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  1. #1
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    Oct 2007
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    Don Moen's testimony (during an interview)

    Dear friends,

    I have seen this amazing article about Don Moen in google search and I wish to share this with you. Please do take time to read this. But towards the end of this article what Don Moen told really shook me up, and I thought well I should be myself rather than trying to be somebody else.

    Here is the article.

    Don Moen

    by Bruce Adolph

    CM: Why donít you tell us about the beginning of your involvement in worship. How did you get started in leading worship?

    Don Moen: I was actually traveling with this singing group out of Oral Roberts University called Living Sound. Larry Dalton hired me as a violinist, trombonist and guitarist. It was after my junior year in college (music education/violin major), and I remember telling my dad I was going to travel for three months with this group. Fifteen years later, I got off the road. I had lived in Africa for three years and traveled all over the world.

    Eventually I hooked up with Mike Coleman and Ed Lindquist, who were the co-founders of Integrity Music. I was traveling with an evangelist named Terry Law. It was just me playing the piano and Terry preaching. We went through Mobile, Alabama, in October í83. I hooked up with Mike Coleman and went back again in Ď85. At that point Mike told me they were thinking of starting this product called Hosanna Music and shipping these cassettes through the mail. I was already doing this with Terry Lawís ministry. Every quarter I was doing a cassette of live worship called ďExpressions of Praise.Ē So Mike and I struck up this relationship, and sure enough, in May Ď86 I went down and recorded ďGive ThanksĒ at this church in Mobile. I started getting invitations to sing and do all these different things. It was the last thing in the world I thought I would be doing. I was petrified of being in front of a group of people. I was okay if I was in an orchestra or band, but to sing in front of people? There was no way I wanted to do that. I tried it once and almost burst into tears because I was so embarrassed by my singing. And I decided I was never going to do that again.

    Then my wife Laura got a letter from her sister about 15 years ago. She was praying for Laura and me and wrote, ďDon, as I was praying the Lord gave me a vision of you standing in front of thousands of people and leading them into Godís presence and writing songs that soothed the hearts of kings.Ē I remember reading that letter and saying to my wife, ďHoney, your sister Susan is a great girl, but sheís not a prophet. Thereís no way Iím going to stand in front of thousands of people and sing. It ainít gonna happen.Ē A couple of years ago Laura found that letter in her Bible, and almost everything has come to pass.

    I had written some songs traveling with the Living Sound group, but around í80 to í81, I just wasnít interested in writing songs anymore. I wrote in my prayer journal, ďI donít ever want to write another song unless it comes in power, praise, healing and deliverance.Ē I wanted to touch people in the area of their spirit, not in their intellect or emotions. So I didnít write a song for a couple of years, and then one night I woke up at 3:00 in the morning, wide awake--just as if somebody had shaken me. And I had the strong impression (I didnít hear an audible voice) that God was saying to me, ďOpen your Bible and turn to Psalm 40:3.Ē I hadnít been reading Psalms and didnít know what this verse said, but I opened my Bible and read, ďHe put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.Ē I remember sitting in my office just kind of stunned, and I said to my wife the next morning, ďSomething happened to me last night. I donít know what it was. I think I was ordained into something.Ē It was just like the Lord Himself had put His hand on me and said, ďI have put a new song in your mouth...Ē He heard my prayer that I wanted something new to happen in my life musically, and He said, ďI have put a new song in your mouth, a song of praise to your God.Ē And I didnít know what it meant.

    It wasnít until two to three years later that I led worship for the first time, in front of a huge crowd of about 25 people in Woodward, Oklahoma. Terry Law had lost his wife in a car accident, and he was really healed emotionally and spiritually by offering a sacrifice of praise, praising God in the middle of tragedy. So he told me, ďDon, I want all our music to be praise and worship music. I want music that is vertically directed toward God.Ē So I had to really study this and figure out what I should be doing. I thought the first thing I needed to do was put a great vocal group together and a great band. And believe it or not, the guy playing guitar for me in that band was Peter York. So Peter came down and played, and at the end of that night, I still felt that something more needed to happen. I had taken a step of faith and put a boom mic at the piano. I took a huge, bold step and said, ďLetís all sing that chorus one more time,Ē in my nervous, quivering voice. Thatís the first time I ever did that, and I think people realized quickly: This poor guy canít sing and canít play very well, but heís got a great heart; letís follow him. So people followed me.

