Who are you?
Donald Zimmerman is the Director of Liturgy, Arts, and Music at Doxa Church in Bellevue, WA and has been leading worship for 17 years in the local church. He has coached worship leaders for the last six years, and written several published works, particularly in the area of worship structures, creating worship culture, and leadership development. Itinerant ministry has taken him to almost every state in the U.S. and he’s recorded six studio albums, the most recent of which, “Hopefully Broken” is available on iTunes. Donald and his family (Kelly his talented wife, and kids, ages 4 & 6) came to Seattle to help replant Doxa Church under Jeff Vanderstelt in early 2015. Donald is an avid fly fisherman, loves equipping artists to tell the Gospel story, and has a weakness for food trucks.
What’s the story?
Born in Reno, NV, I quickly moved to the Bay Area outside San Francisco. Growing up in a single parent home wasn’t the easiest thing, but my Mom worked hard to make sure we never felt the pinch. I struggled to find my niche until I started running track in high school. A team mate showed the radical love of Christ to me in a variety of ways, and that led to me trusting Jesus with my life. I jumped into serving in the local church immediately, helping with youth worship and then college ministry. I worked in the Silicon Valley for some dot.com startups, interned for the government on the Human Genome Project, and learned about big business at places like Chevron and Microsoft. I made it back to Reno to finish my Bachelors in 2001 and helped plant a church called Living Stones.
I’ve spent the last 17 years in the local church. This means that many of the traditional roads travelled by musicians have been avoided or left unopened. I see myself as a Christian first, a pastor second, and a musician third. I’m keenly aware of the mediocrity the church has become known for in the arts. Thankfully, much is improving in the landscape of faith and art, and I want to give my life to see Christian artists bring a fresh perspective on unchanging truths.
Not because I need a platform or celebrity. Not because I can do it better than anyone else. But I’ve found that people are affected by the things I write. Something recognizable rattles around in their chest. The creative process is like a small glimpse of things the way they ought to be and will be again. My hope is that my music and ministry is helpful to others. The story on the band name can be found here.
What have been your top moments?
Usually radio play is reserved for big bands on big labels but my first radio single “At the Cross” broke most of those rules with play on over 40+ reporting AC stations across the county. I’ve played with some of the biggest names in Christian music (Barlow Girl, Building 429, Future of Forestry, the Afters). The thing I’m most proud of is that churches all over find that some of my songs are useful for their gatherings. This mean a lot to me.
I’ve toured quite a bit, played festivals etc…but I made a conscious decision a long time ago to not do some of the things required to “make it” (heavy touring, endless self-promotion), to instead do the things I feel will help me stay healthy and faithful and normal. I have great friends that are far more talented than me, and they tour heavily and do great work. Investing in the local church for me is about chasing faithfulness over platform. People all over have found our music and we’re grateful for that.
What genre is Zimmerman?
Just have a listen and arrive at your own conclusion. Here’s a list of words we’ve had used to describe it:
Americana, Brit-rock, folk rock, indie, roots rock, worship, gospel, alt-rock…
What band do you sound like?
The Lone Bellow, Iron and Wine, Mute Math, Radiohead, Paper Route.
Why do you do coaching?
Simply put, I am deeply passionate about equipping worship leaders and volunteers to make much of Jesus, by using music and the arts in the church in a way that’s theologically informed, practical, and contextual.
If Jesus is the purpose of worship ministry (which He is), then faithfulness is utmost in what we strive for. I love building up leaders that care about faithfulness. I’ve come alongside dozens of leaders over the years to help them lead worship more effectively, build a plan, and walk in faithfulness in light of their unique gifting. Read more on my coaching here.