Anastasya Laverdiere is a worship leader, songwriter, and recording artist in Saskatchewan. Recently, Anastasya talked to Worship Links about songwriting for the local church, leading by God’s grace, and accidentally swearing into the microphone.
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/songwriter from Saskatchewan, Canada. Currently working as a Health Care Aide as God transitions me into the next step of the journey. Married to an awesome guy, Joel, and proud puppy parent. 🙂 I love God, singing/writing out the melodies I get from time with Him, being outdoors, sports, trying new recipes and gardening.
How did you get started in worship ministry?
Well, I started playing piano in church quite young, around 13, but really didn’t recognize that I was called to do this until much later in my early 20s. My journey in becoming a worship leader kind of followed the deeper work God was doing inside me to show me who I was in Him. He led me out of a tough life situation and into a great local church where I connected with leadership and others in the music ministry. One day the main leader’s truck broke down and he couldn’t get to church which left me the only other one to sing! Terrified, I put together a list of sorts went out there and stumbled through my first experience as a worship leader! God just kept giving opportunities and it grew from there.
What’s your basic process for planning a service or worship set?
Planning worship lists for me always start with me asking God, “Okay, what do you want to do this Sunday?” Ideally, I love to spend time asking Him this while singing to Him or sitting at the piano waiting for Him to speak, but on the busy weeks I’ve sometimes got the list from Him while doing the dishes. 🙂 Often I’ll get one main song and then will play with that until a list develops.
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?
- Desert Song 😉 Okay, that was a cop-out!
- Probably Miracle Maker – Kim Walker-Smith
- Come to Me – Bethel
- Everlasting- Joel Houston
- You Know Me – Steffany Gretzinger
- I know you said worship, but I would definitely need a little gospel – Give God All You Got – Andrea Helms or loud praise like Planetshakers – This is the Day
What have you found are some of your greatest challenges in managing a worship team? How do you handle the balance between being a musician and being a manager?
One major challenge I’ve faced is decision making, especially when strong personalities are present on my team. When I started, I wasn’t too sure of myself and was quite a people pleaser, so decision making was harder for me. I’ve had to learn how to stay true to what God is leading me to do and make those decisions despite how someone may feel about it. My prayer has been, “God, help me become the leader You’ve called me to be and stay true to who I am.” Becoming more secure in who I am has helped me make decisions more efficiently. This, however, also needs to be balanced with listening to those on my team and honoring them by valuing their input but still being able to make the decision in the end.
What scriptures speak to you the most about worship?
I think one particular passage speaks to me about the “sacrifice” side of our worship – 1 Kings 18:36-39. I always get the line “Fire always falls on a sacrifice.” We often want to see God’s power move in our services but we must first offer ourselves to Him as living sacrifices, open to whatever He wants to do in order to see Him move among His people.
The Message version of Matthew 7 keeps me examining my motives in leading worship, trying to ensure it’s not for my glory but for His, lest it be said of me, “you used Me to make yourself important.” We have to watch ourselves in this. I desire the exact opposite – I want God to be able to use Me to make Himself and His kingdom famous!
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?
I think the one major concept I totally missed for the first few years of leading worship – and wish I had learned sooner – was oddly enough leading by grace. Learning to lead by His grace and recognizing the power that comes when I lean on Him alone has been one of the greatest discoveries for me. I was so driven and often preparing great set lists, etc., but all in my own strength. If songs went over well I felt great; if the people weren’t as “into them” I felt horrible.
A visiting pastor really taught me what grace was, and when we really let His grace and acceptance penetrate our hearts, we are less affected by everything that happens in a particular service. For me it’s as simple as confessing my dependence on Him and then turning my focus away from weaknesses on to His strength. Although we do need to be well prepared for practice and services, I found I need to remember, “I am the believer and God is the performer”.
What do you think worship in the church will look like in ten years?
Wow, worship in ten years… well, it’s already changed so much! I think although we will see new styles being adopted by churches, there will still always be a mix of the old and new sounds… As we accept these newer styles of music as backdrops for our worship to God we will have more and more songs coming out by increasingly unique writers in every genre. Therefore, I think it’s only going to increase as the church grows stronger towards the day of Christ’s return! At least this is what I believe for. 🙂
Any new worship artists on your radar at the moment?
Well, I think lots of people know about him but Andrew Ehrenzeller is one that I’ve been recently introduced to. Very unique and the musicianship on his album is inspiring!
What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done while leading worship (that you’re willing to share)?
Okay, well, I was leading in England one time and over there the word, “crap” is comparable to the f-bomb here in Canada. I, however, forgot this point and while having trouble getting the keys to the right sound I wanted, I jokingly exclaimed over the microphone, “Sorry guys I sound like crap!” Right after the word left my mouth, I knew. Wow, I just dropped a major swear word from the stage at a worship event. Thankfully I had a very understanding team but I wanted to crawl under a rock!
I understand that you’ve written and released some music for your church. How did that process work for you and what lessons did you learn?
Writing and releasing songs into church is an awesome privilege for sure. At my current church, the process wasn’t too formal. We would show our new song to the head of the worship department to get the “okay” to bring it to the team and then we would bring it in to practice to see how it worked.
Some things I’ve learned is not to release a song too early. I have been overly eager before and released a song to the band before it was truly “finished.” Problem is that now everybody’s used to it a certain way and it can be hard to make changes after everyone adds to it. Secondly, if you’re a songwriter, find opportunities to get others to play with and listen to your songs. This can be scary but you usually get very valuable feedback which can help you improve a lot as a writer.
Also, try to listen to the parts within a song. For example, start training yourself to listen to what the bass is doing in certain recordings you listen to. What do the drums do? Learning to “hear” parts for other instruments and coming to understand more about the other instruments can help you think through what you may want in your song. Don’t just show up to practice and be like, “okay, guys here’s a new song,” with no idea whatsoever on how you would like it to sound. Gather song clips; bring notes. You don’t have to have it all figured out (and it’s good to give the team room to experiment) but definitely have some direction otherwise it can be pretty frustrating for the team.
Thanks again for answering our questions. If people want to find you online, what’s the best way?