Hillsong Young and Free Building a Thriving Youth Worship Ministry & The Future of Congregational Music

Youth Ministry can be a brutal place to be a worship leader. Kids stare, unengaged. No one sings along. The band is mediocre and the sound is bad. Help! Well Hillsong Y&F have definitely built quite the opposite experience at their church. In this episode we talk about how you can build a vibrant, thriving, worshipful community amongst the youth at your church. We also discuss the future of congregational music styles. Will everything become electronic dance-pop performed by computers? Find out in this episode!

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Alex Enfiedjian 00:09 Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of the worship ministry training podcast, a monthly podcast for worship leaders and worship team members. My name is Alex Enfiedjian. Your host, super thankful that you are tuning in today for a great and fun episode with Alex Pappas from Hillsong. Young and free. We had a great chat about youth worship ministry, how do we create a thriving youth worship ministry? I’ve gotten a lot of emails from worship leaders who are like, I leave the youth group and they just stare at me like I’m a crazy person, how do I get them engaged? So we talk a bit about that today. We also talk about the future of congregational worship music like stylistically, where is this train headed? Our guitars going the way the dinosaur Are we going to be playing eight laptops on the stage is it all going to be dance music, so we chatted a bit about that as well excited to share this episode with you. But before we do, I want to tell you about our sponsor this month Planning Center, the absolute best way to plan schedule and resource your team members for your upcoming services. Hillsong uses Planning Center, pretty much every church uses Planning Center. If you’re not using it, you definitely want to get on it. It’s going to simplify your life. It’s going to improve your ministry, it’s going to make you more organized, it’s going to make you seem more on the ball. And we all love all of those things. And so please check out Planning Center for free. It’s a 30 day free trial. And after that plans start at just $14 a month, you can check all this out at planning dot center. If you go to planning dot center, sign up for the free trial, you will not regret it and your team will love you for it. alright with that, let’s get into today’s interview with Alex Pappas from Hillsong. Young and free. Hey, everybody, I am here with Alex Pappas from Hillsong. Young and free Alex, thank you for joining us from the other side of the world. But it’s good to be here. Thanks for having me. Yeah, man, you’re not originally from Australia. You’re from Long Beach, which is my hometown area. So we’re practically related, man, that’s the crazy thing. And we have the same name, which is like, What in the world is going on right now? We probably have a lot of mutual friends. That’s probably true. Yeah. How old? Are you? By the way? I turn 31 in two days. Okay, I’m 34. We might have some friends in the same network. We’ll have to chat offline about that. Well, man, I’m excited to have you on the line. And I’d love to talk with you about kind of two things in our conversation today. Number one would be creating a thriving youth worship ministry. Because, you know, we think of Hillsong young and free as the fun upbeat future forward arm of Hillsong worship, but really, you guys are like, super involved in the week to week, youth ministry, worship of your church family. And so I want to talk about that. And I’d also love to get your take on the future of congregational music, because you guys are really pushing the envelope. And I’d love to see where you think all this is headed in the next 20 years. So let’s start with the youth ministry stuff. How long have you been involved in leading the youth? And how long has Hillsong young and free kind of been a youth movement? I guess?

Alex Pappas Hillsong Y&F 02:59 Well, me personally, I was handed the reins of the proverbial reins to my youth worship team when I was 17. And we just had a go at it. And we had fun. It was full of like everybody on the team was pretty much my best friends that I roped them into playing and playing instruments, even if they didn’t really play them. But we just like you can play bass here. Let’s Yeah, let’s go. That was that’s obviously I just said I’m nearly 31. So that’s almost 14 years. And I have been a part of Hillsong now for just over 11 years. And so a part of our youth ministry and in different measures of capacity for Yeah, about I would say yeah, just over 10.

Alex Enfiedjian 03:45 And when did like Hillsong young and free the band emerge out of the youth ministry. Was that a natural progression? Or are you guys I mean, you guys are serving every week through worship, right? Is that the case?

