Andrew Mitchell: The Scottish worship leader's incredible journey

Thursday 18th August 2005

Mike Rimmer meets up with Scottish worship leader ANDREW MITCHELL.

Andrew Mitchell: The Scottish worship leader's incredible journey

Andrew Mitchell is standing in front of the biggest Baptist church in Memphis about to lead worship. This city is the home of Elvis Presley and the legend's shadow still looms large nearly 30 years after his death. Andrew greets the congregation with the unthinkable words, "Good evening Memphis, the King is alive!" It was one of those humbling moments where you can want the ground to swallow you up or you can laugh at yourself and get on with the job. Characteristically Mitchell did the latter.

In 2000 Andrew Mitchell wrote Christian pop songs and recorded an album 'Worlds Collide' for Little Misty Music, the independent label run by renowned worship leader Ian White. Andrew recorded it under the pseudonym Andrew Jenkins-Lamb. He says he used his grandparents' surnames because he thought it was "interesting". It was earlier this year when he recorded his first set of worship songs, 'Your Kingdom Come' released on Authentic Music, that he decided to revert to his real name.

The Scottish worship leader describes his journey so far. His original plan had been to go into the legal profession. "A few years ago God called me completely out of the blue to go into the music industry. When he called he said very clearly that he wanted me to write for the Church AND the world. And he also said that it was going to be a worldwide work. It was all thoroughly terrifying for me at the time! But that's exactly what has happened."

'Your Kingdom Come' saw him collaborating with producer Alan Shacklock to create an edgy, worshipful album packed with melody. On 4th February, the album was released simultaneously by Authentic and affiliated labels into 85 countries around the world. Since then, Mitchell has spent a busy time in America ministering in some of the country's largest churches and the album will be released there in the autumn.

Andrew Mitchell: The Scottish worship leader's incredible journey

In April, I meet up with Andrew and his wife Jill at my annual "I Hate The Doves" party where I invite a selection of friends to join me for dinner. Shacklock and his wife are also there joining a variety of my friends from labels and assorted artist friends from Nashville and a former member of Pan's People. (Don't ask - that's a story for another time!) I look around the table contentedly listening in to conversations. Andrew's enthusiasm bubbles over at the dinner where he's talking about his future. Simultaneously he's delighted, thrilled and humbled by the doors that God is opening up for him.

In a scene which is seeing new worship leaders releasing projects every week, what is it that Andrew has that he feels is distinctive?
He reflects for a moment. "Because of the journey I've had in God, I'm a very real person. I don't like spiritual veneers and that's something people easily do because we're scared to let the cracks show, or to appear fallible. The reality is that we are humans on a spiritual journey that is fraught with fallibility and potential failure and difficulty and brokenness. And one of the things that I am passionate about is communicating to people that God's shoulders are broad enough to cope with the full extent of our humanity. What he really needs is for us to go to him and be real and to be transparent and honest. And to accept and embrace the fact that he already sees into every corner of us anyway! So there's really no point in being in denial about the struggles we have with him. Then just let him into those parts of us and have full access to us and to deepen out surrender to him so that we can grow closer to him, grow more like him and be more effective in this world."

One thing that is evident about Mitchell is that his spirituality springs naturally out of a down to earth relationship with Jesus. Asked why he called the album 'Your Kingdom Come', he responds simply, "That is the title track because that is what the Holy Spirit said the album was to be called! I was walking through the house at the time and he said clear as a bell, 'The album's to be called "Your Kingdom Come".' And I said, 'Lord, I don't have a song called "Your Kingdom Come"!' I did by that night though! I went into the studio and about five hours later the song was there, so God is good!"

The same kind of guidance came when it was time to play live. He describes what you might expect from Andrew's live ministry. "When I finished the album I felt God was saying to me that I was to make myself available as a resource to the Church, in that I wasn't just to go out and do ticketed worship concerts. I thought, 'Okay Lord. That's slightly scary but I hear you.' So what I have done since the album came out is just gone into churches during their established services on a Sunday and led worship. I do a combination of ministry songs with some testimony and I'll lead worship and I'll often bring a Word as well. Churches will ask me to do anything from taking an entire service - which I do all the time - or taking a slot, of 20 minutes or half an hour in the morning service and then coming and taking the whole evening service. That works well too. So it's been a totally new model, I don't think anyone else does that. And rather than me working out of one church as a worship leader and artist, God said, 'Go out and be a resource for the Church.' I don't specify a fee for that, I just love to go and serve and get alongside the pastors who are faithfully working there week-in and week-out. My aim is to embellish and enrich and encourage and minister."

2005 promises to be a big year for Mitchell with a debut album out and plenty of ministry in the USA and countless weekends of church ministry here in the UK. And if that isn't enough, on September 3rd, his ministry partners are launching Awakening at Carberry Tower, which is a gorgeous country estate outside Edinburgh. Mitchell comments, "It is going to be a yearly event and this year Bruce Wilkinson is the headline speaker, Tony Anthony is the second speaker and I'm leading worship. We've got Dave Bilborough and Krissy Nordhoff, Louise Fellingham with the Phatfish band all coming in. It'll be 5,000 people having a great big praise and worship festival day for God!" And you just know that it will be!

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

Reader Comments

Posted by Chris Campbell in Edinburgh @ 12:38 on Oct 5 2016

Andrew, did you not used to lead a band called 'Forged In The Fire'.........or do I have the wrong person?

Posted by Christine Gordon in Coldstream, Scottish Borders @ 08:51 on Nov 7 2010

You performed Worlds Collide on your own at Duns Parish Church many years ago! I was there and was bowled over by your music. Bought the tape but would love to purchase the CD as tape getting old like me!! Lovely to see you are still doing good works!
Best wishes. Christine

Posted by Andrew Mitchell in Melbourne, Australia @ 11:10 on Jul 5 2008

Sweeeet Jesus!

Reply by Jennifer in Nashville @ 20:52 on Sep 11 2009

Hello its been a long time! Glad to see you happy and doing so good.
"Sweet Jesus" yes he is!

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