LJ Smith

Jimmy “LJ” Smith
How All Praise Began and Where We’re Going…

In this interview with All Praise Founder and Chairman, Jimmy Smith, we’ll discover the roots of the ministry, how
it was formed, the several transformations and the vision for the future.

Q: What prompted you to start APM?

A: In short, the Holy
Spirit. I was leading worship at Living Way Foursquare Church in Seattle under
pastor Roger Archer. Roger was one of the men in my life that helped guide me
towards a career in Praise & Worship. After he left that church, I soon
began to wonder what God had in store for my future. I told Him I’d go wherever
He called me, but I wanted some clarity on my calling. It was that same week
when it happened.

Q: Exactly what happened?

A: I was in my living
room, on my knees, asking God (again) what HE wanted me to do with my talent and
my desires. I felt I heard him speak to me the phrase, “tens of thousands” over
and over. Moments later, a friend called and said I should turn on one of the
Christian TV stations. When I did, I saw Ron Kenoly leading thousands of people
in Praise & Worship, but it was just about over. They offered his video for
sale at the end, which I purchased. A few days later, I watched the whole thing
and began to cry. I remembered at the age of 14, a woman in my church told me
that I’d be leading tens of thousands to Christ one day. It was at that moment,
in my living room, in front of that TV, that I realized what I was suppose to
do. Although, the path was still a little fuzzy, I finally had a clue.

Explain that. The path was fuzzy?

A: Well, I thought God wanted me to be
the next Ron Kenoly or something. So I started that journey, which I knew would
be long. First thing I did after getting some Godly input was form a talented
musical group of Christians. We called ourselves “The All Praise Band” and began
playing for churches in the Pacific Northwest – mainly the Seattle

Q: How’d that go?

A: Great. We blessed a lot of smaller
churches that didn’t have access to excellent musicians and in turn we were
blessed, both spiritually and financially. The churches really supported us and
many of them continued to send love gifts for years to come. But the best part
was hearing from some of the churches how our group encouraged them to expect a
higher level of excellence from their Praise & Worship team.

Q: So do
you still think you’ll be another Ron Kenoly?

A: Funny. No, the path has
taken a few turns. While I still know God wants me to bring people to His Son,
it won’t be with my own line of worship videos or CDs, or at least not with me
being the front man. All Praise Ministries teaches churches how to take their
P&W to the next level, so it’ll be through that teaching that I accomplish
that calling.

Q: So how does that touch those “tens of thousands” that
were prophesied over you?

A: If we do what God is calling us to do –
teach others more about Worship, God will use those people to teach others, and
those will teach others, and the number of lives APM touches will begin to grow
exponentially, reaching our community, then the nation and the World.

That’s a pretty high calling. Can you give us a glimpse of how that will look
from the outside in?

A: As God continues to shape the future of All
Praise, the one thing that hasn’t changed is His desired outcome – tens of
thousands being reached and taught about true praise and worship. I hope from
the outside it will look like a group of Godly men and women working together to
share their knowledge base and positive experiences with other churches,
organizations and Worship Leaders. I’d like people to see people helping

Q: And from the inside out?

A: It’s all about our hearts.
From myself to the board members to our spouses, and I’ll even include the
churches we help. We all want the same things. We want to offer God our absolute
best at all times. Knowing we all fall short in His eyes, but striving 100% of
the time to please Him. At APM, we want to share that commitment with others,
coach them up to a higher level and teach them how to teach and train

Q: Would you give us a quick look at the All Praise Worship

A: I will, but it will have to be a short glimpse. That’s
something God has placed on our hearts to accomplish, but the timeline has the
potential to be a long ways away.

Q: Why is that? Can’t God do miracles
and make it happen sooner?

A: Ouch? I guess that sounded like we had such
little faith. Yes, He could do that. And we’d never rule out that possibility.
But there are many steps that have to be taken before that project can become a
reality. At this point, we’re probing into all the areas necessary to bring that
to fruition. The APWC will be a reality one day. Not sure when but when it does,
it will be a living breathing structure.

Q: How will it help accomplish
your goals for All Praise?

A: It will be a training ground for worship
leaders, musicians, pastors, singers and songwriters. In addition to housing
multiple worship facilities, which we will rent to area startup and
semi-permanent churches, we’ll also host Christian concerts, conferences and
seminars. There will be rehearsal rooms for area musicians. A state of the art
recording studio that rivals anything in Nashville will be a big part of the
ministry. And I’m sure there will be some publishing and possibly a recording
label that springs from these resources.

Q: Sounds like a big
undertaking. Any timeframe for completion? And why are you laughing?

Why am I laughing? I need God to give me a START time on this project before I
can even begin thinking about giving you a completion date. We’re just in the
planning and fundraising process at this point.

Q: How much do you need
to get started?

A: All of it. We are firm believers that God provides
everything we need for ministry. We will be a debt-free ministry all the

Q: So you don’t plan on having a paid staff?

A: I wouldn’t
say that. But certainly, that comes later. First, we need something for a paid
staff to run and manage. We believe God will provide our every need to
accomplish the plan He has laid before us, and that He’ll do it with as many
volunteers as possible. I’m sure at some point we’ll need to add a staff, but
we’re just not there yet. Hey, if anyone reading this wants to donate a few
million, we’re all for it. I’ll start hiring today. But for now, we’re doing
exceedingly well with what God has given us.

Q: Any closing statement for
our readers?

A: Yes. First, thank you to everyone who currently supports
All Praise. I thank those who have made a commitment to pray for us on a regular
basis. We are honored that there are those who have trusted All Praise by hiring
us to work with their Praise & Worship ministry – thank you. And finally,
thank you to those who faithfully support this ministry with your financial gift
each month. Every single penny goes to either support other churches’ ministries
or gets reinvested into All Praise. Coming soon, we’ll have a separate building
fund and several ways to get involved in that project, as well as on-line
giving. We’re also working with Kevin Skipper on setting up multiple giving
avenues for larger donors and for those who want to contribute more than just
cash to APM. If you’re reading this and wondering how to get involved, it’s
simple. Contact us today and tell us you want to be an All Praise supporter. We
need you.

Q: Thanks for your time. Next time, we’ll talk to your wife and
get her take on your progress, cool?

A: Cool. Thanks!

Jimmy serves as Worship Leader at Northeast Presbyterian Church in
Columbia, SC, under Senior Pastor George Crow. He describes the worship style
as “unapologetically contemporary and culturally relevant.