Alex Pappas Hillsong Y&F 03:58 Yeah. So in 2000 and let me see if I get this right 2012. early in the year, our youth pastors named Pete and Lord togs they started just put out this like challenge, so to speak to our youth ministry was like, in 2000, I think some of that early 2010 Hillsong, United broke off from being our youth band, and just became the amazing, influential, unbelievable band that we all know and love. So it had been about two years where there was no songs that were like the youth ministries, and we noticed so everybody that you’ll see today now in leading or involved in young and free in any capacity, we were all just youth leaders, whether we were you know, small group Connect group leaders, and serving on the team, but everybody who was involved like it wasn’t like, all we’re waiting for our time, like there’s gonna be a new youth band. Honestly, not really like none of us. Were like thinking that No one none of us were planning for that we were just serving in our church just like anybody else would. Because a we like to play music and we love to serve young people. So yeah, everybody see was either a youth leader at the time, or some of them were in high school at the time. And they put the challenge out to write songs. And naturally speaking, when you kind of get the opportunity, you sort of initially just write what you know. So everything we wrote, just sounded like united songs, except obviously, United rights united songs better than we do. So they sounded like bad besides of United songs. But then I don’t know what stroke of inspiration we hit. But myself, and the other guy on the team, Aiden, Cain, who many of you would know, we got together, and we were just like, maybe we should write something that like a we’re listening to and be like, especially our young people are listening to. And so we just sat down in my apartment with a electric guitar, with the dotted eighth setting on my delay pedal, and I displayed down, down, down, which came out, down, down, down, down, down, down, down, down, down, down, down, down. And then from that session, we wrote beginning bits of live. And yeah, we played it then at our encounter conference, which is in October, and sonically and energy and the spirit of it was definitely like, this is who young and free is. And from that, definitely, it was like a landslide of just songs in that vein, and that inspiration. And so, when you look back, you’re like, it obviously couldn’t have been anything that we ordained. It was just the hand of God blessing us and obviously, pushing us into a space that he had dreamt up. And he obviously saw a need for the church. But yeah, it was so natural, like everybody on our team are honestly like, we’re the biggest group of best friends. I say that to remember. Like when I was 17, leading a youth band. They were all my best friends, like they were the people that I truly wanted to hang out with, when I finished. And it’s the same today. And I actually think that’s so nuts, especially that I’m, I’m 31 now still serving in youth ministry with my best friends in my youth band. So yeah, it’s pretty cool.

Alex Enfiedjian 07:20 You’re just a big kid, man. And I think it’s interesting that you mentioned the whole you weren’t waiting around, like hoping to be the next Hillsong ban. You were just faithful youth leaders. And I talked a couple months ago with Ryan Romeo from the outcry tour. And one of his big points is like, be faithful where you are, be excellent. Be consistent where you are. And that is how you get promoted. And so I love that you guys weren’t you didn’t have some agenda or some sneaky plan. You were just, hey, we love these kids, and we’re going to serve them. Now. I’d love to ask you What does youth worship ministry at Hillsong look like? Are the students involved in the band? Are they playing with you? Or is it kind of you guys just play for them each week? And they’re just participating? What does it look like for you guys?

Alex Pappas Hillsong Y&F 08:07 Well, we have I mean, just in Sydney alone, on a Friday night, we have youth running in like, seven different locations. So no, we are not we are involved, still to this day. But especially now we obviously when there’s not a global pandemic, we tour like five months out of the year. So obviously, we’re not home to even run youth half the time. So it was pretty quick into like young and free really getting going back there was obviously an immediate because we were the key people on Friday nights when we run you, we were the key people and the key leaders and the youth worship pastors and all that stuff, which was awesome. But very quickly, it was like, Oh, we have got to train other people up. And so we’re still now I’m very involved. And especially right now, while we’re running some online Youth Services, we’ve kind of tapped in a little bit more than we have the past few years. But I mean, youth ministry is by far the like greatest blessing to like the church. So I’ve been just one of our campus worship pastors the last few years. And from when I was a youth creative pastor, to now like, nothing feeds into the church life youth ministry, nothing feeds in like bringing young people through that are so excited to have an opportunity to, to lead people to play their instrument. And obviously, when you’re young, like some of your intentions aren’t like, you know, it’s not all humility. It’s not all humble. It’s not all this, but like, that’s okay. Like, God uses a willing heart, even if like it’s a little like I’ve been there. Like there was a time where it was definitely like, I love God. I love worship, but man like I would really love an opportunity. And like, that’s okay like, as long as people like that, like myself had big brother That were like around the brothers and sisters like kind of putting you like in a hug but a little bit of a headlock, and just bringing you on the journey. And so like that’s the primary thing, what we really work and focus on like these days. But yeah,

Alex Enfiedjian 10:14 yeah, I always tell worship leaders like the first thing you should do when you get to your church and start a youth band, because that is where all your great musicians will come from in two years. So I’d love for you to kind of maybe dig a little bit deeper into that. You said, you guys are all about training the next generation to be great worship leaders. What does that look like on a week to week basis? And what could the worship leaders listening do to maybe some tricks you’ve learned? Or like, maybe just the structure of how you guys do all that stuff? How and when are you training these kids?

