Four years ago Shelley Dedrick said to Stephen McWhirter, “God told me a sound would be released from the Barn.” Isn’t it just like God to birth something in a barn, born out of personal wreckage & tragedy? God takes those things meant for evil & uses them for good, & it is beautiful to see.
Iron Bell Ministries was founded in Louisville KY in 2009 by Gregg & Shelley Dedrick. Both are very transparent in their testimonies that the year leading up to Iron Bell’s inception was their family’s hardest. Through their personal wreckage & God’s restoration, Iron Bell was birthed.
Not so much a church as a “tribe,” there is no typical Sunday service. Iron Bell Ministries meets in a barn (a nice barn, but a barn none-the-less) on Wednesday mornings for prayer, worship, the Word, & Communion with fellow believers, & many who take part belong to a number of other churches in the Louisville area.
Fast forward to 2013, Stephen McWhirter began attending the Wednesday morning services. Stephen shared, “I sat in the back for nearly a year; just praying, worshiping, & communing with God.” Having gone through some trials of His own, that time of intimacy with God was pivotal in what God had planned. Joel Gerdis, who had been a part of Iron Bell Ministries, leading worship since the ministries inception, teamed up with Stephen & Josh Glauber when Stephen was asked to head the music arm of the ministry. Stephen, Joel, & Josh began writing original Worship from their collective encounters with the Lord – the beginnings of Iron Bell Music.
Contemporary Worship meets Kentucky; Iron Bell contains influences from blues, country, bluegrass, southern rock, gospel, & modern worship, sharing undertones with Brothers McClurg, Anthony Skinner, & United Pursuit. Refreshingly stripped down, yet anthemic and relevant, “God That Saves” is a full-length live album that the church worldwide needs to sing. Stylistically different, but not abstract, almost every song is not only an anthem but a prayer to be heralded.
A quick look at some of the standouts:
The single/title track, “God that Saves,” is already being added to Christian Radio worldwide. Like John Mark McMillian’s “How He Loves,” “God That Saves” is one of those songs that could have a lasting effect on this generation.
“Your Love is a Fortress” is a shout of victory; “You can hold this ground before me, In the face of a thousand armies, You hold this ground before me, Oh God, Oh….Your Love is a Fortress, In You I’m Fearless, In You I’m Fearless, Oh….What can stand Up against us, In You I’m Fearless, In You I’m Fearless”. It’s a lyric I cry out daily – my favorite song on the project.
“Fall Away” naturally lends itself to being the most singable behind “God That Saves.” A beautiful, piano-driven prayer led by Josh Glauber, every part of this song stands alone in its’ craft but is seamlessly woven to create a heartfelt cry. Congregations will easily embrace this song.
“Burn For You” is the essence of Iron Bell Music. It states in its lyrics & carries in its melodies what the members of the band and the ministries live out. Come to one worship night, or meet any one of its members, & you will see that they wear their love for Christ on their sleeves. “Light me on Fire, Cause I wanna Burn For You!”
“Sons & Daughters” – where to start? As a Lyricist, this remains one of the best lyrics I’ve read or sung in decades. The Biblical significance of these statements hit my heart like a train. I dare find a dry eye in a congregation while singing this.
“Your Face Is Beautiful” is the perfect song to end this project. It freely declares God’s beauty & what it stirs our hearts to. What an amazing chorus: “Your Face is Beautiful; Your Face is Beautiful, Like a thousand sunsets, Like a thousand oceans.”
At their recent album release worship night, after Joel sang “Sons & Daughters,” Gregg and Shelley’s daughter Jessica took the stage and began to speak over the crowd. “You’re who we came to see Jesus – You’re who we came to see!” Iron Bell’s artists are stellar in their own right, but that’s not what they are about. The focus is leading people to Jesus & it is reflected in the humble hearts of every musician that takes their stage. It’s about Jesus. That is Iron Bell Music.
Produced by Nathan Nockels, & co-written with Mia Fields, Matt Maher, Jacob Sooter, Dustin Smith, Jaye Thomas, Bryan Fowler, Jonathan Smith, & David Leonard; Stephen, Joel, & Josh have penned and performed in my opinion the best worship album to be released since Chris McClarney’s Everything & Nothing Less.
If anything, I believe the church will embrace this courageous delve into a new sound of worship – a sound released from a barn.
Chip Connor is a Ragamuffin, Song Receiver, & the CEO of A Thousand Hills Music, LLC.