Episode | February 28, 2024

Transcript for Sarah Reeve’s the Walk Podcast

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Sarah Reeves: TikTok. That makes me excited. I’m just kidding.

So excited. I love seeing just all dances on social media. It’s like my heart. Sorry.

Joshua Swanson: Welcome to Conversations on the Walk. I’m Joshua Swanson. On today’s episode, we spend some time getting to know Sarah Reeves. Our conversation explores the interplay between artistry, faith, and vocation. Sarah embarked on her musical journey at the tender age of 18, signing her first record deal and setting the stage for a career that would soon blossom into an extraordinary testament to her versatility and passion for music.

But first I wanted to quickly thank our partner Planning Center for their support. Planning Center provides specialized tools for individual ministries. The Planning Center world really revolves around a shared database that connects to all the other products. These software tools help you organize, coordinate, and communicate with your church teams.

They can be found at planningcenter. com. I also want to thank the Worship Leader Institute. We’ve launched a new set of community groups and it’s really the best way to connect with other worship leaders. Mentor and be mentored. Grow in your craft and in your faith. So head to the worshipleaderinstitute.

com. That’s worshipleaderinstitute. com to find out more about our bi monthly community groups. Okay, here’s our conversation with Sarah Rees.

Our first question we asked was, in your own words, how would you define the essence of worship?

Sarah Reeves: Worship to me is, it’s obviously a lifestyle, it’s more than just music. It’s every day, it’s sacrifice, it’s surrender, um, and it’s something that should be incorporated in in and outside of these church walls.

Joshua Swanson: Can you share how you cultivate a lifestyle centered around worship in your personal life? I

Sarah Reeves: mean, to me, waking up every day, having a grateful heart, giving God glory, just doesn’t even have to be out loud, but just constantly be being mindful of who he is and what he’s doing in my life. And, you know, as I’m going throughout the day, just being aware of his presence and knowing that he’s around and always asking like, okay, oh, I just passed this person in the hallway.

God, what can I say to them in this moment? You know? And if I’m going in to write a worship song, you know, what do you want to Speak today. What do you want to say to whoever would be singing this out in their churches or in their cars or in their living rooms? Um, it’s just this all encompassing worship is just this overall, it’s, it is the overflow of, of my heart really.

Joshua Swanson: Navigating the tension between the sacredness of worship and the demands of your career must present challenges for all Christian artists. So we asked, how have you managed to maintain the sanctity of worship in your role as a songwriter and artist?

Sarah Reeves: It has been, yeah, I started really young making music and I started in the church.

So, you know, growing up in bands, I was playing in my youth worship band and we would even, like, Be in competitions and then it became, okay, well now I’m going to get a record deal and now we’re making albums and now we’re making money, but we’re ministering to people. And it did get a little bit tricky and I kind of let it go to my head a lot and even found myself like using my platform to minister to people, which was real, but also like.

You know, celebrity church is kind of a real thing. And I think it has even more so become that, but it was like my focus. Was like, okay, I have to get a number one and I’m using this like worship song that came out of this personal place or I was trying to minister to someone and it kind of got, you know, all twisted and tangled up, honestly.

And I had to just examine my own heart and I honestly took a step back from writing worship music and because it just felt icky to me. And then I. I recently started back writing worship, uh, for the church, and I kind of found myself as an artist as well, because I would always try to put myself as an artist into worship music.

And I’m like, how can we make it cool? How can we make it fresh? But then that was, that got interesting too, because that was kind of still about me at that point. And then when I kind of decided, you know what, let’s just take all these layers off for a second. Why are we doing this in the first place? And to me, I, I want to serve the church when I write a worship song.

And so I think about, like, the single mom that just walks in late, uh, and sits in the back row, you know, or the couple that was just in a fight on the way to church, or someone who is going through a divorce and they turn on the radio or they need something in that moment. It’s like, okay, this is no longer about Me.

This is what do they need to sing out. And sometimes it’s simple. It can be fresh. It can be cool. But I never want that to be like the number one priority when I approach writing worship music and leading worship. I always want to have just that, okay, I’m serving the vision of this house and I’m serving like, you know, the people and God, you know, ultimately.

So, hope that makes sense.

Joshua Swanson: What are your thoughts on the categorizations within Christian music, such as contemporary Christian music versus worship music? Do you find these labels to be helpful or limiting?

Sarah Reeves: I don’t love it. To be honest, I kind of wish that there were more artists just in music that are Christians.

You know, that are in the church and outside of the church. I’ve been doing a lot of music. Even this next record that I’m about to release, it’s all mainstream pop music. And I also serve at my church as well, and I do worship. But, it’s almost been like, it’s been really freeing for me to do this other kind of artistry over here and be in places where people don’t know the Lord, you know?

