An interview with Matt McCoy from the Matt McCoy band.

Matt, what’s your worship background?
There was music in my home at an early age. My dad taught me guitar, and at 13, I led my first youth group worship at the church we planted in Indiana. Through college, I was leading worship for student and young adult ministries at The Vineyard Community Church in Cincinnati.  It was quite a juggle, though, doing school fulltime and work fulltime, but I really enjoyed that. It was a great experience.

So now you’re in the Chicago area…
It was clearly a God thing. I graduated college, I wasn’t planning any changes, but it seemed like a natural transition time. I began praying, God, if this is maybe a time where you want me to go somewhere else, I’m open to that. If you want me to stay here, I’m open to that.  I wanted to hear from God and what He wanted me to do. Through the summer as I traveled with the band, God was speaking, and opened a door at Willow Creek in Chicago. It became clear that God wanted me to move.  It’s hard leaving all your friends, family and community that you’ve built and starting over. But it was a real God thing

What is your role at Willow?
I lead worship for Elevate, which are the 6th, 7th and 8th graders. It’s a little different because middle-schoolers are different than high school students. They’re fun, they’re crazy, they’re wild, hyper, excited — full of energy — but different creatures. It’s fun.

Matt, what inspires you in terms of music — what you play, what you write?
Mostly it’s the different stages of life, different ups and downs and the different trials and experiences. I try to be really, really honest and authentic and genuine. So in songwriting it’s an outlet for me to talk to God about what’s going on in my life — how I’m feeling, how I’m viewing life, how I’m experiencing relationship with Him.

I’ve been trying to write songs for the church. I’m thinking about writing songs that a 10-year old and 80-year old can understand, with an easy enough melody where they can catch it the first time. I write about an idea anybody can sing to God about  — somehow that is relevant to our lives. A lot of songs also come from my own personal times of worship and prayer

What about musicians — other artists?
I listen to like all sorts of music. I listen to the full spectrum. And of course worship leaders like Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, Matt Redman, or anybody from the Vineyard movement.

Recently I’ve been getting into a lot of Rich Mullins and I’d never really heard of Rich Mullins before a year ago. I knew the song Awesome God — of course, everyone knows that — but I’d never really discovered any of his other music. I just love his songwriting. I listen to a lot of Cold Play, Snow Patrol and Vineyard stuff.

So what would you call your flavor of worship? Is it modern worship? Is it praise rock? What would you call it?
I would describe it as passionate, authentic worship.

Tell me about your band.
Actually, some of the middle school musicians that were volunteering years ago ended up staying with me. We kept playing together and we formed a band. Now it’s a little different. We’re still trying to make it work with me in Chicago and the band in Cincinnati.

Two weeks ago we played a youth convention in Tennessee. I was able to bring two of my guys from Cincinnati and then two guys from Chicago. It was fun joining forces.

Do you do a lot of youth camps, conferences and that sort of thing? Would you say that’s your passion?

I love doing youth camps and conferences.  I really come alive and thrive at those. I  enjoy spending consecutive days with a group of students, building relationship.  Because of the trust we develop, we can kind of go deeper and worship together

When you’re on the road, I’ve got to think that there’s opportunities and temptation. How do you and the band keep focused?
It helps being surrounded by the other guys in the band. We’re all single, so we’re all in the same boat together; we can all relate to each other. We played a camp about two months ago. We often get a bunch of young high school girls who are head over heels and they think they’re going to marry you [laughs] We actually had a pow-wow one evening after a session, a reality check.  Hey, guys, are we  living in integrity here?  I reminded them, You know, hey, we need to be the stronger ones and not at all play into that temptation.  It’s  open communication. We just talk about it.

That’s very wise.
I’ve got a couple guys that have rallied around me. They’ve been really intentional at saying, Hey, Matt, let’s get together every two weeks for coffee and talk about life and love and happiness and all sorts of things. We’re totally honest.

I love the album (Raise the Flag Again).
Thanks. It was released last spring.  Most of the songs were written with a good buddy of mine for a conference while we were at The Vineyard .

Have you thought about a live album?
I would love to do a live album. We did a live DVD two summers ago, it was a great experience

How do you stay intimate with God?
That’s something I’ve recently been challenged with. This move to Chicago has challenged me big time. It’s a new stage of life and God is revealing so much to me that I probably wouldn’t have seen if I hadn’t moved here.

He’s been challenging me on my time spent with Him. In the past couple weeks my spiritual life has been healthier. I’ve been challenged in the area of discipline; I’m trying to develop a morning routine of getting my cup of coffee [laughs] and then opening Scripture. Every day I’ll read one Psalm and then one Proverb of the day —   like today is the 23rd so I read Proverbs 23.  It’s so inspiring. God is constantly revealing things to me.

As a songwriter, do you think that your creativity is affected by where you are spiritually?
Definitely. If I find I’m not really connecting with God, I almost sink into this uncreative zone, almost a lazy zone, where I don’t even try to song write or I don’t even feel like expressing. But then when I meet with God, He reveals things in my life and challenges me and rips things out of my heart.

Music is the language of our souls and it can be such a powerful tool to connect to the spiritual realm — to God —   it’s just like a language. That’s such a beautiful thing that we can use music to communicate to our Creator and to let Him speak to us.

For more on Matt McCoy, visit matt mccoy and Matt’s Facebook page

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