Alex Pappas Hillsong Y&F 10:43 So one of the things that I initiated when I was the youth worship pastor was, and this is tricky, because we’re, we’re a big church. So we’re very blessed to have it like this. But I would get a lot of people coming in Yeah, oh, man, I really want to play like, I’m really I’m ready to play like, and, you know, these are some older people and stuff. And, you know, it’s not in high school, not older. And so I’ve got all these people that are pretty decent and are willing, but you know, they’re not necessarily like leading Connect groups and things like that. So we had this idea like, Okay, well, if you really are interested in the youth ministry, would you teach them? would you would you give them lessons, and legally, we were not allowed to call them lessons. But on a Friday, you know, our youth program starts at 7pm, we would start rehearsals at 5pm. And we would also start youth workshops at 5pm, where we would just send call outs to kids to just be like, hey, you’re a singer? Like, do you want a vocal lesson? at five o’clock? Do you? Or do you want to? Do you want to be Excuse me? Do you want to be in a vocal workshop at 5pm? Hey, you’re a bass player. Do you want to be in a bass workshop at 5pm? It’s actually so cool. Man. I was chatting the other day to one of the guys on our team. And I completely forgot about this. But he’s this legend from I think he’s from Cuba. And he moved to Australia, and was keen to get involved. And he was a bass player and wanted to play and I was just like, oh, and I like, could you would you do this? And a he’s trained up some of the strongest bass players on our team. And now he’s actually a trainer at Hillsong. College. And like, it’s pretty funny to be like, man, he actually started there. And he was willing. He’s like, yeah, sure, of course, I’ll train young people. And he’s one of the best bass players in our campus and teaches at college. And so anyway, that was a little tangent. But we ran that, and I’ll be honest, this is tough man. And it’s still sort of is like, when you and I were in high school, if you play guitar, like, even if you weren’t like a cool person, you were kind of cool. If you were in a band, like I was in a ska band, and yet, I was still like, kind of cool. That’s awesome. And you know, it was just it was, that was kind of the time we grew up in, like in you know, pop music was rock and roll bands. So there were a lot of people that looked at the worship team were like, Yes, I want to do that. It’s so cool. Whereas now, obviously, with the type of music that young people are listening to, and like bedroom pop, a lot of young people are like, they’re keen on music, but not so keen on like learning a craft, like properly, learning an instrument sitting down and learning the fundamentals all day, as opposed to import, like, you know, these kids are 1314 years old, that are wizards on producing and making tracks like infinitely better than I am. And so there’s this push pole of, like seeing potential in people in young people and being like, would you be up for this? Like, would you be for serving the church as well and creating space for that, and vice versa? So the way we approach ministry has got to change all the time to change with changing people,

Alex Enfiedjian 14:00 right? Yeah. And I love how you involve other people to teach the youth and I’m guessing you did see some kids come up out of that. And then what you just start rostering them you’re like, Alright, you’re ready to play bass for a youth night is how it works. You just start putting on the schedule and then coaching them or they don’t really play with you guys. Or how does that work?

Alex Pappas Hillsong Y&F 14:18 Yeah, no. 100% so that is the goal. We have like our own little like bringing a reporting system and we’ll keep an eye on it and be like, Hey, is Toby ready to play bass right? And you know, there’s there is a level of we just got to like, give them a go give him a red hot go. Because like, the reality is, every single one of us were risk to one of our leaders. At one point, we were a risk, right that they just went You know what, we don’t know how he’s gonna go. But let’s just give him a shot. And especially man, I tell you what, like one thing as well as, as a leader, something I’ve learned, like your presence is very valuable. But you’re stepping out, like when you’re a kid, and you know, your parents go away and like trust you to be home alone. Like, there is that level of like, okay, mom and dad are gone, like we’re in charge, let’s do this, let’s make it happen. Let’s do it, let’s bring our best. And so yeah, bring people through. But also like, if you’re gonna bring through, like, Chuck him in the deep end and let him let him swim,

Alex Enfiedjian 15:25 see what happens. I love that just the concept of taking risks on people. And like you said, all of us were, we were risks for someone, and they took that risk. And thank God, they took that risk, because now we get to be leaders. So that’s the musical side what I mean, spiritually, what is, do you guys as the musicians and the worship leaders? Do you guys work on the spiritual side with them? Or do you kind of let the youth ministry as a whole, really focus on bringing them up in the Lord? Or do you guys have a specific training thing that you do spiritually? for them?

