Episode | April 8, 2024

Transcript for Mac Powell’s the Walk Podcast

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Joshua Swanson: Hey, Mac Powell. Thanks for hanging with us today.

Mac Powell: So great to be with you. Thanks for having me.

Joshua Swanson: Yeah, man. We, uh, we are thrilled to chat with you and I know that our audience, uh, you know, we’ve been on a journey, a Mac Powell journey for, for quite a while. And I’m not calling you old. I’m not, no, that’s okay.

Mac Powell: You know, I’ve, I’ve accepted. Yes, I received that. I’ve accepted kind of being the guy with seniority. Now I’d see, you know, at first when the gray starts popping in the beard, you kind of go, Oh man, you know, at the same time, I really love, there were so many people that helped me early on in my career, great artists like Michael W.

Smith and Stephen Curtis Chapman. And, and even though I still have, you know, great, um, times with those guys now. Um, I get to kind of be that one of those guys to some, some younger artists. And so I accept that and I love that challenge and that, that gift to be able to still be around and do that.

Joshua Swanson: Well, and that’s, that’s great.

That actually kind of segues to my first question, which I just find your, your journey really fascinating. So you’re serving in a local church now and you have been, you said, I think off camera we were chatting, you said about three, three and a half years.

Mac Powell: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I started right when, right when everything got shut down, uh, with COVID, I was singing at a church in Atlanta.

Um, we were, we were doing a video, you know, it was for Easter, uh, in 20 and I had lunch with Dr. Michael Youssef and he’s the pastor of the church. And he said, uh, he said, you know, have you considered ever being an artist in residence? At a church. Cause we would love to have you. And I said, well, that’s very kind of you, but I don’t, I’m, I only make, make it to my home church, which I’d gone to for 22 years, maybe five or six Sundays out of the year, because I’m always gone.

I work on the weekends. Yeah. And, uh, then, uh, at that time, things had kind of shut down. We didn’t know if it would be for a month. For two weeks or a month or whatever. And then all of a sudden I had, I was supposed to be on tour in the fall of 20 with mercy, me, that got canceled a few days after I’d had that lunch with Dr.

Yousef. Um, my, all my summer dates got canceled. So I called him back a few days later and said, you know what? I might be home for a while now. And it’s, that’s three and a half years ago now. And I’m so thankful to be there. There’s some great worship leaders there. Uh, they make my job easy and, uh, the church allows me to still travel and do shows, but I try to make it about 50 percent of the Sundays through year.

And, uh, so far I’ve been able to do that for a few years now. And yeah, it’s a, it’s a wonderful place. Uh, he has, Dr. Yusuf has such a, an amazing ministry throughout the world. And. And everywhere that I go and I do a show, uh, most of the time I’ve got a guy named Seth Rice with me. He’s one of the worship leaders at the church.

And we talk about from stage being worship leaders at, at church of the apostles with Dr. Yousef. And there’s always a cheer. You know, there are some people who know from around the world, where in throughout the U S that, that know him and, and the ministry of leading the way and church of the apostles.

So what an honor. It really is.

Joshua Swanson: Yeah. Well, how are you see, how did you find that transition? Because you, you were going hard for so many years, you know, third day and then what you’re doing on your own now. And then how did you find that transition kind of back to serving in the local church? What are some of the highlights of that for you?

Mac Powell: Yeah. Well, the highlights is, is being able to see some of the same people, you know, every week, uh, to be able to have that fellowship. I love What I do, uh, what I did with third day and now as a solo artist, I love being able to travel and encourage people and be encouraged myself by the, by the body of Christ, by celebrating together, you know, in these songs and, and in fellowship and in conversation.

So I love that, but it’s very different because you’re in a town and you spend that time with each other and then you’re gone. And to be able to have. Um, a church body that I can see every week or every week that I’m home at least and see the same faces and encourage one another and talk to some of the pastors and, um, you know, it’s, it’s, um, it’s an amazing, it’s, it helps me to stay grounded even more so.

