Jay and Amy Rouse Find a New Melody
By Kevin Spear
As in-demand musicians within the Church of God and the wider Christian music community, Jay and Amy Rouse were used to a lot of travel. Yet, Anderson, Indiana, had remained their base. “I came to Anderson University in 1982,” Jay says. “It’s home.”
After college, the Rouses stayed busy raising a family while maintaining an active calendar. Jay worked with the Gaithers, many of the Homecoming artists, Veritas, and many others. He has been Sandi Patty’s music director, as well as the vice president of PraiseGathering Music Group.
Amy enjoyed singing in-studio sessions. On weekends, both would be out on “worship weekends” where they would lead worship and mentor worship leaders. They were grateful for their careers and their home base. But the Rouses sensed change was coming.
Last year, their kids finished college. Crossings Community Church in Oklahoma City had approached Jay about being an Artist in Residence. Jay commented, “I had been coming and going as a consultant for five to six years. We were entertaining the idea of us moving out there.”
In the spring of 2020, Jay and Crossings agreed the timing was right. They moved to Oklahoma City in June 2020. Through it all, they saw God’s perfect timing at work. Last summer, it still looked like concerts and tours would be a possibility. But they soon found the music industry was to be greatly affected by the pandemic. “I would normally be busy writing and arranging Christmas productions that time of year,” Jay says.
With Christmas musicals and other productions put on hold, Crossings came at the right time. “I am still involved with PraiseGathering and other projects. But Crossings is keeping me busy right now. It’s a different timetable.”
A Different Rhythm
Being part of the Crossings family has been a nice change for the Rouses. Jay says, “We were always the couple that was a bit itinerant. We would be at our home church one weekend. But the next, we could be anywhere. We enjoy being here because it’s a different rhythm than what we are accustomed to.”
Amy has been able to serve in the music ministry more consistently. They enjoy being able to hear an entire sermon series in context. The new community has meant so much to Jay. “Marty Grubbs is such a blessing to this church,” Jay says. “He and Crossings minister not just to the congregation, but to the whole community, the entire state, and have influence around the country. It’s a unique place.”
It’s also a perspective Jay has loved. His parents served at Warner University and his grandfathers were Church of God pastors. He loved his time at Anderson University and the lifelong friendships he and Amy had formed. “Coming home to Crossings and a Church of God congregation has meant so much to me. It has been so much more rewarding than I imagined.”
Advice for Musicians
This has been a challenging time for musicians and worship artists. Jay encourages them to plan, but be flexible. “It’s everybody’s motto these days. And it’s never been truer: live with open hands.”
“As doors open,” he continues, “be willing to walk through them instead of thinking, ‘No, this is not what I do.’ Pray to God to ask how he might make the best use of your gifts. You never know how God is going to use them. It may be through a traditional career or one that is new and unique.”
He also has advice for worship artists in this online age. It can be difficult to lead an online audience in worship when all you see is a camera lens. Since there is no feedback, it can be jarring and uncomfortable.
First, he advises musicians to rely on their skills. Put as much practice and effort into leading an online audience as a live one. Second, get comfortable with your gifts. He says, “When eighty percent of the population is looking through a camera, you have to look back at them. If any of that hinders you or makes you uncomfortable, it can be difficult to worship. The first rule of leading in worship is that you yourself are worshipping. So, make friends with the camera, trust God for his leading, and take people into the presence of Almighty. What an awesome privilege! As best I can tell, on-campus and online options are here to stay.”
You can learn more about Jay and Amy at www.jayrouse.com.
Kevin Spear has worked for Warner Christian Resources (formerly Warner Press) and has regularly contributed time and talent to the work of Church of God Ministries. He is a ministry partner with his wife Paula, an ordained pastor in the Church of God.
Feature (top) photo: Crossings Community Church OKC musical event in 2018; Jay Rouse at piano.