Anita Tatlow is a worship leader and musician originally from the United Kingdom but currently serving in Sweden. Recently, Anita talked to Worship Links about moving in faith, songwriting for the local church, and multicultural worship.
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.
Well, after graduating with a music degree from Nottingham University (where I also met my husband, Ben), we moved to London where I worked as a teacher and Ben in marketing. A few years later, in 2013, in a complete faith move, we gave up these steady jobs and moved to Sweden to pursue our work as the independent Christian band ‘Salt Of The Sound’. Now, alongside our own music, Ben and I are the worship leaders at Immanuel International Church in Stockholm. So the last few years have been quite an adventure – and I would say the biggest lesson from all of this is trying to stay open to God’s plans for both as both worship leaders and as independent Christian musicians.
How did you get started in worship ministry?
We have both been involved in voluntary worship ministry since high school years. After university, when we moved to London, we belonged to Hillside church in Wimbledon where we led the worship most Sundays. Here at Immanuel International, we also initially served as volunteers for a few months before being offered the worship leader position.
What have been some of the biggest challenges and rewards in leading worship in an international setting?
In an international church, such as Immanuel, everyone is coming from such different cultural and denominational backgrounds and while this can work both ways, we have found that most people come with a great openness towards such things as music ministry.
It also allows the music to thrive in a multi-dimensional way. For example, working with volunteers musicians and singers from such diverse cultural backgrounds has challenged me and continues to broaden my understanding of how people experience and even hear music.
I love knowing that what I bring isn’t complete – it presses me to stay humble and to continue to learn from those around me. Although our worship is in English, I love it when we can incorporate different languages into our worship.
What’s your basic process for planning a service or worship set?
‘Flow’ is such an important word for us when we plan worship. Working alongside the pastors, we try and make the music fit thematically whilst also using a variety of worship styles; from arranged versions of traditional hymns, to a variety of more contemporary worship songs and sometimes songs from other cultures, too. We feel it is so important to also use a variety of both reflective and uptempo songs in any given worship service, so that every person can worship as they need to on that day.
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?
At the moment, I would say…
- Francesca Battistelli – He Knows My Name
- Matt Maher – Lord, I Need You
- Owl City – My Everything
- Hezekiah Walker – Every Praise
- I Am They – Amen
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 think this can be one of the more challenging aspects of church worship. I think it is really important to remain prayerful about decisions you make, stay open to new ideas, and ultimately have a clear vision and goal that you and your team are working towards.
What scriptures speak to you the most about worship?
I love the passage in Ephesians 5 which says,
“Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.”
For me this is saying that – in every situation worship should rise up from within you and be deeply rooted into your being.
How do you approach songwriting for the local church? Any advice for aspiring worship songwriters?
When you are starting out, this can be tricky. I would say – get feedback from people you trust before testing songs out in a larger setting such as your congregation. And if something doesn’t work when you come to use it for congregational worship – don’t worry, just learn from it. (Building and maintaining a good relationship with your congregation is also key.)
Also, try to show discernment and use your own songs sparingly – if people request them or give positive feedback, it’s usually a sign that you are doing something right!
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?
If you have a conviction, go with it. And on the other hand, not everyone you work with will have the same opinions as you about worship. Stay open – you never know what might work for your congregation!
What do you think worship in the church will look like in ten years?
I hope that worship expands to cover a wider variety of musical genres in the church setting. There is so much good music that is being written by Christian artists which transcends beyond much of what is played in the majority of church services today. I hope that we broaden our use of creative arts more readily in worship as well – worship can take on so many forms – and dance, visual arts, film and art can be such powerful mediums for worship when used in the right way.
Any new worship artists on your radar at the moment?
It is inspiring how many new great worship artists keep popping up. This year, I have loved the work of ‘I Am They’ – their sound is unique and interesting, with simple messages of praise flowing throughout their lyrics.
What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done while leading worship (that you’re willing to share)?
Let’s see… thankfully, I don’t think I’ve had too many! Getting someone’s name wrong is pretty bad though! (Accents can cause terrible problems when working in an international setting.) Luckily, I, along with the people I serve, are able to laugh about these things!
Thanks again for answering our questions. If people want to find you online, what’s the best way?
You can also support our music ministry over at http://music.saltofthesound.com