Church Worship

10 Questions With David Garratt

  • Melissa Riddle Online Editor,
  • 2002 6 Dec
10 Questions With David Garratt You've been credited with pioneering the 'Scripture in Song' movement, which has influenced and in many ways shaped what the Christian world knows as contemporary worship. How did that all begin for you personally?
Garratt: Very simply. So much of the songs that were around at the time were very subjective. We simply wanted songs directed to God, so we began to gather and write them and then record them for people to learn. We also wanted to present the songs in a style and language that would appeal to the ordinary person. We recognized that worship is essentially an expression of relationship between man and God and that this could be done with or without the trappings of what was "traditional." Did you have any idea how God would take your gifts and use them in such a way?
Garratt: No. We just did what seemed right at the time. I think God chose us because we had simple faith and little natural ability. What has been the greatest challenge you've faced in ministry?
Garratt: The challenge is to continue being a worshiper so that what I share is what I am. What has been the most profound lesson you've learned about worship over the past few years?
That it is something very simple but that most people equate worship with some sort of music style when God is just looking for hearts that will show their love to Him in whatever ways are real to them. What is the most profound lesson you've learned about life over the past few years?
Garratt: Having lost a daughter a couple of years ago, the most important thing is that my faith in the living God is what I need to hold on to. I find myself being far less adamant about what I know and don't know, including what I know and don't know about God Himself. After all, His ways are far above ours. What is the most common misunderstanding about worship you see in your own congregation and how have you tried to reshape it?

I'm not leading in a congregation these days, although I am doing a lot of teaching. The most common misunderstanding is that worship gets muddled with music. As far as what I do to reshape it: I constantly step outside the box of the known and demonstrate my own faith to encourage faith from the people with me. What does 'worship lifestyle' mean to you?
Garratt: I don't think this term is really a biblical expression. What I mean is that worship biblically involves an expression of my heart to the Father.  In the Bible, the physical expression of worship is usually 'lowering ourselves' before the one we worship. See Revelation 4 and 5 to see heaven's view of worship. In Romans 12, which talks about 'presenting our bodies,' the word sometimes translated 'worship' should read 'service,' which includes our worship. When we talk of worship lifestyle we are in danger of having worship involving everything we do but really meaning nothing. It sounds very good, but means that the actual essence of worship can be lost. Having said all this, what I believe is that the Father is still searching for spirit and truth worshipers. This is kind of the desert island question. What are the five essentials you could not do without in worship ministry?
Garratt:  1. I can't really lead others where I am not myself. If I am not a worshiper, it doesn't matter how good I am as a musician or a manipulator of people, I shouldn't be there; a faith and a readiness to move into the unknown; a willingness to be childlike including looking foolish in the eyes of others if need be;a discernment between soul and spirit (a constant challenge); the ability to hear and respond to the Holy Spirit How do you explain the powerful connection between music and worship expression?
Garratt: I think David showed us the place of music in worship. He even produced instruments he considered suitable to express worship. Music stirs the soul. It has a powerful way of influencing people's emotions. However, I think there are many occasions when our worship expressions stay in the soul area because we are unable to distinguish between soul and spirit. We can use music in our expressions of worship, but the music always needs to remain a servant to the goal itself. What compels you to write new songs for worship today?
Garratt: Interestingly enough the church seems to be getting back to where we were when Dale and I began Scripture in Song in 1968. So many of the songs today are subjective-"I" this and that, including "What I am going to do" instead of just doing it. We still need songs that God's people can use to simply express their praise and worship. Tell us what your ministry is like today, what you are spending your time and effort on?
Garratt: My wife, Dale, and I are living in Auckland, New Zealand, as we have for many years. For the past 16 years, our emphasis has been on calling for the indigenous and ethnic peoples of the world to worship the living God using the sounds, dances, songs and instruments God gave them. This is taking me to various parts of the earth, and I find that this message brings hope to many. We have produced a video to share this message. It is called, "Let my people go." As I write this, I am flying to Brisbane to teach in a YWAM school and after that to Korea where I will be with people who are learning to use their traditional instruments in worship and praise.