a relational community that builds friendships to share Jesus with our five mile radius and beyond

5546 Cincinnati Dayton Road, Liberty Township, OH 45044

Meet Our New Director of Worship, Justin Martin

Tell us about your family.

Sarah and I met when I was the college and worship pastor at Fellowship Christian Church (Springfield, OH), almost 9 years ago. We have been married for almost six years now and have supported each other through some significant seasons of growth. I can truly say that Sarah has helped me grow closer to Jesus. Ariella (aka AJ, Ella, Boo Bear, Punkin’ Doodle) is now 17 months old and is our little rock star! She loves VeggieTales, doing animal impressions, as well as telling us “no” on a fairly regular basis. She is a true gift with whom Sarah and I are absolutely in love.

How did you become a Christian?

I gave my life to Jesus at the age of three, or at least as much as a three-year-old can. I grew up in the church and never really had a falling away period, but there has been a continual deepening of my understanding of my need for Him and His insane love for me. Usually, those realizations come through really hard things, but He remains faithful in every season. The more I’m able to trust Him the easier those things become.

What did you study in college and graduate school? Why did you choose those degrees?

I went to Columbia International University in South Carolina for both my college and graduate training. I graduated with a Bible major and a double minor in music and psychology. Before going to CIU I did three years of community college music training, so by the time I got to CIU, I could pretty much do what I wanted on the guitar, which is where the psychology came in. In seminary, I studied Pastoral Counseling because I wanted to be more than just a worship leader. I want to be of help to people in need and to learn how to effectively lead them to Jesus in their specific issues. The biggest thing I took away from all six years of CIU is to trust Jesus with every part of my life; lean not only on what I know and can see but in every season and passing emotion of life invite Him in, and He will bring clarity, peace, and direction.

What do you and Sarah enjoy about The River so far?

We LOVE the clarity of the vision this church has, and the staff and people have been super welcoming! Sarah said after our second time visiting here that the church felt like a family in which we could belong.

Tell us about your passion for music. How did you get started leading worship? Why do you enjoy it?

When I was 12, my Mom said I could quit piano if I started guitar. I become obsessed with guitar pretty quickly. The church I grew up in had six different worship leaders that would trade off Sundays, so I had a front-row seat to lots of different styles and was mentored by some wonderful people. I started leading worship in youth group when I was 15. My passion for worship keeps growing as I keep getting to know Jesus more. It’s one thing to know about Him like a lot of Christian-raised kids like myself do. But it’s a seriously different thing when you realize that you actually need Him and that He LOVES YOU!

I think that worship is best defined as being fully alive. It is impossible to be fully alive without being tuned into Jesus. The closer we get to Him the more He enables us to be who we really are: Spirit-filled people who have love to give. He came to give us life and life and more life! Almost every famous song ever sung is a response to the experience of love, and as I keep getting to know the One who is literal love, I get more and more excited to sing! (It’s almost like He designed it that way or something!)

What hobbies do you enjoy?

Making Sarah and AJ laugh, rock climbing, spear fishing/scuba, shooting sports, mountain biking, paintball, hiking, and chasing down random tangents on Youtube.

What are some of your favorite movies?

Braveheart, Last Samurai, and various anime depending on the mood. 

What are your favorites books?

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and the Boundaries series. 

What Christian artists have shaped you musically? As a worship leader?

I grew up on Keith Green, Petra, and the whole 90’s CCM scene. In my guitar parts, you can hear stuff from Caedmon’s Call, Bebo Norman, Third Day, Phil Keaggy (on my top-notch days), and the occasional funk riffs.

In the worship world, I have so many heroes and influencers, but in the past four years, I would say that Jeremy Riddle and others of the Bethel worship crew have had a big impact on my view of the greatness of God and the worthiness of the pursuit of worship.

One Comment

  1. I was really sorry I didn’t get to say Hi to Justin on Sunday. I was so moved by your total joy in singing praises to the Lord. My husband Tom took the words out of my mouth…..”He’s really enjoying what he’s doing!” Welcome, welcome,welcome to the River! My husband Tom also loves Braveheart and would love an opportunity to watch it for umpteenth time!

    We look forward to meeting you, Sarah and Ella.
    Nancy Waller

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