Surrendered: An Interview with Her Virtue Director Kayla McCusker

Victory Life Church’s Her Virtue is an annual camp retreat in which hundreds of young ladies ages 12-18 gather together to spend a weekend in worship, growing in connection, and discovering purpose. Throughout the weekend, campers participate in a range of fun activities, workshops, small groups, powerful teaching, and passionate worship.

Each year the Her Virtue team puts in weeks of prayerful preparation with one goal in mind: that lives will be forever changed by the love of Christ. For many returning campers and leaders this event has become synonymous with radical encounters with the Lord and moments that set the course for the rest of their lives.

Now, in it’s 11th year, Her Virtue is under the directorship of ministry leader Kayla McCusker and her team.  I got to sit down with Kayla to get an idea of what the journey to Her Virtue 2018: Unveiled has been like, and what’s in store for these ladies this year.

Q- This is you and your team’s first time to be responsible for the planning of a Her Virtue Conference. What has that process looked like?

A- So, I have a team of 7 and we meet every week. The first few meetings we were just sharing what was on our hearts. We didn’t talk about the logistics of the conference. All we did was share what we were going through in our lives and things we were struggling with. The second meeting was more of a “so what’s on your heart for Her Virtue” meeting. And it’s really cool because everything we had to say was all connecting. The Lord’s just awesome like that! There have been some challenges but overall it’s been one of the best seasons I’ve ever had. Because there is so much to do, in the back of our minds there’s always that thought that we forgot something but we’ve worked through it. The team that we have for Her Virtue makes everything a piece of cake. They’re awesome.

Q- What’s on your heart this year for the ladies attending?

A- Our hearts behind what we want for Her Virtue to be this year was first off…this year we are dealing with some heavy stuff regarding sexuality and everything that’s going on in the world…things that have entered not just the culture of the world but the culture that we as young people host. We knew that it was going to be more of a difficult year. We were going to have to jump through some things that we didn’t have to in previous conferences. There are so many different temptations and struggles out there, so how do we cultivate a culture where your temptation isn’t who you are? Where you can say, “I’m dealing with this, but it’s not who I am.” It’s a huge identity issue. We were wanting to create a place where they belong despite if they were dealing with pornography, same-sex attraction, whatever it is. We wanted to go with a theme that would allow us to instill truth into everyone’s heart so that when they leave the conference it’s not just another weekend.

Q- What does the theme Unveiled mean?

Picture going to an art gallery and there’s this masterpiece that has been the talk for months now. The whole conference is leading up to an unveiling. Unveiling the beauty in Christ’s work. We want them to know they are still wanted, they are still apart of this Kingdom no matter what they’ve struggled with. A huge goal of our team is to pull at the roots of whatever struggle they’re dealing with, not to say you shouldn’t be doing this but to find the root. The deeper reason why. Unveiled is about identity.

Q- You’ve attended Her Virtue every year for years? What was your experience as an attendee?

A- I’ve never left a Her Virtue conference feeling like I was missing something. I’ve never left feeling like that was a waste of my time. Her Virtue is where I received my prayer language. It’s where I was baptized in the Holy Spirit. Some of my best friendships were formed at Her Virtue. It has kept the momentum of my walk with God up. It’s once a year but it was always something to look forward to.  It kept the momentum there, kind of fanned the flame. It helped me to find a community of people dealing with some of the things that I was dealing with and going through some of the things that I was going through.

Q-What would you say to young ladies who are apprehensive about attending Her Virtue?

A-The thought of going to a conference is very intimidating but my advice is that you have nothing to lose. If you’re going to take a chance, take a chance with a group or people that are on the same page as you. Her Virtue is a judgement-free place. I’ve dealt with some pretty heavy stuff that I feel like came forward at Her Virtue but was never judged.

Q- You’ve been leading in your church for 6 years and are one of the hardest workers I know. What advice would you give young ladies who feel called to leadership roles?

A- There are so many times in this walk, in being in ministry on a volunteer level for so long, that you feel you were promised something and it didn’t happen. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that if you are continuing to seek after the Lord and being obedient then there’s nothing but promotion. The times I’ve felt the most down about myself or my place in ministry was when I had paused seeking after the Father.

Q- Finally, what does surrender mean to you?

A- Thankfully, I’m in a church that encourages female leadership but since it is kind of a new thing culturally, you find yourself dealing with insecurity but wanting control at the same time. Having struggled with comparison and being so young in ministry,  I know what it is to surrender to self. In order to get to the place I knew the Lord was calling me to, I had to surrender my insecurities. Surrender is laying down anything that is self. Especially leading a team. If I’m not willing to surrender to self then it’s not going to be the team’s Her Virtue, it’s going to be my Her Virtue which isn’t going to be as good as the teams.

