Over the next few weeks Integrity Music and I have decided to share a little peak behind the creative curtain of some of todays most prolific worship leaders. Questions about process and a peak at how these worship leaders are crafting songs for the Church. Every Monday we will post a new interview. Also, the good folks at Integrity want you to hear the real sounds these artists are creating so, we are giving away 2 pairs of Beats By Dre, Solo HD Edition. Its easy to enter, just Tweet this post or connect it to your Facebook and at the end of the series we will randomly select a winner. There are even nice little buttons to the left of this post that will make this easy for you.
Today Jon Egan is joining us. Jon is a worship leader at New Life Church in Colorado. You can follow him on Twitter HERE. Jon also fronts the Desperation Band. Their new album, Center Of It All, is available on iTunes HERE.
Q1. Jon, what does your creative process look like?
- Out of the heart the mouth speaks. In other words, what goes in will come out. As a worship leader/songwriter, it is of the utmost of importance to fill up with the things of God. The last few years have been a blast for me. More than ever, I have become a student. A student of theology, revival, the presence of God… What I have learned from Him and from others, He is using to fuel my creative process. When truth explodes in my heart, I am compelled to share it. Whether it is with my mouth through speech or through the vehicle of song.
Q2. When you write worship songs do you identify a target audience or focus on theme?
- I love the church. All generations, commending His works to one another. I want my songs to transcend age and/or season of life. I actually do not believe in “youth” worship or “adult” worship. People have tried aiming their songs at one age group for years. Myself included! All that has been found is that the songs that reach one age group the most are the songs that reach all groups. A great song is outside a cage. More than ever, I strive to write for the “church”. All generations. I am a theme writer for sure, maybe to a fault. I want to be moved by an idea and develop it in the song. God speaks to me this way so it is hard to write in other ways. It helps me focus on the weight of big ideas. For example, I wrote “Strong God” from Psalm 68 where it commands us to sing to God. But the “why” is what got me. Because He is father to the fatherless. Defender of widows. He puts the lonely into families. Incredible thoughts about family, justice, and the plight of the orphan and widow. I sat in this psalm for a while knowing that this theme had to be written into a song.
Q3. Do you have a favorite place to write or create?
- I have a space created for writing, but it’s funny how it works. I end up writing everywhere. I think writers need to ALWAYS be writing. Whether they’re in church, or alone in a writing room, or driving in the car, truth can come out and you want to be ready. Just the other morning I woke up singing a melody. I loved it. I grabbed my phone and recorded the melody. Now it is finding its way into the bridge of a new song I am working on.
Q4. What inspires you the most?
- The reality of God. He is more real than everything around us. Which means He is here, involved, engaged, close. I want to see God’s people wake up to His presence. Wake up to His love and grace. And therefore see that they are His. And they are carriers of His presence to this place and every place.
Q5. When you feel you have hit a creative block, how do you overcome that moment?
- First thing I do is not panic!! I think a creative block can actually reveal some nasty things inside us. If we panic, we are perhaps treating our writing as an idol. And why would we treat it that way? Because it points to us perhaps? Glory is God’s alone. Because it shows that God is using us? We must trust God to use us. Because it may generate income?!! Ouch! God is our provider!! When I hit the block, I relax. Perhaps I need to learn some things. Mostly, I need to come out of the writing season (the pouring out season) and enter into a reading season (the pouring in season). And by reading, I mean spending time with Him… in the Word and in the words of others He may lead you to.
Q6. Do you prefer to create in community or on your own?
- God is doing a tremendous thing with community. He always has been if we’re being honest. But writers are catching it…myself included. The Center Of It All album has only 1 song on it that is just my own. Every other song is a collaboration! And the result is something I am so proud of! We need each other. We are better together. We all see God in different ways. We interpret in different ways. If we are willing, we can learn from just about anyone. I was so honored to write with people I deeply respect. Jason Ingram, Mia Fieldes, and Paul Mabury are heroes of mine. To get with them and craft worship songs for the church was an absolute thrill! I do not think that writing a song alone is in any way wrong. But I do believe a spiritual thing is happening here with community. I plan to continue diving in to it!
Q7. What is the hardest part of creating worship sets every week (or as often as you lead worship)?
- Like a marriage, worship-leading is a God given role that does present challenges. The greatest things will always include the greatest challenges. For me, the biggest tension is having to put to death the “people pleasing” thing. We are only free to deliver people when we are delivered OF people. I pray for and seek to have authority in my leading and songs. Longing for man’s approval will cripple your spiritual authority. It is something that must die. And it seems to have resurrection power now and again because it seems to find its way back! it is something to consistently slay. But! His grace is sufficient!
Q8. How do you balance original songs with songs that are leading the global church when you are creating a set?
- In context to leading with authority, it is important to me to make sure I lead songs that are truly “in” me. My original songs are “in” me yes. But they haven’t always been. I’ve been at my home church of New Life for 11 years now! I believe that I’m meant to write for our church. In 11 years of massive ups and extreme downs, there is quite a bit to SAY now. So the songs written lately have been special to me because they are FULL of things we have learned as a church body. But also, I believe that when God speaks something, MANY hear it! So you can find incredible songs from others that are meant for your church. I’m constantly amazed that themes that are burning in my heart end up coming out on other albums! From other people! It’s really an amazing thing. So, when I commit to singing at church what God is speaking, the balance of original songs to other songs works itself out.
Q9. Who is the one writer you have not worked with that you would love to write a song with?
- Ah man. There’s a few. But my hero that I have never met is Martin Smith. I grew up listening to him and his songs. He is more than a songwriter. I would love a chance at that!!
Here is the art for the album, Center Of It All.