Clay Finnesand got his “official” start in singing as a sort of joke.
“I had some interest in being a part of the worship team, mostly because there were some high school juniors and seniors who overheard me singing a Rihanna song one day,” said Finnesand, 25. “I was in a classroom at school (Christian Academy of Louisville) just being dumb and having fun. They were like, ‘Hey, you should consider hopping in with the worship team.’ One of the guys on the worship team took that and ran with it, ‘Maybe you have a gifting here that has a place that can be used outside of the umbrella of the history classroom.’”
Finnesand grew up going to Southeast Christian Church, helping with KidWay, leading a SE!KIDS small group and singing on the worship team with Southeast’s High School Ministry.
“Southeast was the most foundational time for me,” Finnesand added. “I think it’s because I had such great pastors who invested in me a lot. (Former NextGen Ministry Worship Leader) Ryan Post was the foundation for how I viewed what worship was. He was teaching me all the time how platform is secondary to integrity and character.”
For the past three years, Finnesand has been a member of North Point InsideOut, a worship band formed out of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Georgia.
“With worship music, it informs people’s theology,” Finnesand said. “There’s something about a melody that’s memorable, can stick with somebody and suddenly they’re humming to a song.”
North Point Community Church was founded by Andy Stanley and has six campuses in the Atlanta area.
InsideOut will be in Louisville as part of the Mission: Possible Concert Friday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m. at Hurstbourne Baptist Church. Dove Award winner Jordan Feliz will headline the concert that will benefit homeless and hurting people served by Re:Center Ministries.
“I’m super excited for this whole thing to come to Louisville,” Finnesand added. “It’s kind of a full-circle moment for me to come back to the city that shaped me, the people that I love and are still family.”
Growth through disappointment
After graduating from CAL, Finnesand attended Liberty University in Virginia to major in Biblical studies.
He had no desire to pursue worship as a vocational ministry, but he had loved writing songs since the second grade.
When he arrived on a campus with more than 45,000 students, Finnesand realized how difficult it was to be a worship leader.
“My first year I had to audition for the worship teams there, and I didn’t make it,” Finnesand said. “I don’t think I led worship at all my entire freshman year. It was a really healthy reset because toward the end of high school, I was starting to be known as the ‘worship leader guy.’ It was God’s way of resetting my priorities, what I was after and what I wanted. I went from kind of being a big fish in a little pond to suddenly there’s 3,000 other people who want to be a worship leader on this campus.”
Finnesand grew deeply from disappointment.
“Either I’m going to have to muscle my way through the crowd and prove myself, or I’m going to have to sit back and let God open what He wants to open,” he said.
He didn’t seek the stage, but sought God and continued to develop his musical craft for an audience of One.
Finnesand earned a spot on a Liberty worship team his sophomore year.
During his time on the worship team, he traveled over the summer and played at Disciple Now (DNow) student conferences (similar to Bible & Beach) and also helped at Liberty’s chapel services.
An open door
God opened a door for Finnesand to pursue vocational worship ministry while heading into his senior year.
“Kind of randomly, one of the creative directors at North Point was speaking at one of the DNow’s that a Liberty band was leading worship for,” Finnesand said. “I wasn’t there, but he looked us up on YouTube and one of my friends had posted a video that I didn’t know about. It was of the convocation of our chapel that I was leading. So, I got discovered through YouTube, which is very funny for me.”
A coworker who grew up attending North Point connected Finnesand and the InsideOut team. He then began traveling to Atlanta and helping lead worship over school breaks.
“It was one of those things where you feel like you’ve known the people already for years, and it just meshed really well,” Finnesand said.
InsideOut travels for concerts during the week and leads worship at North Point services on Sunday mornings and student ministry events on Sunday evenings.
Finnesand recently released an album titled “Springside,” and he is featured on InsideOut’s song “Wide Open.”