A crisis of faith isn't something Michael Farren, a worship pastor and Dove Award winning songwriter and producer, ever expected to have 25 years into his walk with Christ. But, two years ago, this son and grandson of Baptist preachers found himself in the middle of the "darkest season" of his life. So, Farren, who has penned songs recorded by everyone from Lauren Daigle to Reba McEntire, began writing the songs he needed most at the time. Those songs -- folksy, Americana-tinged modern hymns and laments -- became Fighting For Us, Farren's first solo album, available globally October 5 through Integrity Music.
Produced by fellow songwriter Hank Bentley ("Tremble"/ "First"), Fighting For Us delivers 11 songs woven around themes of belonging and identity, including the title track of which Farren says, "I've never needed a song more."
Farren, who is the former frontman for the worship band Pocket Full Of Rocks and a worship pastor based in Franklin, Tennessee, says recording an album was never on his agenda. After Pocket quit recording and touring, Farren settled into his role at his local church and continued doing what he loves most -- writing for his own congregation.
"I've always written for the 700 people in front of me at my church," says Farren. "If songs were cut by other artists, great. But the songs that have driven me most through the years are the ones I wrote for the people I serve. Otherwise, I hold songs loosely... my songs always seemed to be for someone else."
Then, two years ago, Farren found himself in the midst of deep disappointments, family struggles and feeling as though the God he'd always served had abandoned him. It was during this period of God's silence that Farren met with fellow songwriter Krissy Nordhoff for a songwriting session. Rather than the song he'd planned on penning that day, Farren says "Fighting For Us" just "fell out as we wept."
At times raw and often confessional, each song on Fighting For Us holds special meaning for Farren. From the opening declaration "I Belong To Jesus (Oh Hallelujah)" and modern hymn "Oh Praise (The Only One)" to the bluesy radio single "Prisoners" and call-and-response of "Where Is God?," each song reflects Farren's walk through and out of the fire. Adding the perfect benediction to the project is the simple, quiet promise found in "Loved And Known."
Every heart that has run away / Has doubted the distance that Your love would go
But every heart finds out the same / We've always been loved and known
"I'm a pretty solid guy, been around church my whole life," says Farren. "And yet I am shocked that I have asked some of the questions that I've asked of God in the last couple of years. Things I would never have imagined that I would have wrestled with. And that is kind of the whole point of all of this... of this album, of these songs. It is giving people permission to ask the hard questions."
"Lament in the truest sense, in the safety of a holy place, with safe people, allows you to grieve," explains Farren. "You can lament, wrestle, kick and scream. And then you walk out of it... true, holy lament will always reorient you to the One who can give life and hope and peace, the one who rewrites our hearts."
In addition to guest writer Krissy Nordhoff, Fighting For Us includes songs cowritten with Matt Redman, Hank Bentley, Corey Voss, Dustin Smith, Tony Wood, Alisa Turner and Ben Shive. The project also features a version of "Come Alive (Dry Bones)," a song that Farren cowrote with Lauren Daigle, presented here with a roots backdrop of banjo, mandolin and pedal steel.
Fighting For Us is available through Christian music outlets and streaming platforms with worship/song resources available at WeAreWorship.com and Integrity's ministry partners. The complete tracklist for Fighting For Us is:
"I Belong To Jesus (Oh Hallelujah)"
"Praise The King"
"Fighting For Us"
"Always Have Jesus"
"Goodness & Mercy"
"Where Is God?"
"Oh Praise (The Only One)"
"Come Alive (Dry Bones)"
"As It Is In Heaven"
"Loved & Known/I Belong To Jesus"