FEATURED ARTIST | JUNE 2013
Bio: Rob is the Co-Founder and Director of Awaken, a non-profit charity that exists to resource the local church for action. Awaken creates worship albums, personal and small group studies, and short films to inspire, educate, and equip the local church to live worship as the hands and feet of Jesus; serving the oppressed, broken, and lost. Our desire is to see a generation of church-goers inspired to live as agents of change in their cities. Rob and his wife, Medea, along with their 2 boys, moved from a mega-church in Texas to London in January 2011 to plant Awaken London as a "fresh expression" of church geared towards reaching un-churched 20 and 30 somethings on the northeast side of the city.
Bio: Joel began his worship ministry in 1996 after graduating from Southern Methodist University in Dallas. He and his twin brother, Mark, founded the Christian band Forty Days. The band was signed to Provident Music Group in 2000 and toured America with Third Day, Mercy Me, Audio Adrenaline, Michael W. Smith and others. In 2004 Joel was called to the local church and became a worship leader at Lakepointe Church in Rockwall, TX. There he was ordained and called by God to begin a worship/local missions ministry called Awaken. Through Awaken, 20 churches (including Awaken Church London) are modeling what it means to worship God by serving the community. Joel married Courtney in 2000, and they have two sons, Judah and Abe.
AHD: Kingdom Rise is more than a resource bundle, it's a movement in waiting. Can you tell us a little bit about The Awaken Movement and your project Kingdom Rise?
RP: Awaken was envisioned in 2008 when myself and Joel were the Campus Pastor and Worship Pastor, respectively at the same church, Lake Pointe Firewheel in north Garland, Texas. We had a desire to see the people of the church move outside of the comfortable worship experience that was created week in and week out — and instead — live worship as they put action to their faith in the community in which we worshiped.
We began writing songs, sermons, and study materials centered on this topic of putting action to our faith in our communities, and after a year of implementing these ideas in our church, we started getting the opportunity to resource other churches around the nation to do the same. Fairly quickly after that, the Awaken Movement was born with the mission of resourcing the church for action through the creative outlets of songwriting, music, film, and the spoken and written word.
In 2011, I moved to London, England to church plant and continue the work of Awaken. We didn't know it at the time, but in hindsight, this was God's plan to expand the mission of Awaken across the Atlantic and open our eyes to the needs of the church universal.
Kingdom Rise is our latest project that is actually three projects in one (worship album + individual/group study + short films) that we had the opportunity to create this past year and release in the UK/Europe and USA in March. The music was produced and recorded in Nashville with the great Stu G of Delirious? (http://stugworld.com), the book study written in London by myself and a fellow mate and author/church leader in the city (Cris Rogers - http://crisrogers.co.uk), and the films were shot in London as well with our dear friend and super talented filmmaker and art director from Brooklyn, Andrew Shepherd (http://andrewryanshepherd.com).
AHD: The idea of combining an individual or group study, extraordinary short films and compelling companion tracks is a unique one. What's the message you're trying to get across, and why'd you decide to use so many different creative avenues to accomplish the task?
RP & JW: Kingdom Rise had many different collaborators and creatives involved in the production process of this new resource. The thought behind including a book study, album, and films that all tie together came out of the uniqueness and individual talents of our team. We really feel that if we can hit this message of redefining worship and justice and engaging as agents of the Kingdom in our communities and cities from all of the different creative angles, that we can have increased impact and influence with this message. We thought that if we can use all of the creative elements and combine the complementing artistic mediums, that in the end, we would be able to engage our audience from a wider viewpoint. The songs, book study, and films are all sharing the same message, but from differing artistic viewpoints.
One other big value for us is that we are not trying to be the next big "Christian" band, author, or speaker. We have intentionally set up the vision and values of Awaken so as not to promote a personality, but a message. We truly believe in this message, and have seen far too many times how the message gets lost during the process when a branded personality or band gets elevated above the "why" we are doing this. You can't release a project entitled "Kingdom Rise" and secretly be trying to build your own kingdom at the same time.
AHD: You two, along with producer Stu Garrard, set out to write songs that engaged listeners in a new kind of worship experience. How did you push yourselves both artistically and spiritually leading up to and during your sessions in Nashville, TN?
RP & JW: We wanted this record to be very prayerful. We wanted the experience to have ebbs and flows. The first 2 tracks are proclamations that we as believers are uniting to do God's work in our everyday lives. That's the main goal of this resource: calling Christ followers to a higher level of commitment. The following tracks involve intense prayer, asking God to move and bless the work His people are doing. We, along with Stu, spent hours contemplating how God wanted to speak through this record. We pondered the life of Mother Teresa as well as Franciscan monks in regards to the poor. It sounds intense, but it was very inspirational. Artistically, our past is influenced by pop. Stu, as producer, comes from a more organic and grassroots musical bent, and that was refreshing for Mark [Warren] and me. We are very much looking forward to the next record with Stu.
AHD: Your team member and London church leader Rob Peabody, who developed some of the Kingdom Rise resources, will be in Dallas this month to talk with worship leaders, small group leaders and pastors about The Awaken Movement. What has it been like to share Rob's vision and collaborate creatively?
JW: Working with Rob is great. Rob has a passion that is infectious. He has a vision for Christ-followers all over the world to unite and be examples of Christ's love. He also is very involved in song concepts and themes. This was evident as we wrote songs for Kingdom Rise that corresponded with the small group study Rob was developing.
AHD: In addition to writing and recording for The Awaken Movement, you both serve as worship leaders in the Dallas area. How do you see the creative community coming together to improve the way we do worship?
RP & JW: We are excited about the community that’s present here in DFW, and that it has been fostered well by Art House Dallas and the group on FB. Both of us would love to see this continue and develop into more collaboration in writing and art. It would be great if worship leaders in our area could unite and be a model for unity in the body. Perhaps we can start a dialogue on how and what this could look like.
AHD: Where can we go to learn more about The Awaken Movement and all of the resources, including the new album?
RP & JW: To learn more about the Awaken Movement, visit our website:http://awakenmovement.com.
Kingdom Rise (album + individual/group study + short films) can all be found and purchased individually or as a digital downloadable bundle at:http://awakenmovement.com.