Alex Pappas Hillsong Y&F 15:55 It’s great, it’s great question. And we, I took both, a lot of the young people that would be there in high school or middle school that are wanting to get involved in serving, they would be in Connect groups already with a leader with a youth leader. And so you know, it’s given take, like, we would let the key discipleship and the one on one kind of exists there. But I mean, one thing as a creative team, even separately from that we really tried to implement is, so the campus that I pastor, we have about 600, plus people that call Sydney creative, like Sydney city, their home campus, and we have about 10 staff members across like our production, and our worship staff. And so 10 people to look after nearly 700, obviously, is not an achievable goal. So we do our best to break everything down to make sure across the tiers that even if they’re not getting direct contact with one of the pastors, they’re still getting a point of contact with somebody key on our creative team, it kind of works in tears of leadership. Like, if I look after 10 people, then my 10 people all look after three people, obviously, that quickly looks after a whole lot of people. And so that’s something we really try to do. I think one of the biggest mistakes, to be honest, I’ve made in ministry is excellence, and, you know, excellence at your craft, and, you know, being and, you know, amazing leadership thoughts as well, like, your gifting will only take you as far as your character. And, you know, these are the things that were ingrained into me so deeply. And, you know, I guess I was the kind of person I that could receive that sort of word really well. But not everyone just does and goes like, right, my gifting will only take me as far as my character, I have to be a person of character have to be this. Not everybody like receives that just goes yet, okay. Like other people also need like a loving arm to like, actually go with them on the journey. And I just found that my early days of leadership, I was definitely all about excellence, and their craft, and less about the person. And so like, one thing that I’m so intentional on now is like, Hey, I love you and the gift that you bring, but I care about you more than what you bring. If that’s how we approach people, and like leading them and the time with them and all that stuff. Like all that other stuff falls into place like actually discipling them in one on one, because I’m just being honest. My conversations with them used to start with Are you practicing? And I would end with like, how’s your time with God? Okay, yeah, good. See that? This is great. That’s awesome. And you know, obviously, it seems so people listening are probably like, Well, duh, you idiot, but, but it was just so like, oh, like, but I just want anybody on my team to know like, Hey, I care about you so much more than your gifting. I care about you so much more than how many Planning Center rosters you accept and how many your quota is like when you’ve reached out like I care about you. And I care about your family, and I care about your job and I care about your time God, like all this stuff, your gifting is his last. Yeah. And especially when like when people get that, like the leadership model that I’ve always chosen to lead with his people will only be loyal so much to me. Once they know that I’m loyal to them. People will only like step in front of a proverbial bullet for you. Once they know that I will like we just have to be so for our people before they are going to be so for

Alex Enfiedjian 19:49 us. I think that’s such a good word. And I think especially young people, students, they they intuitively sense that like they are like you care for me. You Ask me how I’m doing. You really want to know, under the surface, what’s going on. And I feel like when youth ministry has leaders who get that, and who do that on a regular basis, it can’t help but thrive and be healthy and kids are going to come in, they’re going to invite their friends to come because they’re looking for someone older than them, who cares about them. And I just love that you said that. I would love you know, you’ve been leading now worship for youth, like you said, since you’re 16, what are some of the lessons you’ve learned about leading youth in worship to God?

Alex Pappas Hillsong Y&F 20:31 One thing I’ve always sort of I used to lead with this statement is young people are human walking, Bs detectors. Bologna sausage, of course, is what I was implying. We as a church have unbelievable church that is just so like, so kind and encouraging and vocal and also, which is awesome. But our youth ministry, they can be a bit Savage, I think they’re very funny. But you know, like, if they’re not into it, they’re vocal about that, as well. And so the biggest thing to me when I’m training other worship leaders and myself is they can so immediately sense what’s fake. They so immediately sense like, who’s not being themselves. And like, that’s, that is a hard thing to figure out whether you’re a preacher, whether you’re a worship leader, you know, whatever any of those things, like, it’s, you know, it’s easy to feel like yourself until you get handed a microphone or whatever. And you get up and you just emulate things you’ve seen. This is why like, you see people around the world worship leaders get up and they have an Australian accent, when they’re leading. And they’ve never been to Australia, because they obviously have been inspired by whether our church or planet shakers or something like that. And they’ve watched that. And then they finally get their goal. And they’re like, why do I have an Australian accent?