Joshua Swanson: Yeah. Well, that’s another good segue, because one of the things I wanted to ask you about, I mean, you’ve, you’ve achieved a lot of worldly success, right. In our space. Uh, how do you, how do you keep that from going to your head? You know, how do you, how do you keep Jesus number one, man?

Mac Powell: Yeah. Well, part of it is like, it’s not hard because I’ve, I’ve got a wife of 27 years and five kids.

So, um, you know, it’s, people have asked me before, how do you, you know, remain humble through those successes? And I go, it’s not hard. It really isn’t. I’m in Christian music and you know, I can go to the grocery store. Nobody really knows who I am. And so it’s, it’s, uh, there’s a lot more people in the world who don’t know who I am than do know who I am.

So it’s, it’s really not hard to, uh, when you, especially when you’re in a band too, when you’ve got, you know, You know, as a lead singer, every once in a while, you start getting a little prideful and when people are going third day, third day, and you go, look how great I am. And the four other guys were like, you would not be here if it weren’t for us.

And that’s true. So it’s, it’s really not, I remember reading one time, uh, I think it was Chuck Swindoll. I don’t remember. I was reading a book and, and it was a pastor and, uh, he said that, That all that humility is, is honesty. And so that’s, that’s how I think I can remain humble as just being honest of knowing who I am, uh, that I really wouldn’t, everything that I have is, is from the Lord, you know, and, and even on top of that is from the Lord working through so many, many people, uh, to help me be able to have the success that I’ve had.

So I’m, I’m very thankful.

Joshua Swanson: No, that’s good. Well, if you’re willing, I’d love to know what are some of the, and this is an interesting question. You probably don’t get asked a lot, but, uh, but I think it’s just really exciting to hear because it humanizes, you know, our guests. So what are some of the lies that the enemy tells you that you’re having to combat all the time that you’re having to fight against?

Mac Powell: Oh man, that’s a great one. I mean, I think it’s the same thing that, that a lot of people deal with, uh, that you’re not good enough. Which, you know, in some ways it’s true. Uh, but I don’t, I don’t hear that as, uh, detrimental anymore. I hear that as the truth and going, great, I don’t have to be good enough. Um, you know, um, that’s when I, when I first gave my life to Jesus, when I was a kid, it was because I realized that gospel truth, that I was never going to read the Bible enough.

I was never going to go to church enough. I was never gonna, uh, uh, Um, sing enough Christian songs. I was never going to give enough money to charity to, to be saved, to save myself. And so I think when we, sometimes when we hear that you’re not good enough, um, I think we just, we need to sometimes flip it and go, yeah, you’re right.

I’m not good enough, but I don’t have to be because Jesus has done it all for me. And he’s the one who continues any kind of thing that I have now. I like, I literally, when I walk, I like to walk and pray. So every day I try to walk for about an hour and pray. And there are so many times in my prayers while I’m walking is, is I say, Jesus, I can’t even draw this next breath without you.

And so, so there is truth to those lies in the sense that we’re not good enough, but that’s, but, but what we need to realize is that we don’t have to be. But Jesus is that for us.

Joshua Swanson: That’s great. Well, so you, you mentioned being, uh, let’s just call you a father in our space now, right? And I think it’s really cool to talk to guys with your level of experience and the journey that you’ve been on and ask questions about what excites you about, you know, kind of the younger generation that’s coming up.

And now that you’re mentoring some of those younger worship leaders. The first question is, what are you excited about in terms of this next generation, this young generation coming up in, in the church or just in general?

Mac Powell: Yeah. Well, I think the future is bright when I, when I taking your question and kind of transferring that a little bit into what I do, my full time job of being a Christian.

musician within Christian, the Christian music space, whether that’s touring or radio or whatever. I’m so excited. There are so many new artists now. Um, one of the complaints we used to have with Third Day was that, you know, There’s just not, it had been years before there was a new artist that did really well.

And I mean, casting crowns was one 20 years ago, but that was like, you know, it took a while. And then, um, 10th Avenue North did really well, but even, even with that, you know, There, there wasn’t a good amount of new artists that were becoming successful. There were a lot of great new artists, but they weren’t getting success within the market.

