In an extensive interview Tony Cummings quizzed Britain's most popular worship leader MATT REDMAN on a wide range of topics.
Continued from page 1
Matt: I think we're all on our different walks. I heard Rick Warren say something recently. He said that he used to think that life went in good seasons and in bad seasons. Here things are all glory and now they're hard. He said he started to realise that it isn't like that. Life is kind of like a train on a train track and there's two tracks. One of them's good stuff and one of them's bad stuff. And usually most people's lives have a mixture of both. You're going along and sometimes something really good happens but you look around and there's someone in your world or your church who's struggling and you're kind of identifying with them, their pain. Or maybe it's just looking at the news and having solidarity with something that's going on there. Or maybe it's in your own life, you've got something bad and good happening. And he said the reality is most of our lives are never completely plain sailing, they are never complete devastation. Even in the hard times we have something to celebrate with Christ and even in the easy times there's usually something which is not so good. I kind of think that everyone's life is like that. I don't like comparing - this person's got an easy life, this person's got a hard life. That's the general thing and the key as a worshipper is within those things to find the place of praise. So wherever you are on your journey with God to be able to be content in him, to be able to find a way to trust him. These are the important things.
Tony: How do you feel with labels? Within church culture we are very prone to put labels on people. For instance 'worship leader'. They may not fully communicate all the things that somebody is or somebody does. Let's just throw a few of these names out: "worship leader". Are you quite happy with that?
Matt: I'm really happy to be called that. When I worked for St Andrews in Chorleywood I was called the Music Director which I thought was funny because I can't even read music. If I'm the Director what's the hope for the rest of us? Anyway, the one I love the most is Lead Worshipper. That's a little spin on worship leader. I like it because there's an element of setting an example for the believers to follow and it also doesn't have this element of you are controlling or orchestrating stuff. Ultimately the Holy Spirit is the Worship Leader, capital W, capital L. He's orchestrating what's happening, he's initiating it, he's guiding it and he's the agent of anything good that's happening in worship.
Tony: Okay, next label: "evangelical".
Matt: What we've written on our church website is that evangelical means that we believe the Bible and what it says about God, who he is, the things he is doing and the things that he said he was going to do. The labels are funny because the generation I've grown up in, we don't really use those labels. Evangelical might be one of the most important labels because it's talking about Bible believing and that element of faith is important. But I think like "charismatic", you know, I'm not quite sure what that means. I think I'm one, I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit, but I would think every Christian has to be charismatic to some degree in the fact that the Holy Spirit is living in you. You can't be a Christian if the Holy Spirit isn't living in you.
Tony: These labels are very loaded words aren't they? And of course they are often used by enemies of the Church and also by groups within the Church to score points off each other. For instance one sees reformed Christian magazines continually having a go at charismatics and yet most charismatics that I know would subscribe to be evangelicals as well.
Matt: The important thing is to keep thinking actually our mission is to communicate with people outside the Church. On our church website we say something like we're a group of Bible believing Christians trying to live out what church should be in an uncomplicated and wholehearted way. It's kind of like throw the labels away and just say what we're trying to do.
Tony: How about "Anglican"? Are you happy with that label?
Matt: Well, I guess I am one again because I've been involved with this church plant in the Church of England in Hurstpierpoint. The pointchurch.co.uk is our website. I'm not really a rituals person but I love the Anglican heritage. So for me I love some of that liturgy, I love being able to connect with something from hundreds of years ago. Christians got in a room and sweated over how can we perfectly word the service, as well as communicating who we are and what we believe in. I love that kind of connection to all that stuff. It's good.
Tony: So how do you feel about services that are driven by the prayer book?
Matt: I've never led any but I've been in them and I just love that about my life. A year or two ago I remember I was at Westminster Abbey at evensong one night. It was when N T Wright was still there. The next day I was with a very full-on, what you might call a "Pentecostal expression of church" and I just thought, "Man, I love it that I can straddle both these and get the privilege to do both." I find it easy to worship in both. I know it sounds a cheesy thing but a lot of the walls have been coming down haven't they? You take a look at something like Soul Survivor. You've got a massive cross-section of the Church there. You've got Catholics there, you've got high church Anglican, you've got house churches, Baptists, Methodists and no one even cares. Denominations don't even register on anyone's radar. They are all there centering around God. It's great.
Tony: I remember interviewing David Watson and he was one of the key figures in the development of charismatic renewal within the Anglican church and I was quizzing him about Catholics on his platform and that kind of thing and he had a very simple rationale. He said anybody who confesses faith in Christ in sincerity and isn't simply using Christian profession but actually meaning something else - like a cult might do - should be accepted as a Christian. It's not for him to argue the finer points of doctrine with them.
Matt: I've got a friend in America called Matt Maher and he wrote a song called "Your Grace Is Enough" which Chris Tomlin recorded and that song has been sung all over the world. But Matt is a Catholic guy, full-on. It's funny isn't it? Some people would think that "Your Grace Is Enough" is probably the most unlikely title to come from a Catholic guy. But that is what God is doing in the Church. It's a unity thing and unity comes when you all look in one direction, doesn't it? Worship is always going to be a very unifying thing. The moment we take our eyes off all these differences between us and we look in one direction, towards the Son of God, worship is going to unify.
Tony: Tell me about the new album.