As the worship leader of New Life Church in Cupertino, California, Kyle Furusho is learning what it means to communicate worship as something more than just those fifteen minutes that he’s up on stage singing on Sundays.
New Life is part of the Church of the Nazarene and hosts an English and Chinese congregation. Kyle leads the English worship service, but when they have combined services, he leads the integrated music. He says it’s been a new experience to blend the two because each congregation is accustomed to different worship styles.
Kyle graduated from PLNU with a B.A. in music and ministry in 2014. Raised on Kaua’i, Hawai’i, Kyle is an accomplished ‘ukulele and guitar player. Along with his role as a worship leader, he also works as a performing musician, playing weddings, parties and other events.
His worship team is comprised of volunteer musicians, some classically trained and others who are more hobby musicians. Due to the location of the church, much of the congregation works in the tech industry as engineers. Kyle says he is very right-brained, so it’s been a growing opportunity to learn how to coordinate music with those who think very differently than he does.
Kyle started playing music when he was six-years-old and started performing in restaurants and other local venues by the time he was in middle-school. After high school he continued performing and working. A few years after high school, Kyle went on a tour along the west coast. When he got to San Diego, he visited some friends who were attending PLNU. He sat in on some music classes and realized there was a lot he didn’t know about music.
That week he started his application process for PLNU, and the next semester, he was enrolled as a student. Though his family had been involved in the Nazarene Church for generations, and he had relatives who attended PLNU, Kyle hadn’t thought much about attending college until he went visit the school.
Having grown up in a very small church, in a small community, Kyle was used to a fairly informal worship team. He jokes that if you forgot communion, you just stopped the music. Studying music and ministry introduced him to how different churches use music and what is necessary for larger and more formal productions. Being mostly a classical musician, he learned the technical side of music.
In a broader sense, he says PLNU helped him find his own passion for music: “I learned what makes me tick as far as music goes.” Much of his coursework was geared towards the church, but it also gave him perspective on how music can be used as a way to connect with people who are not in the church, and how his entire music career can be a means of ministry.
Kyle recently married his wife who is also a musician and performer. In the summer of 2017, he will be starting a new position as a worship leader at a church on O’ahu, Hawai’i.