I first met Michael Morrow in Australia. I had heard his song We Belong to the Day and was impressed with his desire to write songs that communicated rich theology in contemporary musical settings.
Shortly after we met, Michael moved to the UK, where he’s been ever since. I’m grateful that he’s going to be sharing some of his songs at WorshipGod UK, where we’ll be learning from Michael Reeves, Kevin DeYoung, Tim Chester, Jeff Purswell, and others about Gathering Around the Gospel.
Michael took some time to answer a few questions about himself and the conference.
What is your history of leading in the church, musically or pastorally?
I started playing piano and writing songs in my local church in Sydney when I was 15. But I spent years doing it out of pride, because I wanted to look good, or out of pragmatics, because music in church could be embarrassingly bad, and I wanted to fix it. Eventually a good friend, Philip Percival, introduced me to the truths from Colossians 3:16, that when we sing gospel truths God plants his words deep in our hearts, and that transformed the way I played and wrote. I started to pursue training in music ministry: I did an apprenticeship at a church, I went to bible college, and then I got offered a job as music director at Dundonald Church in London. I feel really privileged to be at a church that has faithful, humble bible teaching in its DNA, that also sees music as a ministry of the word.
What encourages you about what is happening in gathered worship in the UK and Europe?
It encourages me to see lots of young people learning what I was so slow to learn. Among evangelical churches here there seems to be a healthy understanding of what worship is, and how music can support the work of God’s word, and that means I meet lots of people around who aren’t hung up or confused about issues, but are simply eager to serve.
What weaknesses do you see about what is happening broadly in gathered worship in the UK and Europe?
Apart from a few exceptions the churches with lots of resources seem to be the ones not committed to teaching the bible. The rest of us feel quite small, so it can be tempting to want to follow them and build something that won’t last.
How do you think WorshipGod in general and your role there in particular might serve folks as they seek to serve in their local congregations?
WorshipGod is a great time for reflecting on big truths, taking stock of where we are at, and remembering the reasons we do what we do. It’s rare to get two-and-a-half days to think about how to serve Christ and his body through music, so I think it will be an incredibly useful time. I’ve been asked to share a couple of songs that I’ve written for churches to sing. I’m passionate about words that engage us; that don’t repeat clichés, but wake us up to the wonders of what God has done in Jesus. I’m hoping some of my words might do that, and I’m praying they might be useful for people to take to their own churches.
WorshipGod UK: Gathering Around the Gospel is designed for pastors, music leaders, service leaders, vocalists, instrumentalists, songwriters, tech teams, and anyone who helps plan and lead congregational worship. If you’re thinking about attending, keep in mind that rates go up 1st March. that’s just a few days away. In addition, we’ll be hosting a day for pastors and their wives on Thursday, 7th May. Kevin DeYoung, Jeff Purswell, and Rick Gamache will be speaking, and I’ll be leading the music along with my son, Devon. You can get more details here.
I’m grateful to Nathan Smith and Grace Church Bristol for having us in and doing a lot of the leg work that goes in to putting on a conference. We’d love to see you there!