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Johnson contributes to church as youth minister, musician

Caroline Crews, Features Editor

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Preaching and music are twin passions for senior Xakylan Johnson, who serves as a youth minister, youth choir director, and musician at Springfield Missionary Baptist Church in Abbeville.

Three years ago, Johnson was chosen to be youth minister at his church and preached what he considers his initial sermon on Feb. 17, 2013, although he had spoken in front of the congregation several times before.

Today, he is the youngest minister at his church, and he preaches in front of his home congregation every four months. He also preaches at other churches across north Mississippi and has even ventured into Alabama and Tennessee, preaching at church programs and youth events.

“At times I feel excited, and at other times I feel worried,” Johnson said. “Oftentimes it depends on where I’m preaching. When I’m at home, I’m comfortable, because those are the people I deal with every Sunday, every Wednesday, every weekend, every rehearsal. But when I’m away from home, I get a little anxious, because I become more worried about saying the right things that people need to hear.”

According to Johnson, his purpose in preaching is to say the right things in order to connect people with God. Johnson writes all of his own sermons and a lot of preparation goes into each of them. Despite being a youth minister for three years, he still gets nervous.

“Believe it or not, I do have stage fright every now and then,” Johnson said. “I get butterflies when I have to stand in front of people and preach, but that’s just something you have to learn and I’m still learning how to do. I’m not perfect at it, but it comes from learning and knowing your material. Knowing your message,  that’s how you can be able to communicate and connect with your congregation.”

Johnson described his preaching style as “laid back” with “a modern twist.” His sermons are often directed at a younger audience.

“When I hear him preach I understand him more, because you listen to a kid and it’s the problems in the world that we go through,” said senior Nick Sisk, a member of Johnson’s church.

Johnson has been interested in preaching and being a part of the music program in his church since he was young.

“I tell people all the time, ‘You can live your dreams,’ because believe it or not, everything I ever dreamed of, I am today,” Johnson said. “I always dreamed of being a musician in my church and look at me, I’m a musician in my church.  I always dreamed of reaching out to people by sharing this word and look at that, I’m a minister today. I always had the dream of starting a group, and guess what, I started a gospel group not too long ago.  Everything I dreamed of being in life, I became.”

On top of being a youth minister, Johnson teaches Sunday school, directs the youth choir, and plays the piano and organ. He is the main pianist and back-up organist at his church, and taught himself how to play the instruments. There is no sheet music at his church, so he had to  learn each song by ear. He says that playing the saxophone for the OHS band helped him transition into playing other instruments.

He also plays the guitar during special church programs and occasions, although he has never had guitar lessons either. When playing the guitar, Johnson said he just plays “whatever sounds good.”

Music is an important aspect of Johnson’s church, and their music is broadcasted on Bullseye 95.5 radio every Sunday.

“Music sets the atmosphere for the worship,” he said.

Johnson is also currently in the final stages of writing a devotional book. The book focuses on the SOAP method for worship, which stands for scripture, observation, application, and prayer. It contains 31 devotionals that Johnson wrote. He hopes to have the book published within the next year.

“The goal of the book is to teach you how to maximize time in God’s word,” Johnson said.

Johnson is not sure what the future holds for him, but he knows that he will continue preaching and being involved in his church.

“This is something you cannot just stop,” he said. “You can’t just stop being a preacher. You can never stop, because it’s something that you’re born to be. The bible says grow in Christ, so that’s my goal, to grow in Christ. Wherever this takes me, if it takes me to be a pastor, then I’ll be a pastor. If I’m just an evangelist going to different churches, then I’ll be an evangelist. Whatever God has for me, that’s what I’m going to do. Whatever God has for me to do.”

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Johnson contributes to church as youth minister, musician