Worship Through the Years w/ Tim Hughes

Songwriter, artist and worship leader Tim Hughes joined Loop Community Founder Matt McCoy to talk about how he has seen worship change over the last 20 years, advice for worship leaders and more!

How has worship changed in the last 20 years?

Matt: How have you seen worship change over 20 years? When you think back to when you first started leading how have you seen it change from then until now?

Tim: When I started leading, there was a real awakening of worship in church. There was a massive impact around intimacy in worship, around simple choruses, that created a sense of connecting with God. Moving from just singing theology, which is also important, but actually having worship as an encounter. There was a sense of awakening and all new songs and movements gathering and delighting in worship. Now what we’ve seen is people really investing in the gift of creativity in music. The quality of songs now is incredible. Churches are placing a high value on worship music. The resources and trainings available now are amazing. I think that’s made a massive difference to so many churches in empowering them and encouraging them.

My one critique or challenge, would be with the upscaling of the quality, that could become more of an emphasis than the heart. As I look back, some of the quality wouldn’t hold it’s own now, but there was something so beautiful and raw that really engaged people. My fear is that it’s become almost too professional. Worship always has to be raw and heartfelt. It’s about human frailty encountering the infinite device Creator. That should be an emotional, beautiful, mysterious, and sacred thing. If all we’re focusing on is the set, sound and production, we can miss some of those things. I would like to see how we can engage the excellence with the risk and freedom and rawness of worship.

Advice for Young Worship Leaders

Matt: If you were sitting down now with a young worship leader who’s like 16 and just getting started that wants to do this with their life, what would you say?

Tim: One of my favorite quotes around leading worship from Andy Park says, “Leading worship is taking your private cry and making it public.” It’s so simple and everyone nods their head and says yes, but very few actually do that. A worship leader needs to be a worshipper. The danger of learning all of your skills from YouTube and watching what other artists do and you imitate, you could probably get away with leading worship well at a church. But if you really want to lead people into life changing encounters with the Spirit of God, you need to be a worshipper. The more time you carve out on your own for God, wrestling with Him, loving Him, connecting and conversing with Him, when you step out to lead you won’t be just delivering songs in great sets, you’ll be someone who can usher in the Spirit of God. Worship is a spiritual activity. A lot of what we are seeing in our churches is good solid worship, but what I believe the church needs is Spirit led worship.

If you want to be really effective in a Kingdom way, it’s not purely going to happen by you learning music skills, it’s going to be you allowing Christ into the depths of your heart and learning what it means to be a worshipper.

To hear the full conversation between Tim Hughes and Matt, click the video below!