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Through Psalms, Hymns, And Songs From The Spirit - Interview With Shane Barnard

Through Psalms, Hymns, And Songs From The Spirit - Interview With Shane Barnard

By Erica Boutwell on May 08, 2017

For thousands of younger Gen Xers and older Millennials who were raised in the church, much of our maturing as worshippers is marked by the poetic lyrics and fluid vocals of the duo known as Shane & Shane. I personally remember having Be Near on repeat during a difficult season of transition in my personal life. And I don’t know about you, but just about every guy in my high school youth group could be found working their double strum on acoustic guitar at any given moment.

But it wasn’t just their original songs that sunk deep into the hearts of their listeners. Barnard and Everett also have this uncanny ability to take songs recorded years earlier or made popular by big names such as Hillsong or Passion and make them fresh and accessible to our generation of worshippers. 

They are capitalizing on this significant gift through their latest ministry effort called The Worship Initiative (TWI). I recently got the chance to talk with Shane Barnard at length and hear more about their journey through ministry, how they juggle it all, and their hopes for the future. Hopefully you’ll find the perspective and insight he offered up as encouraging as I did.

When I asked him to share the story of how the vision of The Worship Initiative came to be, he jumped right into an impassioned explanation. They had been doing the touring, writing, and recording thing for years and gotten to experience worship from and with just about every kind of stage, venue, and demographic. As they got to know hundreds of worship leaders from everywhere you can think of, they began to see a gaping hole . . . that being the understanding of the true weight of the calling of the worship leader.

A scripture that they’d read hundreds of times and even used as a sort of mantra throughout their ministry also played an enormous role in their starting TWI. Colossians 3:16 says,

“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”

One day a word jumped off their pages in a way that opened their eyes afresh – THROUGH. These times of worship they were leading on a regular basis were not just a means to an end. They actually serve as one of the primary ways the Church conveys the message of Jesus to raise up a generation of Christ followers who can change the world. Yet somehow, this position has gotten watered down to nothing more than a song leader in most church settings. They suddenly felt a whole new level of responsibility.

So the two set out to discover a way to pour into worship leaders around the world, both spiritually and practically. They started by taking a more personal look at their own gifts and bents. Barnard says about Everett, “I can’t think of a better salesman or evangelist . . . He’s just loud, funny, always cutting up, and can win anybody over to do anything . . . and unleashing that in an overseer role and our relational PR person has been awesome to watch. I think God dumped the PR side and evangelist side of Shane so hard into him that I think we still have yet to see what God is going to do in that regard.” Whereas for Barnard, his skill in songwriting and producing contends with just about anyone you could name. Over the last 20 years of ministering together, they’ve learned to “embrace who God has made [them] and not be disappointed in that anymore but just know that this is how God has made [them].” They’ve worked incredibly hard to figure out how to balance all of the overlap between their personal and professional lives, which is inevitable when you’ve worked so closely together for that long. “You would think we would have some kind of system after 20 years, but we are getting better. I would say that a few words come to mind . . . simplifying, strategizing, doing things on purpose. These are the things that have kind of been a banner over our lives the last two or three years.”

For a long time, all the different aspects of their lives were spread out all over the DFW area of Texas. Their studio was far south, much of their steady worship leading opportunities were at a church in the heart of Dallas, and they were living a good jump from either of those. So they are in the process of bringing all of those components closer together so that doing life with the families, church community, and ministry partners is easier. Taking this step has made it easier to grow their efforts with The Worship Initiative more rapidly.

So what is The Worship Initiative and what does it look like for someone to participate or take advantage of these resources?

Basically, an individual can pay a yearly fee and access a list of over 150 (and constantly growing) worship songs that each have multiple tutorial videos and charts accompanying them. These videos break down how to play the songs in different keys, on different instruments, and with varying skill levels. A worship leader on staff at a church can also pay an annual group fee, based on the number of people, for his team to be able to access everything as well. There are also craft training videos for everything from the different instruments and vocals to tech/production and using the number system. If that’s not enough, the site has an entire section dedicated to heart training, where they break down all the different spiritual and practical components for worship leading with the likes of John Piper and Ben Stuart. There are even creative devotionals to accompany every song on the different TWI records. TheWorshipInitiative.com truly is a wealth of knowledge and wisdom for anyone looking to grow as a leader or team member, and there are still exciting things to come. Shane shared a bit about what’s ahead for TWI. “Our next phase of The Worship Initiative is to create what we’re calling learning paths. Some people love to be given a world of information to explore on their own. But most people would really love to be told what to do to get from point A to point B. We will take our existing content and add to it and give them a year long path to stick to and see measurable growth in both skill and leadership.”

Given the length of time and the platform they’ve had over these last two decades, I asked Shane how he feels his perspective of worship both personally and within the Church has evolved over the years.

“I think worship, and even the idea of worship, has come a long way, in a good way. I think we’ve seen a pretty good uptick on understanding the Romans 12:1 life of worship. I often think back to a time when I was leading worship in a basement or college dorm room for several years, and it was always the oddest songs ever.” He recalled singing, with hands lifted, Make It Right by Kenny Marks (and yes, I might’ve gotten a solid 30 second serenade over the phone . . . it’s fine!) and other obscure songs that really had no purpose or meaning to the one worshipping. Yet, what we see all throughout the Psalms is “this gut-wrenching, very honest, it is okay to pour out your heart to the one who cares for you mentality. . . and that language is okay.” He remembered hearing the words to Breathe for the first time, where it says “I’m desperate for you,” and thinking “is this okay to have this kind of language in front of people? But yes, it is okay even in a congregation or corporately to say ‘I am thirsty for You in a dry land where there is no water.’ In fact that can be really helpful to the person sitting next to you. That can be us ‘singing spiritual hymns and songs to one another’, just that opening up of the heart and the embracing of singing those honest songs and using them to allow ‘the message of Christ to dwell among us richly.’”

Learn more about The Worship Initiative, as well as Shane & Shane, at www.theworshipinitiative.com. Here at All About Worship, we believe in what these guys are doing and the ministry they are fostering. We can’t wait to partner with them in the future as God continues opening those doors.

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Erica Boutwell

Erica Boutwell

Erica Boutwell is a wife, mom, and worship leader. While her first love is leading others in authentic times of worship, one of her greatest passions is developing and equipping the next generation of worship leaders. She is the Director of Operations for songwriter/producer/artist, Michael Farren, and recently joined the Here Be Lions team.