Worship leader Cody Carnes shares his new song, explores leading worship with his wife (Kari Jobe), and reveals the resources he thinks you need to know about.
Please share a little about your ministry history and where you are today.
I started leading worship in my youth group in the small town of Big Spring, TX when I was 15. Joining a band with some friends after high school took me to the Dallas area, where I started attending and serving at Gateway Church. I was a part of the team there for a total of 5 years, and during that time I met Kari and we started leading at different events together. She asked me to join her band in 2011 which led to us becoming best friends and worship leading teammates before we ever knew marriage would be in our future. In 2012, I was hired as the worship pastor for Gateway’s church plant in Scottsdale, AZ where I was on staff for 3 years. It was such an honor to be a part of helping that campus launch into a thriving, healthy church. Kari and I got married in 2014, relocated to Nashville shortly after and now serve at The Belonging Co church in our new city while also writing songs and touring, with our son Canyon tagging along everywhere we go.
What is your favorite new song to lead?
I’d have to say that it’s “The Cross Has The Final Word” right now. The way people respond gives me goosebumps every time we lead it. It’s such a powerful declaration over any situation. No matter what impossible thing stands in front of us, it was finished on the cross. I believe God is using that song to reignite hope and security in the church even in the midst of what could seem like a hopeless time in the world around us.
Please share the story behind the writing of the “The Cross Has The Final Word” (see video below to watch Cody lead this song live).
I started writing the song on Good Friday 2016. I was sitting on my couch at home, reading through the story of the crucifixion. I remember having a heavy heart that particular night because of the senseless, evil attacks that were occurring at the time. I remember asking God to show me the hope in the midst of it all – the light in the darkness. And in the next moment, I heard the statement – the cross has the final word. It brought me to tears, and a few minutes later I knew I had a responsibility to share it and find a way to put it into a song for the church. So I sat at the piano until 3am that night, jotted down every line I could think of and sang it until I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Kari remembers it keeping her up most of the night too. Haha. From that moment, that statement has brought me so much peace to remember that God is always in control; He knows the end from the beginning. Darkness and fear lost its power at the cross.
What is the role of a worship leader in the midst of seeming chaos in the world around us?
Hope. The best thing we could help people remember is the unshaken hope of Jesus. As humans, it’s so easy to get worried and lose faith when things get crazy. It reminds me of the story in Mark 4:35-41 where Jesus is sleeping in the boat when the storm hits. The disciples have seen Jesus perform miracles – they know His power. But as soon as the storm hits, they suffer from temporary amnesia. As worship leaders, the more we’re leading the church into God’s presence with songs that declare His honor, power and glory, the more faith stirs within our churches to remember that Jesus has it all under control.
As a songwriter, what are the most important elements of a song in order to help people pray as a congregation?
I believe two important things inspire prayer: need and faith. We pray when we recognize our need for Jesus and when our faith is stirred, realizing anything is possible in His name. I think songs that declare those two things are very valuable to the church.
How has your vision for worship changed and matured over the recent years?
I love leading worship with my wife. I’ve learned so much watching her lead these last few years. She leads with such a pure heart and such reverence for God’s presence. I’m a better leader because of her. Also, becoming a dad has ignited so much new love for life. It’s been said often that you understand the love of the Father in such a deeper way once you become a father. If I feel an overwhelming degree of unconditional, grace-filled love for Canyon, how much more is God’s love for me? It’s helped me to realize that I’m a son. It’s all I ever have to be, and there’s nothing I have to do to earn that.
Are you currently using any worship resources or gear that you want to tell others about?
When I was planting Gateway Church in Arizona, one of my greatest resources was Multitracks.com. Their Playback app was a lifesaver when I was without a band in the early days. That’s such a great resource to fill in the gaps on a Sunday morning regardless of the size of your team. My favorite piece of gear to lead worship with right now is the TA Select by TA Solutions. It allows me to switch between my live vocal and talkback using the same mic. With one click of the pedal, I can talk to just the band in their in-ear monitors if I want to call something spontaneous or give any direction without anyone in the congregation hearing me. That makes leading and flowing so much easier.
“The Cross Has The Final Word”