    We couldnít afford to travel with this big band anymore, so the next thing I knew it was just Terry Law and me. I owe a lot to Terry Law for what Iím doing today, because he forced me way out of my comfort zone. Every weekend he was preaching to two to five thousand people, and before he preached--even though the church had great praise and worship--heíd say, ďI want Don to come lead us in a couple of worship choruses.Ē And I did. And I wasnít very good at it. Thatís how I got started. And many times I said to Terry, ďI donít want to do this anymore, IĎm being humiliated every weekend.Ē And it was humiliating, because I couldnít play that well and was scared to sing. I donít understand it, but Terry kept kicking me out there. God has to get us out of our comfort zones somehow, and thatís kind of what happened to me. That led to recording ďGive Thanks,Ē and the next thing I knew, I was leading worship in front of thousands of people. Itís like that prophecy came to pass. Itís certainly not something I went after. I think the only class I failed in college was my speech class, because I was terrified to stand in front of people. (Laughs) Itís pretty funny, isnít it, who God uses? God picks the strangest people sometimes to do these things. I had a desire in my heart and that strong impression to turn to Psalm 40:3, so I knew that there was something God had put in my heart to do this. But in the natural I was running as fast as I could in the other direction.

    CM: How about your transition to Integrity Music?

    Don Moen: I started producing and doing some arranging and production for Integrity Music in Ď86 and í87, and finally in Ď88 I moved down to Mobile, Alabama, as creative director of the company.

    Creative director is really an ad agency term. I had worked in an ad agency in Ft. Lauderdale, and even when I was with Living Sound, I freelanced jingles. (I wrote a lot of nationally syndicated radio jingles that I still hear on the radio today in some areas of the country). My problem with joining Integrity Music was moving to Mobile, Alabama, because Integrity is based there. That scared me because it was the Deep South, and Iím a Minnesota boy. So I resisted it for a long time. But I thought, if I really wanted to go to Mobile, what would my job description look like? I wrote down the name ďCreative Director,Ē which you donít see on any record labels; itís all ad agency stuff. The creative director is the guy who oversees the production, the art, who guides the team through the whole campaign and works with the client. So itís a combination of A&R, marketing and sales, and music production. That always did intrigue me. I wrote all these things down, including wanting to do some international work. Mike Coleman met with me and said, ďAs I was praying about the possibility of your coming to work for Integrity, hereís kind of what I thought.Ē And youíll never believe it. He opened his book and at the top of his page he had written ďCreative Director.Ē And almost line for line, our pages matched. It was really amazing. Shortly after that I moved to Mobile; the Lord took away the fear. Mobile is a great city and weíre really happy there.

    CM: You have a unique perspective. Youíve been around since the early days of worship, and now youíve seen the popularity and swing toward praise and worship music today. There are two sides to this: the personal side of whatís going on in peopleís lives, and also the commercial side, with the explosion of music product in the worship category. Whatís your viewpoint? Youíve kind of been there from the start.

    Don Moen: Well, our niche of course is in praise and worship. I donít think Integrity Music was ever really taken that seriously by the major labels as a player. When we first got started and tried to get distribution, a few of the majors told us that praise and worship had already been done; it was a thing of the past. It had been popular with Maranatha Music. Why would we want to do it again? We thought, thatís funny, we just sold a million dollars worth of product to people calling in from bookstores and giving us their credit card numbers. We said to the major distributors, ďWhy would you not want to distribute this stuff?Ē Eventually we struck a deal with Alexandria House and Sparrow started to distribute our product. In the heyday of Hosanna Music, almost 200,000 cassettes were going out every eight weeks. ďGive ThanksĒ sold almost a million units. Weíve been involved in that from the beginning, and I am thrilled to see the focus that the industry has given to praise and worship.

    Smittyís (Michael W. Smith) worship record was the biggest record heís ever done. It was a thrill traveling with him on the Songs 4 Worship tour. I think the Songs 4 Worship tour was one of the most powerful tours that Iíve ever been involved with. We did eleven dates in eleven cities, a year ago. It was Darlene Zschech, me, Smitty, Nicole C. Mullen, Watermark, Caedmonís Call, Lenny LeBlanc, Paul Baloche. It ended up being this glorious night of worship, where no artists were introduced. It just kind of flowed from one to the other. It was about the songs. It was a neat thing.

    There is an emphasis being put on worship by different labels today. I think Twila (Paris) has a new worship record out, and Third Dayís biggest record was a worship record. I think itís awesome whatís going on, and tons of great songs are being written. Itís a thrilling day to be involved in the Christian music industry. I love seeing what Godís doing. Heís shaking it all up, turning it upside down. God has His purposes and His plans. Isaiah 61:11 says Heís causing righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations. Heís promised Heís going to do it, and Heís doing it. Not everyone is buying in, but I think the consumers are buying in. Itís what people love to buy.

