A Worship Director. A Creative Director. A Worship Resident. An Assistant Worship Director and Mom. A Valuation Associate. An Engineer. And a High School Senior.
God brought this group of Gracers together for a weekend songwriting retreat in February, and after pounds of chili, too-many-to-count logs of firewoods, hours of working through lyrics, playing around with harmonies and melodies, and lots of prayer, the song Kingdom Come was born.
What a gift to Grace Community Church that God has given us – a group of talented musicians, singers, and songwriters who love the Lord and use their gifts to bless the body and give glory to God.
We go behind-the-scenes with members of the Worship Team to learn more about what went into creating the song Kingdom Come, how God met each person at the retreat, and the unforgettable memories created from this experience.
The team at the writing retreat. From left to right: Peter Kachnycz, Ben Alston, Tommy Myers, William Mayah, Bryan Copperthite, (Shane Johnson – the official chef for the weekend), Heather Johnson, Christine Allen
(interview edited for clarity)
How did the song-creating process start for Kingdom Come?
Tommy Myers (TM): With an open bible and with an open heart. Being vulnerable and honest with the team was crucial.
William Mayah (WM): We had a focused idea that we wanted to explore. We came up with the melody, chords, chorus, and bridge lyrics together, worked on the verse lyrics separately, and then fit it together like a puzzle.
How long did it take to write it and what was the creative process?
TM: It took us a few hours. We traveled out to Deep Creek to our friends’ cabin to find a place free from distractions and full of inspiration. We had a hybrid process of working on the music and lyrics simultaneously. Bryan laid down some piano and recorded it and had it playing on loop for about an hour. This gave us an amazing creative atmosphere. That piano ended up being the main driving music within the verses. At this point we all got to writing and wrote about 15-20 verses in total and went to work. We mixed and matched lyrics and checked that everything was theologically sound.
Speaking of, how did you ensure that the song was theologically sound?
WM: We had a few verses that we worked from for inspiration, which also lined up with the series we went through as a church. The one that stuck with me the most was Isaiah 61:1-3. What we were trying to explore was what “Kingdom Come” means. How Jesus’ coming affected the world, how we can pray expectantly for the things of the kingdom to take place even more in our time, and to look for Christ’s return.
Christine Allen (CA): We want to live as Kingdom people, embodying Kingdom values while on earth, while also longing for God’s Kingdom to come, and to come soon. The chorus paints a picture much like we see in Philippians 2:10 “…so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth…” If we are longing for the Kingdom to come, then we are crowning our King Jesus to rule over us. While on earth, this is done in our hearts.
How did God work through you during the process?
CA: The whole process felt like a God moment. It’s not a common thing to have seven people in a room who have never worked together in this capacity and have a new song written in less than a day. This was a gift from God!
Heather Johnson (HJ): The song writing process can be emotional/vulnerable. God met all of us at the retreat to be open with one another and create a safe writing environment.
Peter Kachnycz (PZ): I am relatively new to GCC but have been involved in a lot of small songwriting circles both within and outside of the Church. It was really amazing to me how easily the song came to the group. Everyone seemed to agree on the vision and message of the song from the outset. Getting seven people to agree on anything is tough, but we really didn’t face any challenges in terms of musical or lyrical direction. It really felt like we were able to open our hearts and let God speak.
TM: It was definitely humbling for me. At the same time I grew a lot from it and got a super close community to support me and encourage me to finish my own songs and be more creative and expressive towards God and tell of what He has done for me.
WM: We had a time of worship to kick the Saturday activities off which for me was key. It really set the tone for the rest of the day and creative process. I think all our hearts were focused on the Lord and together in the Spirit. Any group project can be difficult, but having 7 creative people try to write a song together in a short period of time could easily be a disaster, but instead we were all astonished at how easy the process was. I think a lot of that had to do with our hearts being united in Spirit. Checking our egos at the door and allowing the process to take place.
Bryan Copperthite (BC): Man, what they said. The whole weekend felt like a God moment. Only the work of the Holy Spirit can explain a song coming together so quickly and easily between seven of us!
How did each person play a part in the songwriting process?
HJ: All of us have very different testimonies, have walked with Christ very differently, and on top of that have different musical backgrounds. It creates diversity in our thinking and allowed us to bring different things to the table.
CA: Everyone contributed throughout the different stages. It was fluid, organic, exhilarating.
Best moment from the writing retreat?
PZ: Friday night we had a great time of sharing our stories and singing some of our favorite worship songs, and that kind of helped propel us the rest of the weekend. Also, we had some amazing food!
HJ: Although “Kingdom Come” was the only song we have shared so far with the congregation, we spent a lot of time sharing songs that we wrote by ourselves with one another and giving feedback. I enjoyed just listening and learning other people’s songs!
TM: For me the best moment actually happened a few months down the line while me, Ben, and Will were in Nashville at a worship leader conference. During one of the workshops at the conference, Ben and I had the opportunity to play “Kingdom Come” for a room of about 30 songwriters from all over the country. I jumped on the keys and Ben played guitar and led with vocals. Towards the end of the song, and especially during the bridge, the whole atmosphere of the room changed…everyone started singing the bridge and chorus and some were even harmonizing…without lyrics in front of them. It was the ultimate test to see if we created a “singable” song. It was truly a humbling moment.
WM: Outside of the worship time we had, it was also the drive home. The people in my car and I just had the rough recording we made on repeat for most of the ride home. We were really amazed at how things came together and what God was able to do through the team. We were excited to experience that process together and share the song with the church.
Funniest story from the writing retreat?
HJ: Oh man! SO many funny moments. I won’t give all the details… but we tried to record “Kingdom Come” A LOT through the weekend. It took us SO many tries to even get through the intro! We could not stop laughing.
CA: When our song was written, we started to record it. Standing around some very basic recording equipment, the click track would start, and then we’d get all goofy. One take, we just started with random percussion noises. The next take, Bryan started the rap from Eminem’s “Lose Yourself”, along with the beat. “You only get…one shot…”. And the greatest laugh of the whole retreat was when we started yet another take, and just as we were about to seriously come in on the first verse, Bryan farted.
WM: To his credit.. it didn’t stink!
HJ: GOOD QUESTION. Hopefully more songs!!
CA: We want to write songs by our people for our people, with Grace’s culture and values. We want to honor God with our gifts in this challenging yet beautiful way!
BC: I am confident that this is the first of many songs coming from Grace. I envision a future where we are singing many more of our own songs to God, and I am more sure than ever that He has added, and will continue to add, the right people and gifts to make that a reality.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Worship Team, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can use your gifts at Grace.