The odds were pretty much stacked in favor of Doug Pierce entering music ministry.
“My family is musically inclined,” said Doug, who was born and raised in Jonesboro, Arkansas. He leads the 10:45 Sunday morning service at First Orlando. “My mom plays keyboards. My brother plays bass and my two sisters play guitar. My dad plays just about everything else. By the time I was five, they needed a drummer, so I started playing drums in the family band. I then started picking up on keyboards and my dad taught me the guitar, which is my main instrument.”
A classic “baby of the family,” Doug is the youngest of four children and 11 years younger than his closest sibling. He gave his life to Christ at age 9.
“I pretty much grew up in church, but one year I went to Vacation Bible School and that’s when I actually started thinking about what Jesus did for me. I accepted Christ and began my journey,” Doug said.
And though he was saved, he said it wasn’t until about six years later that he got serious about the Lord.
“When I was in 10th grade, our church got a new youth pastor who began encouraging us to make our faith a lifestyle and not just a Sunday-only thing,” he recalled. “That’s when my faith took hold and I really began growing. By the time I finished high school, I was already being called to the ministry.”
But first, he had to be certain that the call was actually the Lord’s and not his own.
“I felt that God was calling me, but I wasn’t sure if I was being selfish because I really wanted to go into music,” Doug said.
So then, what convinced him that his desire to go into music ministry was of the Lord and not his own fancy?
“I remember reading 1 Timothy 1:12, which says: ‘I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service,’” Doug said. “The day I read that, the light came on and I realized that God wanted my faithfulness and not my talent. It was a powerful time when God confirmed his call on my life.”
And that’s a very good thing, because he was already leading worship for his youth group at church.
“We then got a new youth pastor [following the one who encouraged Doug to make his faith a lifestyle],” he said. “He was very connected with different Baptist circles in Arkansas. He would lead retreats and conferences and take me with him to lead worship.”
The exposure paid dividends.
“These conferences usually had four or five youth pastors attending, then they would go back to their own churches to lead retreats. The pastors would call me to lead worship. It was a snowball effect that started in high school and grew in college.”
College for Doug meant Arkansas State University, where he majored in history. That’s not a typo. Though you would expect him to have been a music major, that wasn’t the direction he took.
“When I went to the Music Department, they told me that the course requirements were pretty much seven days a week. But I was on the road with my band quite a bit and realized I wouldn’t have the time.”
History would prove a little more conducive to Doug’s busy schedule, which included leading worship in numerous locations. In 1996, Doug married his fiancé Jill and continued to lead worship at church services, conferences and youth camps, this time on a full-time basis. In 1998, he started the aptly named Doug Pierce Band.
The four-year time period beginning in 1996 proved fruitful.
“There was even a stint where I traveled for a year leading worship with [First Orlando artist-in-resident] Al Denson,” he said. “Then, in 2000, [Jill and I] decided to move to Memphis because two of the three members of the band lived near there. I served part-time in Forest Hill Community Church in Memphis, then full-time at High Point Church in Memphis as the Worship Pastor.”
Things were going well for the Pierces as Doug’s music ministry was hitting on all cylinders. In fact, in 2001 his ministry branched out into Europe.
“An evangelist friend of mine was going to Germany and I asked him if I could go with him; I was willing to raise my own support,” he recalled. “We went to serve International Baptist Church in Stuttgart. After I played at my first church in Germany, someone from one of the U.S. bases invited me to play at his base, and that’s how that ministry grew.”
Playing overseas has given Doug a greater appreciation for his ministry.
“I love it. I think the audiences in Europe are a little hungrier [spiritually]. There aren’t the big crowds like here in the States. But they’re ready. They love God but generally don’t have the opportunity [for live worship music] because of limited resources.”
Though Doug continues to minister, he has substantially scaled back his “road” ministry. Much of that has to do with his having become a father back in 2003 when daughter Abby was born. The Pierces have another child, 2-year-old Elliott.
But a year before Abby was born, Doug accepted an assignment that would eventually lead him to First Orlando, though there was no way he could have known that at the time.
“In 2002, when [First Orlando Senior Pastor] David Uth and [First Orlando Pastor of Worship/Event Coordination] Jon Marks were at First Baptist Church of West Monroe [Louisiana], they heard about me and invited me to lead worship at their student camp,” Doug said. “I did, and they had me back the next few years. When they came here, they invited me to Camp Orlando. A few years later, they invited me to join the staff.”
That was in November of 2008. And though he hasn’t been here long, Doug looks forward to how the Lord will be using here at First Orlando.
“I like being part of a team,” he said. “I like being able to lock arms and develop relationships with people who have the same goal — leading people to Christ and helping them to connect their hearts with Him.”