Matt, you have been leading worship since the age of fourteen. How did you adjust to such responsibility while others your age we're off doing other things?
Matt Gilman : I started leading worship in a small Lutheran church in South Dakota at the age of 14. The party scene never interested me. The place where I found the most pleasure and the most enjoyment was before the throne of God. I remember on the weekends that while my high school buddies were out doing other stuff, I found myself alone at the church just singing my heart to the Lord. I felt like David...all alone out on the hillside with his harp singing to the Lord while tending to the flocks. So, leading worship didn't seem like a burden or a responsibility to me at all. But rather, what I did for 20-30 minutes on Sunday morning was just an overflow of my heart. That was where I found my joy and my identity...before the throne.
Can you share a profound experience that you have had while leading worship, a time when you really saw God moving and felt his presence. How did it impacted and further shape your relationship with the Lord?
Matt Gilman : In July 2007 I was leading a set in the prayer room at IHOP. We were singing through Revelation 4. My electric guitar player started playing a new chord progression. Immediately the melody and the lyrics for the song "Holy" came to me. So I started singing what the Lord had given me. As I sang, I felt the Holy Spirit move stronger and stronger upon my heart. As I looked out at those who were sitting in the prayer room, there were many who were weeping at the fresh revelation of His holiness. We sang that song for over an hour and the Lord just rested there. It was one of the sweetest moments I've had in the prayer room. And it was the beginnings of a song that I will be singing for years and years...even into eternity.
Cory Asbury : One night, I was leading a two hour worship set. Everything that could possibly go wrong was doing just that. My guitar wasn�t working. My microphone was jacked up. I was just having a really hard time. I was super frustrated. Then all of a sudden, I realized that it didn�t matter. I had a revelation of eternity. I realized that the light and momentary afflictions experienced in this life are nothing compared to the ETERNAL glory I will experience in the age to come. I began to laugh hysterically onstage in front of about 500 people. I was just cracking up. The rest of that set was absolutely awesome. The whole room exploded into dance and worship. I had never felt joy like I did that night. This was the experience that birthed the song �So Good To Me�.
How do you prepare before you are about to minister?
Matt Gilman : Our worship team meets for a half hour before every set. We encourage each other, laugh together, and pray together. We pray for each other and for the Lord's heart to be conveyed through our worship. Sometimes we just sit and pray in the spirit for the whole half hour. I don't really have a set system on how we do it. But, it's crucial to have those times of pray and the setting of your minds on heavenly things before you go out and minister on any platform.
Cory Asbury : As Matt mentioned, we do spend 30 minutes together as a team every time we minister. In addition to that time together, on the days that I know I will be leading worship, I like to spend a couple hours before the Lord and ask Him what�s on His heart. I will just sit and talk to the Holy Spirit. I believe it�s crucial that when I step onto that platform, I actually have something to say, that I actually have living understanding of what I am singing about.
Certainly a lifestyle of intimacy with God requires much sacrifice. What are some of the sacrifices that you have had to deal with over the years and how do you deal when the enemy tries to make you become resentful or regret the changes you have had to make?
Matt Gilman : Intimacy with God does indeed require much sacrifice. Sacrifice of time, of money, of relationships, etc. It will touch every area of your life if you want to do it wholeheartedly. But, as I pursue to be 100 percent obedient in every area of my life, I have found that the Lord will meet me every time when I encounter my own weakness. If you ask for grace, He will give you grace. It's in his weakness that His strength is made perfect. And, to be real and honest, there are times when the enemy will come in a try to tempt me that living a holy life isn't worth the sacrifice that the Lord requires of me. But when it comes down to it, the Lord has been and will always be faithful to me, even when I am faithless. His truth and light will always break in and shatter the lies and the darkness of the enemy.
Cory Asbury : A lifestyle of intimacy REALLY DOES require much sacrifice, especially as intercessory missionaries. As an intercessory missionary, my full time (50 + hours per week) occupation is to stand before the Lord as a priest, ministering before His throne. I don�t get paid to do what I do, I just have to trust that the Lord will bring about members of the body of Christ who will feel lead to partner with me financially. This, in itself, is a HUGE sacrifice. The enemy often tries to come against me with accusation concerning the faithfulness of God. The enemy tries to convince me that God doesn�t care about me or what I�m doing and that I should just quit and get a �normal job�. But, God proves Himself faithful to me over and over again buy providing for every one of my needs.
It is a popular assumption that worship only takes place in a song on a stage. Please share how each of you would describe worship outside of just the Sunday morning perception of it all.
