Casey is a guy that I’ve heard such great things about from friends who have worked with him. Whether it be leading at a camp or on a Sunday morning, Casey is talented and has a heart to truly lead whoever he is with.
The thing I love most about Casey, which you’ll get a taste of below, is that he gets that life is more than the next event or gathering, and that the best way he can lead worship is by following Jesus off the stage, loving and leading his wife and girls as best he can.
Take the time to dig into Casey’s thoughts, cause I walked away with a better appreciation for what it looks like to lead worship off the stage as well as you lead it on the stage. Check it out!
Name || Casey Darnell
Church & Role || North Point Community Church – Worship Leader/Songwriter
Main Instrument || Acoustic Guitar
Fun Fact || With 3 little girls, I potentially know more Disney show theme songs then worship songs… currently.
(All emphasis from Chris)
1) How did you learn to/get into leading worship (mentor, school, etc)?
I started really singing in High School, but this was back when all we had were “praise chorus’s” Before Hillsong United, Bethel, North Point and Passion. There just wasn’t the culture of worship that exists today. Back then it was more Christian artists who had songs that might be singable within a large group (Jars of Clay, Third Day).
I didn’t know how to play guitar yet, so I sang to tracks in church. I learned that from watching my dad when I was growing up. About half way through college I got into a band but was torn with a love for youth ministry and working with people off the stage, not just singing at them.
My wife (then my girlfriend) introduced me to a whole new world of music I didn’t even know existed, and I was done for. All I wanted to do was point the finger to someone else with my life. So, the pastor of the church I was working at started mentoring me and discipling me.
Eventually it became clear as God kept laying the next steps in front of me, that leading worship and writing songs and encouraging and inspiring others was what I was made for… all the while raising up other young leaders. I was like a singing, worship leading, youth pastor-evangelist 🙂
And to be clear, I wasn’t the brightest and I never chased opportunities, they just kept finding me.
Like in bowling, I think I required spiritual bumpers to help me find the way, cause it wasn’t super clear in my head early on like it is for some.
But I’ll say this: even today I still lean on the wisdom and discipleship of others to help point me in the right direction, that to me is always vital to any “calling” we may have on our lives.
2) What is the most helpful habit you have developed as a worship leader?
Spending more time off the stage in worship and with the people at an event, then on it.
Just like there would be obvious hypocrisy in only talking to God (praying) when you are on stage or in front of people. I think there is danger in allowing worship to only exist on stage and never really engaging with people off the stage as well.
3) What has helped you develop as a worship leader?
If you plan to lead people, I’ve always felt it’s important to know where people are coming from. For me, this happens weekly being in a small group and not one with other musicians and people like myself. But other families at our church and people that have other jobs and have different views then I have.
It’s been AWESOME in helping me lead worship. Sometimes I serve in other areas of our church, quietly and non music related, this helps a lot. Also being a part of non-glamorous things… where you have to get in the trenches and be real and vulnerable.
For me an organization called Lighthouse Family Retreat accomplishes much of this in my life. Serving families that have a child with cancer. I recommend partnering with something like this nearby or somewhere immediately!!!
Knowing a song and knowing God are obvious things, but knowing the people as much as you can is super helpful. Especially with song writing.
We can get lost in ourselves and create a language that everyday normal folks aren’t able to follow along too as easily. Being a husband and father have accomplished things in me as a leader I never expected. The love I have for my family has only deepened my understanding of God’s love but at the same time left me in awe of it.
4) What’s one thing you wish you would have known 10 years ago?
I’ve been married 10 yrs now and I immediately go back to the stress and attention I gave things that were never worth worrying about. God really can be trusted, and everything we are told to “Wait on God” for, is really worth waiting for.
People and relationships will always be worth more than positions and opportunities. Be grateful for both, but don’t trade your presence with people and be all about lifting others up over yourself.
5) If you could only give one piece of advice to a growing worship leader, what would it be?
Picture yourself answering these kind of questions one day.
What will the content of your answers be? Will it be because you wanted to be cool or have the spotlight or be famous?
Reality is we all want to be known, but as my pastor Andy Stanley says, “know who it’s from and who it’s for.” Know that a heart to serve others is of greater value then being served. Let God grow you and exalt you in His time, being content with the fishes and loaves you’ve been given, and know God is able and see if He wants to multiply them beyond what you could have ever imagined. He’s done this in my life over and over again.
As you can see, Casey has got such an incredible heart, and I know I was really encouraged by his thoughts. Know the people you’re leading, that’s a great lesson for any of us who lead people in any context.
I know that Casey would also love it if you would take a moment to check out Lighthouse Family Retreat and consider partnering with them to serve the many families that come through their doors every year.