Singer-songwriter Brett Perkins truly believes he has the best job in the world. For the past 10 years, Brett has traveled the U.S. leading worship at various camps, events, and churches. He’s the worship pastor at The Journey Church in Lebanon, Tennessee. And, he lives in Lebanon with his wife, Megan, and three boys, Keaten, Griffey, and Louis. I connected with Brett to talk about his new album, Hope Multiplied, music, the challenges of 2020, and more.
Your new album Hope Multiplied does a great job at blending pop and worship. Talk about some of the lyrical themes on the album.
The process of writing for this particular album was over a three-year span. This is really the culmination of all the things I learned and experienced over that timeframe. I was new to being a dad and new to being the worship pastor of a church, so it was a lot of change all at once. Most of these songs, I would say, are congregational.
They were products of what I was learning and what I believed would encourage, challenge, and/or empower our people at The Journey Church. We aimed for truth and clarity. So many worship songs can lean ambiguous and creative, but not say much—or anything—clear or true. We really tried to keep it simple, but package it in a creative way.
“Attention” is a prayer and declaration to restore our awe, wonder, and reverence for the Lord in the midst of such a noisy, opinionated, and distracted age. “Hope Multiplied” was a missional song that captured an initiative we were pursuing as a church.
“Never Far Away” was influenced by my favorite hymn “Come Thou Fount.” Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love has always gripped me. The reality of the nearness of God is humbling, comforting, and overwhelming.
There are a couple that land in the introspective song category, too. My transition into my new role was very rough. In the first year, I questioned ministry, my calling, my ability to connect with and lead people, and honestly didn’t know if I’d make it. “You Can Still Use Me” was heavily influenced by that transition.
“Miracle” came from some awful relationships that my wife and I were navigating at the time (one was a brutal divorce between close friends of ours and another was a family issue that we are still navigating today).
Talk about the first single, “You Have Brought Us Through.”
“You Have Brought Us Through” is a special one to me. My pastor, Erik, and his wife, Katrina, have been huge influences on my family and me. Their first child, Kaleb, had a bad kidney that led to a surgical mistake (the removal of both the good and the bad kidney), which then led to a lifelong journey of their son being in and out of the hospital.
In 2017, Kaleb was diagnosed with fungal meningitis that led to a three-week coma. While he was in this coma, I would go visit Erik at the hospital anytime I would go into Nashville to write. I was blown away at Erik’s steady faith in God’s sustaining, moment by moment grace. This song birthed during that time. Kaleb passed away in December of 2019, but his life continues to speak to so many.
Fast forward to 2020, it was crazy how relevant this song was once COVID-19 lockdowns and quarantines were in full effect. We thought it fitting to release it in hopes that it would encourage people to remember the faithfulness of God in trials and pain.
If you’re interested in hearing Kaleb’s full story, Erik and I have a podcast called Hopeful Sufferers that walks through his story all the way up to a couple of months after Kaleb passed away.
2020 was a long year for all of us. What are you taking from this past year into 2021?
So many lessons came from 2020. A big one for me is to be present and steward the things in front of me. We had our third child, Lou, in February 2020. Two weeks later, we had a tornado that ripped through our city. Ten days after that, COVID-19 hit. We couldn’t catch a break.
As you are aware, all events were canceled, churches went online, and working from home was the new thing. While it was a challenge at first, we landed into a rhythm that was so special and fruitful.
I spent more intentional time with my kids than I normally would be able to. I was able to dream about things at my church, and how to better serve my worship team and our people. Often, it’s so easy to get caught up in the hustle of what’s next, that we miss living in the present. 2020 gave me some clarity on what slowing down looks like, and how important (and I would say biblical) it is to do so.
As a worship pastor in the Nashville area, you’re surrounded by a massive music scene. What are some things you’ve quickly learned about music ministry by being a part of the local community?
Nashville is really interesting and special. Everyone seems to be uniquely gifted in some way. Your waiter could possibly be the next big singer-songwriter, or your barista might’ve just come from a write where they landed the next number one country song. You would never know. Something I try to really emphasize at our church is the importance of the person over the player. I mean, we obviously value excellence and we define that as being distraction-free, not showy.
But, I want my players and singers to know I care more about their hearts, their families, and the things that matter to them than I do about their offering of music. Too often, musicians bust their butts in the industry for gigs and opportunities, and they are overlooked as people. I don’t want to do that. They aren’t pawns or tools in “my ministry.” They are friends who have become family to my family and me. They have stories and needs. I want to hear them and meet them. And we happen to pursue Jesus alongside each other by way of music.
What’s next for you?
The interesting thing about this record is that it is the first full-length album for me, but my last personal project. Over the years, I have been trying to figure out how to merge what I do on the road and what I do at church. As I mentioned earlier, 2020 brought some clarity to that.
In October of last year, I started writing with our worship team at church. Since then, we’ve actually written enough for a full-length album that we hope to release in early summer. Starting this year, I’m transitioning everything from Brett Perkins to Journey Worship Co., and I am so pumped. You can find some acoustic versions of some of our new stuff on our YouTube page. You can also follow us on all social media platforms.
How can we be praying for you?
I always welcome prayers of endurance and growth. There are plenty of areas in my life where I can love and trust God more. Pray that I would. I will also always welcome prayers as a husband and dad. I was told early on if you don’t win at home, you don’t win. I believe it. We’re raising three little boys who are going to be men one day. I want to be a good example and point them to Jesus.
Something specific, in addition to those two general prayers, would be this new chapter with Journey Worship Co. I can’t explain how excited I am and how much I believe in it. In a world where truth and clarity are either relative or absent, we want to write, produce, and lead songs that are clearly truthful. Worship is a response to truth, not opinion.
Pray that I, that we, will continue to be informed of truth from scripture and then pray that those truths would birth into songs that will resource the church. It’s been amazing to see how our people have received and responded to these new songs. I can’t wait for you to hear them, too.
Kevin McNeese started NRT in 2002 and has worked in the industry since 1999 in one form or another. He has been a fan of Christian music since 1991.
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