Hollywood Jesus: Thanks for taking time to sit down with HollywoodJesus.com. We appreciate what you do in helping others worship, and we hope this will help them gain insight into your music and mission. HJ: 1993 seems like a long time ago, but that’s the date for your first worship album! How has worship changed since then in style and substance from your perspective?
Matt Redman: I think there’ve been a few developments and changes over the years. One of the main ones has been the amount of co-operation and co-writing happening. When I started off, it seemed like everyone was locked away in their own little rooms writing songs only on their own. There’s nothing wrong with writing a whole song on your own, it can be great. But there’s been such a new level of co-writing happening which I think is so brilliant, and so fruitful. Every song on my new album is a co-write and I’m so grateful to God for the team God has placed me in.
HJ: You’re a living legend in the music business, especially with those who are trying to pick music to facilitate their congregation’s worship of God. What does it mean to you that your music has touched so many lives, but other worship leaders and recording artists have tabbed your music to help them communicate the message?
MR: It’s been so encouraging to see some of the songs flying around the place a bit. Songs can be so effective – communicating truth, bringing encouragement, helping people talk to God, and reaching deep into the heart of a person. I love hearing songs about how God has used them, and I’m humbled that He would take these simple little offerings and breathe some life into them, for sure.
HJ: Given your influence, what’s it like going from Atlanta, where you’ve recorded plenty and worked with Louie Giglio, to being in Brighton where you are “just Matt, a guy on the worship team?” How does that work? I have a hard time believing your “celebrity status” isn’t even greater in your native England, so how can you deflect the attention back to where you want it to go?
MR: I’ve been journeying with the Louie and all the Passion guys for over a decade, so it was great to be part of the beginnings of the Passion City Church adventure in Atlanta. But I can assure you the ‘south’ in the USA is very different to the ‘south’ of England where I’m based now! I’m actually in the most unchurched city in the UK now, and if you know anything about the spiritual state of England you’ll know that’s really saying something. But here’s the thing – the challenges are different in each place, but the wonderful thing is seeing the gospel at work in all sorts of environments. Jesus said He will build His church, and it’s been so encouraging to see that happen before our eyes in Atlanta, and now Brighton, UK.
HJ: Your last U.S.-recorded album, 10,000 Reasons, is live and mighty upbeat. What influenced you to go “live”?
MR: There’s something very special about the life of these worship songs in a live setting. The singing church is such a powerful phenomenon, and if you can capture something of that on a record it can be so exciting and inspiring. I hope what comes across on this album is the people of God wrapping their hearts around the brilliant truths of God, and exploding with His praise.
HJ: Which song moves you the most from the album? The most personal?
MR: Maybe the song “Holy.” I wrote it with Jonas Myrin and Jason Ingram, and from the moment Jonas initiated this song we were all looking at each other feeling that the song had something special, in terms of carrying a big theme about God and expressing a response to it in worship. It’s probably one of the most instant songs I’ve ever had the privilege to be a part of – by that I mean that when we lead it in places even for the first time, people seem to catch it quickly. I would love to write more songs like this – songs that point people to a God who is holy, high above, and set apart above all others.
HJ: Describe your “toughest assignment” as a worship leader over the last twenty years.
MR: It’s the songwriting, for sure. There’s a constant challenge to reach higher and dig deeper in song. No song ever seems to quite arrive – even the best ones are still just the tiniest whisper compared to the thunderous glory of the One we’re trying to convey. When King Solomon is building the temple he says “The temple I am going to build will be great. Because our God is greater than all other gods.” So he has it in his heart to do something epic. But then in the very next verse he acknowledges that even this could not match the majesty and splendour of His God ‘But who is able to build a temple for Him, since the heavens, even the highest heavens cannot contain Him.” That’s the very same tension I find myself – and we’ll always be in that place. We’re trying to use all of our energy and creativity to paint a big and honoring picture of God in worship – but knowing ultimately that every single effort is really just the faintest echo of His true worth.
HJ: Imagine I’m a first-time pastor/worship leader. I’ve been handed the responsibility of a small church that sees worship as “something you do” rather than something you are engaged in. How do I lead the people to where I believe they’re supposed to go?
MR: I think one of the key things is to point people to the big picture. We want people to realize that when we gather together to worship God through song, we’re part of a much bigger gathering. In reality we are assembling before the throne of God with all the company of heaven – those singing angels, bowing elders and the living creatures who speak their endless praise. We need to pastor people into the realization of that – it can be so powerful.
HJ: Give us the preview of your new book, Mirror Ball. Who is the intended demographic, and how do I share it with others?
MR: It’s for anyone who needs an injection of confidence in their walk with God. The first step is to make sure you get a huge vision of who God is. The second step is to let that start to infuse in you a big vision of who you can become in Him. Many of us seem to have counted ourselves out of living a big and effective life for Him. I meet so many who feel discouraged or disheartened in their life of worship, and I’d love for this Mirror Ball book to instill in Him a new bold, beautiful confidence.
HJ: What’s next for Matt Redman?
MR: More of the same! Songwriting, another new book arriving at some point, and journeying with friends like the Passion movement. We’re also part of a church plant in Brighton, UK called St Peters, so we’re getting stuck in there too.
HJ: Thanks for your time.
MR: A pleasure!