Dave: Danny, you were a pioneer in the contemporary Christian worship scene in the late 70’s and 80’s and you’re still going strong. How has worship, worship leading, and worship song-writing changed from when you started out?
Danny: I think worship is timeless, even though it changes with cultural and societal variations. The things I always look for are honesty, passion and a seeking to connect with God as his Spirit would lead. That means we keep trying to find out how he would be worshiped. As soon as we decide ‘this is it’, we might be starting to drift.
As worship leaders, we must start in private. If there’s no personal worship life experience, we can never be more than ‘song leaders’, and no one needs any more of those. If we bring a personal worship experience to worship leading we have the potential to bring others along into that experience. It’s like measles: if we got ‘em, somebody else can catch ‘em. If we don’t, no one can. There’s a subtle but huge difference between us playing and singing while others sing along, and us bringing folks into a place where we can all taste and see God and his goodness.
These are the days of the worship leader/band leader/personality. There are great songwriters and worship leaders in every stream, which is a gift from God. Sometimes the industry can be a problem as well as a great help. End of the day, though, anointing and obedience will show who’s really serving and who’s only in it to be the next___________. (Fill in with name of your fave)
Dave: I’ve known a lot of pastors who’ve had relational problems with their worship leaders…and worship leaders who’ve had problems with their pastor. First, what advice would you give to pastors about working with their worship leader?
Danny: When pastors realize that worship leaders are pastoring when they lead worship, they have made a great leap of understanding. They can then look for that heart in selecting a worship leader, as well as help the WL to develop more of a pastor’s heart, along with their musical skills. This will also help the pastor to know that the worship singing part of their services is not just a ‘warm-up’ for what may be the most important part to them, their message! If a pastor isn’t open to the Holy Spirit taking over the service and turning it into a song-filled variation, without bible teaching, or with a modified message to fit the situation, they may have something more to learn about worship.
Dave: What advice would you give to worship leaders about working with their pastors?
Danny: Serve the Lord by serving the pastor, his vision and goals. Be sure to make sure from God that these are also your visions and goals, but if they are, do your best to help reach them. Pastors and worship leaders need to pray together, and communicate honestly about what they want to see happen in the church family they share and serve. The worship leader needs to communicate these visions and goals to the rest of the worship musicians and sound people as well, so they can, along with the pastor, be praying about how to best reach them as the Spirit leads.
Dave: What do you like about the younger, new generation of worship leaders/song writers, and what advice would you give them about their craft?
Danny: God always raises up artists who can bring music and worship to their generation. It’s easy to get stuck in your own stuff, though. What I mean is that we should be relevant to our generation, but let God take us beyond that, since he is timeless. There’s a great bunch of WLs and song writers today. Just be careful to let God make you more creative than you could ask or think, and don’t let the cultural and industry pressure to imitate U2 and Coldplay run your life.
Dave: Your marriage to Cher (over 41 years now) has survived the ministry. To what do you attribute that, what’s your secret?
Danny: The first 10 years I thought, ‘This is a perfect marriage, thanks Lord.’ No conflicts, agreement on everything, peace in the home. Then, from out of nowhere, she started being really argumentative, picky and downright unfair! I asked God to change her heart. What is the problem? God spoke: ‘I told her she can stop taking abuse from you.’ For 10 years, God kept telling Cher, as she poured out her heart about my self-centered, egotistical side, ‘Just wait and trust me.’ Then, when he knew I’d be able to begin to learn and change, he let her start to put in her two cents worth. (actually, Cher put in about a dollars worth!) This began a learning curve for me, but also for her, in how to communicate with each other. How to listen more than speak, how to wait and pray for God’s timing. Cher was, and remains far ahead of me in these areas, but I’ve come along. We try to never go to sleep with a tension between us, even if it’s just to pray that God would keep the tension, and us, in his hand until it’s resolved. We’ve learned to desire to give mercy and forgiveness, rather than demand mercy and forgiveness. Best friends, lovers of each other by learning to be lovers of God, companions who enjoy being together, no matter what we’re doing or not doing. We have survived the ministry, by putting it down the list below God, each other and family, friends and church family, and those who need to know Jesus.
Dave: Thanks Danny.
Visit Danny’s site here.