Matt Gilman : Worship is so much more than platform ministry. In fact, that is a very small percentage of what worship really is. Living my life in a way of humility and obedience is in itself worship to God. Sitting alone in my room at home with my Bible in hand and meditating on the scriptures is worship to God. Getting up and doing my mundane schedule in the prayer room, even when I don't feel like doing it, is worship to God. If worship was only singing on a platform, I would find myself empty and dry and burnt out. But what the Lord really wants from us is time in the secret place. Time when we go into our rooms and shut the door behind us and we sit for an hour or two and just talk with him. That's true worship. And that's what He wants from us.
Cory Asbury : Like Matt said, worship truly is so much more than just platform ministry. Colossians 3:23 commands, �whatever we do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord�. We are called to worship God with our whole lives. Every little sacrifice we make to love Him more is worship to Him. 1 Samuel 16:7 states that �God does not see as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart�. Worship takes place on the inside, not the outside.
The new album certainly denotes relationship and influence from a spiritual standpoint. It also features a variety of flavor in sound and style. What are some of your influences?
Matt Gilman : A lot of people ask my how I got to be so "gospel/soul" ish. To be honest I don't know. :) I grew up listening to Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman, Amy Grant, Sandi Patty, etc. All are great...but none I would call "gospel/soul". When I came to the International House of Prayer and started leading worship, it was like I found a new sound. Not sure how I found it, but I'm glad I did. I just have fun singing.
What is you approach to songwriting? Is there a special place you like to go to just think or a method that you tend to follow?
Matt Gilman : I have found that there really is no scientific method to songwriting. I do believe that it's important to have those designated times to sit at the keyboard with my bible and sing the scriptures to the Lord and see what comes out of it. Sometimes a song will come and sometimes it won't. But, even so, I spent that time singing to Word of God back to Him. There are times on stage when I'll be leading that a new phrase or melody will come to me and I'll start singing it and that will be the beginnings of a new song. There are also times that the Lord will give me dreams where I'll hear new sounds or new melodies and I'll wake up singing them. I guess the most important thing to remember in songwriting is to always keep your ears inclined to the sounds of Heaven. Ask the Lord for new songs and be ready to listen to them when He releases them to you.
Cory Asbury : The creative process of songwriting, for me usually begins with a gentle whisper from the Holy Spirit. Usually, I feel a gentle nudge, an unexpected tenderness upon my heart in a quiet time with God. Usually, the Holy Spirit will give me a melody or a chord progression and that's where it all begins. From there, I continue to ask Him what He's saying. I ask, "How can I express what I am feeling through music?" It might be a couple days until I really feel like I've captured the mood of the song in the music, but eventually I find it and finish the song.
What has been the best part about working on the project? What has been difficult about it?
Matt Gilman : This was my first studio recording. So that brought a lot excitement. Working together with the band to record songs that we've been playing together for a couple years was very cool. All in all, it was a very positive experience.
Cory Asbury : The best part about working on the project was everything. Truly, I loved the whole experience. We had so much fun together as a team coming up with cool parts and creative stuff. It was just really fun.
Lastly, I know there are so many songs to choose from, but could you each single out one that is very special to you and share the testimony behind it.
Matt Gilman : I would say that "Closer" is the song that is closest to my heart in this season of my life. I woke up one morning with the melody and lyrics to the first line of the song in my head. I immediately went to the keyboard and began to play it and the rest of the song just began to flow out. I have spend my hours weeping over this song. It's so crucial that we have a revelation of the Lord's mercy and desire over us. He delights in mercy. He loves to save us. He takes pleasure in picking us back up every time we fall into sin and temptation. The Word says that He desires to show us mercy. That's amazing! He's not mostly angry with us. He's not disappointed in us. He doesn't look at us with disgust and regret. No! He delights in us. We are His chosen people. He wants us to be a pure and spotless bride for His Son. So, that's why this song has ministered so much to me.
Cory Asbury : The song that is most special to me is �Where I Belong�. This song was truly birthed out of the place of prayer. One night, on a worship set we were playing a simple chord progression when all of a sudden, my wife, Anna, released a powerful prophetic oracle. She began to sing the chorus �I�ve finally found where I belong� and immediately, many of us onstage and in the room were weeping. We sang this chorus for over a half hour. Directly after, I began to sing the chorus �I am my Beloved�s and He is mine, so come into Your garden and take delight in me�. Again, many were weeping and we rode the wave of these two choruses for the remaining hour and a half of the worship set.