They’re open to it. They have. Faith, but they’re not sure, you know, what they believe, and I’m singing these songs that aren’t necessarily about God, and they feel the Holy Spirit, and they come up, and they’re like, there’s something different, or I look out, and people are crying when I’m singing a song that isn’t even hopeful, like it’s just an honest song, I have a song called anxious, and people are just relating to it, because that’s like that’s what I I strive for in my artistry is just to be authentic and as real as possible.

And so, I don’t love the labels. Um, just because I feel like sometimes CCM can be this like, one sound or this one lane. And, as an artist, sometimes we feel like we have to bow to that sound and to that system. And so, I really hope that kind of the walls can be torn down within like, even genres, you know, and that there can just be people in and out of the church that are, they love God, they love people, they’re making great music, and sometimes it could be about the Lord and other times it can be about love or life, but it’s coming from that, that spirit and that place where people are moved by it and they’re relating to it.

Joshua Swanson: And based on your definition of worship, do any songs on your latest album align with the traditional worship genre?

Sarah Reeves: I wouldn’t call it worship, but I guess if we’re talking about worship being a lifestyle, then yes, it is worship, but it’s not in the way that Someone would listen to it and be like, Oh, this is a worship song. It’s definitely not that it’s not church. It’s not a church song, but, um, there are definitely some just, they’re real songs.

They’re there from like heartbreak. They’re for love. They’re from just life experience. And so, yeah, I guess you’ll see when it comes out. There’s a song called best days actually just released it. I went into a songwriting session with my producers and I just said, I want to write something that is an anthem and super encouraging and hopeful for anybody and everybody and, um, you know, I’ve been an artist.

for a long time. And there’s been moments where I become jaded and there’s also days where I feel like, you know, maybe my best days are behind me. And in this specific moment, I was just, my whole world was turned upside down just in my personal life. And, and I didn’t realize how much I needed to sing that just like prophetically over.

Myself and even the people in the room, we were all in tears and we got, uh, just some people that kind of were the choir on it as well. And I sing that song now on tour and just everywhere that I go. And it’s, it’s crazy how the room just kind of shifts and with Christians, with non Christians and it’s just full of hope.

And that’s what I love about it. And then I also write and sing with my church in Nashville. Um, I go to the Belonging Co. And so I’m a part of the worship team there. And just love writing songs with those, those people. And, um, we’re, we’re testing out some originals that could potentially be on the next album, The Belonging, as well.

So, we’ll see.

Joshua Swanson: What nuances do you find in the creative process when writing a pop song compared to composing a worship song? It’s

Sarah Reeves: not really different for me because every day I like I said, I try to write from just whatever I’m feeling that day And so sometimes I wake up in the morning and it’s like it’s a worship song It’s clearly gonna be like this is the day and a lot of times, you know I’ll know when I’m going in to write a worship song and so I’ll be kind of in that mindset Or I’ll have like a list of of titles on my phone That I’ll pull from or I’ll look at before a session.

I’m like, oh, this is a cool title Let’s write around this or it could just be something that we start usually I co write with someone or a group of people and we just start talking and A lot of times, if it’s not the title, it’s the conversation that will just spark something. And all of a sudden, a chorus will come, or a verse will come.

And it’s very similar in a pop session as well. Um, I usually have an idea going in. Sometimes not. Sometimes it’s like, I have no idea what I’m going to write about today. But it’s like, something always comes. You know, that’s the beauty of songwriting. Every day I walk into a session and I’m like, I have no idea if anything is going to come out today.

Like I, sometimes I just feel it’s, it’s daunting to like create something from a blank page. But somehow things always, something always comes. So I’m grateful for that. It’s not always great, but something.

Joshua Swanson: With burnout being a prevalent issue among Christians today, and your song Best Days addresses how overwhelming life can become, could you offer some words of encouragement for those currently facing burnout?

Sarah Reeves: It’s so easy to get burned out, and I’ve all, I’ve, I’ve been there many times, um, and I have so many worship leader friends of mine, and we have conversations a lot about this, and it’s okay to, to take a step back. It’s okay to rest and you know, I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves as worship leaders, as just leaders in general, as musicians, as artists.

We feel like we have to be on all the time. We’re, you know, even like church culture, church lifestyle. It’s like, it’s not it. Like if you’re on staff at a church, we all know it’s not a job. It is a lifestyle and you’re giving your life to. You know, ministry basically. And, and I think that can be very, um, it can be heavy some days.

