The Story of "The Worship Project"
My journey began over 25 years ago in small-town New Zealand.
I’d grown up in a Christian home with an amazing family, I struggled deeply with my identity. I was wrestling with depression, my sexual orientation, and the feeling that I wasn’t loved or valued.
So, as any teenager would do, I began seeking out affirmation, love, value and my identity in many different ways. Late one night, I was out for a run and desperately crying out to God asking where He was in all these struggles. He answered me and said “I haven’t abandoned you, but you’ve abandoned Me. You’ve made a god out of your struggle and your addiction to status, if you want to be close to Me again, you need to surrender those things”.
As you can imagine, this was a harsh word to hear and I grappled with it for days. However, I told God that I would give these things up in order to know Him better.
A couple of nights later, I was out for a late night run, when God spoke into the core of my being and birthed within me this idea of “The Worship Project”.
I’ve always known the call of God upon my life. When I think back to my early childhood, I knew I was called by God and set apart for something different. He spoke to my heart telling me to be a worship leader, and I’d always felt a deep love and connection with songs of praise and worship.
Until embarking on this project, I thought worship was defined by me attending church and singing songs on a Sunday morning - to offer my worship in “spirit and truth” was to really “lift my hands” on Sunday, wave a flag or two, or maybe even sing songs during the week.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am in love with using music to glorify God and I truly believe that music is one of the strongest ways that we can communicate both our love to God and experience His love for us. However, for me I’d got to the end of my tether with the church “worship times” and I was wondering why I felt so far from Jesus in my “so-called spirit and truth” worship moments.
It’s because MY spirit and truth worship was actually not found in singing songs, but rather in my creativity in design and photography.
You see, as I’ve come to know the Lord more, He’s so loving shown me that for me to offer worship to the Lord in “spirit and truth”, I needed to stop taking up and wearing the “mask” of what common theology said “worship” was - MUSIC and SONG.
Worship, music and song are not interchangeable words. Music is an expression of worship, but it’s not worship in its entirety, nor is it even the most powerful or everyone’s most truthful way of offering our worship.
God released me into seeing that He has made me the way I am, with my passion, gifting, and love for creating visual art and that in this, I can worship Him through my art - my whole life lived in humble dedication to Him; a living Worship Project.
I committed to giving God one year of my life (a year of total surrender and authentic worship) and I embarked on a 365 project. I decided to take worship songs and lyrics and create typographic posters in response to them – one poster each day, uploaded to a Tumblr blog for 365 days.
I felt strongly from the Lord that I was to do this completely anonymously, as it was fame and identity that I was struggling with the most and in doing this, I couldn’t claim any credit or glory from it – this was my Spirit and Truth worship.
I finished this project in March 2014 and what a journey it was! I learned that through everything God is faithful. He doesn’t give us dreams and leave us unfulfilled in fact, the Scripture says in Philippians 1:6 “He who began a good work in you, will be faithful to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
The dream that God placed in my heart as a young child of being a worship leader was correct - even though it didn’t work out how I thought it would - or how most of the modern church theology thinks it should look. God kept His promises and he has chosen me to be a worship leader through visual and creative art.
Through that Tumblr and Instagram, I am quite literally leading the world in worship. People email me all the time from across the globe with story after story of how God has used this different approach to worship to stop suicide, help break depression, bring families back together and restore marriages.
I've got the most joy from seeing hundreds of individuals and churches liberated as they discover their most sincere form of worship through similar “spin-off” projects.
I pray that as you read this story or see this art that in turn, you would be inspired to discover (or re-discover) your first love; Jesus. To let Him begin to place or awaken desires within your heart showing you new ways you could offer your life as worship to the Lord.
I pray that you are also challenged to humbly surrender parts of your life that you’ve held tight so that in that place of surrender God can fill you with His desires, His plans, and His creative inspiration, that He may be glorified and His name made famous.
Whether the Lord has gifted you and called you to worship Him through song, music, poetry, dance, art, baking, spoken word, pottery, teaching or evangelism - I encourage you to earnestly seek the Lord and ask for His direction for your life.
I knew God’s call, and I tried everything humanly possible to make that dream happen.
Some of you are doing the same thing. You've heard God's call, but just like me, you’re pursuing it in the wrong avenues. What the Lord is really wanting is your heart, completely surrendered, completely devoted to Him.
He’s looking for those who will worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.
Jesus wants a heart of worship. He's looking for people to be taking His love to the streets, doing things in new ways, in places that sometimes songs can’t go, and in ways that we haven’t previously "done" worship.
Imagine - a generation rising up, boldly standing and claiming those gifts that God has placed in our hearts and using them to glorify Him and make Him famous. A generation with no desire to simply "fill the mold", but rather boldly go where no one has and pave the way ahead for those who are to come.
This is me. This is you. This is us. Let's go.