    But itís not the only scenario. Just because itís not a praise and worship chorus doesnít disqualify it as praise and worship; what is important is really the attitude of the heart. I think God is working through all different styles of worship. My thinking is much broader than it used to be. I used to define praise and worship as this: a simple song thatís very user friendly and promotes a response from the people and participation from the audience. But even on the Songs 4 Worship tour, there has to be a balance. Thereís a time to stand up and worship and a time to sit down and listen to a song thatís more of a communication song, but nonetheless directs people to a closer relationship with God. Iíve changed my viewpoint a lot. I guess Iíve just been around too many artists who have such a heart to worship God, that I know their hearts. Their music may communicate a little more horizontally, but I think God is working in a lot more ways than we think He is. So being the creative director of a praise and worship company, I have quite a broad view of what praise and worship is. The minute you try to put God in a box, Heíll blow it all away. You cannot put God in a box and say, ďThis, God, is how you can move.Ē I love the scripture in Psalm 115:3. Itís fine to learn about praise and worship, but Psalm 115:3 says, ďOur God is in the heavens, He does whatever He pleases.Ē That kind of puts it all in perspective.

    CM: Last question: Whatís your heartís desire for worship leaders and worship musicians to understand about worship?

    Don Moen: If you forget everything else Iíve told you, remember this: Be yourself. Itís so easy for someone to come to a seminar or see a TV program or pick up a praise and worship CD and say, this is exactly what weĎre going to do in our church. They see Darlene Zschech, and suddenly all the girls want to be Darlene Zschech. They see Smitty or Martin Smith or Ron Kenoly or Don Moen, and they want to try and be that person. I just tell these people, ďBe yourself.Ē I love excellence in what we do, but people have to feel your heart. It canít feel fake and phony. If youíre leading worship, trying to be somebody other than who God has made you to be, itís not going to ring true to people coming into your church. Twenty years ago it might have worked, but consumers are a lot more selective these days, and I think seekers are looking for the real thing in our churches: real, heartfelt worship. If you stand up in front of an audience to speak or sing or do whatever you do, do it with the personality Godís given you. It will resonate a lot more truly than if you try to be somebody that youíre not.

    Iím always bothered by preachers who get up and suddenly become a different person. They speak in a different way. Iím on a personal crusade to stamp out weirdness in the kingdom of God. If you look at the life of Jesus, He says in John 4 to the woman at the well, ďThe hour is coming and is now here when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.Ē I think He was saying to her, ďLook at me, Iím a true worshipper.Ē And if you look at the life of Jesus, He didnít say a lot about praise and worship choruses. He was the Son of God but also the Son of Man. He was approachable, normal. Sinners loved to be around Him; they were attracted to Him. He invested his life in twelve people. He was a servant leader. These are all things I think that we as worship leaders and musicians have to look at. We need to fashion our lives after Jesus. I think if we begin being ourselves, being servant leaders and investing in relationships, those are the kinds of things that are going to translate into people saying, ďIt may not be the most musically excellent thing Iíve ever heard, but that guy or that girl is real. Thatís what I relate to.Ē Thatís what kids are looking for today.

    As I get older and am on the platform with younger bands, donít think that I donít wonder what I have to offer-- Don Moen singing these middle-of-the-road ballads. The thought goes through my head from time to time that I need to be someone else; I need to be someone cooler and hipper. But if I were to go in that direction Iíd fall flat on my face, because people would say I was being a fake, a phony. But if I do what Don Moen does, it will ring true to young people and old alike, because it's real. Everyone has a part to play in the kingdom of God. I canít be Martin Smith or Ron Kenoly or Alvin Slaughter or Matt Redman or Chris Tomlin. I canít be any of those guys, but I can be Don Moen and they canít be me. All the gals who are singing canít be Darlene Zschech, but they can be who God has made them to be. So the one thing I always say is, ďBe yourself.Ē And I think if you step into that you will actually feel God putting a mantle of authority around you and saying, ďGood, youíve got it now. Thatís who Iíve made you. Now watch what Iíll do with your ministry.Ē Youíve accepted it: Okay, God, thatís who youíve made me; Iím going to operate there. Of course we can always strive to be better. I strive to be the best at what I do, but it has to start with being yourself.
    God is Good all the time.

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  3. #2
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    Mar 2008
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    Thank you for posting this interview! I come from a musical family and some of them are extremely talented. They are professionals, in fact. But, what the Body of Christ needs from our praise and worship leaders is for them to be more transparent so that we don't see them, but the indwelling Holy Spirit. It has to be like incense rising into the heavens....sweet...pure....heartfelt adoration. We want our God's heart to feel the warmth of His children's love springing from a well of gratitude. If the praise is not authentic than it is more apt to be nothing more than entertainment. And, entertainment does not cannot because it is not characteristic for the Holy Spirit to entertain. When it is right...we cannot help but feel that ecstatic joy that only comes when God is pleased at the "offering." Amen?

  4. #3
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    May 2010
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    great!!! Thank you for sharing it

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