Surrendered: An Interview with Worship Leader Tayte Weatherly

Tayte Weatherly has been leading worship in her church since the age of 14. She has served two Victory Life Church campuses in youth and adult services, Victory Life Academy’s Chapel band, and multiple worship conferences. Her commitment to sharing the love of the Father and a passionate heart of worship has led her on a life-long pursuit of the presence of God being made manifest through His people.

In 2016, this pursuit led her to begin her first Worship Life Group.  This group provides an environment in which members participate in an extended time of worship, during which the gifts of prophetic ministry, healing, and prayer are lovingly encouraged and practiced by its members.

Q- What was your vision for starting a worship life group?

A- I have a really good friend named Jesse Hanks. The idea was actually hers in the beginning. She came to me and her vision for it was very simple. She wanted a time of worship for people who were hungry….people who wanted to go deeper, who weren’t afraid to put a lot of time aside for it, and not in a hurry.

Q- How did you begin?

A- We started meeting in the first place I ever led spontaneous worship, in the chapel at Victory Life Church in Durant. I started leading spontaneously while a sophomore in high school there. So, where we held the life group was super special to me because it felt like a reawakening of that first love. Spontaneous worship was a big part of the vision for the life group from the beginning.

Q- How would you describe spontaneous worship?

A- Spontaneous worship and prophetic worship are different. In spontaneous worship you’re not prophesying, you’re just loving on God in your own personal and unique way. Prophetic worship is God loving on the people in the room. You’re just used as a messenger. You go back and forth between them throughout a worship set. You’re always loving on God and then He’s pouring that love back into you [through prophetic songs]. Spontaneous is loving on God in your own words, on the spot.

Q- What is it about this aspect of worship that you love?

A- I love art and God loves art. He loves when we’re creative. I think the creative element of it caught me from the beginning. I’m also a super affectionate person and it was a way for me to release affection for the Lord like I never really had before. And [it was a way] to be emotionally vulnerable with the Lord. I love the vulnerability of it because it’s a huge risk! You’ve never sung these words before! It’s kind of a sacrifice that you give the Lord because it costs you something. It costs you being comfortable sometimes, and it costs you being safe.

Q- What do you think is the role of spontaneous and prophetic worship within the Church?

A- I’ve found that it is a huge facilitator for other ministries, like healing. Prophets will share more when there are prophetic worship leaders leading. So, it’s a huge facilitator for the supernatural really.

Q- What do you see God doing in your worship life group?

A- In my worship life group there’s no line between the stage and the audience. We all want to be there. The worship leaders don’t want to be there more than the people attending ’cause no one comes on a Friday night and worships unless they really want to worship. Because of the hunger in the people, there’s no distinction between the person leading and the people receiving. We’re both being vulnerable with the Lord. I would love to see more of that in the Church [as a whole], where we don’t expect the worship leader to be more excited than us. We’re both going after the Lord.

Q- Last year, you moved from meeting in the chapel to meeting in Janell Martin’s home. What has that transition been like?

A- The change between the chapel and the home was exactly what we needed. It seemed to fit the style of worship we were doing better than an auditorium or a sanctuary because it was very intimate and it felt like family worship.

Q- Your group experienced a lot of growth in numbers after the move, how have you grown as a worship leader since?

A- I didn’t expect having to grow as much as I did in flexibility and in facilitating ministries…learning to honor them. For example, recently I felt the Lord tell me to pause while singing. I didn’t necessarily want to pause. It was a beautiful moment with the Lord and I wanted to keep on singing, but He told me to pause because someone else in the room had a prophetic word. So, I just honored the Lord and paused. Sure enough someone did give a prophetic word during that time of silence. Learning to leave times of silence is something that I didn’t expect to have to learn how to do. That’s been a real growing experience.

Q- You’re learning to flow with group members who are stepping out in their gifts. How do you flow spontaneously with your team of vocalists?

A- I think you have to sing with a person for a long time to figure out the right flow and again, it takes a lot of honor. Someone might get a prophetic word and you have to let them sing it out, even if that wasn’t what you were feeling in the room. I’ve heard it called honoring the point. It’s like a pointing dog that points at something and before you see it, you just trust that the point knows what he’s talking about. You really have to develop more relationship with prophetic worship leaders because there’s a lot more trust needed.