And so now when you turn on Christian radio, there’s so many new artists, more new artists than ever before. In fact, I’ve said, I don’t know if third day would be successful if we came out now, as opposed to 30 years ago, because it’s so saturated. But in a, in a way I really love. That there’s this space for so many fresh new voices.

So I’m really excited about that. And I think within transferring that back to your original question, within worship music and within the church is so as a 50 year old man, it’s so great to see that God’s not dead, that God is still alive and that he’s still working and he’s still doing miracles and he’s still working in people’s lives.

So when you see young people, Um, coming to Jesus still and growing in their faith. And I see so many great worship leaders who are goodness, 30 years younger than me. Uh, like I saw Torn Wells the other day, we did an event together. You know, he’s a worship leader at a church and he’s also a big CCM artist.

And so, Just to hear him and I, and I’ve, I’ve known him for a few years and been impressed so much with him when I hear him speak both off stage and on stage, but just to know, um, you know, someone like himself is doing well, growing in his faith and can, can speak the word of God. Um, it’s just encouraging.

There’s so many great new artists now and new worship leaders. And it’s like, I’m so thankful that God is continuing to, to. use us and, and, uh, work in our,

Joshua Swanson: in our own hearts. Here, here. Well, what would you say then to a young person that feels like church isn’t relevant for them anymore? Oh, I mean, to

Mac Powell: me, forgive me, but that’s a, it’s a ridiculous, um, and it’s, I don’t mean that to be negative, but it’s just like, if we read the scripture, Um, it’s very clear.

Do not forsake the assembly of yourselves. We can’t do this on our own. We can’t be hermits and, and you know, monks living off and not spending time with each other. I mean, it’s very clear that, that even in the Trinity, you know, there’s fellowship within the church, within the body of Christ, there’s fellowship there.

We’re called to do that. And so to say that church is not relevant for you. Well, that’s, it’s just not simply the case. We are called to spend time together. Now, it might be quite, it might be a little different than, than how a lot of people who go to church think, but as long as we are, um, under the authority of someone who’s teaching us and as long as we’re spending time, uh, with other believers, encouraging and spurring one another on in our faith and, and helping out one another, that’s the church.

And so, uh, How can you ever be a believer and not believe in that?

Joshua Swanson: Right on. I agree. So, uh, I want to ask some questions about leadership. I look to you as a leader in our space and we, we have a lot, a long history with Peter Drucker at our organization. And, uh, he said that the best way to predict the future is to create it.

And I wanted to know at your stage in the game, are you setting goals for your ministry, for your music? Or, and if so, how do you, like, how do you, how do you create a plan for what you’re doing within your ministry?

Mac Powell: Yeah. And

Joshua Swanson: are you working towards those goals or what does that look like?

Mac Powell: Yeah. Well, I don’t, I don’t think it’s ever, I don’t think it’s different than, than what it was 30 something years ago for me.

I think it will always be the same as that. I want to personally continue To be strong in my faith and to grow in my faith. I mean, even this morning I was praying, I was like, Lord, I don’t know your word the way that I want. And I read it every day, but I want to know it more. My wife is so inspiring. She started going to this, it’s a nine month, um, new Testament class.

And so she’s working hard. I mean, it’s like going back to school and like, I see that and I go, I want to do that. I want to know God’s word more. And so I think. It all starts with us as individuals. I want to continue to be a person that is continuing to, to read God’s word, to spend time with God’s people, to seek God through prayer, uh, to be led by his Holy Spirit.

And I think everything else, you know, seek first the kingdom of God and everything else will be added to you. So, so when you ask in regards to, you know, plans for ministry or, you know, steps and all those things, it really goes back to that. It’s like, seek God. Everything else will fall into place after that.

Joshua Swanson: That’s great. We’re really focused on spiritual warfare in and around music right now. Did you, did you grow up in a church background where spiritual warfare, like the devil’s going to get you, it was kind of a part of your theology or where were you at with that?

Mac Powell: Yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And I’m, I believe in it.

