Vineyard Worship - The Early Years - Part 3

In 1986 I met with Randy Rigby and we developed an idea that we presented to John called The Worship Resource Center. The idea was to collect songs from Vineyards around the country and world, do simple recording of these, and get them out to the churches along with a quarterly newsletter as a means of resourcing our churches in worship ministry. This was not meant to be a commercial endeavor, but it was established as a ministry to the churches.

The first recording was called Glory and it was recorded in Smitty Price’s garage studio. The idea was to do quick and clean productions, under-produced as possible. Well, this little music cassette changed Vineyard Music forever and impacted Vineyard worship for years to come. Here are the reasons: first, it was the first project that integrated songs from other Vineyard churches in earnest. Second, it contained great songs, which is pretty much what makes a great worship album, at least for the consumer. Third, John loved it and saw its potential. It wasn't long before The Worship Resource Center was history and the “Father's Heart” series was launched.

It was at this time that I came across some recordings from the Langley Vineyard, with people like Andy Park, Brian Doerksen, Craig Meassue, Brian Thessin and Daphne Rademaker. We began incorporating their songs and eventually their styles and things continued to move forward. Vineyard worship music started to spread like fire around the world.

It was so important to integrate songs from elsewhere, rather than relying so heavily on stuff that was just coming out of what was now the Anaheim Vineyard. The truth is we were criticized for just focusing on our own music. I think the criticism was valid and we needed to move beyond our local church. The talent and gifts that others brought greatly enhanced and improved what we were doing.

The initial development of the Father's Heart series took place primarily under Randy's guidance and with input and support from Carla White. I was still on the Central Coast and my main contribution was in getting the articles for the Newsletter and helping to select songs for the projects. I used to listen to dozens and dozens of songs and I can tell you this, there are a lot of bad songs out there; to be honest sometimes it was painful. But there we always some gems and we were able to record them and get them out to the churches. It was clearly a great blessing to the worship community.

Eventually Randy Rigby left and Tom Davis took over the production of the Father’s Heart series. This was probably some time in 1989. I think I recall Tom’s first recording was with Kevin Prosch and it was “semi-live” in that it wasn't at a service, but people were gathered to a large room outside the studio and Kevin led them from there.

Initial tracks were laid down in the studio and it was massaged afterwards; it was an incredible project. It's interesting, but this was about the time that people were moving away from cassette tapes to CD's so they still recorded an A and B side. Kevin was on the A side and Davis Hill was on the B side or side 1 and side 2. Kevin's side was done using the new “live” sound and Davis was more of a studio recording, so it was an odd mixture. I personally think it's unfortunate that we didn't move more into the “live” direction and begin recording at our conferences; it is definitely what people craved and loved. Integrity Music was doing this and was exploding. I have always felt we missed it here. It wasn't until years later when live recordings were done and those were great projects. In terms of missing it, one other thing that we missed and I only found out about years later through talking with him, is that Darrel Evans was around during the earlier days and had submitted songs and was desiring to get involved in Vineyard Music and simply was passed over. Ouch!

I want to say this: the introduction of Kevin Prosch into the Vineyard worship scene was probably the biggest change that took place since the beginning in 1977. His style and approach were completely different than anything we had experienced previously It changed the way Vineyard “did worship'.” For the most part I think it was a good influence and change. But there were aspects of it that were not easily transferable and attempts to emulate Kevin were in my opinion really lacking. The thing they lacked most was KEVIN! He is very unique in his approach and he simply isn't easily duplicated, nor is some of his songs. The one change it unleashed was “prophetic singing." Which I understand many people loved. And for the most part when he did it, it was pretty good. But if you don't have those same gifts and try to copy them, they can come off pretty bad. Up until this time, the worship style was seamless and completely engaging in terms of congregational participation. This new style included long breaks from the people singing and they would in many cases disengage and watch what was taking place on the stage. This is neither good nor bad; it is just what I observed taking place and it impacted not just our movement, but also the church at large. I am absolutely certain that Kevin impacted Matt Redman and Martin Smith of Delirious. I think in Kevin they saw worship expanding and I think this gave them the inspiration they needed to take risks and keep moving forward. Overall I think it was an important and good progression for us and was necessary to keep things fresh.