Home / Artists / Interviews / William McDowell talks mentorship, brokenness, Sounds Of Revival + | @WilliamMcDowell
One of the architects of modern day Worship music is husband, father, pastor and praise leader William McDowell. His unforgettable compositions have instantly become a part of the contemporary Christian songbook. Signature selections like I Give Myself Away and I Won’t Go Back are already classics within the Christian music catalog. The recent release of Sounds Of Revival only add to a rich inventory of music designed to bring believers into a more intimate worship experience.
In our recent exchange with Entertainment One recording artist, William McDowell, he expounded on the unmistakable sounds of revival, the prerequisite of brokenness to bear fruit and finding God, even as we worship. It was an inspiring conversation with an honorable man who’s one mission is to minister as God has instructed.
Christopher Heron: Let’s start with a few quirky questions. If there was another state or another state besides Florida, you could see yourself calling home, where would it be?
William McDowell: I am supposed to be here in Florida because I’m a pastor here so I don’t have another state in my heart.
Christopher Heron: Aren’t you from the Midwest?
William McDowell: I am not going back. Warm weather for me.
Christopher Heron: You are a true Floridian. That’s’ right.
William McDowell: Absolutely.
Christopher Heron: Who are some worship warriors you enjoy and find inspiration from?
William McDowell: Honestly I spent time with Ron Kenoly. There’s also Alvin Slaughter and Don Moen. As far as urban worship is concerned, you can’t do this without also talking about people like Fred Hammond. I am just honored to be in the same vineyard.
Christopher Heron: Your music ministry has now evolved into pastoral duties as well. Do you find it as rewarding?
William McDowell: It’s ultimately more rewarding. Both are a part of my calling but the reason why I say it’s more rewarding is because ultimately the church is the womb that God has chosen, the birth center of the Earth so any level of longevity that you have or anything that lives beyond you or that’s bigger than you happens to the local church. For that reason, it’s a greater privilege and more fulfilling because in pastoring the church, we are literally taking the baton that has been passed, won for 2,000 years ago, to each faithful servant in each generation to continue the proclamation of the Gospel and the advancement of the church. So this is the same baton that Peter carried and the same baton that Paul carried, we are carrying now. It’s a greater privilege.
Christopher Heron: You went to school and learned entertainment business. Having those tools, those academic resources, is that advantageous towards your preparation and your success in ministry?
William McDowell: It’s absolutely advantageous. Success is the Lord’s but it’s also relative to being prepared for the calling and knowing how to position yourself. Education was critical, whether you go to school or you’re just an avid reader which I happen to be, anything you do to educating yourself I think is vital because this is a ministry that has an industry component to it or business component. To be naive concerning business. you’re doing to your own detriment.
Christopher Heron: A lot of your schooling of worship & praise came under the mentorship of Ron Kenoly. Tell me a little bit more about what you learned under his direction.
William McDowell: Here’s what I want to say. I am grateful for the time spent. What people attempt to do is sometimes to the detriment of the credit of the Holy Spirit. The greatest teacher of any person that has ever done anything effectively in ministry is not another person. It’s the Holy Spirit and the things that He teaches. I think what we try to do we try to trace this and try to say well you are this way because you learned from this person. I think that ultimately my time with Ron Kenoly was two years. There are people who invested a whole lot more time in me who are unknown. I traveled before with Ron Kenoly and others. Ron Kenoly happens to be the name that people know. So they say you learned from him.
I want to say what is most important as the relationship to the development of what God has put in me is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the teacher, my direct mentor who orchestrates everything in life so that you learn and grow. So I am the way that I am because of the Holy Spirit not because of a person. It is not discrediting those people. I learned a whole lot from Ron Kenoly but I learned a whole lot from other people who are not named. I think we all look at mentors and we appreciate them but then when we really see the work of the Holy Spirit, that there are times when He sent mentors into my life.
Christopher Heron: How did you petition the Holy Spirit? Did it require you to go into a season of prayer? Is that part of your daily discipline? What are some of the lessons that you could share so that other worshipers and praise leaders could also receive that kind of power from the Holy Spirit?
William McDowell: The prerequisite to being used by God is brokenness. The thing about the prerequisite of being used by God of being broken is that He is going to get what He wants out of your life when you say yes. What you see is that a number of us resist His goodness because we don’t like His process. So the key is not resisting His process at any stage of life. He pursues this relationship with us in order to get a yes from us. What I discovered as I look back over the course of my life is that I gave myself away. There’s a line that says my life is no longer my own. To You I belong. I think that the misnomer that we have is that our life belong to us. It doesn’t belong to us. So when we say yes to Him, when we surrender to Him, He can do whatever He wants to do and He will get whatever He wants from us. So when it comes to God, there are two ways you can live. You can be broken beforehand or be broken by Him. But either way He is going to get what He wants. For me, I was pursuing Him and on the way to pursuing Him, He allowed these things to happen.
Christopher Heron: So how do you balance this pursuit for Him with the attention you dedicate to your wife and children?
William McDowell: It’s a blessing. It’s a huge discipline on time but it is a huge blessing. Procreation by God’s standard is the purpose of maintaining the Gospel and the godly seed of the Earth. It’s a blessing because Jeremiah 1 gave us a clue that God knows our destiny before we entered the Earth, before the foundations of the world and before they enter into her womb, He knew our children which we knew that He chose us to be the stewards. He knew our children before He placed them in my wife’s womb, which means He saw us and said you are the ones that’s supposed to care for and steward this particular seed. So that’s what make it such a huge blessing because it means that God trusted us with them.
Christopher Heron: Finally, in your words, how would you distinguish your new album – Sounds Of Revival – form your previous works?
William McDowell: What makes this unique is two things. One is the way that it was birthed and the way that it was captured. My last albums have been more of a private time, away with God, coming out of this praise through songs. These were the birthing we have in quiet worship inspiration. What I mean by that is we’re listening to what God is saying in the Earth, sensing the prophetic words that are hanging over the Earth. What we said as a worship team is that we’re going to explore private moments. That is what worship exploration is to us, exploring private moments. What that means is that whenever we step into the moment where God is doing something and this something has to be declared in the atmosphere that hasn’t been written yet, but we’re tapping into it, we will stay in that moment and explore that moment until a song is birthed.
And so on stages across the world over the last two years we’ve been exploring private moments and out of those moments the song came. So literally most of these songs are birthed in front of other people they just didn’t know it. The worship exploration allowed us to take the fragments that connected to the whole of what God was saying. So, instead of a secret place away with God, we knew what God was saying with the Earth right now before His people. We can sense it. We’re going to continue to declare it in every atmosphere, what the Lord is saying and begin to pull on that, out of that atmosphere, a new declaration that would be birthed. So that’s made the difference.
The second thing was more than any other project the people came out and experienced that move, 3,000 of them, to be a part of this recording, with an expectation to meet God. So it was birthed and worship exploration and it was captured in an audience of expectation. Because everyone came expecting to meet God, they came ready. So the people of that move made this recording special because of the way they perceived God after the song has been released. That makes the difference.
Christopher Heron: Your music has consistently been for the body of Christ. Is that a fair assessment?
William McDowell: Absolutely. I never felt a deviation towards trying to explore artistic anything. This is a call to minster to the body through songs, biblical songs and declarations that not only touch the heart of God but also do what God tells us to do. This is absolutely a calling and I don’t see any deviation any time soon.
For more information on the ministry of Pastor William McDowell and his powerful new worship album, Sounds Of Revival, visit the official interactive website at www.williammcdowellmusic.com.