I recently sat down for a few minutes with David Lewis, Worship Pastor at Living Hope Church in Piperton, Tennessee to discuss his personal journey into his current profession. Tim Johnson, Redwire’s Founder, has worked alongside David for over a decade, and considers David to be a good friend. Over five years ago, David encouraged Tim to create this company. Living Hope Church was one of Redwire AV’s early customers, and many of the employees at Redwire have a connection to Living Hope and/or David Lewis in some capacity. We are so thankful his support over the years, and we hope this interview blesses you!
I remember the first time I was able to worship with David Lewis, I was most impressed with his humility and vulnerability. So I want to know how you keep your heart soft after 15 years in ministry?
“How do you lead with a vulnerable heart? It means your heart has to get broken. God had to get me to the end of myself…And rebuild me from the ashes. That’s what it takes to have a soft heart. And it doesn’t mean it’s soft all the time, but I want it to be. If you go back 15 years, there was a season of my life when I was in church ministry and I was just burning at both ends. I got to a point where I was kind of going through the motions. I didn’t even realize it at the time. You can get to a place of a burnout without even recognizing it, and before you know it, your world falls apart. That happened to me, and I almost lost everything, including my marriage. But God met me in the middle of that, and in the rebuilding process, over several years, God [began] exposing those things that led to that and then gave me the ability to just be a worshipper who understands God’s grace in a very real way.”
David also said that Living Hope as a church allows him to be vulnerable as a leader. He described the staff as a community and said that they operate more like a small group than a corporate church environment. “I’ve been a part of other churches where that was not the case. If you’re in an environment where you have to play political games, then you can become jaded pretty quickly. In a place like Living Hope, that has a gospel culture, you don’t have to portray some perfect image of yourself, and it’s easier to make much of Christ and what he can do.”
Sometimes, when I lead worship, I feel discouraged, because I can just sense that people aren’t connecting with what I’m singing/saying. Do you ever feel that way? And if so, what is your response?
“Sure, but I have to be careful to not measure success by just what peoples’ arms are doing, or how loudly they are singing.” He said that as a worship leader, he is looking at the room and observing what may be going on in people’s hearts and minds, but he is mindful that they are in all manner of places. Instead of just asking ‘Were we successful?’ he asks, ‘Were we faithful? Was I faithful in listening to the Lord this week? Did I faithfully plan and prepare for the service? Did we execute those plans in an authentic yet compelling way? If so, then we have to trust that the Lord is working and doing the things that only he can do.”
On being prepared and being ready for excellence:
“It’s not just about being excellent, it’s about freeing myself up so that I can do the things that I really need to be about. In the middle of worship service, I don’t need to be worried so much about what chords are being played. I need to worry about, ‘what do I need to say to engage people’s hearts?’ — Because that’s what I’m here to do, you know. I’m not thinking about song lyrics or chords. I’m mostly thinking about what’s next. “What could I say? How can I connect the dots for that person?”
On preparing his heart to lead:
“Even though I grew up in the church and I could tell you all the right things, there was an experience of God’s grace and character that I didn’t have until that particular season of hardship in my life. So then coming out of that, for the last 15 years, I can stand up every Sunday and REALLY talk about the gospel as one who has truly experienced it.
And knowing that, my prayer driving to church every Sunday is: ‘Lord I’m obviously not worthy to stand up and do anything today. I don’t know why you chose me to do it, but I thank you for choosing me to [lead worship]. I thank you that Jesus paid for my failures and I will stand up in the righteousness of Christ and proclaim the gospel today to people who need to hear it again.’”
On encouraging worship leaders struggling with sin:
David said that sometimes young worship leaders will come to him and say things like, “I struggled this week. I looked at porn.” (or something else) and ask him, “What am I supposed to do?”
David’s response: “You’re supposed to grieve that. You’re supposed to grieve the sin that is in your life. And obviously we don’t you want to continue that. You don’t want to stay in that. You want to repent of that and walk out of it. But honestly the Sunday before, when you felt really righteous because you didn’t look at porn, and this Sunday — is not any different. Your righteousness was as filthy rags last Sunday too. You’ve got to reconcile all that in your heart. And when you stand up to lead, you have to do it in the power of the Holy Spirit and KNOW your identity in Christ. Obviously, if there is sin, let’s work on that. Let’s deal with it. Let’s put boundaries in place. Whatever we have to do to get rid of those things … You’re telling me about it because that’s conviction of the Holy Spirit.”
On his hope:
“I don’t want to put on some sort of show, but I want to show people the reality of what Christ can do. Some people might say, ‘I love the way that you lead me to the throne’ and semantically I’m not going to argue with them, but I would say that I don’t lead anybody to the throne, that’s what Jesus does. My job as a worship leader is not to be a cheer leader. It’s to point people to Jesus. I want to paint a picture of who Jesus is and what he has done as accurately as I possibly can, to use songs and scriptures and words in ways that will help people respond to him, to see what he has done to enter into the reality of their situation, and to help them know that there is real joy to be found in walking with Jesus even in the midst of hard things. I want people to get that deep down and not just put on a happy face.”
Why do you continue to choose Redwire Audio Visual for your technology needs?
David admitted that he is biased because he has relationships with the guys at Redwire AV. He also encouraged Tim to start this company “because out of all the tech directors and people that I worked with in the past, Tim was the guy that ALWAYS started with a ‘Yes. We’ll figure it out’ … as opposed to other people who would say, ‘there’s no way we can make that happen. We don’t have enough money to do that.” Even in that [situation], Tim had a mentality of ‘let’s figure out how to make this work. There is a way.’
As a company, I have seen that too. They definitely aren’t cookie-cutter. They are not coming in trying to just sell you this this thing because it is the thing they want to sell. They truly are coming in trying to figure out what you’re doing as a church or organization or company. What are you trying to accomplish? Let’s figure out how to do that together with something that actually fits in your budget. Redwire is truly seeking to serve churches and organizations and to provide what they need. I feel like that that really is at the heart of what Redwire is and why I would say to do business with them.”
For more information on Living Hope Church, visit: https://lhchurch.com/