Q- How do you flow spontaneously with the instrumentalists on your team?

A- I believe that instruments also prophesy. David prophesied with his harp and demons would leave Saul [1 Samuel 16:14-23]. I think that instrumentalists are just as important as singers in prophetic moments. As a leader you have to be very observant to the sounds that are going on around you because an instrumentalist can be catching a new sound, a new song and you might have to encourage them. I think it’s big to understand that you don’t just have prophetic songs, you also have instrumentalists coming up with melodies that can release power in the room.

Q- How has leading in a life group setting effected the way that you lead from the stage?

A- I think the biggest thing I’ve learned in life group that’s helped me leading from the stage is that sometimes God wants you to restrain yourself if it’s right for the moment. We have to remember that the people in the congregation are God’s kids and He’s very careful with His kids. I’ve learned to be very careful and really try to hear the Lord’s voice as well as I can. When He’s telling me no, I stop. When He’s telling me yes, I go. That’s something I’ve become better at because of life group.

Q- What kinds of challenges have you faced as a worship leader?

A- I think you have to fight comparison no matter how long you’ve been leading. We all have different strengths. There will always be someone who has a better range than you. There will always be someone who can do things with their voice that you can’t. The enemy will try to get you to waste your time comparing yourself with them instead of listening to what the Lord is saying to you. The main thing is listening to the voice of the Lord.

A- How do you overcome the struggle with comparison?

Q- Getting the Father’s perspective…seeing that person how He sees them will help you to celebrate them instead of seeing them as competition. When I see someone with a better voice than me or someone who is a better prophetic worship leader than me, I encourage them to go farther. It’s about not staying stagnate and not having the attitude that, “I’m the only person who can do what I do.” Letting people pass you, letting people exceed you, and actually being excited about that, that’s the Father’s heart.

Q- How would you encourage others who are growing as worship leaders?

A- Time alone with God. You can’t replace time alone with God with anything else if you want to grow. The more personal time I have of just worshiping the Lord, the better all of the times of worshiping on a stage are.

Take Away:

  • Spontaneous worship is about loving on God.
  • Prophetic worship is God loving on His kids.
  • Honor is a key component in flowing in the gifts of the Spirit.
  • When you see others the way the Father does, you can celebrate them.
  • You can’t replace time alone with God with anything else if you want to grow.

Surrendered: An Interview with Pastor Sierra Kinnamon

Pastor Sierra Kinnamon has been serving the Church since she was old enough to volunteer in children’s church ministry. From a very young age she has responded wholeheartedly to the call of God on her life that she share the Gospel to the nations. She has served as a missionary in 7 countries, including stays in the United States, in New York City and Las Angeles. Her non-profit organization, One Soma Global Inc., has aided in raising money for supplies in disaster stricken areas, and continues to meet the needs of communities local and abroad.

Following her most recent trip to India in the summer of 2017, Sierra was set in as a Pastor for Victory Life Church Durant, the mother church of a multi-campus church body under the headship of Duane Sheriff Ministries. Now, along-side her team, Sierra pastors two church campuses, Victory Life Colorado Springs,Co., and Victory Life Woodland Park, Co. This past Fall I sat down with Sierra during a visit to Texas to find out about her experience in Colorado.

Q: What is it like to establish and help develop a Victory Life Church location?

A: We have two campuses in Colorado and I oversee the life groups, the grow teams, and Next Steps for both campuses. The newest campus is 15 weeks old and we have about 60-65 people. A lot of what I’m doing there is identifying and developing leaders, while building and implementing systems for ministry.

Q: What would you say is the biggest task you face in your work?

A: The biggest task is that it’s my job to help establish Victory Life culture. [In a new location] you have a whole group of people who have awesome hearts, who want to be apart of Victory Life culture but haven’t seen it before. For instance, how we walk out different things…how we walk out mercy…and everything we do.

Q: What elements are most important in the culture of Victory Life to you and how do you go about establishing that?

A: I think for me it’s been acknowledging relationships. I know, that before I can have a say in anything, that the Holy Spirit has told me, “you have to establish relationship first….You have to let people see your heart.” Definitely the mercy side of things is very important to me. We’re gonna walk out mercy first. We’re not just going to look at someone’s heart and say we know them, but we’re going to walk life out with them.

Q: What has been the impact on the surrounding area having not one, but two Victory Life locations within an hour of each other?

