Worship pastor Layton McGuire has just released his debut worship album "Trust." The album, which features two originals ("Trust" and "The Love of God") and worship favorites (such as "Cornerstone," "How He Loves" and "Forever Reign'), finds McGuire leading us to worship in his own unique style. We are honored to be able to catch up with Layton for this Hallels' exclusive interview:
Hallels: Thank you Layton for doing this interview. Tell us about your journey, how did you feel God's call in leading you to lead worship.
No problem, my pleasure. God drew me in slowly for worship leading. I began to fall in love with the presence of God among his people at church. Then I was introduced to a worship and small group leader at my church and we would worship at home. I was hooked on singing to Jesus from then on. I couldn't stop and it's all I wanted to do every day. I fell in love with the Lord in a deep personal way. I craved time with him alone and time with him among his people during worship time.
The leaders at Harvest Bible Chapel Naperville began to teach me about worship leading in many ways. They would have conversations with me and lead by example. They let me be a part of their worship culture. I just looked up to them. I paid attention to them. I got to know God through them and learned about worship leading through them. I learned about leading through them. This introduced me to other worship leaders and I just learned all I could. I was allowed to lead in a lot of different environments and each one taught me so much. They gave me a lot of opportunities and walked along side me every step of the way.
As I progressed I began to feel a sense of calling on my life and I started to really dig deeper into the word and into worship leading as much as possible. I was so hungry for God and for leading people to Jesus and into his presence in worship. Matthew 16:25 talks about losing your life for Christ. That verse hit me across the face when I was deciding whether or not to accept my first on staff worship leading position at another church. I just enjoyed song writing, digging into scripture, prayer, singing, playing so much that I just knew it's where I wanted to be. I kept bringing everything to the Lord to ask for leading and direction and strength to keep on going. I get so much joy out of knowing the Lord and making Him known to others and enjoying Him together. As time has gone on the relationships I have been in have revealed that God is at work in my life and in my devotional time and song writing and worship leading. He is pulling people out of darkness and into his glorious light. So, there have been physical manifestations of confirmation as well as personal confirmation. When I am alone with the Lord it's a confirmation in my spirit and when I am around doing life with other people it's manifested in those relationships and experiences. I hope that begins to explain what has been happening to me.
Hallels: Why did you decide to do this record "Trust"?
I have always wanted to record a worship album. Ever since I realized you could record strictly worship albums I have wanted to make my own. I always tried to do it with other people. I brought up the idea and it just wasn't time I guess. Then the opportunity came to record my own album and I just went for it prayerfully. I've always wanted to record and make albums. I've always wanted to write and create and worship so I just went for it. I think overtime people asking if I had my own CD too started to make me think. I thought maybe they are enjoying our time of worship at church and want more at home or in the car. Maybe they are hungry for more than just Sunday, like me. So I wanted to create something that was easy to engage with for worship. I chose to put two personal songs in there because of the timing of the song Trust and the circumstances around that song. Then "The Love of God" fits with preaching the gospel to yourself and trusting Jesus for salvation. The combination of worship songs plus the song Trust coming together just made sense. The album is all about trusting Jesus, for life now and for salvation forever.
Hallels: How would you describe your style of worship music?
I would say musically it's acoustic. I try to just be personal with the Lord, intimate with him, vulnerable. I try to put myself in a place to be in awe of Him, to enjoy Him, to stand and gaze upon him. It's a place of vulnerability and joy. And in the times of joy I just try to magnify him and praise him and boast in Him with loud shouts. Musically it's acoustic and contemporary worship. It's popular worship songs that the church is using all over today. People will be familiar with these songs. Some are newer created among us by our church leaders and one song is a hymn that's just been done in a new way. It's just a fresh version of an old hymn. I try to keep everything contemporary and I love to find rich old hymns that have been made accessible to today and to the acoustic guitar. Hymns are incredibly rich.
Hallels: You have written 2 songs on this album the title cut "Trust" and "The Love of God." Can you tell us briefly how you came to write these two songs?
I wrote Trust during such a painful confusing time. I was encouraged to write actually, several times. People kept saying since that was my thing I should try it for healing and for my relationship with God to grow. So I began to try to write a song about exactly what was happening in my life. I was losing many things that meant a lot to me and Christ was practically screaming at me "Trust in me! Trust me! Trust me for guidance and strength now and trust me for your salvation forever!"
When I was on campus at Moody Bible Institute I was studying one specific thing every day, the gospel. I was learning to preach it to myself. I was getting so overwhelmed by trying to follow Jesus perfectly and trying to be a perfect Christian. God soothed me with trusting in Christ alone and not in my own ability. I wrote that song right in my dorm room. It came out of stuffing myself full of the gospel and wanting to sing it out of excitement and for the purpose of preaching it to myself daily. I wanted to understand the gospel better and this is one of the ways I went about it.
Hallels: As someone who leads worship, how would you define worship?
Worship is a relationship with the living God. It's your relationship with God. It's beholding the Lord. Worship is knowing Him. It's living for him. It's obeying Him and walking with him. It's trusting in Him, leaning all your weight on him. It's enjoying him, singing to him, sitting before him, talking to him, believing in him. It's casting your burdens on Him. It comes out in your actions day to day. It's your love for him spilling out in thought or deed. It's loving people. Worship is loving Him. Getting to know Him through his word and through his people is worship. Making him known to people is worship.
Hallels: For our readers who may want to purchase your new album "Trust" or find out more about you, where can they go?
They can very shortly go to LaytonMcguire.com, (we almost finished building it ;) ) everything will be on there... concert dates, the physical CD will be available there. They can also go to ITunes and purchase the digital album. Amazon works too. They can like my Music Page on Facebook, (facebook.com/Layton.mcguire) and follow me on twitter (twitter.com/laytonmcguire). I have an instagram too. I love instagram!
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