A big thanks to Kathryn Scott for taking the time to answer these questions for The Worship Community. Her latest EP Sing On The Battlefield (Sep 9, 2014) is a beautiful collection of worship songs that feels more like a worship set than an album.
Tell us a little about Kathryn Scott. What’s happening in your life these days?
I was born into an incredible Christian home and grew up surrounded by music! Even when I was just a little girl, I knew that Jesus loved me, and I wanted to live the rest of my life in pursuit of Him. I went to the Elim Bible College in England, where I studied Theology and Christian Ministry and met my future husband, Alan. We got married in 1996 and moved to Glasgow in Scotland where we became assistant pastors in a Vineyard church for two years. At that point we were released to church plant on the North Coast of Ireland, where we still live today. Life looks different now than when we started. We have two beautiful girls (Sophie is 13, and Emily is 10). And music, mentoring others, leading worship, and a little bit of travel has become the rhythm of the calling Jesus has spoken over my life. I’m deeply grateful for it all.
Share about your church planting experience.
Causeway Coast Vineyard started with a small group in our home back in August 1998, but after almost nine months of meeting together and going out on the streets (giving away Coke cans and candy, offering to wash the toilets of local businesses, and basically trying anything to show people the love of Jesus), we really weren’t seeing any growth.
In those moments, you have to ask: Are we really called to do this? Is this the right location? Is this the right time?
Early in ’99, we recorded “Hungry,” and in March, during the week the album was being mixed, I had two dreams. In the first dream we were meeting for our small group but were in a venue I hadn’t seen before that overlooked the sea. As I looked out the window, 60 people arrived from a church I’d attended when I was a teenager. We did not want to steal people from other churches; we wanted to reach people who didn’t know Jesus yet. So I asked the Lord what we should do. Jesus told me He was sending them to us; that they needed a safe place to go to church. And then I woke up.
Two nights later I had the exact same dream, with the same number of people, but in a different venue. At the end of May, we decided to try public meetings and see what happened. The only venue in our whole town that would allow us a room was a pub on the seafront! It was the room I’d seen in the dream! After just eight weeks, we grew from seven to 60, just as the Lord had shown me. And when we moved to a bigger room in a hotel close by, it turned out to be the venue I’d seen in the second dream.
There’s nothing more exhilarating than stepping out on the promise of God and encountering His providence and provision. Today our church has grown to almost 2,000, and we regularly see people come to faith on the streets of our town. Yet, it’s still His presence, His voice, His ways, that are core to who we are and the way we choose to lead.
Tell us about your new EP, Sing on the Battlefield, and the title track. Favorite song(s) from the project?
This new EP is more like a worship set than an album, leading us on a journey of declaring the goodness of God while wrestling with the struggles life throws our way. It’s for this very reason that my favorite track is “Sing on the Battlefield.”
As believers we are called to continually reach beyond ourselves with the reality of the Kingdom of God to those around us – whether that’s praying for healing, or leading people to Jesus, or creating a climate of hope in our work places. Living for Jesus comes with a great deal of risk. But with risk comes disappointment, for all is not as it will be yet. And with disappointment comes an increasing responsibility to keep pressing in so that we don’t back off from the Father or the things He has asked us to do. There are times when that can leave us weary.
“Sing on the Battlefield” started as a really clear image in my mind’s eye. I was standing on a battlefield, sword drawn and bloody, but was almost too exhausted to lift it any longer. And then I caught a glimpse of Jesus, right there in the midst of the fray with us, and He took my breath away. I had to sing in response. This is the King who has won us so completely, who chooses to position Himself with us in the middle of whatever we might be facing, and graces our hearts to believe again.
As a worship songwriter, what would you say are your best “tips” when it comes to writing worship music for the Church?
One of the best tips I can give for songwriting is “don’t be afraid to learn your craft.” When that “holy moment” happens and you get an idea for a song, it can be tempting to change it. I want to encourage you, that the moment of inspiration is indeed a holy moment, but what we’ve been given is just the ingredients. We need to learn how to cook if we want to serve those around us with food that not only nourishes, but that people can enjoy.
So take those ideas and read as much as you can on writing great songs. Learn how to make lyrics weighty with meaning, yet beautiful to sing. Write melodies that stir something deep in the heart of the listener, so that they can’t help but join in and connect with Jesus for themselves.
What encouragement would you give to worship songwriters?
Don’t get too hung up on what happens to a song once it’s finished. If the Lord has something in mind for a song, nothing will keep it hidden. But even if that’s not the case, we’ve still done our job. We simply write out of the overflow of hearts that have been undone by the kindness and beauty of Jesus, and so our offering is just that… an offering He can use as He pleases.
What is God using to speak into your life right now, (scriptures, books, music)?
I’m really loving The Art of Celebration by Rend Collective at the moment. It’s such a beautifully crafted album by some wonderful people who really love the Lord! If you haven’t heard it yet, it’s worth looking up.
What word of encouragement would you speak to us (worship leaders, musicians, tech/sound, pastors, etc.) as we “serve in the trenches” week in and week out?
As a senior pastor, I’d like to say, “thank you”! The difference you make showing up week after week is so much more profound than you may ever truly know. It’s the “smell of Heaven” you carry with you as you continue to pursue Him with your whole heart that changes the atmosphere for the rest of us. It’s the way you worship with the whole of your life — in your relationships, in your work, in the way you are when you’re at the store, or picking up your kids, or wherever you find yourself – it’s that integrity that carries such weight, and we are so grateful! Thank you for the small choices you make in the secret place that are so huge when you stand on the stage and call us from where we find ourselves back to the feet of Jesus again. Thank you for being in this Kingdom business together with us. Thank you for fostering hope deep in the hearts of all those we serve and journey with, by allowing us the fresh glimpse of God’s goodness and grace each week, just when we need it the most.
Kathryn Scott and her husband Alan pastor Causeway Coast Vineyard Church in Northern Island. She is known for writing the popular worship songs Hungry and Child of God.