Some times the journey is every bit as significant as the destination. For worship leader, songwriter, Worship Central team-player and speaker Case Crayenord (In Dutch: Kees Kraayenoord), the story so far is every bit as good as they get.
“I was born and raised in a traditional Dutch Reformed church,” Case explains. “That means I grew up going to church that had a big pipe organ and listened to sermons preached by a guy dressed like a judge, raised high above us. I remember wanting to sing the harmonies when I was young but my mum would stop me. In a church like that music was never meant to be too joyful.
“In those days I hated church. I hated those two hours of my Sunday morning that were spent sat on those wooden pews. It seemed like God had left the building.”
Little wonder, then, that Case turned his back on both the church and the faith of his family. Yet his days dabbling with Heavy Metal and a rejection of God were limited. In time – and thanks to the song ‘All Of Me’ by Stryper – he heard the call the return, and trod the well-worn path that all prodigals know.
Joining an evangelical church, it did not take long before Case started leading worship in the youth group. Aged 17 he became involved with Youth With a Mission (YWAM) where he was encouraged to not only develop his musical gifts, but to strengthen his knowledge of Jesus Christ and learn what he could about the heart of worship. The more he grew, the greater his involvement became in Christian music and worship projects.
Having decided that leading worship was right for him, Case and his wife Nicole both took the step of studying theology at university. Just like pastors and missionaries prepare themselves for ministry, both felt that it was imperative that they prepare themselves for their particular ministry.
No story of an emerging worship leader from Holland would be complete without a paragraph on Flevo, the hugely successful Dutch Christian youth festival. Case was first invited to lead worship for the 10,000 crowd in 2002, and then again in 2003 – at which his debut album ‘This Is My Cry’ was recorded.
‘This Is My Cry’ spent weeks at number one in the Christian Praise charts, thanks in part to the immense popularity of the song ‘God of the Moon and Stars’. Written by Paul Field, the song talks about the Gospel in a surprisingly honest way. With lyrics that confront the worshipper with the realities of how none of us match up to God’s standards – but who are all saved by grace – the song has been used by countless people desperate to reach out to those too often forgotten by society. The video went a little viral as the song struck a chord with worshippers around the word, bringing the hope and redemption at the heart of the gospel to groups that are too often marginalized and abused.
In 2006 Case showcased at GMA Week in Nashville, with Michael W Smith inviting him European support slots as a result – having already opened for Third Day in 2004 and Delirious in 2005. In 2008 Case did three concerts with worship leader and songwriter Tim Hughes. As a result, Tim asked Case to help build Worship Central Netherlands with the aim of training and equip worship leaders, musicians and worshippers
Case has grown in other areas too, becoming a respected speaker, often returning to traditional churches.
“I hardly speak about worship. I love to speak about being a disciple or talking about brokenness and the fact that God still loves us. I need to hear it and remind myself of it all the time.
“One day I delivered a message in a traditional church. She didn’t look like a typical church-goer, and said ‘how come when you preach I feel like I’m the only one in the building?’ I told it was simple: because when I preach I do it as thought I’m the only one in the building. I need to hear this stuff just as much as anyone else.”
In 2010 Case signed to Kingsway, another significant stage of the journey:
“I really believe in the church as God’s plan for this world. Another band will not save the world, another worship leader will not. But the church… that’s something completely different.”
2012 sees the release of Case’s first solo album since signing with Kingsway - the powerfully optimistic ‘Running Into Love’. Featuring co-writes with Tim Hughes, Martin Smith, Al Gordon, Ben Cantelon and many others, the album throws wide its arms and invites all who hear it to reflect on - and respond to - what Brennan Manning refers to as ‘the furious love of God’.
Passionate and anthemic yet intimate and personal as well, the album is full of instantly singable worship songs, like the debut single ‘Saviour’s Song’ (co-written with Tim Hughes and Martin Smith, and already appearing on Tim’s ‘Love Shine Through’). As we sing of the truth about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection, it is hard to resist being drawn in to higher praise.
Case has clearly learn well on the journey so far, reflecting frequently on the nature of worship and the steps we need to take:
‘Sometimes we can think that worship is about the steps we take - the lifting of hands, the progression of chords, the arrival at the top of some musical mountaintop where we are left gasping for breath at the sheer beauty of the view. And, yes, it’s good to talk about production, to value our music and put effort into the Sunday morning mornings, but all of these are meaningless without the right heart behind them.
‘If we remember this one simple thing - that Jesus changed everything about how we worship - then maybe we’ll find that our worship itself will draw even more people to God.’