10 Questions with Dennis Jernigan
by Debra Akins

With 26 albums recorded and more than a million records sold, worship leader Dennis Jernigan has been at the forefront of the worship movement for many years. And throughout his ministry one concept continues to cornerstone of everything: relationship. It's a theme that he returns to time and again as he ponders how life relates to worship.

S4W.com: What has been the greatest challenge you've faced since you began pursuing music as a calling and a career?
Jernigan: Maintaining my identity as a worshiper and as a minister has probably been the greatest challenge. As a result of this focus, I have sacrificed some of the notoriety I probably could have attained had I chosen to focus more on the music and recording aspect of my life. But because of everything God brought me out of (homosexuality and all that goes with it), I knew that my first calling was to work on the message of my life. God's will was to get that message out through the music, which was a natural progression.

S4W.com: What has been the most profound lesson you've learned about worship over the past few years?
Jernigan: That you don't have to beat people over the head with the need to worship. I simply need to lead people to understand that freedom from anything or freedom through anything is possible. Leading worship is this for me: I lead people to freedom, and the natural response is one of gratitude and worship.

S4W.com: What is the most profound lesson you've learned about life over the past few years?
Jernigan: That God not only loves me, He likes me! I have nine children and I love being with them, I love laughing with them, holding them. I love just watching them. And I'm an earthly father. So how much more does our perfect heavenly Father love, rejoice in, and delight in us? I have learned to stop telling God how, when, or even asking if He can love me. I just accept that He does!

S4W.com: What is the most common misunderstanding about worship you see in the current worship climate, and how have you tried to reshape it?
Jernigan: The line between performance and ministry has always been one that sometimes gets blurred. Is worship a fad, the next musical bandwagon? Or is it an act of relationship between man and God? I'm all for excellence in presentation, but when the packaging becomes more important than the content, we have crossed the line. As long as our focus is Jesus, we'll always get back to where we need to be. In this way, our performance actually becomes an extension of our heart, and we can cease trying to make people (or God) like us. We simply perform well because our heart leads us there.

S4W.com: What does 'worship lifestyle' mean to you?
Jernigan: Worship is about relationship. Relationship means that life is exchanged. In other words, a lifestyle of worship is one in which I open up myself in intimacy to my God. And in turn, He opens up His heart in intimacy to me! Life is exchanged, life is produced. A vital component of that lifestyle of worship is honesty. God's Word tells us that we will know the truth and that truth will set us free. I honestly admit to the Father that I cannot save, deliver or help myself, but He can. In that exchange of honesty, He brings health and freedom to my soul, and my natural response is one of gratitude and worship. That is, to me, the bare essentials of a lifestyle of worship.

S4W.com: This is kind of the desert island question. What are the five ministry essentials you could not do without?
Jernigan: Other people to share life with (my family), God's Word, a piano or guitar, manuscript paper and pencils, "CSI" [television show] and laughter.