When his parents named him David Wallace Crowder, they put their son’s destiny in good standing. His namesake, the King of Israel that the Messiah’s lineage came from, is arguably the greatest worship songwriter of all time. He was also known to be a little unorthodox. Prior to one of his great songs (Psalm 34), it's footnoted that it was written just after he feigned insanity by drooling all over his facial hair. Not the type of reverent behavior one would expect from a worship leader. In a way, though, it’s kind of a beautiful portrait of the sacred together with the profane. The Sovereign and Holy Creator of the universe choosing to work through and bless broken, dirty vessels like us. 

Case in point:  When Crowder was first married, a slightly disturbing habit was discovered—sleepwalking. “The first time,” David explains, “I woke up when I heard my wife say something. All I heard was, ‘Explode. Dr. Pepper. Freezer.’ I put together in my sleep that, ‘There’s a Dr. Pepper in the freezer, and it’s gonna explode. Explode?!’ So I’m thinking, ‘Things are going to blow apart! I’ve got to save my family,’ so I sprint into the kitchen, grab the Dr. Pepper out of the freezer, run as fast as I can to the front door, throw open the front door, run out on the porch and throw it as far as I can. It’s totally a Bruce Willis moment. I think I’ve saved us. I threw the exploding object into the street. It’s laying out there, and I feel really good. There’s some college kids across the street. They start hootin’ and hollerin.’ I’m like, [nods head, throws the thumb’s up signal] ‘Absolutely!’ I head back in and Toni goes, ‘Did you go out like that?’ I go, ‘Yeah,’ and I’m totally in my skivvies, you know? There I am, giving them the ‘Absolutely! You know it, saved my wife right there! Give it up!’ It was one of those in-between waking and sleeping things.”

Example #2: “We wake up one day to a golf club arriving in the mail. Come to find out, I had ordered it while watching a late night television infomercial. It was no golf club any sane person would order. It’s like armor-piercing metal or something. She says, ‘I heard you. I asked you what you were doing, and you said you were ordering a golf club.’ I had no recollection whatsoever. It was the middle of the night. We now know that there are things I can accomplish while I’m in a semi-conscious state that are pretty fantastic.”

Example #3: “She wakes up one evening, after this has become a pattern, to rummaging in the closet. She yells, ‘What are you doing?’ Our closet was tiny. It was a sliding door thing with her stuff on one side and mine on the other. And my side was open, but she couldn’t see me, so that means I’m inside her side behind the door. There’s not much space to begin with, and it’s just weird. What am I doing in the closet on her side? It’s just not anything good going on in there, surely. ‘What are you doing?’ And I lean out from behind the deal, and I mumble nonsense. I’m like, ‘Shugga-vada-dada.’ She said, ‘What?’ And I said, ‘Shugga-vada-dada.’ She says, ‘Spell that.’ I get mad and huff out loud. She tells me, ‘I hear running water. What are you doing?’ And it turns out I’m totally peeing in her shoes. I’m determined to pee in her shoes. It was awful!

“That would be profane,” he admits. Now, it goes without saying that Crowder looks a little different; but this report of strange behavior somehow matches the coolest and strangest haircut in the modern worship scene.

Southern Hospitality

After accepting the assignment from CCM to “capture the real David Crowder in story,” my wife and I head north to Waco, Texas, to try to get to know the goateed wonder. We meet up at Crowder’s church home, University Baptist Church. From outward appearances, the church has a pretty normal-sounding name and is housed in a pretty normal-looking building.