If there’s a single word that aptly captures what Tim Hughes has been about—where his heart’s been over the last years, there’s no better touchstone than passion. But as is typical for the Brit who wrote what’s arguably the biggest modern worship anthem ever (“Here I Am to Worship”) and garnered two Dove Awards along the way—all before the age of 29—there’s a lot more of deeper significance bubbling beneath the surface.
For starters, intently listening to God and letting him lead the creation of song themes and lyrics and chords has been a process of discovery for Hughes—one that not only required daily prayer and surrender, but also plenty of observation, insight, and vision for where the church needs to take worship.
“These are the days to be daring, exuberant, and passionate in worship,” Hughes asserts. “These are not times for half-hearted, apathetic worship. The need is great, and the church has to rise up and take on board all who God is. I sometimes get so frustrated of being in churches where we just go through the motions. God is worthy of everything we can ever give him.
“It should be common in our churches to see people weeping in worship, overwhelmed at the sheer mercy of God. It should be common to hear people singing at the tops of their voices, passionately expressing the love that God has lavished upon us. It should be common to see people dancing like lunatics, freely and with abandon, responding to God’s salvation. It should be common to see people rapt in silence, lost in wonder, completely transfixed at the transcendence of our God. We have an amazing God, and our worship should be real, honest, authentic, engaged, expressive, and wholehearted; we should be holding nothing back.”
“Jesus said, ‘I will build my church,’ so that’s the focus of everything I do,” Hughes emphasizes, adding that such “building” doesn’t play out exclusively onstage at massive worship festivals around the world, either—in fact, quite the opposite. His role as worship director of his local congregation, Holy Trinity Brompton in London, gets top billing. “I’m involved with leading the worship on Sundays, training up other worship leaders, investing in and leading the musicians, and working with the leadership team to bring about change,” Hughes explains proudly. “Our vision at the church is the ‘re-evangelization of the world and the transformation of society’—it’s a big vision we’re working toward!”
Not that music and songwriting isn’t something Hughes enjoys—far from it; it’s just that music is truly a means to an end, not the end in itself. “I’m passionate about writing songs that’ll be a blessing to the church, that’ll encourage the church to worship,” he notes. “New songs, new melodies, new lyrics that’ll inspire and fuel the church’s worship.”
For Hughes, it all comes back to God—the One who freely gives us not only life, but in fact offers us the passion to love and serve him with everything we have, every day. Hughes’ heart’s desire is simply that everyone who hears his music would see all the wonders Jesus has created and let those discoveries fuel their worship.