Andrew Michael Meador is a worship leader and musician living in Tennessee by way of Indiana. Recently, Andrew talked to Worship Links about the American Idol itch, the future of worship music, and terrible benedictions.
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.
My name is Andrew Michael Meador and I’m twenty-nine years old. I’m a multi-instrumentalist (upright bass, trumpet, keys, guitar, vocals) and I love to write music. I enjoy skateboarding, being outdoors, Thai food, and spending time with my wife. I have a chemistry degree from Purdue University, minored in Religious Studies, and I’ve had multiple jobs as a research scientist, chemist, high school teacher, and worship pastor. Lastly, I’m from Indianapolis, IN, have been living in Memphis, TN for the last year, and my wife and I are now moving to Chattanooga, TN.
How did you get started in worship ministry?
I’ve always been musically-inclined, but it wasn’t until college that I started to lead. My first time ever leading worship was on a mission trip in Jamaica. When I got back to campus I began leading on the worship team at a local campus ministry for two years and then my experience grew exponentially when I served as the worship pastor at a church plant in Indianapolis for five years.
What’s your basic process for planning a service or worship set?
First, I always ask if there’s a theme that the pastor or leader would like for me to consider when picking songs. I’ll rarely pick all songs around that theme, but try to aim for a moment in the worship set that centers around that idea.
I pray and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance whenever I’m planning a worship set. To me, that’s the most important aspect of my planning. I’ll ask specifically if there’s any point He wants me to make, anything He wants me to share in between songs to facilitate worship, and anything He would change about what I already have planned.
I’ll play through the set a few times, feel it out, and aim for one or two moments to really focus on during the service—maybe a bridge or a chorus, or something spontaneous that happens during rehearsal.
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?
This is a tough question! Right now it’d have to be the following songs. Number four isn’t technically a “worship song” but every time I hear it I can’t help but get carried away in worship. In no particular order:
- “Beautiful” Phil Wickham
- “Who Is This” John Mark McMillan
- “Relentless” Hillsong United
- “Lovesong” The Cure
- “Ever Be” Bethel Music & Kalley Heiligenthal
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?
The greatest challenge I’ve run into has been battling/managing egos. Sometimes people join the worship team for the wrong reason(s). Typically that reason is a rock star mentality; I call it the American Idol itch. It’s always obvious after a little while because those individuals become very difficult to work with, aren’t correctable or lead-able, and don’t follow the vision of the team/church.
I find that I exercise my leadership/management side a lot more than my music side when I’m with the band. They don’t need another guitar player, they need someone to direct and lead them, along with the congregation. In short, I make sure that I’m prepared musically so that I can be completely present as the worship leader.
What scriptures speak to you the most about worship?
For the last couple of years I have been obsessed with Philippians 2, particularly verses 6-11 (the humility of Christ and why He is given the Name that is above every other name).
Also, many of the Psalms have the phrase “enter His gates with thanksgiving and enter His courts with praise”. Reading that phrase and acting upon it has really changed my personal worship. Most of the time I pick three things that I’m grateful for and tell those to God before I start singing.
Tell us all about your new album, [Second to None].
[Second to None] is my first full-length, original worship album. I wrote the songs while I was a worship pastor in Indianapolis and they each overflowed from my personal times of Bible reading, reflection, and worship. Each song is written directly from a specific passage or passages in the Bible, but the unifying theme is the supremacy of Christ (Colossians 1:15-18).
The album has a modern sound: mostly rock-and-roll with electric guitars, bass, keyboards, drums, etc., and a little bit of EDM thrown in. It’s available for preorder now and is on iTunes and Amazon for immediate download as of today.
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?
My one piece of advice would be to use your position of influence to serve the Church. Die to your selfish desires and give your greatest effort. It’s. Not. About. You. You’re a musician ministering to mostly non-musicians. Make decisions that are best for your congregation and not for your own musical superiority or hipness.
I wish that someone would have told me early on how important stage presence is. I had to overcome a lot of awkwardness as a worship leader because of some faces I didn’t know I was making and the way that I phrased some things. That would have been very helpful, haha.
What do you think worship in the church will look like in ten years?
I think about this often because I like to stay ahead of the curve. Will the worship team be replaced by quad-rotor drone musicians? Will choreography and dancing be the new requirement for worship leaders?
I honestly think that in ten years many churches will recognize the importance of having an online presence (streaming of services, worship, teaching, etc.). I also think that they will give more of their prime real-estate during the worship service to preaching the Gospel, with less focus on sermon series, and that small group settings will flourish within the church as a whole.
As far as musical worship in particular, EDM is coming on strong with synthesizers and beats. I think it’ll have enough momentum to carry a wave of church worship for the next ten years, but I’m pretty tired of seeing the Church latch on to trends after pop culture has.
I could easily see a return to musical simplicity. Jazz and Island/Reggae have never had a phase in popular worship music yet, either…
Any new worship artists on your radar at the moment?
Jason Barrows is a guitar player and dear friend who has played on my EP and my new album [Second to None]. He is a phenomenal songwriter and he has a great album out called “Islands Of My Soul”. You’ve got to check him out.
Also, my friend Andrew Walker has a killer EP called “Open The Floodgates”.
Both of those guys have their records on Noisetrade.
What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done while leading worship (that you’re willing to share)?
The first thing that comes to mind was the benediction I gave to the congregation my very first Sunday as a worship pastor. We ended the song with a big swell and once it settled I stepped up to the mic and said, “We’re done, you can go now.”
To be fair, I said it in the most sincere tone possible. I’ve come a long way, haha.
Thanks again for answering our questions. If people want to find you online, what’s the best way?
Thanks for having me! My Twitter/Instagram/Periscope is @augustusmusic and my website is www.MoreThanMusic.co (no “m”, just .co). I’m also on YouTube as “augustusbandmusic” and Facebook.com/augustusmusic