New Life Worship band talks about how its music changed after tragedy struck in its home church.
Contributed By Dwayne Lum
The team from New Life Worship, the worship ministry of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, made their first trip to Singapore to perform at the 2011 Festival Of Praise.
To hear them praise God, one would never have guessed that their church has weathered great tragedy and controversy in recent years. On December 9, 2007, a gunman entered the church compound and fatally shot two people, while wounding three others. In the midst of the crisis, New Life Worship found itself providing hope and strength for its congregation through worship. Today, the church remains strong at over 10,000 members.
Songwriter and keyboardist Jared Anderson, 31, said, “It was really a time of being torn apart in the area of our faith, a time of questioning God, of almost walking in a fog. We were going through the trials, and we were trying to worship our way through that whole time as well.”
The songs on their 2008 album Counting On God were written in response to those times of difficulty.
Anderson was accompanied by worship pastor Brad Parsley, 43; associate worship pastor, Matthew Fallantine, 44; drummer Jared Henderson, 25 and guitarists Erick Todd, 31, Chad Tipps, 28, and Elissa Tipps, 27. To date, New Life Worship has released three albums, with My Savior Lives (2006), Counting On God (2008) and their latest release in 2011, You Hold It All which includes the anthemic “Great I Am” and the intimate “Be Thou Exalted” and “Sing Hallelujah” (written with Dove Award winner Kari Jobe).
What has been your one unforgettable experience leading worship?
PARSLEY: One that we can all agree on is the night of Dec. 12, 2007 when [we] met after the shooting in our church. The church met as a family and worshiped with the song “Overcome,” and faith just rose up immediately in everyone. That was a pretty powerful moment.
What was it like recording the live album Counting On God, knowing that the songs had come out as a “fruit” of that trying season?
FALLANTINE: I remember the night of the recording we were all emotionally hit, he (Henderson) was crying back on drums. We looked at it not just as a recording, but that we wanted our people to find hope in worship.
PARSLEY: Lots of people use worship as escapism, to get away. But worship is really the minimizing of self and the exalting of God. So it’s not an escape. It’s more of a reference to who God is and how you view your relationship to Him; getting your eyes off yourself and your circumstance and the trouble you may find yourself in, and remembering that God is all-knowing, all-powerful. So it’s more of a realigning.
How have these trials changed you as a band?
ANDERSON: Our trials brought maturity into our worship. I felt like we were no longer solely just celebrating what God has done but we know what it’s like to be led through the fire, having God with us.
PARSLEY: Every time we sing songs at our church like “Counting On God,” it just means something different each time. For a song like “Yahweh,” when we sing the line “Faithful God, You’re here to stay,” it’s just a reminder that it doesn’t matter what you experience, God is with you. He’s not going anywhere.
What does becoming a “better worshiper” mean?
PARSLEY: I don’t think there’s anything that makes you a better or worse worshiper. It’s just the ability to connect your heart with God’s heart and, without reservation, lavish your love back to Him with humility. Worship is a response to God’s love through Jesus. To me, those are the keys to developing as a worshiper. One thing that has made me better over the years is learning how to have communion with God myself instead of trying to lead everyone. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job. So all I do is worship Him myself and give Him the honor He deserves, and people will come as they are ready.
What is the one thing you want listeners to take away with them when the music ends?
ANDERSON: Records become musical photographs of the season our church is in. Our songs are like the prayers of our congregation. So I think looking back, each record becomes to the listener like a memorial of the season that God has brought us through.
TODD: I’d like to think that we’re prophesying through our instruments to our listeners.
Finish this sentence, “If I lost all my musical talent tomorrow, I would …”
PARSLEY: Be a really bad worship leader.
HENDERSON: Sell my drum set and have a whole bunch of cash all of a sudden.
TODD: I already help run a missions agency, so I’d probably do that more.