Friend Friday: Aaron Ivey Edition

I met Aaron Ivey, along with his bandmates Bush and Jimmie, a few years ago.  I don't remember exactly what year.  The circumstances were that Drew, Taylor, Eric and I had gone up to Ridgecrest to shoot a promo video about them for one of the Student Life Tours they for which they led worship.  I had heard a lot about them from friends (some of you) who had had the privilege of working an event with them.  Every time someone told me about them they would just go on and on and on about how awesome they were, both on stage and off.  I was just late to the dance.  Back then they, and a couple of other great guys named Chad and Guy, were called Spur 58. Spur 58 was a band birthed out of Aaron's time as a youth minister down in Houston, TX.  It was during that time that he really honed his passion for leading other believers in the worship of God.  Eventually he and the guys felt like their ministry should expand to leading worship for people and groups outside of their one church.  This ended up leading to a move to Nashville, the heart of Contemporary Christian Music.  They spent a number of years recording albums and traveling the country leading people to the throne.  However, the whole game and business that is the Christian music industry never seemed to have a perfect place for them.  Believe me, this is a good thing.  There's a lot of good things that happen in that industry, but there's a lot of not-so-good things too.  It's a business.  Business and ministry don't always mix well together (that's for another post, though), and Aaron is a minister first and foremost.  Anyway, God eventually led Aaron, Bush and Jimmie to return to being worship pastors for a local body of believers.  So, a little less than a year ago they headed back to Texas to The Austin Stone Community Church, where Aaron is able to serve as a worship pastor alongside others so that he also has time to continue leading for other churches and events.

Many of you know that it is a real pet peeve of mine that "worship" in our modern Christian culture is equated with "music."  However, Aaron isn't just a musician or a music leader.  He is a true worship leader with a heart for ushering others in to the throne of God.  When you're "in the room" with Aaron leading, you can tell that he is the one worshipping first and foremost, not just a worship leader but a lead worshipper as well.

In addition to music and worship he's also passionate about matters of justice in the world.  He, Bush and Jimmie are great advocates for Compassion as well as some other efforts both in their local community of Austin and around the world.  He and his wife Jamie also have a huge heart for adoption.  They're currently working to add Amos and Story to their family of Cayden and Deacon.  However, they're not only active in their own adoption effort but are always more than willing to help others as well however they can.  He sees both as ways to continue to glorify Christ in the world.

Aaron just released a new album this week.  It's called Between the Beauty and Chaos, and you can get it from iTunes or Amazon or just click on the banner ad below. I think you should, and here's why.

As you survey the landscape of modern Christian music, you'll discover that there are a lot of offerings out there of "worship" music.  Since this is the case, it sometimes tough to really distinguish what makes one stand out from another.  There's the stadium anthems of Chris Tomlin or the maturity of a Michael W. SmithDavid Crowder stands out for his experimentation, while labelmate Charlie Hall is probably known more for pure artistry.  Hillsong United seems to be an embodiment of an entire church in one band while Todd Agnew brings a sense of the lone prophet.  Matt Redman is known for his writing, and Delirious? is known for spectacle.  Jason Upton doesn't lead so much as follows the Spirit, whereas Fee choreographs every moment to accompanying video animations and graphics.  You get the idea, the landscape is vast and while some stand out for certain, very specific things, there are a vast number of others that can get lost in the crowd.

So, what is it about Aaron that sets him apart from the rest.  If I had to sum it up in one word, it would be this: sincerity.  This doesn't mean that the music isn't great, that the lyrics aren't heartfelt and moving, that there isn't diversity and artistry, that there's not risk and innovation, that maturity isn't present, or that the Spirit isn't moving.  Because, trust me, whether you're listening to the new album or worshipping with Aaron in the room (I've been telling him since I've known him that he should make a live album), all those things are definitely there.  But Aaron is one of the most sincere worship leaders I've ever been around.  He is real and genuine, and when you spend just a small amount of time with him, you can't help but know that.  It's a subtle distinguishing quality, certainly not as flashy as some others, but it's an extremely important one.

I've heard a certain evangelist/speaker/author/producer of Iranian decent (when speaking of Spur 58) say something like, "if you want to listen to them back home just get the new Coldplay album."  I'm not sure why some immediately think to associate Aaron and the guys with Coldplay.  Maybe it's because Aaron leads from a piano and that if you squint your eyes and the lights are dim he kinda resembles Chris Martin.  At any rate, rest assured that Between the Beauty and Chaos isn't a copy or knockoff of anything.  It is something all its own.

Now, I'm no music critic by any means.  So, I'm not gonna sit here and try to break everything on the album down for you.  The best I can say is that I don't find a lot of enjoyment in listening to albums of Christian music because it never really sounds "good" to me.  But Aaron's album is good, and I like it, and I actually listen to it.  It's not like the previous Spur 58 albums.  Aaron, Bush and Jimmie reached a whole new level with this one.  I was trying to think of what in particular stood out to me, but I had trouble coming up with one thing.  At the very least, you should check it out on Aaron's site or better yet, click on the banner below and get it for yourself.  You won't be sorry.

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I'll now leave you with the lyrics to my favorite song from the album: "Let Your Kingdom Come."

Let Your Kingdom Come

Aaron Ivey, Matt Carter. ©2009 IVEYMUSIC. (ASCAP)

Give us a love for peace Move us to brokenness Our generosity release from poverty Your Kingdom here and now To the least of these Distribute what we have That all may taste and see

Let Your Kingdom come Let Your will be done And all the Earth will say And echo angels’ praise That You are God

So, let the sick run free The orphan find her home The captured man will know Release from slavery Your Kingdom here and now To the least of these Distribute what we have That all may taste and see

Let Your Kingdom come Let Your will be done And all the Earth will say And echo angels’ praise That You are God

We pray and ask for hope We pray and ask for peace We pray and ask for justice We pray and ask for You