[ exclusive interview | aug. 26, 2003 ]
cMW: Do you think there is a difference between a praise song and a worship song?
Lincoln Brewster: I do. I think that Praise is complementary and Worship is more of a Communion kind of thing. If you look at the husband and wife relationship. That is what is drawn between the Church and Christ. When I give my wife flowers, tell her she looks beautiful, those are a little different than intimacy. So I look at it that way. Worship tends to be a little bit more intimate, Praise is not as much so.
cMW: In listening to the album, Amazed, it seems to me to be more praise songs than worship. Was that intended?
LB: You know, I don't think it was purposeful. It probably depends on how... Wow. That's a good question. I never really thought about it. But, no, that was not on purpose. Just the songs you have at the moment. Whatever is gong on. Just go with that.
cMW: Your self-titled disc had a more raw sound with big guitar solos. What brought about the smoother sound of your more recent releases?
LB: Experimenting and trying different things. I think in the future, I definitely want to get back to playing some more guitar. Sometimes that just comes live, you know.
cMW: Yes, at the show last night, I was thinking that it sounds so much different live than in the studio.
LB: You are able to change things up live a little bit. Kind of let my hair down. So I think it is a bit of experimentation. I have got a wide range of musical likes. So starting off and making recordings is a process of finding out who you are in that and what you sound like. When you are doing your first record, sometimes you don't know who you sound like. I think it is especially difficult for people who are in a band because when you are in a band, the individual members of the band shape a lot of that sound. And as a solo person, you don't really have that unless you have a set band, which I don't have. The sound can change drastically based on those things.
cMW: Has there been something learned from your walk with God that has entered into the lyrics in Amazed?
LB: Yes, I think certainly the love of God. How He feels about me. The depth of His grace. You know it is amazing. As a creative person, one of the ways I express myself is to write songs, and certainly I don't have the greatest song on the world, but you try to express yourself in the best way that you can. You get a record done and you go, "Gosh, I have so much more to say about what God has done in my life than I was able to here." It is always a learning process. I think every project is that way. But certainly having a child was just huge on me for that record. I don't look at any one record as the definitive - this is me. It's a process.
cMW: Is it you at that time?
LB: Yes, I definitely think that when records come out, they are what they are. Even if you don't like it. That was where you were. So they are definitely good time stamps. That's the saddest part of a record. It is almost like the best part of a record and the worst part of a record is that they are a snapshot. Which is great because you can look at that snapshot and it doesn't move. But they are only a snapshot.
cMW: I like that! I guess you write a lot of songs that don't make it to albums. How do you know what is going to be on the album and what is not?
LB: Just bounce it off people. The Bible says there is wisdom in a multitude of counsel. So I just surround myself with people that I trust. Find out what they say and find out how I feel and try the record company as well and try and meet somewhere in the middle knowing that we all have the same goal. Which for me is to write songs that will affect the church directly. And I think that is just a process for me that I have to become more and more purposeful as I go. And now being on staff as a Pastor at my church, it is like any more, if you are not in a local church, writing songs and playing them in the congregations at the local church level before you record them. Like some of the songs for Amazed, that did not happen, or it happened to a very small degree, before they got recorded. I call them test drives. But any more, any song I write, before it goes on a record, will be a part of my church's Worship list. It has just got to be, because that is the definitive test—does this resonate with the Body of Christ? Some songs do and some songs don't. And there is almost no way to tell until you play them in the Church. Because I have written songs thinking, "This will be perfect," and for some reason the Church doesn't grasp it. And I have written songs that were lame, and I just tried them. There is one song I wrote that we do at my Church called "For These Reasons" and I used to think it was that good of a song when I wrote it, but it was real simple so I played it one week. And it is probably on the top three at my Church by their doing, not by mine. Which is kind of neat. They connect with God on it, I get great feedback from it, so that is a good sign.
cMW: So your involvement with your home Church? Do you have any kind of accountability for when you are taking your ministry on the road?
LB: Yes, I have an accountability guy whom I meet with every Thursday, or as many Thursdays as we can. If I am on the road on a Thursday, typically we do it by phone. There is accountability for my schedule, I have committed to be gone only a certain number of weekends, usually around 15 to 18. And it is also for being responsible for leading a team of people. You can only be gone so much and effectively do that. And that is something that I have to keep an eye out on.
cMW: That is good that you have people there to encourage you and help you along with that.
LB: Yes. Definitely.
cMW: I have read that you hoped the songs would reach churches around the world. Is that still a desire? Is it happening?
LB: Yes, it is happening. I get emails about people playing my music in different countries. When I was over in Australia at a Hillsongs conference, I was with one of their songwriters, Marty Sampson. I just think he is great. We ended up writing a song together in the hotel room. A year later I get a call and they recorded it on the Blessed CD. It's called "Son of God." When I watched the DVD for the first time, there was this arena full of people singing that song. And their whole team was going for it. It was beautiful. They did a great job and it was so moving to go, "Lord, thanks for making me a part of that." But any more, I guess for me, my focus is to write songs about what God is doing in the Church, and in our Church at home. We have got a really neat Church. It is 7 years old and has about 6,000 people now. God is doing wonderful things there. And if those songs end up getting outside, that's great. But the goal—it is amazing how times go on and priorities change—having a child and having been married 9 years in April—those are my focuses. Being a good Dad and a good husband. To be a good leader on my team at home. To Pastor our folks on the Creative Arts team. To write songs about what God is doing. And if those songs get somewhere, great. And if they don't, I still want to be a good dad, a good husband, and so on, and not get so caught up in that. I guess the best way that I could say it is, I think for any Worship leader, or any person working in ministry, it is important to understand a couple of things. One is that you are not your gift. That there is a separate identity. So to walk around and remember, "I am not my gift." And also that the tools are not the goals. Music is a tool. Lighting is a tool. Power point is a tool. Getting those things right is not the goal. God is the goal. Those are just tools. And we can real easily turn into worshippers of all the tools, rather than remembering that this is simply a tool to get the job done which is to help connect people with God and to help inspire people. That has been a good reminder for me to keep straight—God is the goal, not the tool and I am not my gift.
cMW: Wow. That answers about five questions I had! What one expression of God have you learned as a result of being a father to your son, Levi?
LB: Unconditional love.
cMW: Excellent point! Thanx again for your time!
LB: Thanx for the good questions.
- Kim Flanders
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