IBW Interview Series: Charlie Hall

This time in the IBW Interview Series, we interviewed Charlie Hall, Worship & Arts Pastor at Frontline Church in Oklahoma City, OK.  Charlie Hall is a songwriting and Worship Leader. He began this journey of songwriting in 1992, becoming part of the Passion movement in 1997, and has been an integral voice alongside them since, seeing incredible things happen in musical worship and acts of justice in the United States and abroad. The primary thrust of Charlie’s work is exploring the power and beauty of the Gospel through music and capturing imaginations in both traditional and future-looking ways, tying to a long lineage of theology and worship in the Spirit. 

What books have been the most influential in shaping your understanding of corporate worship?

     Desiring The Kingdom by James KA Smith

     Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

     Worship Matters by Bob Kaughlin

     Worship By the Book by DA Carson.  

If you could go back in time and give yourself 2 or 3 pieces of advice as a young worship leader, what would they be?

I would tell myself to never quit learning how to be a worshipper, to never stop exploring the skill of pointing to Jesus and to learn how to lead worship off the stage as well as on the stage.  I would tell myself to protect the simplicity of pouring myself out to Jesus, for Jesus and because of Jesus and to stiff arm the elements that come to steal that.  I would lastly put my hand on the shoulder of younger me and lovingly say that there is no arrival point, don’t climb an invisible ladder to an imaginary place in your mind.  Let your life pilgrimage toward Jesus till you pass through death…The journey will be worth it the whole way!!  Jesus is your arrival point!

What process do you go through in designing the weekly order of worship?

Our Liturgy is generally set into three blocks…Sing the gospel/Jesus, preach the gospel/Jesus, respond to the gospel/Jesus.  This gives us a framework for all of the elements that may include communion and baptism, etc.  Once we know the general direction of the service we try to let everything from the call to worship to the sending be in the territory of that topic so that we can speak one message.  By Tuesday afternoon a majority of the elements are in place and I gather the pastors and worship leaders to discuss songs, flow of service, and remind each other of the why behind it all.  In one way or another we always end with the reminder of the beauty of the gospel, its power to save us and shape us, our great need for it, and the great need the people coming have for the gospel, and then we ask the Holy Spirit to lead us and to always be open to what is not in our liturgy.  Over the years of planning a Sunday service, I’ve realized what we need to remember the most as leaders, preachers and servants is keeping the desire and angst of knowing Jesus and the gospel, that we are singing and preaching to ourselves as well.

In what ways do you think corporate gatherings will change in the next ten years?

Over the last 25 years leading in the church one cycle Ive seen is the rejection of manipulative methods.  Even if they weren't meant to be manipulative but are experienced as such, the generation that grows up in inside of that culture will reject it and attempt to build a different system of proclamation.  In light of that one guess on how gatherings may look in the next ten years could be that they are simply very stripped and raw.  Today much of what we see in church is high production and flash.  This of course meets the culture where they are for evangelistic reasons, but I can see a deep desire for more authentic, raw, less flashy, communities of Jesus rising up through that.

What kinds of safeguards are in your life to protect your marriage and your family?

I have several safeguards that I believe help serve in protecting my family, but the one Im floating in now is the one I’ll highlight.  Currently I have a 6, 14 and almost 16 year old.  Raising their level of faith and influence of the gospel through friendship, community, scripture is key for us, but honest conversation about where they are in life process including their spiritual well being is how I can more realistically see a picture of it all.  If they let me into their real worlds, struggles, triumphs, losses and pains, I can more realistically know how to pray, fight and love them well.