Chris, thanks for speaking to CCLI. What can you reveal about the new album?
Yes the new album is called
Love Ran Red. This title comes from the song on the album At The Cross. I feel like from the start of making this project, this song has been sort of the cornerstone. I think it is one that will be special for the church. A song like this seems to change the atmosphere each time I lead it. Just the simple phrase “where your love ran red and my sin washed white” sings so beautiful and really puts a powerful visual in your mind.
Another significant song on this album is
Jesus Loves Me. These simple words are the same ones you first learn to sing as a child, yet somehow along the way, after years of mistakes and wrong turns, it’s harder and harder to believe this simple truth. I know this song will resonate with so many. No matter how far you go, you can’t run from His presence… This song again points us to the cross where we find the love of Jesus.
Almighty is as majestic a song as I’ve ever been a part. From the opening piano hook to the grandeur of the lyric, I feel like I am surrounded by the saints and angels when I sing this. I guess in reality I am! This song sets our hearts and minds on the true majesty and holiness of our God…the King of Kings!
Time Magazine said that you are “most likely the most often sung artist anywhere.” That’s an amazing thought – how do you feel when you consider what that means?
My single goal and desire has been to write songs that the church would sing. I can only say how humbled I am that these songs have found their way into so many lives. However I will say the Holy Spirit is the greatest publisher… He places the songs where he wants them and moves in the hearts of the people through them.
Is there any kind of formula for writing songs that work in churches? Given the huge diversity in the church, what do you think it is about your songs that appeals so universally?
Simplicity… and it’s not simple or easy to do. There has to be something from your heart that sings out but then trying to find a way to say it where so many others can sing it as well. You can only be who you are and not try to write it like others.
What is your songwriting process – your journey of a song? Has it changed over the years?
It has changed in the sense that I really enjoy writing with like-hearted friends more and more, and the strength that comes from co-writing is invaluable. One of us will be inspired by something and the power that comes from collaborating with each other is wonderful.
Are there particular writers or artists who have had a significant influence on you, or continue to do so?
I find most of my influence from my peers… Guys like Matt Redman, Ed Cash, Jason Ingram, Reuben Morgan and Matt Maher.
Worship songs are obviously influenced by styles and trends in music more generally. Which writers or styles excite you right now? How do you see worship music developing over the next ten years?
I’m really no authority on this but I feel like there will be a shift at some point away from the pop music structure and may find a more simple or hymn like structure. Styles will always come and go but the spirit of worship is eternal.
It’s sometimes suggested that some of today’s worship music lacks the depth of more traditional hymns/songs. Do you agree? Is it fair to compare the two?
When you read over the lyrics of many of the great hymns I can see the point, but if you take in consideration some of the great songs of today, they carry the weight as well. I dare say 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) will be sung for generations. Maybe because so much of today’s music has a pop format, it feels less weighty. But so many of the newer songs are deeply and beautifully written.
How do you balance spending so much time on the road with family life?
So much of my music life comes in seasons… Seasons when I’m home a bit more and seasons when I’m on the road. I am constantly trying to figure out how to best balance it all. I love my family so much and so grateful to have one. So I err on the side of being with them even though it costs more at times. But anything worth having is costly.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out who wants to follow in your footsteps?
It’s small steps.. It’s A to B to C.. Not A then Z. Be faithful where God has planted you. Love the people you lead. You will never connect with the people if it’s just a gig for you. Always, always keep your focus on leading people to God and not yourself. Lead with humility and joy.