Matt Redman: Passionate for his name

Saturday 1st February 1997

One of the leaders of the 'new wave of worship' effecting Britain's churches, MATT REDMAN, spoke at length to Steve Cox.

Matt Redman
Matt Redman

I first met Matt Redman at last year's Cross Rhythms festival in Devon. As this young, fresh-faced worship phenomenon stood before me, I considered checking with the young lad's parents to make sure he could stay the weekend. However, a few seconds spent in the company of this pleasant, young man soothed my parental fears and revealed a maturity not apparent in many people twice his 22 tender years.

Six months later, on a freezing cold winter's morning in January, I had the privilege of interviewing this extraordinarily wise, self-effacing worship leader and asked, somewhat audaciously, what is it like to be a personality and a pin-up?

"Obviously the Lord trusts you with something and you just get on with it. That's good and I'm enjoying it, but the job of a worship leader is not to get the attention for yourself but for the Lord to have the attention. I'm not doing my job if the Lord fails to get the attention he deserves."

It was obvious that my impertinent question had touched something deep in Matt's heart. Clearly, the danger of imitating the world's propensity to fashion glossy, superficial icons was a real concern and something Matt had not dismissed with the arrogance of youth.

"Sometimes I see how I am portrayed and it makes me look better than I am. It's hard when you've got an album out - just the way you're promoted or portrayed is something I'm thinking through quite a lot at the moment. People start reacting to you differently just because you've been portrayed in a certain way. To me, it seems like a contradiction to what I'm supposed to be doing as a worship leader.

"I don't want to come across all heavy, but I feel quite strongly about the subject and it's good to address it. Although that's the way it's always done, I just wonder if there's a better way of doing it. There's a sense that you'll reap what you sow and I've experienced a little bit of that already. I'm not blaming the record company, but I'm wondering if there is a more wholesome way of doing all this."

I sensed Matt's internal struggle to articulate the tension between flesh and spirit. Sadly, the Church is littered with Christian artists who lost the battle and fell by the CCM wayside. Many were diverted from their righteous course by unwanted distractions and I wondered whether the young Matt had faced similar diversions.

"At different levels, I guess, but I'm a worship leader not a frustrated pop star. In one sense, you need to put a face on an album to get the songs out. In another sense, when you do that you make that person get more attention than they should. It's hard because we want to get the songs out to resource people and it's finding the best way that's honourable to God."

Matt Redman is no one-man-band and Soul Survivor is the loving, supportive cradle for his God-given gifts. David Pytches and Mike Pilavachi are the key instigators behind this expanding ministry and appear to be spiritual mentors to the young Matt Redman. I asked Matt if these men had been his human inspiration and source of encouragement.

"Really, it's come out of a team thing. Dave has just retired as the Vicar at St Andrew's, Chorleywood but still heads up New Wine and I've worked with Mike for the past eight or nine years. They've always trusted me with more than I would trust myself, even when I've messed up. I remember one meeting we did in Halifax when I made a complete idiot of myself."

There was a slight hesitation in Matt's voice but I couldn't let this one go by so, with just a hint of resistance, he responded to my gentle prompting and agreed to reveal all to a waiting nation.

"It's a long story and Mike Pilavachi refers to it in his talks. We were taking morning service at this church where they had never had a band before. They had always used an organ and I started with 'God Is Good'. It was getting faster and faster and, as Mike says, I seemed to be the only one enjoying it. You could see all these old grannies with their jaws open. Then Mike had this picture of a carousel with these old grannies flying off the horses because it was going so fast. I ended by shouting, 'Hey,' and it echoed around this Anglo-Catholic church for about 10 seconds."

These humble men of God were willing to relinquish notions of power and release young men like Matt into genuine fulfilment in the Lord. This seems to be the heart of the message of Soul Survivor; the desire to equip young people to get on with what God is calling them to do.

From its early beginnings as the youth-orientated offshoot of the New Wine festival, Soul Survivor has come a long way. Mike Pilavachi's idea to run a conference for teens and 20s alongside New Wine was originally supported by some 2,000 people in its first year. By 1996, 8,000 young people were attracted to this popular summer festival. Now, Soul Survivor has taken to the road with various regional events and also runs a highly successful monthly celebration at Milton Keynes.

Showing page 1 of 2

1 2

Be the first to comment on this article

We welcome your opinions but libellous and abusive comments are not allowed.

We are committed to protecting your privacy. By clicking 'Send comment' you consent to Cross Rhythms storing and processing your personal data. For more information about how we care for your data please see our privacy policy.


Connect with Cross Rhythms by signing up to our email mailing list

A Step Change...
Cross Rhythms Media Training Centre
Artists & DJs A-Z
# A B C D E F G H I J K L M
N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z #
Or keyword search


Be genuine and real and incinerate your attitudes and apathy in our Prayer Room