Alex Enfiedjian 21:54 It sounds so much more epic when you say it with an Australian accent. Are you ready to worship the Lord? And that’s not even Australian. I don’t know what that is. But close. Yeah.

Alex Pappas Hillsong Y&F 22:06 But you know what I mean? And so like, I was in a Hillsong college class one day that they ran through like four different types of worship leaders, which even now I’m like, well, there’s more than that. But you know, it was like one of them was the encourager, one of them was the cheerleader and Baba, and we even like, we broke down, like, you know, key guys on our team, like JD, like from Hillsong. United, like, he’s a cheerleader, you know, he’ll just like, get you so amped get you so high. And for some reason, like, I don’t know why, but that, like, dropped a bomb in my spirit. And I was just like, cool. I get it, cuz like JD at that point, too. That was like my hero. I had long curly hair, too. I was just like, boom, he’s my guy. Like, I like hyping people. I like this. And, like, up into that point, I was like a pretty decent worship leader, but I was just trying to be JD. And then we had this class and it just like, and it wasn’t even like, Okay, cool. I am this one of the four. It was just like, Oh, I am me. And I just led like, I was made that day. And I just remember it was such even, like, all my friends stuff came up after I led in like a chapel service. And, and they’re just like, Man, that was that was you like, That was so good today. And so like, I mean, the biggest thing that I that I, like, really try to work with people, and especially like, the way I would encourage anyone to approach like leading young people is like, just like, be you. If you’re like, if you’re a funny person, if you’re like, don’t get up there and crack jokes, but be relaxed, like let your presence like actually be, like an example of like your personality. If I get up and lead worship, and everybody who knows me, knows that I kind of have this personality. But when I lead, I’m like, unbelievably serious. anybody watching would just be like, there’s this disparity, and so be you. And it takes time to figure out who you are. It takes trial and error, and they’re like, Ooh, that was to me today. That was I probably was a little bit too, you know, Lucy. But yeah, I mean, I’ve ramped on about one very small thing, but I actually think it’s massive. To actually like, take the time to be like, this is who I am as a worship leader.

Alex Enfiedjian 24:21 No, I love that. I think that’s so good. Now, one of the things that you said was that Hillsong itself is an expressive church. I don’t know how the youth ministry is but there are many youth worship leaders out there who have told me, man, my kids just stare at me blank face. They look, they’re like they’re mad dogging me. They look like they hate me. I’m playing my guitar. I’m pouring my heart out and they are not coming along for the ride. What would you say to that worship leader? What would you say to that complaint about really engaging the students into worship?

Alex Pappas Hillsong Y&F 24:53 Number one, you’ve got to teach them how I think too. And this is where the has to be like a great relationship of the youth worship team with the rest of the youth ministry, especially for us, like we can so easily be completely separate, and have nothing to do with them. And a lot of the guys who would serve, you know, they’re playing at, like, you know, five other service blocks during the week. So to ask them to be a Connect group leader as well, or maybe they used to be, but they’re not anymore. So there can be this disparity. But if you’re looking for young people to get more engaged in worship, to me, the best way to do it is to have people on the floor that are also leading by example of what you’re looking for. And so for us, it definitely as well would be even like the young people that serve on the youth creative team, but when they’re not rostered, it’s like, man, I want to see you right down the front, leading, leading from exactly where you are. There’s nothing like youth leaders that have like, amazing relationship with their young people that just go like all out, and they bring their whole squad with them. And like, they are charismatic, their crew loves them, and they follow suit. When you’re at that 8am service, or your youth or whatever, you find that if it’s tough crowd, if it’s a tough week, you find the guy that you know, no matter what is leading, you find the guy in the crowd that is like leading you in a lot of ways, which is, in my opinion, completely fine. Find the person that is encouraging you, as well as you are encouraging the church. And so like, man, if you can like open dialogue with your youth, Pastor, open dialogue with your youth leaders, like I constantly want to let you cleaners know, I’m like, Man, you make our lives like, so easy. When you do this, like you make leading because I I can see them looking at you, I can see them looking at you worship and they’re like, they’re copying you. It’s amazing. It’s the coolest thing. And so yeah, but then, on the flip side, as a worship leader, take time to teach people, like if you’re looking for them to jump, stop the song guy, we’re gonna sing this and go I want to see the whole room jump in, stop the track, it was a lot easier when we didn’t use tracks, but stop the track. And just like come on, by and just and you know, harp away like, and, you know, be creative. Like, I remember when I was leading worship for our group of kids in our church that are like, just younger than Middle School, we call them voltage. So I guess their grades like five and six here. And we just did the most obscure stuff, like I don’t know if you’ve ever seen like, West Side Story. But I literally like made them like clear to the walls and do like jets, sharks, like as like, we’re building the bridge of this song. And you know, like, it was nonsense. Like, it’s so dumb, but like, it was just us doing whatever it took to get their attention to get them involved. And like, just, like, be creative and just try stuff and stuffs gonna fail. Man, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried stuff and been like, oh, okay, just to have a go like, just just try stuff, man. And then obviously, when it comes to the more serious stuff as well, like singing out in worship, or singing prophetic worship, take time to teach them still take time to say like, we’re just gonna sing out. But if you don’t know what to sing, just sing Jesus. Or we’re going to take this time, I’m going to read this really simple song. Get this in your spirit and just sing what I’ve just seen what I’m reading to you. And just try that. Just try that. teach people take them on the journey? Because otherwise like, yeah, obviously, they’ll just take yours just being like, I don’t really know what happens here.

