Holland Davis is a pastor, worship leader, and author in California. Recently, Holland talked to Worship Links about his worship training book, understanding God’s grace, and the importance of having backup pants.
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 Holland Davis and I’m the Founding Pastor of Calvary Chapel San Clemente. We started with eight people in a Bible Study on Valentine’s Day 2010 and today we’re a thriving church plant. I’m married to Roxie Davis and our kids are Austin, Chase and Madison. I’ve had the privilege of ministering with some great leaders like Pastor Chuck Smith, Jerry Falwell, Skip Heitzig, Franklin Graham and many others. I don’t like long walks on the beach, but I am learning how to surf!
How did you get started in worship ministry?
When I was learning guitar at the age of 13, I was invited to a Young Life Group that was in my neighborhood. They found out I was learning guitar and invited me to play with them. They gave me a brown songbook with a fish on the cover. This was before I was a Christian, so in some ways I’ve been leading worship since before I was saved. After I received Christ I would spend hours in my room playing the songs from that book. I would close my eyes and sense what I know now to be the Presence of God. Back then I didn’t have words for it. I just knew I loved being there.
At 16 I went to work for a Christian Bookstore in Vista, CA, where I lived. The owners, Chuck and Iva Eason, found out I played guitar and asked if I would come play for their Bible Study. They gave me 2 songbooks… Rejoice In Jesus Always and Praise. They also gave me Praise 1 – 4 from Calvary Chapel and asked me to learn the songs and start the following week. I started “leading worship” but really I just did what I did in my room. I would close my eyes and sing to Jesus until I sensed something different in the room. I would open my eyes and I would see tears in people’s eyes as they sang to Jesus. A month later Chuck Eason said we’re going to start a church. It’s called Calvary Chapel Vista and Holland is our worship leader. From that point on I’ve been involved in worship ministry.
What’s your basic process for planning a service or worship set?
I begin planning a service in my prayer closet. I believe worship is our prayers set to music, so I spend time in prayer. I also like to have the message topic or scripture to meditate on. It helps me select songs that compliment the message. One key ingredient that I’ve only experienced with a handful of pastors is friendship. I love ministering with my friends and pastors are no exception. The more I can know a pastor’s heart for the people, for Jesus and for ministry, the more focused I am as I seek to partner with them in ministry.
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 always changing… but right now my top five are
- Since Your Love by United Pursuit
- Good Good Father by Housefires
- Resurrecting by Elevation Worship
- Raised To Life by Elevation Worship
- Offering Of Praise by Holland Davis
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 biggest challenge for me is helping people to understand God’s grace and how they are loved by God no matter how amazing their talents or abilities may be. As musicians we believe we’re only as good as our last performance. So much of our insecurity is based on a belief that God isn’t for us, doesn’t want our offering because of the struggles in our life and is ready to replace us if we don’t measure up. When people understand grace and believe God doesn’t condemn them and nothing they do can separate them from God’s love, it sets them free to love God with everything within them.
I don’t differentiate between my roles… I’m the same all the time. At least I try to be.
What scriptures speak to you the most about worship?
John 3:16 is my favorite verse on worship. For God so loved says it all… because He loves me, I love Him.
Tell us about your book Let It Rise. What prompted you to write on the subject of worship and what impact has it had?
Let It Rise: A Manual For Worship was originally entitled Worship 101: An ADD Moment on Worship. I wanted to take all the workshops and conferences that I’ve taught over the years and put them into one resource for worship teams. I also wanted to write it in a way that would hold musicians’ attention. So it’s quirky, jumps around a bit, is visually interesting and presents the information in sound bytes.
I’ve been contacted by churches that have taken their worship teams through it. I’ve also been contacted by Christian colleges that have used it in their worship programs. The most impacting chapter has probably been the chapter on worship leader and pastor relationships because it tends to be a hot topic for nearly every worship leader. The second most impacting chapter is the chapter on the role of a worship leader and where we find it in the Bible. It’s the number one workshop I do when I present at Master’s level classes in universities.
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?
Recognize who you are in Christ and minister from that place. Jesus anoints you being you. He doesn’t anoint you doing your best version of Chris Tomlin, Tommy Walker, Matt Redman or David Crowder… or Hillsong, Elevation Worship or Gateway or whoever your hero is.
What do you think worship in the church will look like in ten years?
I think people will do what they always have done. They will worship Jesus with the sound that reflects the culture they live in.
Any new worship artists on your radar at the moment?
I’m loving United Pursuit and Housefires. I’ve been watching them for some time. There is also an up and coming worship leader from IHOP in Kansas… Christine Reynolds. She’s one to watch. I’m also enjoying Izzi Ray, daughter of Crystal Lewis, who just released her first project. One more I’d like to mention is C3 Church in San Diego under Andrew Bennet’s worship leadership. This guy is anointed.
What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done while leading worship (that you’re willing to share)?
The most embarrassing thing I’ve done is while I was setting up, I split my pants in front of the entire church. I had no back up plan. Long story short, the people got to know me better than I wanted to be known. Second embarrassing thing was doing a sound check without a shirt… unfortunately it was captured on film.
Thanks again for answering our questions. If people want to find you online, what’s the best way?
One other thing that I’d like to mention is worshipsong.com. We provide an independent distribution platform for worship songwriters. It’s a way for songwriters to get their songs heard. Every day more than 3000 songs are heard by worship leaders all over the world. We also have an award winning multi-track band app… worshipsong band app… that is available on Apple and Android. It’s the only multi-track band app that lets independent songwriters put their custom tracks into the app and make them available for other churches to purchase through our store.