Matt Redman is married to Beth and they have five children. Based on the south coast of England, they are part of St. Peter’s church, Brighton. Matt has been a full-time worship leader since the age of 20 and this journey has taken him to countries such as South Africa, Japan, India, Australia, Germany and the Czech Republic. Along the way he has sung in venues such as the Angels baseball stadium, both old and new Wembley stadiums, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Royal Albert Hall.
Matt’s earlier songs include ‘The Heart of Worship’, ‘You Never Let Go’ and ‘Blessed Be Your Name’. More recent compositions include the Grammy-nominated ‘Our God’, and the double-Grammy winning ’10,000 Reasons’ – for which he also received a Billboard award in the USA. His latest record, Your Grace Finds Me, was recorded live at LIFT, a worship leader collective hosted by Passion City Church in Atlanta, GA.
Matt is also the author of several books, including The Unquenchable Worshipper, Facedown, Mirrorball, Blessed Be Your Name (co-authored with Beth Redman) and Indescribable (co-authored with Louie Giglio).
I recently had the chance to ask Matt a few questions. I think you’ll find them entertaining, inspiring, and insightful.
What are your roles and responsibilities in your church?
I’m on the worship rotation, and lead when I’m asked to and can make it. That probably works out to about once a month. But then there’s a month like this one where I’ll lead at a student gathering, a 24 hour prayer meeting and the Sunday services in the space of a couple of weeks.
Tell us about your church (style of worship, size of church, what church looks like in your part of the world, how the church is impacting the community, etc.):
I’m part of St Peter’s, Brighton in the UK. We gather together in a cathedral-like building that’s a couple of hundred years old, right in the heart of the city. Brighton is apparently the most unchurched city in the whole of the UK, so I love that this new congregation has sprung up in the last few years in this ancient building. It’s an exciting place to be.
What is the spiritual climate of your city?
I think there’s an openness to spiritual things, but there’s a huge percentage of people in the city who wouldn’t consider the Church as having anything to offer them. So we’d love to see if we could persuade otherwise. It’s also the UK city with the youngest average age among the population – and a really high percentage of students. So again, a brilliant challenge.
One word that best describes how you work:
How do you prepare to lead?
I’m usually looking for ‘the one fresh thing’ that I could bring in a particular service. Maybe that’s a brand new song, maybe it’s an old song brought in a fresh way. Maybe it’s dwelling on a certain theme for a while. Or it could be a different musical set up with an emphasis on group vocals or acoustic instrumentation etc. Sometimes once you get hold of a fresh idea, you can shape everything else around that.
Besides your phone and computer, what gadget could you not live without?
What apps, software, instruments, or other tools do you recommend?
Lots of the apps I use revolve around travel – Yelp, Skyscanner, Master Tour, Airport Maps, Hailo (London cabs!), thetrainline. But I also have some good devotional apps I’m fond of – I’ve found Nicky Gumbels’ Bible In One Year scripture reading plan really good, plus the Spurgeon Morning and Evening app too.
What’s your workspace like?
Obviously my work takes place in lots of different places. I just have a desk at home. But my favorite workspace is co-writing in our local village chapel with a couple of friends – just laptops, guitars, a piano… and some coffee.
How do you balance ministry and personal time?
The tricky thing is that no two weeks are ever really the same. One of my weaknesses has always been to think I can fit more into a day than I actually can. It’s a constant learning curve. Someone once told me the key is to make sure that whoever you’re with or whatever you’re doing, try to be 100% present and engaged. So if I’m songwriting, ideally I should turn off email and try to be 100% ‘in the moment’. Similarly, if it’s time with the kids kicking a ball around in the garden, the wisest thing would be to leave the cellphone indoors to let them know it’s their time. Easier said than done though – like I said, a constant learning curve.
What are you listening to right now?
An album that’s stayed with me a lot this year is ‘Light for the Lost Boy’ by Andrew Peterson. Those songs and sounds feels so lovingly crafted – there’s a beautiful depth to the record. I’ve liked some of Matt Papa’s new stuff too. From the album ‘Look and Live – the song ‘Made for You’ is brilliant. If you liked Keith Green’s approach and music, you’d very likely love these. I really like the new Coldplay single ‘Atlas’ too – great chords! Then, in a totally different genre – electronic music – my favorite album for a while has been ‘Clarity’ by Zedd. The songwriting is excellent, the vocals and sounds amazing, and the record feels like a really complete journey.
Can you tell us a recent setlist you’ve used?
SING AND SHOUT A
Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert? How does it affect your leadership style?
Essentially I’m an introvert – I process inwardly and have to make an effort to share what I’m thinking about. I love being in a team and I’m happy to be around people chatting all day – as long as I get that essential ‘on my own’ moment at some point in the day, to recharge. It affects my worship leadership. For example, on a day leading at multiple services, I’ll do better in the later services if I’ve hard some moments to be still, collect my thoughts and be alone for a few minutes during the day.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Musically, something Bono had said once about songwriting – “You can have 1,000 ideas, but unless you capture an emotion, it’s an essay.” It’s a great reminder for me that in all the crucial thinking about theological content and theme, make sure the song has some heart too. In terms of life advice, it’s probably a talk I heard over a decade ago by Bill Hybels – a series of questions every leader in a church should ask themselves from time to time. Some of the ones that struck me most were, “Is my psychological junk undermining my leadership?”, “Is my pace sustainable?” and “Is my capacity for loving people increasing?”. Challenging stuff!
Any advice you want to give to other worship leaders?
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you evaluate your motives. I’ve noticed that whether it’s releasing a record or getting up on stage to lead, I need to give my heart a regular check-up. Proverbs 16:2 points out, “All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord.” When it comes to what’s motivating us in ministry, we’re going to need God’s help in discerning what’s really going on in our hearts. Are we wholeheartedly seeking first the kingdom of God? Or is there some pride creeping into the mix and we’ve become a little too focused on building our own ministry. The Holy Spirit helps illuminate our true motives. I’m super aware of all this right now with a new album coming out. I’ve spent so much time and effort on writing and recording these songs, and we’re now in a season of releasing them and seeing what God might want to do through them. So I’m going to need to check my heart regularly. Am I in this for the glory of God alone? Or is there any tiny part of me that’s enjoying the attention and encouragement just that little bit too much? Tough questions, but if we’re going to be in this for the long haul, they’ve vital ones. We live in a society of shameless self-promotion – we’ve got to make sure that we’re different. As the late John Wimber put it, “The real test in these days will not be in the writing and producing of new and great new worship music – the real test will be in the godliness and character of those who deliver it.”
What’s a useless talent that you have?
You’re talking to a man who has trouble changing guitar strings…I don’t have many useful talents, let alone useless ones!