Nathan Mark is a worship pastor and recording artist in Washington State. Recently, Nathan talked to Worship Links about worship as a conversation, serving your team, and the dangers of headset mics.
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 Nathan Mark. I have been married to my wife Becky for ten years and we have three beautiful kids: one boy and two girls, ages six, four, and two. (Yes we are very tired. 🙂 ). I am a worship pastor in Puyallup, WA. I wear crocs 95% of the time (yes, even on the platform…he he he).
How did you get started in worship ministry?
I started leading my youth group with my guitar in high school and played on the worship team. As I became an adult I started to lead worship in church Sunday mornings. I never planned on doing ministry as my vocation, but through a lot of crazy circumstances, after leading worship as a volunteer for years, God opened the door for me to do worship ministry full time.
What’s your basic process for planning a service or worship set?
I start by talking through the sermon with my senior pastor. We talk about where he is going to land his sermon and the overall focus. I read though the passage he will be preaching on. Then I spend some time in prayer asking God what he wants to do this week. I start making a list of songs that come to mind. I also have a list of songs that I am trying to work into the song rotation that I pull off of if they work. I then start working through song flow, keeping in mind things like similar keys, tempos, and phrasing. If you think of worship as a conversation with God, every time you stop the band and start a new song it’s kind of like hanging up the phone and having to redial. So songs flowing into one another is important. My goal is to help people have a continuous distraction free conversation and also help people to have those special moments of heart connection with Jesus.
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?
In no particular order because I have a hard time picking a favorite:
- Great Are You Lord – All Sons and Daughters
- Worth it All – Ben Cantelon
- Sweetly Broken – Jeremy Riddle
- Lord I Need You – Matt Maher
- How He Loves – David Crowder
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 one of the greatest challenges in managing a worship team is actually my own weaknesses as a leader. If I am honest with you, I have not always been a very good leader to my team and still have a lot of areas to grow in. I am discovering that when I am frustrated with things that my people are doing I really have to ask the question, “How am I not leading my team well, that they are behaving in this way?” So many of my frustrations in others really come back on me as a leader. Our job as leaders is to ask the question, “How can I serve my team right now to help them thrive?” I find that that helps reduce that tension between being musician and manager.
What scriptures speak to you the most about worship?
Philippians 2! Have the same attitude as Jesus, who even though he was God, humbled himself and became a servant. Jesus is our example of what it looks like to bring pleasure to the father. Isn’t that what our goal as we worship? And as we worship not just on Sundays but with our lives? To bring pleasure to God. To take pleasure in the same things that he takes pleasure in.
Tell us about your new album. How did that come about and what’s the experience been like so far?
I entered one of my songs in a radio contest last year and it ended up winning. One of the prizes for winning was getting some mentoring sessions with John Mays of Centricity Music in Nashville. He encouraged me to make an EP. So we put together a Kickstarter campaign and ended up raising just over $11,000. This was enough to make a full length album. John put us in touch with Scott Krippayne who we hired to produce the record. It’s been a lot of work but also a lot of fun! God continues to open doors and bless this project and I am blown away by his goodness!
Where can our readers check it out?
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 say you always have to remember that it’s not about you. Your job is to ask the question, “What do they need right now?” For me I wish I had been told to focus on learning the culture of the church I started serving in. Early on I really did a poor job of meeting my congregation where they were at because I didn’t understand the culture of the church.
What do you think worship in the church will look like in ten years?
Hopefully within 10 years, worship in the church will be physically in the presence of Jesus! 🙂 But if he hasn’t returned by then, I imagine it will be similar to the way it is now. But with new styles, new songs, and younger generations now leading, passing down their faith to even younger generations.
Any new worship artists on your radar at the moment?
Tim Timmons and Jon Guerra are two that I have been following and really enjoy.
What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done while leading worship (that you’re willing to share)?
I used to lead with a headset mic. One day I forgot to mute it. I finished on the platform and went into my office to pull up my notes for a meeting I had to lead right after the service and I realized that my notes had been accidentally deleted. Panicking, I went straight outside to talk to the other associate pastor who had helped me plan my meeting and I said, “Dude, I need you so bad right now!” When I said those words, they came through loud and clear in the sanctuary in the middle of the pastor’s sermon. Since that day people are always coming up to me and saying, “Dude I need you so bad right now!” We happened to catch the whole thing on video!
Thanks again for answering our questions. If people want to find you online, what’s the best way?