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Exclusive Interview with Joshua Seller

Exclusive Interview with Joshua Seller

By Admin on August 04, 2011

We recently had the opportunity to interview Canadian worship leader/songwriter - Joshua Seller.

AAW: For our readers who may not acquainted with you, introduce us to Joshua Seller. What is important for us to know about you?

Joshua: I'm a husband, father and worship leader and love my life! I get to write songs, lead people in music and see worship break out. I've been serving as the Director of Worship at Harvest Bible Chapel in Oakville, ON which is just outside of Toronto. Our little boy London just turned 2 and we have a little girl due in September.

AAW: This past October, you released your first full-length album, My King is Coming. Tell us about the process of creating your latest release. What was the vision behind the album?

Joshua: My King Is Coming is a project that I had unknowingly been writing for about 3 years. I never had the intent to make a record out of these songs but simply wanted to sing and share them with my church congregation. It was through much prayer and waiting on the Lord that it became clear it was time to record them and release something official. The "Passionate Reverence EP" was a result of winning "Scriptural Song of the Year" at the Covenant Awards in 2009. Part of the award was free studio time for a 3 song project. That got the ball rolling and lead to a follow up full length project that I recorded in Nashville in the summer of 2010. 

My church leadership really got behind the project which really served in the decision that now was the right time and fit to do something like this. After we recorded the project I felt the song "My King Is Coming" was the biggest "thought" I wanted to remind both believers and non-believers. My friend Andi Rozier inspired me to make the record missional in the sense that someone picks it up or is given it that it actually shares the gospel with that person. I desire to remind believers and unbelievers that Christ will return. That's the truth.

Sure it's a worship record, but these songs are birthed out of the desire to meet Christ one day and see His love lived out through us on this earth until that day. It gave me new purpose when working with the designer on the packaging and wording. I wanted the Gospel to go out and be heard.

AAW: "Worship Rises" is a standout track on the album and was also featured on the EP resulting from the Worship Rises songwriting event. For those unfamiliar with the event, can you tell us more about it and how you came to be involved?

Joshua: My good friend Chris Vacher came up with this idea to get like-minded worship leaders together to form some sort of community and out of that community hopefully birth some new songs for the church in Canada.

On my way to our first writers retreat I get hit with the conviction that I could very easily make this day about me, about my agenda and my goals and write songs that were "commercial' instead of "corporate". I began to pray out loud in my car and for some reason recorded it into my phone. The chorus and verse for Worship Rises came out of me. I showed it to Chris when I got there and we began to work on finishing the song. It all came together within 20-30 minutes.

AAW: What is your approach to songwriting? How are you inspired to write songs? How does your approach differ when working with a co-writer or co-writers?

Joshua: I've tried to block out time each week to write. Usually I'm inspired from a specific passage of Scripture or time alone with the Lord. But there are times when I hear a sermon, read a book, hear someones testimony, play with my son or simply be driving down the road and I melody and lyric pops into my head from somewhere.

I think Chris Martin from ColdPlay said once songwriting is a lot like fishing. You just sit at the end of the dock and wait for something to bite. I find I can relate that to writing songs for my church. Sometimes I'll lock myself in a room with my guitar and just play and sing random ideas and prayers I want to say to the Lord. Sometimes something comes of it, sometimes its just a sweet time locked in the room singing to Jesus. It's easy to make a song the goal and when writing "worship" songs that's a bad plan. The goal is worship and the by product is the song.

If I can get past the goal to write a song and just sit before Jesus, those are the songs I find I'll want to sing again or sit on till their finished. When it comes to co-writing I almost prefer it sometimes then writing alone. I just love crafting something with the right person next to me for many reasons but mainly because it allows more than one persons experience with the Lord and taste for music, melodies and creativity. Worship leaders should make every effort to co-write with other people in their ministry or other area churches. Its a great resource for practicing humility and seeking God's Glory with others.

AAW: Tell us about the journey that brought you to become a worship leader. How has your history with secular performance influence d your perspective of the role of the worship leader?

Joshua: I remember after my short time on Canadian Idol I stood to a sell out crowd in my home town of 7000 people. I sang a bunch of covers, ran around the stage, tried and tried to entertain and give these people their money's worth. There were many other opportunities and experiences like that for about a year or so where I would sing my songs and entertain people. I'm so thankful I don't have to entertain anyone anymore.

When Jesus put a passion in me to lead worship I had to be willing to flip upside down why I loved music, why I loved to write, why I loved being on a stage in front of people. I joke and say alot that the worship leader has the best seat in the house because I get to watch a lot of times men and women connect and experience God and express back to Him their love and devotion.

People aren't raising their hands to me, they're not singing that I would hear them, they are singing to the Most High and I simply get to witness it and accompany those praises. I'm so aware of my insecurities in my flesh but so confident in the Gospel of Jesus Christ who has saved me and turned me around to be a vessel for HIS use and not my own.

I'll be the first to say there is nothing special about me apart from Christ. The fact I can provide for my family through a worship ministry is still mind blowing after 5 years. I don't deserve it but I'll spend my life saying thank you to my God for the opportunity to serve Him this way.

AAW: You posted your testimony on your web site (thank you for sharing - it's a blessing). You mention, in your past, faking being "Christian". How do you avoid being a "fake" or being inauthentic as a worship leader?

Joshua: Part of avoiding being a fake is replacing and protecting yourself from your flesh and the human tendency we each have to seek glory for ourselves. Being a Christian isn't easy but I will tell you its easier when you have things like moral boundaries, accountability, discipleship and a plan in place to do battle with your flesh.

God's grace is a huge part but my part is taking what His Word says seriously and making a choice to take my sin seriously. Do that and watch the Holy Spirit do the rest. I read somewhere this quote I keep in my Bible to remind me of my responsibility to Christ and what He has called me to, it reads, "The power for Christian Living is entirely from the Holy Spirit, just as the power of salvation is entirely in Jesus Christ. But BOTH in the justifying work of Christ and in the sanctifying work of the HS, man’s will is active and commitment is called for." Easy? no. Worthy it? Always.

AAW: How do you define success now as a worship artist with the perspective provided to you from your achievement in Canadian Idol?

Joshua: I describe it as "night and day". Before Christ I did everything for myself. It sickens me to think how self absorbed I was with chasing things like fame and money. The truth in success is to the world or the Christians it looks much the same on the outside.

What I mean by that is if you are a successful songwriter, artist then popularity, fame and the financial side is bound to happen. Whats not the same is the heart of why we do what we do. I remember always being stressed or anxious and loosing sleep over how I was going to do something new to get my name in lights. It was so annoying looking back.

Now, I trust and know that God is for me. He is the one who guides me and keeps me. He is the one who plans out my steps even before I take them and if I walk in His shadow and desire to see His will be done than the Bible tells me I have nothing to fear and can rest in that. I desire all the time and effort I put into my ministry and my songs to result in spiritual fruit.

If any of it is done in my strength or with a underlying motive to seek self glory then I pray God would stop me in my tracks. Hard prayer to pray but the last thing I want is to stand before my Savior one day and be held accountable to a life lived for God but not knowing God.

AAW: A question that we ask at the end of all All About Worship interviews this year: if you weren't able to be involved in music, what would you be doing?

Joshua: Making films. I love telling stories and think if I would have picked up a camera before a guitar I might have been in a whole different creative space.

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