- Dara Maclean shares her influences, favorite songs, and what keeps her excited about worship ministry after over 10 years as a worship leader.
Please share a little about your worship-leading and music-recording journey.
I’ve been doing music and ministry since I was seven years old, writing songs no one should hear until later in my life. My parents never said, “You can be anything when you grow up.” They said, “God has a specific plan on your life, and we are going to help you discover what that is.” I’ve never not been singing, writing recording, leading worship, and doing all things music and ministry my whole life. Growing up in the church as a youth leader and now young adult pastor alongside my husband, means on a weekly basis we get to pour into a local community and watch them thrive as we continue to reveal Jesus. It’s been a long road, but we are just getting started and we are so thankful for every step along the journey.
What’s your favorite new worship song to lead?
I’m really loving “Across the Universe” from Mosaic MSC and also “Let There Be Light” from Bryan and Katie Torwalt. We did both in our worship set last night at The Bridge, which is the young adults ministry where my husband and I are pastors, and the effect was tangible—the Lord changed lives through the truth that was declared over them in those songs. “All across the universe, we can feel your love on earth.” So, so powerful when we focus on the main thing, his love for us.
Which worship leader has had the biggest influence on you?
That’s a combo meal, if you can take the grace and kindness of CeCe Winans, the soulful girl-ahead-of-her-time of Crystal Lewis and the power and authority of Martha Munizzi, eight-year-old little me was in heaven learning from these mentors from afar. Currently, I think Brian and Jenn Johnson are unparalleled for what they’ve done for the worship/worship leader community. It didn’t stop at music, it was the heart behind creating an open heaven for all of us to partake in as worship leaders and poor back out onto our spheres of influence. It’s remarkable.
In this season of Easter, what is the testimony that God has on your heart these days?
1 John 4:17 “as he is, so are we.” The message and testimony on my heart is getting rock solid, rooted, and grounded in his unfailing love for me, so we can dive in headfirst with blind trust, knowing our future is secure, because he is not just a good father, he is perfect. “Right believing, produces right living.”
Your song ”Ashes” is a powerful Easter song focusing on the sacrifice of Christ. Please share a little about what inspired the song.
Ashes is about seeing every dead thing in our lives as possible victory that God invites us to walk in, breathed back to life again. Every dream, God desire, and thing that seems too far gone. Every time we feel like we are too old, we don’t have enough time or we can’t be used, every lie that has tried to hinder, steal, kill, and destroy would be exposed by the life-giving power of Jesus and that we would discover and walk in what he has made available to us his children. Jesus prayed “on earth, as it is in heaven.” Heaven is now.
You are a worship leader but your albums tend to be more personal-devotion music. What is the difference between writing the two types of music?
The difference is my last two records have been CCM projects intentionally, with corporate worship added into them. On my last record wanted, I released my song blameless that I wrote 10 years ago while leading worship. That was my last single and meant to be the bridge for us to cross over and lead into a live worship record that we are excited about and have been working on for the last few years.
Having been a worship leader for over 10 years, how has your vision for worship and about worship changed over the years?
When I started out as a worship leader and being really young, I’ve viewed worship at times as a genre of music. When you fall in love with the presence of God, you discover worship as a lifestyle that changes everything about everything.
What has been your greatest lesson learned as a worship leader?
That as a child of God, I can’t fail. Regardless of missed notes, missed opportunities, in the past, not always feeling qualified to lead people in this way, God continues to overwhelm me with his truth. “As he is, so am I.” Every good thing about me he gets the credit for and all he sees is a victory when he looks at me. Now I can worship in true freedom, knowing his goodness and remain in awe like a kid, as I discover more of it moment by moment. That’s why it’s our life-mission to declare the heart of the Father with clarity over people through music. It changed us and it will change others.
What’s next for you?
We want to take this music and message out on the road and put on a “family night tour” with our friends and family and watch God do crazy awesome life changes that only he can. More to come on that 🙂