Q: Bellarive isn’t just a band but a community of like-minded believers. How does this personal camaraderie help shape the songs you write? 

We live and experience life together. Like most families, the people closest to you know you at your best and at your worst. We are directly linked to and aware of each other’s greatest triumphs and darkest failures. It leaves us all very exposed. Sometimes that can feel very scary, but it is actually extremely freeing. God has the uncanny ability of reveling Himself the most in those moments of vulnerability. In those moments, it’s not about hiding from reality or keeping up the façade, it’s about recognizing your position towards God and surrendering to Him. In those moments, you really mean what you say. We pray these songs are always a response to those moments. Be it an anthem or a confession, may it always be vulnerable, may it always be sung with conviction, may it always be in spirit and truth.

Q: When there’s so many different directions you can go with songwriting, why do you gravitate toward worship? And in what’s an increasingly crowded landscape, what unique perspective does Bellarive offer?

From an individual standpoint, worshiping God through song in one of the most sacred and integral parts of my relationship with Him. For me, songs are prayers. These prayers help me process, and they help me hear God more clearly. On a more general level, I am just so moved by the idea that we can write and sing songs to God. Not just about or in light of God, but directly to Him. What’s even more overwhelming is that….. He listens. For this reason alone, I will sing.

We are coming to the table with songs that are extremely personal. I think that is important for the church. One of the ways people receive a worship song as more than just “lyrics on a screen” is for it to be an actual testimony! We see this modeled for us all throughout the Psalms, which are really the largest biblical resources we have for worship music. They are not so much generalized statements as they are personal encounters. When a song is written from a personal vantage point, I think it actually helps make it personal for other people. It sinks in past the skin.

Q: The book of Ephesians played an integral role in the songs for Before There Was. What are some of the key insights you hope listeners will walk away with?

The ideas in the book of Ephesians are so expansive; so transcendent. It is hard to fathom the notion that even before the foundations of the earth God had us in mind and set out to make us a part of His family through Christ. What a plan? What a convenient?

Our hope is that these songs help people find trust in that plan and faith in that eternal covenant. May we rest in the purpose and identity He has given us. May we lift our gaze above the temporary circumstance and trust the eternal promise of God. He has chosen to weave us into His kingdom. It was His plan from the very start.

“He set it all out before us in Christ, a long-range plan in which everything would be brought together and summed up in Him, everything in deepest heaven, everything on planet earth.” Ephesians 1:10.

Q: One thing that’s immediately apparent when listening to Before There Was is that your group clearly values creativity. What inspires you sonically—and what mood(s) were you trying to evoke on the album? Also, why is that important in writing worship music?

I think we are inspired most by the complimentary nature of a song. For us, a song is comprised of an extremely important sonic piece and an extremely important lyrical piece. Both carry equal weight and heavily affect each other. They are inseparable. So, we do our best to try and find the perfect synergy of those two elements.

In worship music, people are hearing truth in a lyric, but the perfect sonic landscape can help people receive truth a lyric. We don’t just want to sing these words, we want to claim them. The right words and the right delivery can help turn hearing into truly listening; singing into believing.

Q: Bellarive is unique because you balance the creative with the congregational. In your opinion, what makes a congregational worship song work? How does Bellarive approach that process?

When a worship song gives glory to the King and simultaneously helps create a space for people to surrender to Him, it can be a very powerful tool for the Kingdom of God.

Amazing worship songs come in all shapes and sizes. That in it of itself is such a testament to God creativity. The ones that stand the test of time seem to all have a unified heartbeat. For the Creator: They say thank you. They give Him glory and elevate His name and renown. For the creation: They help make us aware of the immediacy of His presence, and they remind us of His promises. We need reminders.

There are big differences in starting a band and building a worship team:

  • A band picks members that all fit together. A worship team picks members to represent the body.
  • Image is really important in a band. Image is not important on a worship team.
  • A band is typically the same people all the time. A worship team should be different people a lot of the time.
  • Bands pick songs that make them sound good. Worship teams pick songs that the church needs to sing.
  • A band always works toward the better gig. A worship team serves faithfully every week regardless of attendance.
  • Bands pick songs that they know will get a response. Worship teams pick songs that sometimes say things we don't want to hear.
  • Success to a band is the applause of the crowd. Success to a worship team is the applause of one.

What are you building?

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The In-Between Songs

September 18, 2015

There are stages of every Christian life: Justification (salvation), Sanctification (working out our salvation) and Glorification (heaven).

Working with worship songs and songwriters, I hear a lot of songs about salvation and heaven, but not as many about sanctification. I believe there is certainly a need for songs that address all three. We need to praise God for salvation, even singing to the lost how God has saved us. We also need to look ahead at times to heaven when we will finally worship Jesus face to face.

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Yes!

Okay, that would a pretty boring blog post, so allow me to digress. I've been in church pretty much my whole life. Admittedly, my church experience, as with most of us, is limited to a pretty narrow stream. But why is it that most of the time when I worship at church, the band looks like they are either mad or bored?

Now I don't believe for a minute that most of the people in the band are mad or bored. My hypothesis is that we have issues with having fun while playing church music. That somehow we are more "spiritual" by appearing melancholy. I also think 50% to 75% of the people on stage are scared out of their minds to be in front of people, but that's a different discussion.

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God has always been a fan of fire. All throughout the scriptures it has consistently been one of the main ways He chooses to reveal Himself. As Psalm 104:4 says it, ” He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants.” It’s a tool used by the King to make His presence known; to demonstrate His power. Whether it’s with Moses and the burning bush, Shadrach Meshach and Abednego, or Elijah on Mt. Carmel….there is just something about fire.

We also see fire deeply connected to the idea of refining and atonement. In the old testament it plays a huge role in the process of sacrifice and sanctification. Be it a praise offering or a guilt offering, fire is always present. This idea is woven all the way through the New Testament as well. Jesus, the Christ, our eternal sacrifice, He calls us to the fire. John speaks of it when he says “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Luke 3:16 NIV)

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