A: Something we’ve been hearing all year is that we’re not just a church in a city but for a city. That’s interesting because we’re so close to Charis Bible College. A lot of Bible students come to the church, which is awesome but Bible school is different than a church. Pastor Duane said it best when he was in Colorado, “you’re sent to Bible school but you’re set in a church.” So really showing people that the church is not about just going and being spiritually fed (like you are in Bible College), but really about pouring that back out.

Q: What is your vision for pouring out into the Colorado community?

A: We haven’t started much outreach but once we’ve gotten our grow teams, Next Steps, and life groups going, that outreach is going to be my big focus. Because again, we have Bible students who come but we also want to make sure people in the community are coming. In the Springs there’s a big homeless population and there’s so much potential for all kinds of outreaches. I’m definitely excited about that.

Q: You’ve accomplished a lot in ministry and maintained such focus along the way. What is it that so motivates you?

A: More than anything, I’m really passionate about establishing the Kingdom of God and His culture. I think that our church is very closely related to that, and we’re very much working our way toward Heaven and Earth becoming one. Because of that, I can be excited about our church culture. I’ve found that if I’m walking in the Kingdom of God and I’m walking out what He carries, and if I’ve tried to model my life after that, then culture is the fruit of that.

Q: Being in a new environment, you’re not with your family but you’re still in Victory Life, not overseas, but you’re in an in-between. What’s that been like for you?

A: Personally the relationship aspect has been the most stretching in this season. Obviously what I’m doing in my job is all new, so I’m learning a lot. Where I’ve really had to trust is, I’ve never struggled making friends or with even the thought of it, but I found that as I was getting closer to the move, I’m like, “man I’m about to be uprooted.” Going from a place where people know you’re heart, know what’s inside of you, and friends who are good to call that out and hold you accountable to that, to then almost completely being taken away from that, and being in a place where you’re starting over, it’s been a really good stretching and growing experience. God has really been saying to me, “do you trust me?”

Q: Trusting in God must really play a vital role in your walk.  How would you describe that?

A: I was reading a book and the author was talking about how trust is developed in dependency and intimacy, and those two things are all I have right now. I have to be dependent on God, he is my best friend. I’m intimate with Him and trust can’t help but be formed in that. I have a new appreciation for family and for church family. I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be but relationships take time and you can’t rush them. That’s been the most challenging aspect, but I know it’s what I’ve needed to grow. And in visiting my home in Durant, I felt this awesome sense of ownership of our campuses in Colorado. So, now I really have two places of home.

Q: What would you most like to see unfold for your campuses?

A: I think for me, I’d most like to see the leaders that need to step up, step up and take ownership of the church. [Many people] have awesome gifts but it’s about plugging in and seeing your gift develop. I know in my own life it was serving and doing whatever was needed that opened every single door for me. It was never saying, “I have a call to ministry so I’m going to do ministry.” It was, “I have a call but I’m going to serve where needed.” I want to be good at building and training those leaders.

Q: How have you walked through the process of building and training leaders so far?

A: Something I’ve been doing every time I meet with a new life group leader or grow team member, is asking them, “what are your spiritual gifts? What are the things inside of you?” Because I want to lead in a way that calls that out and helps set them in the right place. I want to see people take ownership, grow the church, and be for a city. I want to see communities connect to and find a home in the church and feel welcomed.

Q: Do you have any advice for young women who feel called to pastoral ministry?

A: Be willing to do whatever is needed and the work of the ministry, but also confident of who God is in you and His faithfulness. I know I never have to make a way for myself because He’s a really good dad who wants to see my gifts grown. I also trust that He knows the perfect timing. He’s not going to give me a leadership opportunity that I can’t handle. He’s not going to put me in a place that I’m not ready for.

Q: How have you walked out seasons of waiting?

A: I remember seasons where I felt like I have so much in me but I’m in a season of hiding, or I have so much in me but I’m not using it all. Even now, what I’m doing is details and administrative stuff and I know that’s not my end either. There’s still so much more in me but it’s a matter of saying, “in this season I trust that You’re developing me exactly how I need to be developed and Your timing is perfect.”

Q: Lastly, what does surrender to Jesus mean to you?

A: Saying yes, no matter the cost!

Take Away:

  • Before you can have a say in anything, let people know your heart
  • When you walk in the Kingdom, you set the culture
  • Trust is developed in intimacy and dependency
  • Serve whereever there’s a need
  • Be confident of who God is in you and His faithfulness
  • Know that in the right time, God will open the right doors
  • Surrender to Jesus means saying yes, no matter the cost

To partner with One Soma Global Inc. visit https://www.facebook.com/onesomaglabal/