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Interview: Worship Leader Zach Trandum

Zach Trandum is a worship leader and musician in Tukwila, WA. Recently, Zach talked to Worship Links about his latest single, unexpected gastrointestinal distress, and Batman.

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.

Five sentences… Hmmm. I’m a husband, who has no idea, other than the grace of God, how he scored such an amazing wife. I’m a daddy to the most beautiful, priceless princess in the world. I love writing, both music and other types of content. I’m the most easily entertained person on the planet (no seriously, I laugh at almost anything). I love super heroes and reading.

Superheroes? Who’s your favorite and why?

I’m not sure that I could nail down a single one that I love over all others. I just love the whole idea of doing things greater than you could have ever imagined. I love characters that show their vulnerability, like Iron Man or Batman. They’re just two guys, without any super powers, that were smart enough to work with what they had and transform themselves in to something truly great. I guess you can go ahead and count those two as my top faves if I have to pick! I do have an Iron Man bobble head on my desk after all.

How did you get started in worship ministry?

My mom has been involved with worship ministry for as long as I can remember so it was a very natural step for me to take. When I started I wasn’t actually doing any singing at all but playing trombone in the brass band. From there I just made myself available to serve and cover things as needs came up. Soon I found myself being asked to lead for various types of services.

I discovered that I really loved the team atmosphere of worship when I visited The Republic of Georgia, a number of years back, and took part in a live worship concert in the heart of Tbilisi. Our team was not the strongest musically, but we were passionate about simply showing God our love and encouraging people to come and experience Him with us. When we were joined together with that purpose, incredible things happened! That is such a huge fuel for my fire and one of the reasons I continued in worship ministry. I work closely now with young people, teaching and training them to lead.

What’s your basic process for planning a service or worship set?

I’m all about creative simplicity. And that’s actually rather difficult for me because I LOVE to get artsy with things, and that can lead to over complication. For me, getting things started always begins with the set list. If we’ve introduced a new song in the recent past I usually try to incorporate that in to the set for a few weeks just so people in the congregation get used to it. After the set is solidified I get it posted on the worship team blog, which is basically a central base for the team to not only keep up on what the week’s services will look like but stay connected with each other, encouraged, and fed with various biblical resources. It’s been a great tool! When we gather together for band practice we take use that time to not only prepare the music, but our hearts, and set the atmosphere for the coming service. We know and understand that we don’t come to church to be filled, we come to pour out, so priming the pump is vitally important. We will usually talk through any creative ideas that may come up for the songs at that time as well. From there it’s off to the races!

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?

For the love of Pete, you had to ask this question!? This is like one of the hardest ones for me to answer! Well, if I have to choose, I’d start with the Hillsong Dubstep remix I downloaded from YouTube (Oh yes. It’s a thing. And it’s awesome.), followed by Kari Jobe’s version of “Revelation Song” (still wrecks me every time), Israel Houghton’s “Moving Forward,” Shane & Shane’s “Yearn,” and finally the wickedly awesome Kurt Car, a cappella, worship medley arranged by Sam Robson (look him up on YouTube). It’s the ultimate worship mix tape kids, and I’ll love it… Forever… Alone on my little island.

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?

I have ADHD. I’m literally like that dog on Up sometimes and tend to take on a bunch of projects and then leave most of them unfinished, or completely forget to do something altogether, simply because I saw something shiny or squirrel like. Ask my wife about this and she will smile through the many face palms I’ve caused throughout our marriage. That girl puts up with a ton and truly loves and helps sharpen me. I’ve found that keeping lists is a huge help for me. I simply keep track of what projects I need to tackle and then organize them by priority. Generally, if it’s people related it comes first. People are always top priority. Does this work for me all the time? No. It’s not a perfect system, and is still pretty new to me actually. I’ve only started practicing list keeping this year. My biggest challenge in all this is not letting ADHD become attached to my identity. It’s just a thing, not who I am.

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Musically things seem to come a little easier simply because it’s something that charges me up. Working with my team on a piece of music, seeing it take shape, and then become polished is pretty darn amazing.

What scriptures speak to you the most about worship?

This passage may not be specifically about worship, but it has played a HUGE role in shaping me as a leader.

2 Sam 23:20 – “Benaiah chased a lion down into a pit. Then, despite the snow and slippery ground, he caught the lion and killed it.”

To make a long explanation short, Benaiah would not have been elevated to the position of honor and authority he ended up in if he had instead chosen to turn tail and run from the lion. He trusted God and saw the blessing on the other side of the challenge. I believe that the majority of my responsibilities as a worship leader take place outside the church walls. I worship not only with my music, but with how I chose to respond to challenges in my life. (Check out a little book called In a Pit With a Lion On a Snowy Day. It’ll change you.)

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 would want up and coming leaders to know that their gifts are not their identity.

I really wish someone would have slapped me across the face and told me that exact statement. I attached identity to my gifts for many years. That mind set stuck me in a depressed state on more than one occasion and has even led me to damaging some close relationships. I was letting my gifts carry what my character should have.

Let’s talk about your new single, “What You Do To My Heart.” What’s the story behind the song and where can we check it out?

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“What You Do To My Heart” was written from a place of brokenness. I was in the midst of a dry spell and was really trying to power through some things. What I failed to recognize at the time was that powering through is not what I needed to be doing. God brought me in to a place of rest and refreshing. He just started reminding me how loved I am as His son. The song was birthed out of that.

Folks can easily snag the tune on iTunes or visit ZachTrandum.com for the link. I believe we’ve got it up on Amazon as well.

What do you think worship in the church will look like in ten years?

I don’t know if I can forecast what it will look like, but I can tell you what my hope and prayer is for it.

Pure and simple, worship is a creative act. My prayer is that the church would break out of the box and start exploring worship as an art and less of a department. I pray that we would ditch messy church politics and simply focus on loving Jesus. Period.

Any new worship artists on your radar at the moment?

I’m in love with a cappella music, and there is this great arranger named Sam Robson (mentioned in one of the previous questions). I have no idea if he’s a worship leader or not, but the arranging he’s done of some classic songs is absolutely breathtaking. I can’t stop listening.

What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done while leading worship (that you’re willing to share)?

I’ve literally burped a lyric to a song by accident. It just snuck up on me. I don’t know what happened.

Thanks again for answering our questions. If people want to find you online, what’s the best way?

I’m borderline obsessed with Twitter, so you can hit me up there: @theZachT. I’m always dinking around on my website as well, www.ZachTrandum.com. I love connecting with people so reach out any time!

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