If you’ve listened to any of today’s modern, contemporary worship recordings within the last few years, I’d be willing to bet you’ve heard an original Matt Redman song, whether you were aware of it or not. If you attend a contemporary church worship service, odds are they perform his music regularly. Countless Christian music artists, from Michael W. Smith, Sonic Flood, and Rebecca St. James to Petra, Kutless and Phillips, Craig & Dean have made several of his choruses world-famous: Let My Words Be Few, Better is One Day, and most notably The Heart of Worship. The latter chorus is one that Redman himself says serves as a reminder that “I’m just a little songwriter-and a pretty foolish one at that!” (www.crosswalk.com)
The England-native singer/songwriter recalls a time when apathy concerning worship had overtaken his home church, Soul Survivor, in Watford, England. It seems the congregation had become filled with worship “consumers”, rather than worship “producers”, a problem which seems to surface in many of today’s churches. Soul Survivor’s senior pastor, Mike Pilavachi, conjured up an interesting solution, born out of a deep desire to see his church return to the true meaning of worship. Without warning anyone in the church, Pilavachi stripped the entire sanctuary of its sound system and gave the worship band a considerable amount of time off. For the next month or so, Sunday worship was sung a cappella. Although it was initially awkward, and there were no doubt more than a few silent moments as people realized who was singing off key or out of rhythm, the worship gradually became more important than the sound.
When the music fades
And all is stripped away
And I simply come
Longing just to bring
Something that’s of worth
That will bless your heart
I’ll bring you more than a song
For a song in itself is not what You have required
You search much deeper within through the way things appear
You’re looking into my heart
I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus
I’m sorry, Lord for the thing I’ve made it
When it’s all about You
It’s all about You, Jesus
King of endless worth
No one could express
How much You deserve
Though I’m weak and poor
All I have is Your’s
Every single breath
Matt wrote these words in his bedroom soon after his church had rekindled their passionate love for heart-connected worship with Jesus Christ. For him, the song was nothing more than a reflection of what had occurred within their assembly. The sound system and the band were reintroduced and the church’s worship, and attitude about worship, was never the same. According to Redman himself, the song was never meant to journey beyond the walls of their church in England. But, as happens often, God had different plans. Pastor Pilavachi listened to the song and made a few lyric changes with Matt in order to make it more personable to everyone.
In 1999, The Heart of Worship became the title track for Matt’s album of the same name and garnered worldwide acclaim. Within months, the chorus was filling the sanctuaries of churches across the U.S. Redman continues to receive encouragement from pastors around the globe, who write him with their own stories of how God has used the song to fan the flames of worship within their own church bodies. Not to mention the countless Christian music artists who have recorded the song over the years.
Renowned pastor/evangelist and founder of Passion International Louie Giglio says, “Worship is the activity of the human soul…our worship is defined more by our walk than our words.” (Worship: That Thing We Do). How often do we walk away from worship services saying things like, “Wow, the band sounded awesome this morning” or “Wasn’t that video great?” Modern technology has given the church a myriad of innovative tools to boost, highlight, accent and embolden the sounds and appearances of worship. But worship is not defined by any of these technologies. No audio board, video display or even instrument can come close to conveying the adoration that stems from the heart of the redeemed believer; a believer who, upon approaching the cross, cannot help but praise their Savior. True worship does not remain within the walls of the church. True worship cannot help but burst out in the everyday grind of the believer’s life.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship.” Romans 12:1, New International Version, emphasis added.