Richard Lewis: Is there life after Kensington Temple?

Friday 1st October 1999

What makes a worship leader move from the biggest church in Britain to a fellowship with 50 members? Angela Hutchinson spoke to RICHARD LEWIS to find out.


Cross Rhythms last spoke to Richard Lewis in issue 37 when he was the music director at Kensington Temple in London. Things have changed for Richard. He moved from KT in October 1998 to a small church in High Wycombe. Now Richard has recorded his studio debut, 'When I Pray1, for ICC. I began by asking the charming, quietly spoken Richard why his album debut featured such a wide sweep of musical styles.

"I used to be a classical concert pianist until five or so years ago. Then I found myself working full time at Kensington Temple, which is a very cross-cultural church. At one time we had around 110 different nationalities worshipping there. So I was thrust into a situation where I had to serve a congregation of many different cultural backgrounds. I just started to write in different styles. Consequently 'When I Pray' has got a whole mixture of different influences, even Latin. 'The Weapons' track I originally wrote in a ska, reggae kind of style and then half way through recording the producer said, 'We've just got to do some Latin rhythms on this.' So off we went and I think it is one of the best songs on the album. I came in contact with the samba and salsa beats while I was in Brazil on mission last year. We had a great time and the worship was just so full blooded it was fantastic."

Angela: A few of the songs refer to the End Times and fire of God falling bringing in the return of Christ.
Richard: "I really see music being a major tool in the End Time harvest. If you look at Pensacola they have an hour and a half of worship before the start of every meeting, before they start preaching the word. I see music being a key area in bringing in the End Time harvest. If you go anywhere all over the world people are listening to music, it's one of the most influential forms of the arts."

Angela: What track expresses the heart of the album?
Richard: "The heart of the album is the third track which is called 'To The Highest Place'. It's a very intimate song. The whole album is obviously about prayer and the third track depicts Christ lifted to the highest place. It says in Ephesians about him being lifted far above all principalities, rulers and powers and that is his place. It also says in Hebrews 7:25 how Christ is ever interceding for those who come to God through him. The good' news is that Jesus' ministry didn't end when he ascended into Heaven to sit at the right hand of God, he is still praying for us and still interceding for the world. That's the message of my album. I wanted to get that across. Jesus is praying for us. It is such an exciting thought that when we pray we are not just praying our own words but we are joining through the Spirit with Jesus' heavenly intercession and his prayers."

Angela: So how did God feel about your move from KT?
Richard: "I feel that he orchestrated it (laughs). For me it was a big step of faith to leave KT because I love the church very much, it's an incredible church. I don't think there is anywhere else like it. But I felt like I'd done my stint there. I was the music director there for four and a half years and we worshipped there for another year as a family. It was an incredible time of growth and blessing. It was also a challenge. It's a big church and it's got a driving vision, you either sink or swim - you have to make sure you keep afloat. I was really excited by it. But an opportunity came to do something more on a local level, planting a church with a couple called Scott and Cathy Chapman who had come over from the States to pioneer a church in High Wycombe. We decided to join with them and build with them and that's been fun. But it's also given me the opportunity to do a bit more of a travelling ministry and also gives me time with my two sons who are really wanting to see a lot of daddy, not forgetting my wife of course (laughs). So it's been a good move for us, although it was difficult leaving KT. I still have a lot of love for that church and all the people there."

Angela: Did you find the change from leading worship at KT to leading worship in a small plant church challenging?
Richard: "It was a shock, although I expected it, to go from leading thousands to leading about 50 people maximum on a Sunday. It was quite a change. In some ways you have to work harder with your worship leading because in a church like KT it is riding on the crest of a wave, whereas in a pioneering church, you're digging the well, you're breaking through in the Spirit. If you don't pray nobody else probably will. So it's been a very stretching time for me. But I think I've learned more about worship. It's been a good time to stand back from leading worship in a slightly less pressurised situation and just be able to reflect on why I worship and how I'm drawing people in a small setting."

Angela: Do you find your worship more family orientated being in a small setting?
Richard: "Yes, we actually have the children in with us for the first half hour of the worship and it's interesting to see how they are catching on. Initially we had our two boys sitting there. We were trying to catch their eye and get them worshipping. We actually ignore them now and worship and are finding the boys are beginning to catch on and copy what they see their parents doing. It's like Jesus said, 'I only do what I see the Father doing.' It's the same with families and our boys are starting to lift their hands, clap and sing along. It's wonderful. Some of the older children in our church have really caught it, they are really just entering in, it's fantastic, it's so powerful. I'm hearing different stories from all over the world of God invading children's meetings with power, young people prophesying and bringing the word of God. Of course it's offensive to some adults but the word of God says, 'Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings I have ordained praise so that I might silence the aggressor.' There is something so powerful in seeing the young people praising the Lord."

Angela: Who worked with you on the album?
Richard: "This album is a studio album unlike the previous ones which were live albums recorded at KT. In fact some of the songs on this album were written while I was at KT but never had chance to get them on tape. Nicky Brown produced the album and he is just a genius really. His brother Jerry played the drums, Clive McKinley and Andrew Smith played the guitars, bass was played by Paul Powell and we flew in various players for different sessions. One funny story was that of the percussionist on The Weapons' track who is called Satin and who is actually Brazilian. My pastor came down to listen to the afternoon session and Satin was playing. He'd finished his piece and came out into the control room and sat down next to Scott. Scott asked him his name and in his thick Brazilian accent said 'Satin'. Scott said to me, 'Did he say Satan?' That was funny."

Angela: Where do you see yourself heading in the future?
Richard: "Well, I certainly want to build up our music team at the church. At the moment we've got five singers and me on the keyboard so I'm really praying in some quality instrumentalists. There is some potential in the congregation as well, a girl is learning to play the drums, another the bass. So I'm just trying to build it up there. But I see lots of things happening in the future, albums and travelling around and spreading the fire. I've just finished visiting a whole group of different churches and I'm going to be doing various venues coming up to Christmas and beyond including a tour of France, which will be fun. They are selling the album there already which is great because I've got a heart for Europe and to see God touch some of those nations." CR

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 Jenny and Edna in From KT Ushers team 1990 @ 15:47 on Jun 24 2017

Although we are no longer at KT we always talked of your music ministry and wondered how you are doing. You are truly blessed as a true Praise and Worship leader.
We would like to visit your church in High Wickham one day.Would love to have the address .
Stay Blessed

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