Chris Tomlin: Exclusive Interview
One of the most impactful worship songs in Christian music history is undoubtedly ‘How Great is Our God’. Not surprisingly Chris Tomlin, one of the top-selling, most-sung Christian music artists in history, is responsible for penning the profound lyrics. As a singer/song-writer, worshipper and talented musician, Christopher Dwayne Tomlin has been making melody in his heart for God since the tender age of 11, when his dad gave Chris his first guitar.
Like his close friend Louie Giglio, Chris is notoriously media shy and doesn’t easily grant interviews. Searching the internet doesn’t glean much info either, as Chris (or perhaps his agent) is protective of his private life. That didn’t deter JOY! Magazine though, and we are very excited to bring you an exclusive, personal, once-in-a-lifetime interview with the music maestro!
DID YOU KNOW THAT:
• Chris Dwayne Tomlin is 37 yrs
• He was born in Texas
• He started the Passion Church in Atlanta with Louie Giglio
• After receiving a guitar from his dad at age 11, Chris wrote his first worship song at 14.
• It takes 4-5 months to make an albulm
• He has his own ‘Chris Tomlin’ channel on YouTube
• He is single...!
chris, hello from south africa. Tell us a bit more about the man behind the microphone...
There isn’t much to tell really. I’m a Texan boy born on 4 May 1972, I have two younger brothers and I come from a musical family. My dad always enjoyed playing the guitar and listening to country music, so I picked up a musical ear in my younger years. Today I play the guitar and piano.
did you always intend becoming a professional musician?
As long as I can remember. I never had a ‘Plan B’. I just started playing when I was a little kid and the passion to worship God through song continued to ignite in me. I really never had to wonder if it was God leading me into worship ministry or not, as from my teen years already God started opening doors.
In my first year of college (according to Wikipedia Chris started studying play therapy, but later abandoned this to become a full-time musician) I was receiving so many invites to play at events and conferences, I could hardly keep up. God moved the mountains for me to enter the industry full-time and though I was never really confident how it was all going to work, I knew I couldn’t do anything else.
you’ve produced 6 albums and won countless awards. How do you go about writing your songs?
When I discovered that God had given me a talent to write songs that connected the people to His heart, I started to put pen to paper with the intention of creating songs that lead people into God’s presence.
You’ve been described as a ‘worship leader.’ What does that term mean to you and How is it different from a ‘Christian artist’?
I do think ‘artist’ is a good description, because music is an art form, but with the name comes a certain pedestal. The word, ‘artist’ has a star quality to it that I am not comfortable with. Honestly, I never try and put a label on things, I just want to be faithful to lead people to God and not see myself as some ‘star’.
I also have to mention that without my band I wouldn’t be where I am today. They are an integral part of the music.
Why is ‘Hello Love’ such an important album for you?
The heart behind this album is simply to inspire and encourage people to love God and to love their neighbour. When you get to the heart of what worship and life is all about, it is LOVE. Jesus said to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, your mind, your soul and your strength...and to love your neighbour as yourself”. Matt 22:37-40. This project is an invitation to love again and to worship God through helping your neighbour. The greatest need in the world today is not another song, but love.
www.onemillioncan.com is a simple and strategic way for anyone to take a step in the direction of helping the poor and broken in our world.
do you enjoy touring?
We’re on tour most of the year and I love it. The travel gets to me sometimes but my favourite thing about music is actually playing live. I love to see the songs affect people in different ways in different cities around the world and to see people from varying backgrounds and circumstances worship together as brothers and sisters in the Lord.
how do you maintain a relationship if you are on the road for so long?
No comment. (According to my sources, Chris is single - which is surprising, considering that worship leaders are usually the first to get married!)
you live in atlanta and have started a church with your friend and mentor, louie giglio...
I would not be doing what I do today without Louie’s friendship and his guidance. Louie has always believed in me and has taught me so much along the way. I have known him for years but when he invited me to come on board with the ‘Passion’ movement in 1997, I really got to befriend him. (Passion Conferences, also referred to as the 268 Generation, has hosted annual Christian events around America and last year, around the world. The organisation is also responsible for ‘Sixstepsrecords’ who produce the Passion Worship CDs, such as God of this City). www.268generation.com
It’s been amazing to see how the movement of Passion has reached far beyond our dreams in pointing people to Jesus and inspiring them to live passionately for the cause of Christ.
As a result of this movement and because of the demand from the public, Louie, his wife Shelley and our team (including Matt Redman and several others) decided to start the Passion City Church in Atlanta.
We are excited about what God will do and you can track our progress by clicking on www.passioncitychurch.com
any plans to visit S.A? Your fans would love to hear you in concert.
Well as you know, I toured South Africa last year with Louie and the Passion team. Our stop overs in Johannesburg and Cape Town were very brief though, as we were on a global tour for Passion. (Some of the other countries we visited in that tour included France, Germany, Japan, Kenya and Australia).
Unfortunately, no trip is planned at this time, but I can’t wait for the opportunity to be back. South Africa is an amazing place and I will never forget the faces of all the university students and fellow Christians in your country worshipping together and declaring God’s Name and His Fame all across the land.