I’m, I remember first reading, um, what were the Frank Peretti books? Uh, what were they called? Um, um, the books about angels and spiritual warfare. And I just, and they were fiction books and they just kind of opened up my eyes to a truth that I already knew. But, uh, yeah, I definitely believe in that. I definitely, I mean, once again, if you’re a reader of God’s word, how can you not believe in that?

Uh, and, and see, uh, and that’s so much of scripture about us, uh, being strong in our faith and, and fighting the enemy and, uh, and helping to carry along each other in that battle.

Joshua Swanson: Yeah. Well, great. So the follow up then would be, where do you feel music’s places in the spiritual battle? Have you, uh, you know, and then another question, you know, would be like, have you written a song, like a spiritual warfare song, like a song, or is there a song that you use when you feel like you’re, you’re under attack or, you know, what is music’s role in all of this?

Well, I mean,

Mac Powell: it’s, once again, when you’re a reader of God’s Word, of the Scripture, music plays a huge part in the church. Old Testament and New Testament. And the Old Testament, you know, they sent, they sent out the worship leaders and the musicians in front of the soldiers, which is a little scary when you’re a musician, because you’re thinking, Oh man, you’re going to send me in the front lines first.

But that’s how I act

Joshua Swanson: as a shield.

Mac Powell: Got a big bass guitar to cover me. Um, it’s, you know, it’s, that’s a scriptural thing. And, uh, you know, when, when, um, You know, when the walls of Jericho fell, there were, there were, there were people singing and worshiping. And, and, and so I think. Whether you’re reading the Old Testament or the New Testament, you think about the New Testament, it says that we should encourage each other with Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.

Um, it’s music is such a huge part of that. Someone said, I was at a retreat the other weekend and someone said something very interesting that I never really thought about. And I want to dive deeper into this. I wish that I had thought about it more in the past, but As far as I know, there’s no, you don’t read about preaching in heaven.

You don’t read about Bible studies in heaven. Now those things might be there, but what you hear about is music and singing in heaven and praise. And so what we do as worship leaders, as musicians, it’s, it’s almost a, uh, you know, a small peek into what eternity will be like, uh, being able to sing praises to God, uh, to be able to gather.

And that’s what we were made to do. We were made, we were created to worship him. Now I know we can do that in other ways, other than, than singing and making music, but that is such a huge part of, of scripture. And so, uh, man, I commend anyone, uh, a musician, uh, whether you’re in a Christian band or just playing music in general, or, and especially worship leaders.

Uh, what, what a high calling and what a, what a gift to be able to be part of that.

Joshua Swanson: That’s great. So we also did some recent writing about, uh, worship in the average church, pulled together a lot of statistics about what’s actually happening and in the local church. And one of the statistics that really, I think, surprised a lot of our, our audience was that 69 percent of churches still use hymnals.

So do you, first of all, do you have a favorite hymn?

Mac Powell: I’ve got a bunch. I mean, it’s so interesting now that I’ve been, uh, you know, I grew up in church singing hymns. I was in the choir as a kid. It was mostly me and a, and a, a bunch of old people. And, and, uh, I had

Joshua Swanson: the same experience.

Mac Powell: Yeah. I learned a lot about music.

Uh, being able to sing with people, being able to look at that music, even though most of the time, uh, I didn’t know what those little dots and notes were doing, but I could kind of follow along and, and read the lyrics. Um, yeah, such an important part, um, to me and, and I’ve, I’ve gotten on the soapbox many times in concert.

I’ll, I’ll still do hymns like nothing compares, uh, or nothing but the blood of Jesus. Um, um, what else? Um, Blessed assurance, uh, how great thou art. So I still, almost every time I would say 95 percent of the time, if I’m doing, if I’m playing more than five songs, I’m playing a hymn and even at church, we, I love modern worship music.

I write a lot of modern worship music. I love it, but we, I tell my church all the time. We as a church cannot forget about. These great hymns that were passed down to us by these great men and women of God. So, so many of them so strong in, in theology and the scripture. And, and so, yeah, uh, I think hymns are, are, that does surprise me that you say 69 percent of churches have hymnals, but it surprised me a little bit.

