Q & A: Sam Lane
St Albans worship pastor brings The Fire to the masses. Worship leader and songwriter (and worship pastor at Vineyard St Albans) Samuel Lane is not necessarily a name you’d be familiar with.
But following the release of his debut solo album The Fire earlier this year, he is gaining recognition and collecting 5* reviews by the bucket-load. Ruth Garner spoke to him about his album and the need for authentic worship.
What was your journey to becoming a song writer and worship leader?
I’ve grown up in the Vineyard [church movement], and it has always been pretty hot on worship. I started playing when I was 12 and then started leading worship in my youth group when I was 14. As a teenager I had this sort of ‘divine discontent’ (as Bill Hybels calls it). It’s like a frustration with stuff; it helps identify what you’re passionate about. I was often frustrated with worship times and couldn’t get into the worship if musically it wasn’t great (things have totally changed nowadays). I really wanted to do something to improve worship in the Church and bring real connection and intimacy with God, rather than just singing nice songs.
Was there a catalyst for the album and its theme?
There are two main themes as I see it: the presence of God, and the journey of being a Christian: songs like ‘The Road’, ‘Lead Me Home’ and ‘Take me With You’, are all about the same thing. It came out of my own walk with God; the songs came out of my heart. In a way that’s good because it brings the songs together into one unit.
Is there a vision for how the songs would be used?
I’d love for some of the songs to be picked up and used in churches; I think it may be bring a slightly different feeling or aspect to worship than they are used to. But I have a heart for non-Christians in particular and I want these songs to draw the listener into God, so I’m hoping and praying that there will be people who get saved through listening to the songs. It’s great when you hear about that happening.
How does it feel when you hear praise for The Fire?
It’s definitely nice ‐ I won’t say I hate it! It’s a challenge on one level, because especially with Twitter being so accessible, it’s tempting to just keep checking to see if anyone else has said anything. So for me, I realised quite early on that this stuff is nice and it’s encouraging but it won’t satisfy my need for affirmation, there will always be ‘I want to hear more’. It’s drawn me into God more, to the only affirmation that will satisfy that longing.
How do you reconcile the tension between being the focus (up at the front with people singing your songs) and leading people into the presence of God?
It’s something that every worship leader battles with. You have to be quite aware of yourself, and the reason for doing everything, even choosing your clothes. As far as leading worship goes, you try and make sure you’re worshipping God yourself really, that’s the important thing, you need to try and get out of the way of people’s connection with God.
What does corporate worship need from worship leaders?
It needs real integrity, I think we need our worship leaders to be totally passionate about God and for that to be the most important thing ‐ not the songs or how a CD is selling.
Does excellent worship leading only flow out of a good personal relationship with God?
You can’t really have relationship with God without integrity and you can’t have passion without integrity. You can pretend to be passionate about God but there’s no power in that. I think often hype and big production values can be understood as passion, but it’s not necessarily that. The core Vineyard values are integrity, intimacy and accessibility. If you have no intimacy with God you can’t have integrity as you lead worship. And I think if it’s not real then you’re just pleasing people, you’re not pleasing God.
We’re all very good at worshipping on a Sunday but it can be easy to forget all about it once you leave church ‐ what are your thoughts on this?
It does become culture just to turn up at church on a Sunday; you can go through worship time, sing the songs, and then you’re out the other side without even knowing it. I think that it is important to be in a life of worship, it’s not about singing songs ‐ it’s the choices you make in every little thing. There are definitely some songs on the album we’ve just recorded that are great for churches, but I wrote a few of them with people at home on their own in mind. Personally, that’s where I’ve had some of my most profound moments with God, so I’ve wanted to sow into that.
Do you have any tips for budding song writers?
Keep writing and listen to music that inspires you. Try to figure out why you’re writing songs, because it’s easy (especially as teenagers) to want to do it just to become a famous rock star. I went through that myself, and it’s important to weed out that kind of attitude and motivation. It’s important to identify not just what it is you’re called to but also why you want to do it.
Samuel Lane // Vineyard
The Fire is consumed with pursuing the presence of God. A definite contender for album of the year.
Now Hear This
If you only listen to two tracks on The Fire, make it these:
Powerful and passionate; this song is about God’s all-consuming fiery love that sustains us. An epic track that stirs the soul.
Oh My Soul
It’s surely impossible to listen to this beautiful ballad and not be drawn into a place of worship.