I sat in a living room with our entire worship team earlier this month for our “listening party.” We had gathered to listen to the album through for the first time as a group. I realized that night that this project is sort of a culmination of my life thus far – a product of growing up and walking daily with Christ. Below are five reflections on this realization:
1. This album began years ago in a small United Methodist Church.
I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home with amazing parents who took me to church every Sunday and encouraged church involvement. It was in this place that I developed a hunger for Jesus, fell in love with music (particularly the hymns we sang often), saw many examples of what walking with Christ for years looked like, and learned how to be apart of a church community. For me, this album began way back in those years as I experienced Christ and His body and the role church music plays in that.
2. This project came out of a relationship with Jesus based on faith and obedience.
I’m a sinner (shocking, I know – just ask my wife and mother!). I was attracted to Jesus at a young age, and throughout my life have had crisis moments where I was left to choose – Jesus, or this other thing? Countless times, I’ve felt Jesus drawing me to choose Him, and as I’ve done that, He has made me more and more like Him. This album is a result of a relationship with Him; I felt Him nudging me to do this project with this group of people at this specific time. During the recording process, my family’s home was broken into and I was faced with a choice of shrinking back and running, or being obedient to stay. Specific lines from this album, such as Jesus being “firm through the fiercest drought and storm” from In Christ Alone, and “though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet” from This is My Father’s World, were words I was clinging to in obedience and trust as we were recording this record.
3. It took years of playing music to create this album.
I’ve been playing music for over twenty years now, and could not have led a team of over twenty musicians through a project like this without that experience. I am proud of how the record sounds – not in an arrogant way, but because I’m grateful to God for the gift of music and ability to express myself in worship through it. I’m also grateful that God has put me around such talented musicians that collaborated on this project for His glory.
4. The leadership skills I had ten years ago would not have been sufficient for this project.
I went straight into vocational ministry right out of college at age 22. I made some stupid, idiotic mistakes. Yet, God (and our leadership!) was patient with me, and I began maturing in how to lead staff and volunteer teams. This project required a team of around 40 staff and volunteers. So many besides me contributed to it. God in His grace has allowed me to grow up in the way I lead; this project is evidence of God maturing me as a leader in His church (although my team will be the first to tell you that it was not without its ups and downs : )
5. A lifetime pursuit of truth was key to the heart of this project.
Walking with Christ, being in the church, and going through college and graduate school for theology has put in me a desire to sing truth. Our songs need to express God’s truth and not just our own ideas. This lifelong journey led me to selecting the hymns on this project. I’m convicted that what we sing ought to edify and teach our church so that we’ll be “mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).
In conclusion, as we approached the album release during the third phase of the project, I realized that there were thousands of building blocks leading up to it getting into the hands of others. We need to think about what we can accomplish in ten years, not three months. Our culture wants everything so fast, but sometimes it takes a lifetime of doing something (in my case walking with Christ, writing and playing music, and leading in the church) to produce fruit that will last.
And let’s remember that we can only produce fruit that will last if we remain in Him – apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5).
Remaining is not always easy, but it’s always the right choice.