And you can find yourself just like going through the motions and you’re like, wait, why am I here? But I think it’s important for everybody to just like kind of. Take a breath and take the pressure off and step back and have, you know, if it’s one person, if it’s a mentor, if it’s a friend, um, somebody in your life that you can confide in and just be honest with, maybe it’s a therapist or counselor, um, to where you can just be free with no, no judgment that there’s full trust between you and that person, making sure that obviously they’re healthy, you know, Healthy, uh, just God fearing person.

I think that’s so important to have in your life. And yeah, I don’t know what I would do without my community, honestly. But I think the worst thing that we can do is isolate ourselves or spend time with people that just like to talk negative. Because I feel like that can also be the opposite. You want to surround yourself with people that that will encourage and not tear down, be real, but also there’s a lot of criticism and there’s a lot of negativity that can kind of creep in and then also just kind of bring lies and division where it’s not needed.

Joshua Swanson: Looking back, what advice would you give to your 18 year old self when you signed your first record deal?

Sarah Reeves: That I can slow down. And that not everything has to be done right away, that it takes time, that it’s a journey. And, um, failures are a good thing, actually. And it’s because I know that without the disappointments and the failures, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

And in the moment, though, it’s like the world is, is ending. Um, but I wish somebody would have just been like, you know, it’s okay to just make mistakes and to fail and to be disappointed. It’s actually kind of necessary. So, and I’m in that I’m, I’m still in that like every year there’s something that happens where I’m disappointed, but, um, actually I found kind of just the beauty in that to keep going.

And it’s been kind of a challenge for me at the same time. And I just, I don’t know if that answers your question, but that’s the first thing that came to my mind. about just, yeah, being okay with just the not so good moments. And, and also knowing that there’s beauty that comes out of the fire. And, like, some of the songs that I’ve written, even this year, it’s been a really hard year.

It’s been the best songs that I feel like I’ve written because of what I’ve gone through. So, to just, like, let myself feel in these moments. And to just be, and not try to like skip the process, not try to take shortcuts. Um, but really just be in the moment and, and be aware of like people around me and friendships.

And lean into that.

Joshua Swanson: What excites you most about the emerging generation in the context of music and worship? Uh,

Sarah Reeves: TikTok. That makes me excited. I’m just kidding. That’s all right. We’re good. That’s all we need. We got you signed by the way. So excited. I love seeing just all the dancers on social media. It’s like, just warms my heart.

Sorry. No, I I love just the young blood and, uh, honestly, I love the honesty of this next generation. And speaking of social media, I see that a lot because when I was, I mean, I guess five ish years ago, um, you know, everything was about like the aesthetic and. Like making sure you’re, you look nice at all times and everything has to match.

And, and what I’m seeing in the younger generation is they’re very much just like DIY and just real and what you see is what you get. And I kind of love that. And I feel like that will influence. It’s the church and worship music and just even the lyrics that I’m hearing from, I, I write with, with younger people a lot and just some of the stuff that they bring to the table.

It’s just like a little bit different than what I’ve, than what I’m used to. And I love it. So I’m hoping to just see some of that, that freshness come up in the church in a good way.

Joshua Swanson: Sarah, if you were to articulate a mission statement for the next generation, what would it be?

Sarah Reeves: To continue with that, um, innocence, and to not get too caught up in the image of everything, and To not get caught up in even the comparison.

I think that, that was definitely my generation and still is. I’m sure everybody, um, can easily, you know, be on our phones and look at what everybody else is doing and just think, oh, I need to be doing that. I’m not good enough. I’m, you know, this is getting old. So then they try to, we try to pivot really quickly into something that actually doesn’t come across.

Uh, because we’re constantly chasing trends or trying to be cool or trying to chase the next thing. But, um, yeah, I think just, yeah, just use the gifts that God has given you. And it’s gonna look different from the next person, your neighbor, the next church, whatever you’re looking at on social media. But just, um, I feel like lean into the gifts that are inside of you.

It’s the Holy Spirit, like he’ll guide you. Just pay attention.

Joshua Swanson: Thank you Sarah Reeves for spending time with us and sharing some of your story. If you haven’t done so already it would really mean a lot to us if you would subscribe to our podcast and leave us a review. You can find out more about Sarah Reeves at sarahreevesmusic. com Also, be sure you check out planningcenter.

com and worshipleader. com to find out what’s new in the world of worship. All right, until next time, I want to thank the team at Life Audio for their partnership. If you go to lifeaudio. com, you’ll find a collection of Faith Center podcasts about health and wellness, parenting, current cultural events, Bible teachings, and more.

So check them out at lifeaudio. com. Again, I’m Joshua Swanson. Thanks for listening.