Tim Hughes talks to Clem Jackson about his latest album, Pocketful of Faith, moving to lead his own church in the centre of Birmingham, and the Worship Central ministry.
Tim Hughes, worship leader, internationally acclaimed songwriter, leader of the Worship Central ministry and now Priest-in-charge of St Luke’s church in central Birmingham. With all that’s been going on for Tim and his family it’s a wonder that he found the time to record a new album. But he has and Pocketful of Faith releases this month (July) with a number of new songs on it. I caught up with Tim recently to find out more.
Your new album is titled Pocketful of Faith. the lyrics of the title song, ‘Anywhere you go I’ll follow / when you call my name I’ll run / lead me on into tomorrow…’, seem somewhat biographical in relation to your new ministry. Is that true?
I think this album is probably the most biographical album I’ve ever recorded. The last eighteen months myself and my family have been on this massive adventure, processing this sense of hearing God’s call to leave a community we’ve been part of for 10 years. A place we loved, felt safe and comfortable in; to step out of our comfort zone and take on the prospect of leading a church.
We’ve inherited this massive building which we need to fund raise for to sort it out and we need to fill with people. Is that you God calling us? Will we be enough? Have we got what it takes? How’s it going to work out for the family? All of these things have been massive for us and a lot of that processing has naturally come out in the songs on the album.
“Only the Brave” a personal statement and a rallying call to the church? There’s an interesting thing about that phrase: it could be misconstrued as about being confi dent, bold,
having it all together, but I don’t think of it that way. Often it’s in our weakness that we can be brave, vulnerable and scared all at the same time. It is a time now in our nation where we do have to be brave, culturally, stepping out and really trying to follow where God is leading and calling us. So I think there is something quite challenging about thisidea of bravery. I’m reading through Joshua and so much of it is about being brave and courageous; and I think it’s the same for the church today – we need to be brave and courageous. To be vulnerable enough to take the first steps and sometimes the bravest acts are undertaken when you are at your weakest.
For myself, this season, I’ve never felt more courageous and excited whilst never feeling more terrified and overwhelmed because I look at all that I am stepping into and am just so well aware of my limitations – all the areas where I feel I am not up to scratch. But actually it’s not about waiting for that moment when you feel equipped and ready because God doesn’t call the equipped he equips the called. We know we feel called to this and we’re believing and trusting that God is going to equip us and give us what we need to step out.
This is your first studio album for a while so are all the tracks new tracks?
Yes most of them are. One or two have appeared on Worship Central albums, “The Way”, “Set Apart”, “The Cross Stands”. These are songs which I’ve loved leading and which seem to really connect. “The Way” is something of real vibrancy and joy; I’ve been thinking a lot about celebration and joy in worship and if I’m honest I think sometimes a lot of the church, particularly in the UK, we don’t do that enough in our worship. I rarely see people dancing or breaking loose and I think there’s something liberating and powerful about that exuberant joy and I guess that was the reason for that song. And then “Set Apart” is a real call to holiness and “The Cross Stands” is about the cross being central to our worship so I was really keen to thematically have that in the album.
I know you have been very busy over the last couple of years preparing for your new role so how, and when, have you found time to write these songs?
I was on holiday and really felt stirred to write more. I think I’d been so busy with so many different things, responsibilities, training and studying for ordination that fi nding time to write was really hard. But once I was ordained I thought that actually this is an important part of who I am. I believe it is something God has called me to keep investing in and so I needed to make decisions and choices to carve out time for that.
The person I’ve written a lot of these songs with, Nick Herbert, is coming to Birmingham too, so he’s been on this journey together with me and writing with someone who is experiencing the same things has helped. Martin Smith, Phil Wickham, Reuben Morgan have also written with me for this album and I’ve tried to put in days when I can write with others which helped the process along.
Now that you are leading your own church what will your involvement with Worship Central be?
I will still head it up; we’re actually moving a team to Birmingham so we can keep driving things forward from here. Worship Central is part of my ministry, my calling, and actually the way I see things going forward is building a community here, a team that really run things.
We’ve got some great people moving to Birmingham and I hope that the church we plant will have worship, the training of other worship leaders and the releasing of creativity - all kind of arts, at the very heart of who we are. I hope that Worship Central will be at the heart of the church and vice versa.
Did you always feel that your ministry was destined to be as a vicar in the Church of England or was this something which came to you more recently?
My Dad is a vicar so I guess, as a kid, you wonder is that something you’ll end up doing as well. I remember when I was about 16 or 17 really feeling a sense of calling to lead a church. Then I began to lead worship, wrote a song called “Here I am to worship” and things sort of changed somewhat. But I think it was always in the back of my mind, a nagging thought if you like. For me there’s something so powerful about leading a gathered community and also really thinking missionally; engaging in a city, in an area, engaging with people who aren’t part of the church and trying to make a difference. I guess I want to have more interaction with students and parents, the homeless, all sorts of people locally.
I feel like God’s invited us in to something He is already doing here. We have this amazing warehouse which the diocese has bought, just round the corner from the church. It used to be the HQ of the Gas Board and was the place from which the streets of Birmingham were lit up. Our vision is that, through the power of the Spirit the City of Birmingham will be lit up with the love of Jesus. We are really excited by what is happening already.
Can we expect to see further songs and albums from Tim Hughes in the future?
I think so; who knows? With all the Worship Central albums kicking off I didn’t think I’d be doing any more Tim Hughes albums, but it began to feel like I had these songs and it was right to record them. But I don’t see myself as a worship recording artist - I’m not thinking in two years’ time I have to have another album out. I’ll continue to write because it’s part of who I am and then let’s see what happens.
July 26th, 2015 - Posted & Written by Together Magazine