Matt Redman: Living Out a 'Heart
By Laura J. Bagby
I chatted with the British-born worship leader who is best known
for songs "Blessed be Your Name," "The Heart of
Worship," "Better is One Day," and "Once Again."
When I sat down with Matt, he had just completed his book called
Facedown. This August, Matt is slated to release another
book on the topic of worship called Blessed be Your Name:
Worshipping God on the Road Marked with Suffering (Regal
LAURA J. BAGBY: Describe the connection between
worship and revelation. What do you mean by that?
MATT REDMAN: Every authentic response in worship
comes from revelation. Something happens on the inside and we
express something on the outside. You don’t find any outside-in
worship. That’s not how it works. It is always inside out.
Jesus said, ‘Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth
speaks’. When you become a Christian, the Holy Spirit illuminates
Jesus, shows you that He is Lord, shows that He is Savior, convict
s you of that in your heart. You see something. Then you commit
your life to God. Conversion is a worshipful act. And then from
that moment on, everything you see of God, everything that is
revealed to you, everything you find in His Word, everything you
realize when you gather with the believers, every time you take
a walk under a night sky and gaze up at the stars above is revelation.
It’s like fuel for the fire of worship. Sometimes I find
if my prayer life is not good, it is because I have not been fueling
the fire. It is so important to fuel the fire.
LAURA: In a lot of contemporary worship services,
worship is singing good songs, but the heart isn’t there.
If worship is inside out, why are we doing it from the outside
MATT: Sometimes it is so easy for songs to become
old hat or we are just going through the motions. To be honest,
I think that is something we need to watch out for. My pastor
once did a really interesting thing where he actually said, ‘We
just need to strip everything away to check where our hearts are
in worship.’ He felt like we were going through emotions
a little bit. So he took away the instruments. We didn’t
have a sound system for a while. His point was that when you come
through the door of a church, what you bring is your offering
to God. We have already consumed so much. We’ve, in a sense,
been absolutely flooded with the revelations of His grace and
glory and His hand on our lives, and now it is time to be producers
of worship -- not consumers -- but producers. Out of that whole
time, I actually wrote a little song called ‘The Heart of
Worship.’ It really described what happened:
When the music fades, all is stripped away, and I simply
Longing just to bring something that’s of worth that will
bless Your heart.
I will bring You more than a song. I am coming back to the heart
LAURA: Do you feel like you have come back to
the ‘heart of worship’ since you wrote that song?
MATT: You have got to keep coming back. That’s
the thing I find. It’s so important that we keep saying
it’s all about Jesus. When we see the heights of who God
is, everything in us wants to get as low as we can in response.
He must increase; we must decrease. So often in our worship and
in the church, we shrink God down. We make Him like He is one
of us. You even hear songs that sound like they could be a normal
love song or pop song. I know what people are trying to do. They
are trying to be culturally relevant. But there is a bigger value
in worship than cultural relevance – it’s the glory
of God. Let’s write songs that paint a big picture of God.
Let’s have worship services that immerse us in God’s
splendor. Let’s not shrink God down. We are the ones who
are going to do the shrinking.
LAURA: When you write songs, where do you get
your personal revelations from?
MATT: Obviously, Scripture is the biggest place,
but more often than not, hymnbooks as well. I love delving through
some of the old hymns. I have been collecting hymnals from lots
of different streams and ages of the church. I find them so illuminating,
because so often, they are helping you get a fresh, new angle
on an age-old theme. More often than not, though, a song for me
comes from one line from the Bible. You will be reading Scripture,
and you have probably seen that line loads of times before, and
then it just jumps out at you. ‘Better is One Day’
is from Psalm 84. A song we do called ‘Let My Words be Few’
is from Ecclesiastes 5. We do a song called ‘Undignified.’
It is a celebration song. It comes from when King David said,
‘I will celebrate before the Lord and I will become even
more undignified than this.’ We do a song called ‘What
I Have Vowed,’ which is from Jonah when he says, ‘What
I have vowed I will make good.’ And this ‘Facedown’
song, the word facedown is all over Scripture. My favorite verse,
which sort of led to the song, is Leviticus 9:24. The people of
God met with God. The fire of God fell. And then it says, ‘They
shouted for joy and they fell facedown.’ I see something
like that, and I think, There is a song in there. There
is a Bible study in every song. Then you start reading through
Scripture trying to find more about the theme. Before long, if
something is really in your heart, then you pour it out.
LAURA: As a worship leader, people know you.
It’s easy to go by what you know and do really good instrumentation.
But it sounds like integrity in worship is what you are really
after. How do you do that? Is it harder now that you are better
MATT: In one way, not really. I love to try
to get into the flow of what God’s doing in a worship meeting.
The times I love most feel like a dynamic, open-ended conversation,
almost like a virtuous cycle in that God has revealed Himself
to us and we are singing about the truth of this revelation, so
we are responding to Him in worship. But as we do that, so often
He inhabits our praise. When we draw near to God, He draws near
to us. Before you know it, you are really sensing a strong sense
of God. Also I love it when things don’t always originate
from up front. I love it when someone speaks something out or
prays something and they are leading you. That’s my favorite
thing, actually. I can’t imagine in the early church that
everything went through one person. It doesn’t feel right
somehow. It doesn’t speak of family; it doesn’t speak
of the people of God; it doesn’t speak of the Body. Obviously,
it is good to have someone up front so that you can somehow all
travel together, but the best worship leaders lead strongly enough
so that people actually follow and travel together, but not so
strongly that they themselves become the focus.
LAURA: There are a lot of different aspects
of worship that you go into in your book Facedown. Could
you talk about those beyond just singing?
MATT: There is a chapter called Worship with
a Price. It just talks about trying to live out worship. The thing
about songs is that they don’t often cost much to sing.
Actually, there has to come a time when we worship with a price,
when we put into action that living sacrifice. Obviously, one
of the best examples of that is evangelism and mission. In the
book of Heather Mercer [Prisoners of Hope], who was captured
by the Taliban in Afghanistan, just someone like that who while
she was in captivity was singing out worship, I love that. I just
think, That’s it! Yeah! That’s a costly song.
There is just that element of trust in the sovereignty of God,
of trust in the father heart of God. Trust is a wonderful expression
LAURA: How do we see God as awesome when we
have grown up in churches where we have seen Him as a friend?
MATT: I think the key is the Bible. That is
what has made me want to paint a bigger picture of God, realizing
that, wait, these songs that I am writing don’t quite match
up to this great big God that I am finding in the Bible. In Psalm
66 it says, ‘Sing the glory of His name. Make His praise
glorious.’ That’s what I want to do through songs.
LAURA: Do you have a theme of what you think
God is calling you to?
MATT: Reverence, wonder, and mystery. It’s
painting a bigger picture of God. It’s facedown worship.
Look at the lives of so many of the disciples, those early apostles.
So many died horrendous deaths, but they endured to the end because
they had seen the big picture. They had lived alive in the power
of the resurrection, they lived beneath the shadow of the cross,
they lived in the power of the Holy Spirit that came at Pentecost,
and they lived with a big view of God. In fact, it says that in
Acts. It says that all the people were in awe of God. That has
got to be a key. That is where I am going right now, trying to
make His praise glorious, trying somehow visually, musically,
lyrically to make people realize and recognize the otherness of
CBN IS HERE FOR YOU!
Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.