Posted by Craig Borlase on 20 April 2015

Nope, this isn’t about the caps he wears or the number or classic songs that bear his name. It’s about the way he sees the world, revealed in a handful of quotes...

On the changes in the world of worship over the last three decades...

‘I don’t want to be too critical of it - it’s been a natural progression - and it was understandable. I remember how wonderful it was to find a new intimacy, a new depth of relationship with God. I just wanted to sing songs of adoration and worship to Him and I loved being in His presence.

‘It was natural to enjoy that, but there are things that happen as a result. Particularly as - dare I use the phrase - the ‘worship industry’ has taken off. Because these songs became so popular it established a commercial footing, and the danger with that is that people then follow what they see as being the most popular thing. I felt a certain degree of frustration over a number of years as I saw people not really thinking about the lyrics they were writing but producing more of the same. Rather than taking a step back and thinking ‘what should we be writing about?’ - there was a bit of ‘me-too’ about the way some were writing.’

On the balance between experience and truth...

‘Over the last few years we have seen a correction of an imbalance: we have seen more content in worship. I think we got too carried away with describing the experience of worship in our songs. It became quite me-focussed, and there was a danger in that. Of course we need those type of songs - heartfelt expressions of intimacy and love to God and the wonder of being in his presence - but part of worship is to focus on Him, to sing about Him, for us to turn our attention away from ourselves and onto Him.

‘But there has to be a balance in it. The best songs and hymns balance objective description of who He is and subjective response of what we feel.’

On integrity for songwriters...

‘As you try to express the whole range of the gospel - the wisdom of God - in your songs, it helps you to keep honest and true. I’ve just written a song about simple living, looking at the rich young man who came to Jesus to be told ‘sell all you’ve got’. The song concludes by asking God to teach us about living more simply, not always wanting more. And as I was writing that I was preaching to myself. You can’t write a song like that and think I hope it makes millions!

On the importance of songs...

‘It is so important that our lives are built not on our feelings or circumstances, but on the word of God, and songs can really help us to meditate on and retain truth. I know from the correspondence I regularly receive that if you can express in songs the profound truth of the gospel in a poetic yet accessible way, they really can have an impact in people’s lives.’

On the tension that most worship leaders feel...

‘Part of the expectation that we have built is that in some sense we have an encounter and experience of God. I feel the pressure: shall we sing a song that helps us feel warm, or one that helps us use our money better? People are more likely to come up at the end and say ‘that was a wonderful time of worship’ when they felt like they touched him, and I think we need to resist that pressure.

‘Our worship times need to deal with different subjects that don’t necessarily give us those feelings, but in which God is still active and honoured. It’s part of the role of songs - not just to provide an experience - but to offer something that feeds, teaches equips us for life.

‘The danger is that you become an experience seeker, so the foundation of your Christian life is not the truth of who He is but the feelings that you’re having. Of course it’s wonderful to have warm feelings on a Sunday evening in a worship time, but you won’t feel like that on Tuesday when the pressure’s on and you’re at work. If that’s how you associate how God loves you (because he makes you feel nice) then when you don’t feel nice you don’t have much of a foundation for knowing that God loves you. Our lives need to be based on what we know about him, not what we have felt.’

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