Listen: Chris Tomlin chats to Ally Barnes and Sam Robinson on Hope Breakfast.
Chris Tomlin was nine years old when he was sick and stuck at home for most of his summer break. So, while his friends were outside playing baseball, his dad taught him to play the guitar to pass the time.
“My dad was like, ’You can’t just sit around. I’m going to teach you something’. So he said ‘do you want to learn to play the guitar?’ I was like, ‘Yeah’, ” Chris Tomlin told Hope 103.2.
Who knew that simple ‘Yeah’ was the start of Chris Tomlin’s lifelong passion for worship music, and would set him on a path to becoming one of the most influential worship artists of this generation?
Growing up in a small town called Grand Saline, in Texas, Chris was the only kid who could play the guitar at church and so, was thrown into playing and leading songs.
“I’d never heard the term [worship music], but I loved seeing people connect to God and sing. I didn’t like it when people would just watch me play; I liked it when people would sing. I didn’t even know God was putting that in me as a young kid,” Chris said.
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Beyond Music, Awards and Touring
Chris has written songs such as How Great is our God and Indescribable, songs that are sung in churches around the world, and have led to multiple awards under his belt. Yet, for him personally, the most unforgettable achievements have been hearing from people who have connected with his songs.
“As far as music, awards or touring is concerned, what I’m most grateful for is when people come up to me and they say ‘I love this song, it means so much to me’ or, ‘we sing this song at church’, or ‘these songs have become a part of our worship.
“That is just amazing because that’s when it goes past me as an artist, it’s not attached to me anymore, it’s the people’s songs. I’m always so humbled by that and grateful for it.”
Collective Creativity is the best kind of Inspiration
Where does Chris get his inspiration from? The strength comes from teamwork.
“I get together with a group of guys, we’re always pushing each other and we have the same heartbeat to write simple songs to help people worship God. That’s what I’ve always stayed true to,” Chris said.
Church Unity Through Times of Darkness
In 2016, Chris presented a historic worship night at Madison Square Gardens. It included some major influential faith leaders such as Louie Giglio, Max Lucado, Matt Redman and many more.
“The vision for Worship Night in America was for the church to be unified, the church walking in faith, the church not standing in fear“, said Chris.
“There seems to be more and more darkness all the time and the church is the light of the world. I want to remind people to pray on our knees and say God have mercy on us.”
And pray on their knees they did; the event brought together thousands of people in more than 450 locations at one time, with many getting on their knees during a time of united prayer.
The Power of Home
The latest single for the Grammy Award winner is called Home. Much like many of Chris’ songs, this one will resonate in different ways with different people.
“There are people who have gone before us who are already home; who we’re going to see again one day, but it is also a song of longing and hope for people, that this is where we are headed,” Chris said. “I’ve been surprised at just how popular and powerful the song has gone.”
Chris decided to use the word ‘home’ rather than heaven to express what heaven is truly like for Christians.
“This world – the world we’re living in – has so much brokenness, hurt and pain, and what I’m saying is that there is hope. I don’t know if we sing about it enough but I wanted to say it as ‘home’ [rather than] heaven because that is our home, because we know that this place, this earth, is not all that there is.
“Home is something really powerful; everyone has a feeling about what that is. I’m singing about the eternal home, one where we’re going to, it’s not just this pie in the sky, or what we see in paintings or we’ve heard in church.”