Moomaw began writing songs for vacation Bible school (VBS) at Grace Church, a Grace Brethren church in Wooster, Ohio (Bob Fetterhoff, senior pastor). Moomaw had already worked with the church’s VBS for about five years before he began creating the music. “We did the packaged stuff,” he recalled, “and after a while, I kind of wondered about the lyrics, the songs. They were kind of lame and didn’t have a lot of spiritual content in them.” It wasn’t until 1995, while he lead music at a junior high camp, that Moomaw finally tried writing music.
“I remember there was an old beat up piano in the corner,” he said. “Suddenly, the thought of Jesus being my best friend popped into my head. And so [my] first song ended up being about that.”
During his first years as a VBS songwriter, Moomaw worked as a farmer. He recalled being out on his tractor, and he would “get a little bit of a nugget of verse in my head and start playing with it. I must’ve looked pretty goofy out in the tractor trying to do hand motions. Then I’d come home and plug into my keyboard and add drums and different sounds.”
Moomaw found that “the best place for me to write is out in nature, so I hike back to our woods.” He begins writing his music with the verse before working up to a chorus. “[I try] to keep the Scripture as the main part of the song while also giving it the hook that will make the kids want to sing it and have fun with it,” he said. “We have 500 plus kids at our Bible school. [I try] to write songs that produce a lot of energy, so there’s a lot of yelling back and forth between the girls and the boys.”
Now, Moomaw works full-time as Grace Church’s music director. He still writes the VBS songs, and he fully intends on continuing “as long as God keeps providing the inspiration and kids want to sing them.”
His favorite part of the process? Thursday mornings at VBS. “By then,” he said, “the kids know [the songs] well. Looking out across the crowd, I see they’re having fun, and they’re singing Scripture. It’s hard to describe, and it’s hard to put into words, but I just get goosebumps seeing it happen.” — by Marisa Vogel
This story first appeared in GraceConnect eNews. To subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter that includes news and information from congregations in the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, click here.