On your last album you worked with Jason Ingram and Paul Baloche, what sort of collaborations are there in your newest album, Worth It All?
My collaborations for Worth It All consisted of different writers I deeply admire and respect; some I had written with before and some I had not. They are all extremely gifted in writing songs for the church, and I was honored to learn from them in the creative process. Jason Ingram, Paul Mabury, Benji and Jenna Cowart, Matt Maher, Mia Fieldes, Andi Rozier, Jon Egan, Jonathan Smith, my pastor and my husband Jacob all helped me find my voice for this project.
What message do you hope to communicate in Worth It All?
I want listeners to come along with me on a journey. The goal is to see God a little more clearly and to be changed by His glory. His sweet, tangible presence is the ultimate destination, as this is where we see Him as He is and our lives begin to reflect that revelation. We cannot not be changed in the presence of a kind, Holy, all-consuming Father.
On your sophomore album, you expressed that you had difficulty producing an honest and un-contrived record. What was the writing and recording process like this time around? Was it easier?
I don’t know that the writing process ever gets easier, at least for me. It’s a wrestling and agonizing, wanting to make certain that every lyric and melody are communicating something true in a fresh, gripping way. This time around, however, I practically begged God for songs, songs specifically for the Church, and am astounded by the way He answered. So in that way this record did come easier, mostly because it was less of me racking my brain for the right songs and more of simply listening for what the Lord was whispering.
How has your unique experience growing up in a family with fostered brothers and sisters shaped your voice as an artist and worship leader?
Thinking about this question brings their faces to my mind, all twenty-something children that lived with us during my childhood, some for a year or more, some for only a weekend. Most of these kids had experienced mistreatment at the hands of someone who should have protected and nurtured them. As an 8-year-old, I could not fathom this kind of abuse. As a 30-year-old I still cannot. Yet seeing them work through their hurt and anger and confusion all while contemplating the offer of a second chance at life deeply impacted the way I viewed God. He is well-acquainted with our suffering; the Cross is evidence. He runs to those who have been tossed aside and discounted. He fathers the fatherless and forgotten. And knowing all of this to be true causes worship to rise up inside of me. I want to write songs on their behalf, to remind the Church that when the world sees an unlovely beggar, God sees His child. We must learn to see the same and respond accordingly.
You also lead worship at Harvest Bible Chapel. How does being both a songwriter and worship leader benefit each other, providing insight into one through the other’s experience?
Being plugged into a local, Jesus-loving, Gospel-centered church has proven essential to the foundation of my life, relationships, and ministry. I haven’t always written corporate worship songs and am definitely still learning the art of crafting songs God’s people can sing back to Him. Yet after serving as a worship leader at Harvest for over six years, I knew I wanted to write songs my church could lift up to the Lord. I love this community of believers. I recognize their faces. I know many of their stories. I have watched them grow from week to week, knowing what many of them were walking through and seeing them worship God in spite of it. Being ingrained in the culture of my church and involved in the lives of our people has pulled songs out of me that otherwise might not have come, or at least have been as authentic.
What is your relationship with your pastor, James MacDonald? He’s coming to speak at NWLC this year, what can we expect from him?
(Insert chuckle here.) My first encounter with James was at Liberty University in 2005 when he came to speak in our chapel service where I was leading worship. Not even five minutes into his message, he called out a kid in the front row for not bringing his Bible to convocation. In front of 4,000 students. I was like, “whoa…this dude is serious.” And he is. Serious about God’s Word. Serious about God’s glory. Serious about communicating loving truth from both the pulpit and his life. I can honestly say he is our friend, and for that I am so thankful. He shepherds our church with such humility and is quick to admit his own shortcomings and desperate need for Jesus. To say that my husband and I have learned much from him would be an understatement. As for NWLC, you can expect to be challenged to the core by the unapologetic preaching of God’s Word from one of the most effective communicators of our day.
What does your process look like during the week, preparing as a worship leader?
Every season looks a bit different. Because I am a mom of a 2-year-old and soon to be newborn, I have the privilege of staying at home during the weeks that we’re not traveling. I am unable to be at our weekly service planning meetings as much as I used to, and for that reason I am very thankful for Planning Center. Once our team collectively plans a service, I am able to access that plan online and start to think and pray through it on my own. It’s not a reality every week (between the diapers and grocery runs and laundry), but I usually try to sit down and sing through the week’s set on my own. Bringing these songs to the Lord privately before setting foot on stage always brings authenticity and insight corporately.
What is coming up in the future for you?
A new baby! My husband and I are expecting our second son mid-February. That blessed event will determine our new normal as we continue to serve our church and travel. The spring will be action-packed with leading worship for conferences, churches, and festivals. I am excited for what lies ahead and am determined to simply take it one day at a time with the strength God provides.
Join worship leader and Word Worship recording artist Meredith Andrews, along with her husband and band-member Jacob Sooter and host Phil Sillas on Thursday, January 24th at 7 pm CT for a live streaming event. More info here: http://worshipleader.com/live/register/