Alex Enfiedjian 28:58 Right? You know, it’s interesting. That’s just called leadership, right? Like, a lot of times people are like, what is a worship leader? Well, a worship leader is a leader of worship, you lead people and you lead them to worship and all those things. You just said, the coaching the teaching, the exhortation, the explanation, pausing and saying, hey, like, this is what we’re gonna do. You’re making it easy for people, you’re giving them handles to like, do what you want them to do. And that’s just great leadership. It’s so practical,

Alex Pappas Hillsong Y&F 29:30 every every like fortune 500 or, you know, head CEO of these big companies like when you read about them, a lot of the principles that they implement in their lives are similar, but how they got there, how they got to where they are, there was their own unique flair to write, like how they became somewhat influential in their sphere. They had great discipline, they had great routines, they had this and this, just like any of us worship leaders, like we need to have our own time with God. We need to have our own time developing our practical gifting all this stuff, but like how we get there to like to figure out is, is slowly us being a leader, like you’re saying, and doing that point of difference of just innovating in our sphere.

Alex Enfiedjian 30:15 So good. You talked a little bit about just how youth are no longer really learning the craft of music, like tangible physical, put your fingers on an instrument music, and it’s now like keyboard, MIDI keyboards and Ableton, and, you know, whatever logic and, you know, what does that mean for the future of church? Does that mean we’re going to have a glut of musicians a lack of musicians that are ready and qualified to lead musical worship? Or does that mean, we’re going to go to computer based music? What does it look like for the youth now that are not playing guitar anymore? But they’re just producing on Ableton?

Alex Pappas Hillsong Y&F 30:54 Man? I mean, I wish I could say, yeah, I mean, one thing that’s being been cool is, for us, it’s just like, you know, there’s a, there’s a young person that is, like, become an absolute beast at like, DJing, or whatever. It’s just like, you know, would you be like, obviously, if they’re producing in their programming, like, they’ve got some experience, like, they understand something on a keyboard? And like, they already kind of understand sounds. So it’s just like, Are you up for this, and it’s up, what is kind of cool as well is, another thing that we’ve done is with the youth workshops, we’re trying to foster that as well. So we’re trying like to get somebody into run like, Hey, this is a quick logic course like, or you know, how to, if we steward that, like if I get a great producer like that in to do a couple things. And they show like, oh, but it actually is more than just like knowing how to pull in loop. Like if you want to do this well. And so we’ve seen a couple young guys who have done that. And it’s sort of been just like, oh, cool, I do need to learn how to play guitar as well. I actually do need to understand like drum grooves better. So again, I get it. This is again, this is just leadership, but actually finding what they are interested in, regardless of what we need. And the word I wouldn’t use is manipulate them into doing this, but inspire them to see a bigger picture of this. And again, like a lot of young people as well, like if they simply get like, oh, man, like, it’d be so cool to have you DJ set after you like DJ, a dance party put together your own little thing. But also, you really seem like you have a cool propensity to play the drums. So are you up for that? And again, like, I wouldn’t ever want it to seem manipulative, but like, find out what they’re interested in, and then see what else they’re up for.

