Randy Wright is a worship leader and musician in Jackson, MS. Recently, Randy talked to Worship Links about his upcoming EP, where worship music is headed, and accidental blasphemy.
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.
Yeah, thanks for giving me the chance to chat. I’m a guy who loves a lot of the “normal” stuff guys my age do. I’m 26, I love coffee, preferably using a Chemex, disc golf, and of course music. I’m a huge fan of Piano-rock and punk-rock.
How did you get started in worship ministry?
When I was a freshman in college I saw an opportunity to invest in students by discipling them and being their bands “worship leader.” As the years in college went by it went from a chance to impact students with the gospel to a calling the Lord had placed on my life.
What’s your basic process for planning a service or worship set?
I always start off by talking with the teaching pastor. I love knowing their broad picture, and then their landing point. From there I try to structure a pathway or journey for our people to follow. Not every song has to be spot on with the message, but a marriage between the word and music is vital. With the extra space I find I just want to load up our set with songs that cover the story of the gospel. I want our people to always be singing about the resurrection, victory, and our hope in his return.
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?
Oh snap, like a legit cd-r mix.
- Is most definitely gonna be “Love Shines” by the Austin Stone, it’s the most complete worship song I feel ever written.
- “All I Have Is Christ” by Sovereign Grace, enough said.
- The Cross of Christ” by Passion, I feel like this would make me feel a little more ok with being on an island, it’s just happy.
- “The Lord Our God” by Passion, I mean I’m stuck on a desert Island… I’m gonna need a song reminding me there’s a reason to be stuck here right?
- “I Will Look Up” by Elevation Worship, it’s just a song right now that’s moving in our body at Pinelake and I feel everyone can connect with.
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 feel like you’re always gonna have a tension in being a manager and a musician/pastor. I’d say the biggest issue isn’t so much for me in being a musician. When we work, we work hard and everyone comes prepared to follow our leaders, whether that is me or that is our campus worship pastor, or our lead worship pastor. We don’t have many feuds during rehearsal about music. The issue typically is in managing your pride when it comes to being creative. Taking others’ ideas from either above our servant leaders. Having to justify why you’re making a decision, whether it’s just because you like your idea (pride) or you feel like it’s really the way you’re being led. So some of those can come during rehearsal, but a lot of times they are elements outside of the music. So the short answer, it’s just about humbling yourself at all times and really caring about your people, and not yourself. If I’m missing that, I don’t need to be pastoring those people.
Tell us all about your upcoming EP.
This is our second EP, which is hopefully gonna lead up to our first LP in a year or two. But it’s titled Transcend. I go back to the definition from Webster, that it means to break down the walls, go beyond the limits. That’s what we tried to do with this EP both from a lyrical stand point and a musical standpoint. We wanted to convey that God has transcended our situation through Jesus. That’s the central message of this EP. He broke down the dividing wall of hostility by his work on the cross, he came after us after we sinned against him in the garden and he continues to chase us. So every song is reflective of that message. One I need to hear every day and I feel believers do too! We did a pure cover of Aaron Ivey’s “Love Shines” to open the album and then two songs I wrote, “Worthy” and “Hallelujah” both continuing to hit on that message, that we were lost in darkness in our rebel way until Jesus came and redeemed us. And we finish the EP with a cool mashup that birthed itself out of some time I spent in Haiti. It’s Gungor’s “We Will Run” with a throwback worship song you’ll have to listen to know about. From a musical standpoint we ditched the acoustic guitar from our first EP apart from a feature of an alternative/folk artist Oh Jeremiah in the track “Worthy,” and we really tried to hone in on my love for piano rock and lean into it as the foundational element of the tracks. We feel like we really took a step forward musically.
What scriptures speak to you the most about worship?
I love Psalm 100, it’s 5 verses, but is a perfect description of worship. Incorporates, mind, body, spirit and music.
I love that it teaches us to Know the Lord. You can’t worship that which you don’t know.
Isaiah 25 is incredible. It speaks on God’s faithful plan. Our response to remembering his faithfulness is worship.
Psalm 73 reminds me that our God is worthy of worship because He’ll never fail us. Even when we fail he’s still there.
I love Revelation 5. There seems to be total despair until the Lamb comes and is able to open the scroll, and the people respond by saying worthy is the lamb. It’s what the angels are constantly singing, and I desire to always be returning to that heart of worship. And also later in Revelation, where the elders are given a crown and they respond by laying it down before his throne. That’s true worship to me, that the things the Lord gives we respond by laying them down and worshipping him.
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?
Be humble. Work as hard as you can. Improve your craft. Be a theologian. Know the word better than you know music. Seek advice from people you respect and won’t fill you up with feel goods. Be humble, again. Don’t think you’re above anything because you’re “the guy.” Be a servant to your people. I wish someone had told me all of those things from day one. And also lead your band/people well before you even step onto a platform. Be a leader that others love and respect, and just have fun!
What do you think worship in the church will look like in ten years?
Honestly I’ve got no clue, ha. The past five years, worship has been revolutionized. Like as an art. My hope is it’ll be worship pastors who view themselves as pastors before anything. But from a musical standpoint I think we’ll hit a point in the next 3-4 years where this synth-pop driven style is worn out and we’ll venture into something new. I believe we’ll move away from everything being driven by acoustic guitar. That’s if I’m guessing. I like where we’re at as a culture, I just hope we can be less in love with tracks.
Any new worship artists on your radar at the moment?
Not really. I’m always searching. I know these guys aren’t “new” but I really respect and dig what the guys who are in Bellarive are doing with their music. Super original.
What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done while leading worship (that you’re willing to share)?
Oh gosh, this is an easy one. Or two. Most recently the first Sunday I led at the church I’m on staff at we were introducing “This I Believe” for the first time and I felt like a lightning bolt was gonna strike me when I said, “through Your Holy Spirit CONSUMING Christ the Son” instead of “conceiving” like everyone stared at me and I was just like, yep that happened. #blaspheme The second was trying to transition from “How He Loves” to “How Great is Our God” early on in my career. Two time signatures I wasn’t ready for. I just stopped and asked for forgiveness. It’s those things that I love though because they humble you in a good way.
Thanks again for answering our questions. If people want to find you online, what’s the best way?
We’ve just relaunched our website at Randy-Wright.com or you can follow us at Randyandtheband on twitter and instagram. Super simple. Got cool stuff launching the next few months from those avenues. Thanks so much for the questions!