Dale Huntington is a worship leader and member of the worship band shine like stars. Recently, Dale talked to Worship Links about writing worship songs, the importance of finding a mentor, and his inflexible policy on carrier pigeons.
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions for us. It’s truly appreciated! The first question is an easy one. Tell us a little bit about yourself in five sentences.
I am a worship leader for City Life Church and shine like stars. I am married to a beautiful woman named Ashley and I have two gorgeous kiddos. I was born and raised in California but called to Wichita, KS, five years ago. I LOVE my Church. I miss surfing.
How did you get started in worship ministry?
After I got saved around 16, my youth pastor, Matt Hammett at College Avenue Baptist Church, asked me if I wanted to lead worship. He would tell you it was a risky decision since I knew almost nothing about God, let alone worship. However, I was a voracious reader and I read through the Bible a few times in my first year. He also met with me weekly and musically. Well, I was already in a punk band so that worked out okay.
What’s your basic process for planning a service or worship set?
I rotate songs about every couple months and repeat new ones more often. Normally I will sit down with the scripture after talking with the pastor. I will select a complementary verse and then I will select complementary songs, which often disrupts my song rotation. After that I think through transitions, keys and capos. Prayer is always interspersed throughout but if I am not careful I can plan on my own strength.
Desert Island Worship Mix: You’re trapped on a desert island, and for reasons too ridiculous to explain, you can only have one CD with five worship songs on it. What are they?
- 10,000 Reasons- Matt Redman
- Take Heart- Hillsong United
- Rhythms of Grace- Hillsong United (yet again)
- Did you feel the mountains tremble?- Delirious
- Man of Sorrows- Hillsong
Yours- The City Harmonic
(Wow, I’m surprised I picked so much Hillsong!)
What do you feel are some of the greatest challenges and rewards of writing music for the church?
Well, when I write a regular song, I don’t really care how people interpret. I don’t really care what people think about it. I don’t even care if people can sing it.
When I write worship, I want to teach, I want people to be able to sing it, I want there to be little chance of it being misinterpreted and yet I still want it to be poetic. I want it to say something new. I really think writing a good worship song is the biggest challenge in all of music.
If you could give one piece of advice to up and coming worship leaders, what would it be? Conversely, what’s some advice you wish you’d received earlier on?
A) Find a good mentor. I have somehow fooled some amazing men into mentoring me over the years. This is a must.
I have been influenced by some great men, Ed Aranda, Tim Yee, Michael Bleecker, Matt Hammett, Mark Roberts and Sean Randall. Some AMAZING men who I can invoke when training up young men, myself.
Also young leaders need to be readers. Seriously. This is not optional.
B) I wish someone told me earlier that every worship song needs to have a subject and not stray too far from it.
What do you think worship in the church will look like in ten years?
More and more electronic music. I’m not sure I will be a part of that group, but it’s coming. Still I wouldn’t be surprised to see choirs and more of the Mumford style stuff continuing.
What scriptures speak the most to you about worship?
Well I love 2 Chronicles 7 when the temple is dedicated and the glory of the Lord fills the temple. I’m not sure we see Him in the same tangible way today but His presence really is even stronger through the power of His Holy Spirit.
Honestly, when it comes down to worship, I am finding that reading through Romans about once a month keeps me more focused on Him than even the Psalms. Kinda weird, but then again, I’m weird.
Any new worship artists on your radar at the moment?
I don’t know how new any of these guys are but I love “The City Harmonic,” “Digital Age,” and “Citizens!” a lot right now.
What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done while leading worship (that you’re willing to share)?
One time I got nervous and ended a prayer in the name of the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit…which is fine but for some reason I said “and Jesus too.” HUH? There are lots of other stories too. Once I prayed on stage for the Charger’s game. Everyone laughed, they didn’t know I was actually going to pray for the guys that got seriously hurt the week before. They laughed so hard I couldn’t finish.
I’ve used the wrong capo countless times and my fly has been down more than once. 🙂
Thanks again for answering our questions. If people want to find you online, what’s the best way?
You can find our band’s website at www.slsworship.com
Our Church is www.citylifechurch.org
My twitter is @dalehuntington @slsworship
I only accept carrier pigeons Monday-Friday. SEE THAT YOU DO NOT BREAK THIS RULE.