Today I interview Stephen Miller for Leadership Journal. Stephen is a singer/songwriter and the worship pastor for The Journey Church in St. Louis. I’ve enjoyed Stephen’s music and his leadership in the Christian music world. His latest book is somewhat provocative: Worship Leaders, We Are Not Rock Stars.
You’re part of a growing movement writing hymns for the church and recapturing old hymns. How do you explain this new popularity?
People are hungry for substance. There is a reason so many of the old hymns have stood the test of time and we still have them today. For the most part, hymn writers were pastors and theologians whose primary concern was teaching powerful, right doctrine to their congregations in a memorable way. We have the privilege of standing on the shoulders of these giants and building on the foundations they laid in order to shape the Gospel in our people. A lot of my generation and the one coming after me has decided hymns are for their grandparents, so I personally want to take those songs and revamp them for a new context that would appeal to modern musical sensibilities. At the same time, there is certainly a recurring biblical mandate “to sing a new song”. There is a tension there. While we have the privilege of church history, we should not cling to the past so hard that we abandon what God is doing here and now. The same principles that guided the hymns writers who have gone before us are good rails to work from. Let’s write singable, memorable songs that teach people who God is, what he has done, and who we are in light of that, and then respond in worship.