For David Conley, leading the congregation on Sunday mornings at Ringgold Church in Maryland is just the beginning of his worship experience. Through his interactions at church, with his family and friends, and through the various people connected to him through music, he's adopted a mantra for the various realms of worship.
Songs. Music. Teaching. Personal life.
Though Conley surrounds himself with others who share his passion for writing and sharing songs proclaiming the truth of Jesus, the name of his collective, "Conley Worship, also speaks to a core dedication he has in his heart. It's almost as if the name, which bears his own, acts more like a command to him, a reminder to keep the main things the main things.
With the release of "Holy Mystery," Conley Worship has given the greater worship community a foretaste of music that's to come, later this year in the form of an album called Are You Ready?. In the questions that follow, Conley answers the question posed in his own album title with a resounding "yes." He's ready to take this four-pronged definition of worship as far as God takes him.
When did you start leading worship? Talk about how God brought you to what you're doing now.
I started leading worship nine years ago when I was a junior in high school. When I first started leading worship, it was only meant to be a temporary solution until my student pastor could find someone to lead worship full-time for the student ministry. Well, what was meant to be a temporary role turned into a life-long calling.
From high school, I felt called to attend Liberty University for worship and music. I ended up getting a degree in worship and music studies with a cognate in artist development and songwriting. Since graduating, I accepted a job a worship position at a local church.
Are you involved at a local church? What does weekly ministry look like for you?
Yes! I am the worship pastor at Ringgold Church in Hagerstown, Maryland. Each week, I plan services, meet with volunteers, meet with staff and pastors and prep for services. While my primary focus is music and the development of worship within our church, I also do tech work throughout the church and stage lighting each week. I also work on church graphic design and online presence. I do a lot each week haha!
What is your home community like? What are some cool things God is doing in your midst?
My home community is incredible. I don't know how to better explain it than saying it's truly home! It's warm and inviting; everyone is welcomed.
One the coolest things I see God doing is something called FOR OUR CITY. The churches in our community are coming together, despite any differences there may be, to see our communities changed for and by Christ. We are committed to intentionally showing love to our different communities through various efforts and events. One specific event I lead in this movement is called One Night in Worship. For one night, all our churches gather together as one church, one voice, united in worship. It's a purposed gathering, believing forward on the prayer of Jesus in John 17:21-23. Last year we had 12 churches represented on stage as we led worship.
Your mission statement of sorts is "exposing worship for what it truly is through songs, music, teaching and personal life." Can you explain how this multifaceted mission plays out in your life?
Worship is a lot more than the corporate experience that takes place on Sunday mornings. It is an action that is carried on and represented in every aspect of our lives. Worship is a response to our relationship with God. It is my goal to not only lead worship but to be a living example of what true biblical worship looks like.
What are some things you wish you could tell your younger self about worship leading that you've learned along the way?
In the world of music, it is so easy to get lost in doubt. I spent many years comparing my talents to the talents of others, to the point of quitting music. So, I would tell myself not to doubt the talents and calling God has placed on my life. Check out this testimony video I made a few years ago on this topic:
Now, David, your collective is called Conley Worship, which is your last name. I'd imagine it's because while you could easily make this a solo worship project, you recognize that it's bigger than just you. Am I right? Or is there another story behind the name?
You got it! I chose the name Conley Worship when I launched my artistry because it is who I am. I could easily make Conley Worship all about me, but it is not. I can do many things without the help of others, but that doesn't mean I am supposed to. We're not meant to do life alone, so why would I do artistry alone? My heart is to see talented musicians come together to create heart-wrenching, biblically sound worship songs for the church.
You've got the single, the cover of "Holy Mystery" out. What else is coming? How do you pick what to record? Talk about the process of recording music. Is this your first music coming out?
"Holy Mystery" was the launch of my album, Are You Ready?--I am releasing this album single-by-single. New songs will be released this summer, so be sure to like the Conley Worship Facebook page to stay in the loop.
I am always writing, but this does not mean that every song is going to be great or relatable. I have a core group of worship leaders and artists who help me select which songs are ready to be recorded. Recording takes a lot of prep, communication, and planning to be successful. I am always in contact with my producer and band to make sure everything is set and ready to go.
What would you say the easiest thing about leading worship is, and the most difficult, over the years?
The easiest thing about leading worship is simply letting loose. Worship is not meant to be uptight and boring; it is meant to be exhilarating and healing. When you let loose and leave all your problems at the door, you realize how great God truly is.
The hardest thing about leading worship is wanting everything to be perfect. This is the curse of any worship leader and artist, but God is great at humbling us! Ha ha! Without a doubt, something will always go wrong, whether it is a personal issue, technical issue, or musical issue. But most of the time, the congregation doesn't notice, so you brush off the issues and carry on with the show!
Describe your group's sound for those who haven't yet heard it.
Conley Worship is a contemporary worship band that seeks to connect with people while keeping God front and center. The songs off the Are You Ready? album are founded on the truths of the Gospel, and relevant to the modern church. Our focus is to in our music is seek God, discover God, and to glorify His Holy name.
What's next for you?
I honestly just want to continue writing, recording, and serving my church. Similarly to Casting Crowns, I want to be an artist who is heavily involved in my home church. I don't want to be the artist who preaches about the church but isn't involved in one on a weekly basis.
How can people be praying?
For me personally and my artistry: Pray for continued inspiration, rest, and guidance. I am excited about the future, but want God to be at the center of it all! For my church: Pray for our future. Great things are in store, and we're excited about where God is taking us. Doesn't mean there aren't struggles along the way, but we are following God's leadership.
Marcus Hathcock is the Executive Editor of NewReleaseToday.com, a husband to Savannah, father of three and a worship leader living in Boise. He has released an EP, Songs For Tomorrow, and occasionally blogs at mheternal.com.
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