S4W.com: How long have you been leading worship at church and where are you currently serving?
Andy Chrisman: I actually was leading worship between the ages of 14 and 20, before I left college to go out on the road with TRUTH. God has been gently nudging me back to my original calling ever since. I have been the worship leader at Celebrate Family Church in Celebration, FL since 2001. We are a new congregation - currently about 200 strong.
S4W.com: What has been the greatest challenge you've faced since you began pursuing music as a calling and a career?
Chrisman: Over the last four or five years, I have been trying to discern between what's easy and what's a sacrifice. It's easy to just do what the record label and the people around you in the industry want you to do. They've seen what's worked in the past, and it's a temptation to just stay in the comfort zone. It would be easy to continue doing what I've been doing over the past 17 years. It's a sacrifice to lay it all down and go where He's leading.
S4W.com: What has been the most profound lesson you've learned about worship over the past few years?
Chrisman: It's not about me. Worship is about Jesus. It's taken me all this time to realize that what I want and what God wants from each worship scenario don't always match up. So I've had to check my pride at the door and say, "Okay, God, I'm prepared to do this worship set, but I'll back away when you want to do something else." And that's really when it gets fun!
S4W.com: What is the most profound lesson you've learned about life over the past few years?
Chrisman: That success is not measured by worldly achievement. It's about how you and your family feel about how clean your heart is at the end of the day. At this point in my life I would not trade a clear conscience for anything in the world. And believe me, there are plenty of opportunities every day to make that trade-off.
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?
Chrisman: The idea that because it's worship it doesn't have to be presented with professionalism and excellence. That's just wrong. If the president were to show up at your church on Sunday morning, I guarantee you that you would be sharp, well rehearsed and have the best trained people in every position. But we have the opportunity to host the Creator of the universe every time we gather together and yet we think that "just OK" will cut it. We've got to change our mentality in that regard.
S4W.com: What does 'worship lifestyle' mean to you?
Chrisman: For me that means taking the principles of worship and applying them to our everyday lives. I would hate to think that our worship experience with God ended with the benediction.
S4W.com: How do you explain the powerful connection between music and worship expression?
Chrisman: Music has always been an emotional response to whatever we're going through. When we're happy, we sing. When we're down, sad songs are our friends. It's the same connection in worship. Joyful songs are good medicine, just as songs of encouragement and strength can be powerful healers for the wounded heart. It's always a great feeling to see my congregation begin to sing and cast off whatever the week has brought them.
S4W.com: Describe one of the most compelling, most powerful worship experiences you've had and tell how that affected you as a worshiper and as a leader since that time.
Chrisman: In 1987 I sang with TRUTH at a Sunday morning service at the Brooklyn Tabernacle, and for a Southern Baptist boy that was a real eye opener. The thing that struck me the most was that everything that happened was real. There was no performing going on, yet here were some of the greatest singers and players I had ever seen. I think God allowed me to have that experience to say, "Do your best, but always do it for Me."
S4W.com: What compels you to write new songs for worship?
Chrisman: The Psalms say to sing a new song. So, whenever I sit at my piano to worship or to put my services together I always take time to let my heart and mind be free to create. Honestly, the majority of what I write is just for God - no one else will ever hear it. But every once in a while something will pop out that I know my church needs to hear.
S4W.com: What person has influenced your ministry/your music the most and how?
Chrisman: Probably Keith Green. I had every LP that he ever made, and I was always in awe of how real it all was, and yet it made sense musically. Here was a guy who had no trouble telling the world what he thought and how much he loved Jesus and was able to put it all in a musical context that was as pop-sounding as anything on radio. His example has influenced me to say what's on my heart and make it sound good at the same time.