Alex Enfiedjian 32:50 Right? And I mean, that’s so good, because obviously, they’re musical obviously, they understand rhythm and be in groove. And then they if they’re producing the understand the layers and how the layers work together, so they’re almost an even better candidate for really being a great team player. And then you just kind of take them and actually give them the physical training, they need to get that instrument down. I mean, just curious. Like, would there ever be a day when we don’t use physical instruments? Like, is it like you said, Who knows? But is that a possibility? Where it’s just like, we don’t need drums anymore? We just gonna program everything, like, what does that look like?

Alex Pappas Hillsong Y&F 33:24 I mean, I think there’s so much room for creativity. I don’t think real instruments will ever be unnecessary in the house. So Praise God. Because I mean, if anything, this like the Coronavirus that is showing how much we actually need to like, adapt our approach. And, and you know, a lot of stuff like I know for me, and we’re not doing all of our services like this, but I know for me on Sunday when I stream our churches service, and I’m watching it from my lounge room with my wife, especially if you know for watching a 9am service like I don’t want to heavily produced I don’t even really want like a full band necessarily, like what I want is well executed acoustic keys and maybe cello and some beautiful vocals and like, like worship with me. And so like I think there will always be space for innovation on both sides of the spectrum have to wear like why not do a Sunday night you know, pumping service or a youth service with no instruments and the Ableton push obviously like similar if you were a DJ like programming stuff and moving stuff around like no reason why you can’t really leave worship. with that. I editing the structure moving it around. There’s so much room for freedom in worship even with that, but at the same time, we’re still going to need this like genuine. Sorry, that’s not a good word. But this this simple, simple, real in the moment worship.

Alex Enfiedjian 35:01 I love that. And that encourages me that, you know, there is beauty and variety. And God has allowed us to make music to him in many different ways. And it resonates in different ways. And it serves different purposes. So that’s encouraging to me that it won’t just all turn into just eight computers on the stage. But speaking of like the style of, of what is resonating with the kids, because obviously, what you guys are writing, and what you guys are performing and playing and leading with is a very, I would say innovative or envelope pushing style, where it’s more pop, it’s more electronic, you’re kind of going interesting roads with your lyrics. I think your new song best friends starts with the line, like I don’t want to be on my phone, but I don’t want to be alone or something like that. And obviously the youth they’re like, eating it up, they’re really responding well to that. That wouldn’t translate well, with an older generation, would it? I mean, could you play awake or real loving your main services and see participation like you would from the youth? Or is it kind of relegated to that sphere?

Alex Pappas Hillsong Y&F 36:04 Again, like I said, Before, we have a very beautiful, you know, loving and accepting and encouraging church. And so we’re super lucky to have that. But at the same time, I mean, I remember when we first started singing alive in church, I just remember, like, so many of like, God bless them, but like, my, even my leaders, and my pastors and my big brothers, were kind of just like, you know, oh, yeah, like alive is really cool for you. But we’ll never sing it in church. At the time, I was just like, Okay, well, I guess, you know, if you say so, I believe you. But like, you know, to me, deep down, I was like, I think they’ll like it. And the first time they hear the song, if we just comp it with the track at like an 8am service, which the demographic of that services, definitely like, late 30s. And beyond, if we introduce it to them in that setting, like, of course, they’re going to be like, oh, get out of here. But we the way we approach any song is when we write the songs we get in the room, and it’s you know, two or three, like writers, a lyricist, and top liner and often a producer as well in the room. And you know, they’re sitting there making beats and building the track around the song that we’re writing. But always like, will always stop and like I turn the track off, sit at the piano and an acoustic guitar, and just see if it holds up without all that,

Alex Enfiedjian 37:29 because that’s the best songwriting advice I’ve heard in a long time.

Alex Pappas Hillsong Y&F 37:33 There you go. Because with tracks and production, you kind of can polish a turd. Thank you, like, and so many times will be like this course, I’m not sure. And then you get off and play on it. And just like that, you’d be like, okay, yeah, no, so we got some work to do. That’s not the course doesn’t hold up. So if we approach songwriting, like that, that means we can approach the song differently in a morning in an older demographic sort of service, to the extent where like, you can really like trick them into an tricks not a good word, but kind of it is like, you can play real love for them at 8am in a stripped back acoustic version, that’s, you know, we put a version of that out on our youth revival acoustic record. And we played it for months at our ATM service. And we played it like that. And it’s, you know, kind of got the shuffle feel. And it’s really sweet and real pretty and no vocal sample, oh, it’s just really nice, beautiful harmonies and O’s and wounds and all this stuff. And like, they love it. And then obviously, later, if they hear that track version, that’s kind of this isn’t the song I like, but that’s okay. A song like best friends. I don’t know if I would play it in a damn service. But you know what? Go for it. If you feel like it’ll let you know your church better. Yeah. So