Uh, but I’m thankful because I do think. There’s a, we as a church should find a little, you know, you always, um, there are different ways that you present the gospel in different, um, you know, ways to do it, you would, so many churches now have, you know, light shows and it’s like, you’re at a concert and I don’t, I don’t know how I feel about that, you know, cause there’s, I see pros and cons to that as well, but at the same time, um, you know, as long as Jesus is being lifted up, it’s kind of like what Paul spoke, you know, that some people were preaching the gospel.

out of their own means and out of for selfish reasons. And Paul, I mean, this is scriptural, Paul says, at least it’s getting preached, you know? And so, um, I think that, I think there are some times when there, there’s probably some music that’s being made, uh, and it’s being said for the right reasons, but it’s not necessarily being made for the right reasons.

And, and of course, ultimately we want it to be for God’s glory. But I think, uh, Even when sometimes when, when music is being made, whether it’s at a church or on a record, um, you know, at least God has been glorified

Joshua Swanson: in it somehow. That’s great. We, are you writing any hymns right now? Or is that something that you even think about when you sit down?

Mac Powell: I don’t really think about writing hymns. You know, I think there are songs that, that, that come out that. Can be perhaps, I don’t even know how to do for me. A hymn is something that is not a modern song, but I know there’s some great, like friends of mine, Shane and Shane, they have some great, what I call modern hymns.

And so, uh, I’m not. There are things that come out that I go, Hmm, this is kind of like a hymn and how it’s set up, but I really, honestly, I don’t know how to answer that. I do because I’ve done so many hymns, uh, through the years live, I’ve often thought about and wanted to always wanted to do a hymns record, but I think my next, uh, idea is to do, um, I’ve been diving in the Psalms as well.

So to do a hymns, Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs record. So one day you’ll see that from me.

Joshua Swanson: That’s great. And I was, that was going to ask, what are you writing? What songs are you writing? What are the, well, let me rephrase. What are the themes of some of the songs you’re writing right now and what’s going on with your songwriting?

Mac Powell: Yeah, well, there’s, there’s always, there’s, when you’re doing a record, which I’m working on a new record right now, I’m actually working on a two records. I’m working on a Christmas record that hopefully is almost done. And I’m working on my next studio album. And so the themes, you know, for the most part, There’s a lot of different ideas and thoughts.

Most of my ideas come from scripture. Most of my ideas come from, you know, my walk with Jesus and wanting to encourage other people in that. Uh, I don’t know if I have a set theme right now. I think the theme is always the same and that’s Jesus.

Joshua Swanson: Yeah, right on. Well, cool, man. This is, uh, it’s been great to just sit and hang with you and, and hear about what’s going on.

And I hear, actually, I hear that you’re, when you’re touring, you’re touring with your kids. Is that right? Your kids make up your band right now? Yeah.

Mac Powell: Yeah. Sometimes I, a lot of the stuff I do now is, uh, I’m doing, uh, I’d say 70 percent of it is, uh, is acoustic. So I don’t, I’m not able to take them. They have to get real jobs, but, but when I do band stuff, for example, I’m doing a Caleb Christmas tour coming up, uh, right after Thanksgiving, um, my daughter plays bass for me and my, my son in law is my drummer, so, uh, yeah, that’s Uh, they’ll be out with me.

And then also it just got announced. I’ll be on hits deep, which is Toby max tour with a bunch of other artists at the end of January through March. And so they’ll be out with me during that. My son, my oldest son, cash was playing guitar for, with me for about a year and went out on the road with me with, uh, with on the newsboys tour, but he had to get a real job and now he’s.

Taking people fly fishing in Wyoming.

Joshua Swanson: If you can call that a real job, that sounds like a pretty sweet gig. That’s right. Well, man, thank you so much. Thank you for your ministry and, and, uh, You know, serving our community with the songs and, uh, and just your heart and everything else for all these years.

And we appreciate that. And thanks for, thanks for chatting with us. It’s been a pleasure.

Mac Powell: I’m going to give you my Chick fil A. Uh, my pleasure.

Joshua Swanson: Right on now. I’m hungry. Well, thanks Mac. God bless you, man. Thank you so much. All right.