Led by Worship Pastor Ben Williams, Eleven22 Worship is a collective of professional musicians, talented vocalists and lay-leaders who are driven to create songs of worship that are theologically sound, while being accessible to their audiences various musical leanings.
For those who aren’t familiar with Eleven22 Worship, can you give us a story of how your church – and albums – came to be?
We began as an alternative service within another church. It grew to become more than just a service, but a movement of what God was doing in our people and from there, we were able to launch this movement as its own church. Every movement warrants a soundtrack, and so we naturally began writing songs that would express our heartbeat for God and the people that were drawing near.
What sets Eleven22 Worship apart from other church-created worship projects?
Our authenticity and honesty with our relationships with the Lord, through our writing — We believe that God is present during our worship, that He is in the room with us… And so, we write songs to Him as if we are having a conversation. We sing songs to God and not just about Him. We’re not afraid to talk about where we’ve been and what He’s done for us. I believe this relational authenticity comes through in our song writing, and also in our delivery.
You’ve said that the music that your band writes speaks the language of your community – could you explain what you mean by that?
In this movement, there are some key distinctive traits that make us who we are. We are very missional in our relationship with God, and in our relationship with people. We preach the Gospel each week, our community centers on that. We’re a community striving to live out our relationship with God in a way that’s honest about our failures and humble in our successes. We understand it is God who saves, not our songs and not even our teaching, but ultimately He is sovereign, and so we write music from that place. Our music has a viewpoint that out of your relationship with God, you can connect with all people, and Eleven22 is truly a movement for all people…the businessman, the tattooed hipster, the sick, the healthy, the people who are on fire for the Lord, and the people who are broken, desperate for revival. We’re not searching for a life coach, we’re seeking a Savior and through it all, we can’t do it alone. We’re all in this together.
Eleven22 Worship is made up of 20 musicians – is it hard to keep everyone on the same page? How is it managing individual talents, artistry, styles, etc.?
We’ve been able to overcome differences and opinions on sound and styles by centering ourselves on Bible study together. As we study the Word together, it unifies us in purpose. We plan our music and delivery as a team, and the experience is a result of this collective input. It’s definitely not easy and it there is a large investment of time individually, but this genuine love for the people that God brings to our services keeps us focused on our purpose.
Any great stories for your time in the studio?
I challenged our producer, Jonathan Berlin, to be as collaborative with the entire team as possible. So, imagine 5 or 6 guitar players all sharing ideas for one song. You might have one person playing the parts for the recording, but the other musician is working on the tone, trying to make it the best it could be – this transferred in all areas of the project: multiple bass players, multiple drummers working on each song together. Jonathan did a masterful job keeping the creative side of making music very collaborative, yet fun-spirited. You can imagine the laughter and the jokes and the camaraderie we shared!
Do you have a favorite song on the album – or one that has a special significance to you personally?
Let me say this, at the moment my favorites are Kingdom Come and Where the Spirit of the Lord Is, but the one that is most personal is God Above. I wrote this song after studying the life of St. Patrick, who wrote the prayer now known as St. Patrick’s Breastplate. The context of the prayer is that God would be surrounding him in every moment of his life. That God would be above him, below him, beside him and God would go before him. I was mesmerized by his pursuit after all that God had for him. St. Patrick, of Scottish descent, was captured and enslaved when he was fourteen or so. His escape was made possible by a God given dream. He made it back home to Scotland and God gave him another dream to return to his captors to share God’s love with them, and so he did. And for this, St. Patrick was credited as the one to evangelize all of Ireland, and the country became a Christian nation.
Before All Things is your third full-length album – how would you say it is different from the early albums?
This is the first time we’ve ever written ALL the songs, so the writing process for this album was much more involved. This was also the most collaborative effort of the three we’ve worked on.
Any plans for an Eleven22 Worship Tour?
Nothing solid, but we’ll see.
For us, we will just continue leading worship and being authentic to who God’s called us to be – to include songwriting and opportunities that will glorify Him. I think we will see this movement that we’re a part of have a big impact in our city and our hope is that it will touch people around the world. We’re just excited for this album release and we’re praying for all those who will hear!