Alex Enfiedjian 38:56 two things that really stand out in your answer. One is that a good song is a good song is a good song, you know, and it’s gonna work no matter how you arrange it. So I love that that’s just encouraging. But the second thing that stood out is that you want to serve the body that you have. So you’re going to play it or pick songs for that congregation and what’s going to resonate with them. I’m going to share I hope this isn’t offensive, but I saw a church. I don’t even know what church it was. They played one of your songs. I think it was real love. And I was watching this live stream. I don’t know how I came across it. This is like a year ago. And it was like two young people on a stage dancing to real love going crazy with lights flashing and a whole bunch of old bald dudes, like standing there like not moving an inch. And I was like, this is very bad worship leadership. Like I get that the song is cool. I get that you guys like the production, but look at your demographic dying out there, you know? So I think it’s so important. Like you said that Serve the body that we have. But the cool thing about young and free though is you guys do bridge so many styles like you are writing acoustic stuff, you’re approaching things with just piano only. And you’re really producing some great songs like the song itself is great. And then the the form that it takes is whatever it needs to be. So that’s cool. So you guys have recently released best friends and Lord send revival, which is a beautiful song. What’s next for Hillsong? Young and free? What are you guys working on? There’s not an album that those are attached to currently, those are more like singles. Right? So what’s what’s coming up in the near future?

Alex Pappas Hillsong Y&F 40:39 So we recorded a full live album in January at our summer camps. And so best friends and Lord send revival or two of the songs off that record. And yeah, so this is our fourth full length project. And obviously, given the current state of the world, the rollout of it has changed, you know, Lord send revival wasn’t, you know, always going to be the second single. But when all this sort of happened, it was like we need to bring this song to the world. And so the rollout looks a little bit different than we had initially planned. And we’re still trying to be a little bit creative. But obviously, we’re just praying that as people get to hear the rest of the songs and get to watch and listen to that, like whether you’re watching or listening. You can you can feel the presence of God in the room. And we were just really excited for people to hear it.

Alex Enfiedjian 41:29 Yeah, well, I will put links in the show notes. I’ll probably release this episode in July. And then it’ll be a couple days after you guys are live, hopefully. But if it’s not how to lay the episode. Hey, Alex, any final thoughts you want to share with you’ve got several 1000 worship leaders listening? Just thoughts you want to share with them about youth worship, or just congregational worship in general, just closing remarks?

Alex Pappas Hillsong Y&F 41:52 I guess, if there was if there was one thing I wanted to leave people with is, there’s nothing like the presence of God. And there is nothing like that for us as worship leaders, congregational presence of God is awesome. Getting with God in church is amazing. And I know, we all know this, but get away with God get away with God on your own. And I say this, because I’ve been there where a lot of us haven’t fully figured out how to be alone with God. And the reality is myself included, like that relationship has to be fostered, that relationship has to be nurtured. And that relationship has to grow and change. So things about your relationship with God that worked a year ago might not be working now. And you know what, it’s okay. And you know, what’s even better is tell somebody tell somebody like we as worship leaders, like we don’t have to be perfect. When I can’t figure out like, Oh, you know, I’m struggling to want to just read my Bible and pray. I just want to tell somebody because you know what, telling a leader that you want to get closer to God, they are never going to judge you and they’re never going to get on your case for it. So get away with God if you don’t know how to talk to somebody, bring things to the light and watch what God can do with it. So that’s,

Alex Enfiedjian 43:14 that’s great, Alex, thank you. This has been super fun. And I’ve really enjoyed our time together today and everybody check the show notes for the album and we will be listening to the songs and enjoying them. Thanks, Alex. Thank you, bro. Appreciate you. All right, I hope this episode was helpful to you if it was please pass it on to a friend. I want to encourage you to check out Hillsong young and free his new album which the links are in the show notes. Also be sure to try Planning Center for free for 30 days planning dot center go there you will be happy and glad that you listen to me. The last thing is if you’re not following us on social media, please do so. You can find us on Instagram at worship ministry training. Facebook is the same worship ministry training Twitter is w m t podcast worship ministry training podcast w mt podcast. See you guys next month for another helpful episode. Thank you for being a part of this community. We love you and we’re grateful for you. Peace.