The Rock Music comprises of a collective of singer/songwriters and worship leaders from Salt Lake City's The Rock Church. Featuring worship leader Steele Croswhite, the team have just released their brand new DREAM Records single "All Around." Penned by Croswhite, along with Randal Topper, Joseph Young and Thomas Scribner, and produced by Nate Pyfer, "All Around" was inspired by Philippians 4:8.
For nearly two decades The Rock Music has been dedicated to writing, recording and performing Christ-centered music without compromise. The collective-helmed by singer/songwriter, worship leader and pastor Steele Croswhite-has released 13 full-length recordings and seven EPs. In addition, selections from The Rock Music are showcased on the DREAM Records releases God's Not Dead: A Light In Darkness and Samson, compilations featuring songs from and inspired by the motion pictures.
The Rock Music is a ministry of The Rock Church, a suburban Salt Lake City congregation on a mission to share the Hope and grace of Christ in Utah-a state with among the fewest Bible-believing Christians in the country. Through outreach efforts in the community, including to those from Mormon/LDS backgrounds, the church seeks to work together, in unity, to reach the world for Jesus Christ.
We are honored to catch up with worship leader Steele Croswhite for this exclusive interview.
Q: Steele, thanks for doing this interview with us. Tell us a little about the Rock Church.
Thanks so much. We are blessed that you have taken the time to get to know us a little.
The Rock Church is a non-denominational Bible-believing church in Utah. We believe Jesus Christ was the ultimate revolutionary for social and spiritual change. Our foundation is His Word, the Bible. Without watering down or compromising the truth of the Bible, we seek to incorporate Christ's teachings and values into our everyday lives. We're committed to loving our enemies, refusing to judge people, being kind, and treating others as we wish to be treated. We seek to love as God loves.
As a group, we focus on God and people, not tradition or ritual. We aren't interested in the status quo, or in keeping old conventions. We want to change the perception of church in Utah, and what people experience when they attend. Our vision is simple: One life at a time, one world in our lifetime. When you walk inside the doors of The Rock Church, you'll find a relaxed, casual environment, meaningful teachings, and spectacular music. You'll find a place where spiritual exploration and growth is nonthreatening and exciting, a place to celebrate God's existence, and to engage in the new life that is available through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Q: Being in Salt Lake City, have you tried to engage those with Mormon/LDS backgrounds with the Gospel? What are some of the challenges there?
Every week, by God's grace, we have dozens of active and former LDS folks attend our church for the first time. We have found that many are seeking the truth of Jesus without the weight of "religion." For many, church attendance has been a bad experience. We recognize that-by the thousands-people have stopped attending church because they feel it's been nothing more than a broken and ineffective experience with a hypocritical institution. Or, many have felt judged, or guilty, or condemned because they don't "measure up" to the religious standards the doctrine of the Mormon faith requires. It is very much a works-based faith. Though incredibly spiritual, Utah is the least evangelical state in the country with less than 3% of Bible-believing Christians.
We love and care for our LDS friends and neighbors and want them to know the beautiful grace and love that Jesus Christ has extended to all by what He accomplished on the cross. The greatest "challenge" to this may be overcoming the years of religious dogma and ritual in order for folks to see the pure and simple truth that the atonement Christ accomplished on the cross is enough. The belief in Christ alone, by grace, through faith is what makes one a Christian. NOT belief in Christ + religious works and merit. This can seem too good to be true for so many. Commonly, the greatest "challenge" for our LDS friends is coming to understand that Jesus REALLY is as good as He says He is.
Q: Tell us about yourself, how did you feel the call to be a worship leader? And how did you get to lead worship at Rock Church?
I like to say that I spent the first half of my life pursuing my own glory, and the second half pursuing God's. It all really began almost 20 years ago, in 2002. I had been signed by a record label at the age of 21. I was the frontman, songwriter, and guitar player for a band I started in high school. By the time I was 22 years old, I had the privilege of touring across the U.S. with amazing artists like Sheryl Crow, The Foo Fighters, Maroon 5, Third Eye Blind and Ziggy Marley. We also had a few successful songs on the radio, even a #1 Billboard hit. In every practical way it was a dream come true.
When I was 12, I had received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior through the church I attended then. Initially, I could sense God's call in my life-even at a young age-but then in my early 20s, the grip of music and the possibility of fame and performing started to replace my love of Christ.
Additionally, prior to all the success of my band, I had tragically lost my father the night before we were scheduled to play a critical showcase at The Hard Rock in Las Vegas. As an experienced musician and businessman, my dad was the band's manager at the time, but he was also my very best friend. With the sudden loss of my dad, and the propulsion of success, it's an understatement to say that I lost myself along the way. Night after night in city after city, temptations got the best of me until I eventually squelched all desires to love and follow Jesus. Though outwardly all that I had longed for was coming true, inwardly, I felt isolated, lost, dark and afraid.
After a five-month stint on the road, my sister-who played a large role in my faith when I was younger-started to talk to me about a new church she was attending called "The Rock." She said, "You should come to church, dude. You look really bad." I laughed it off and said, "I am not going to church; I'll be struck by lightning." She told me, "No, it's different, it meets at night and the pastor plays drums, and you can even smoke out front and they won't say anything about it. Just come, it will be different." I thought, a church where I can smoke out front, and a pastor who plays drums...I gotta see this.
It's hard to explain what happened that night beyond simply saying that Jesus hand-picked that moment for me. As I sat in the room, I felt like a light switch suddenly went off in my heart. In that moment, I didn't know all that He had planned for me, but I knew Jesus wanted me to give my heart to Him entirely. I knew I would never be the same. The truth of His grace was like water to my soul. I was new. I was different. I was unconditionally loved, forgiven, and given purpose beyond anything I had ever known.
From that moment on, there was a new call on my life. I decided to stop playing with my band, walk away from my record contract, and ask God to help me with my addictions and habits. I had a newfound thirst for Jesus and a passion for this little church in Utah. I had a new longing to help others come to know the grace and love Jesus had lavished on me.
Over time, I began to lead worship in the church and combine my love for Jesus with my love for music. In 2003, I was asked by the pastor to write and record a worship album for our church. I had never written this type of music before, but the one thing I now knew deeply was the grace and love of Jesus in my life. This is when The Rock Music really began. Almost instantly God birthed in me a desire to not just write my own music for the Church, but also to encourage other musicians to write theirs as well. Knowing the amazing power of music, I could see many different styles attracting many different kinds of people. In my heart was a desire to see the best bands in the world, known for loving Jesus Christ, come out of a small local church in Utah. Over time, by God's grace, we started to see musicians come and learn, write and lead. It has been beautiful.
Q: Tell us about Rock Music, how many do you have in your team of core leaders and musicians? What's the dynamic like?
The number of people who actively serve can be somewhat fluid. However, at its core, the dynamic is about developing "bands," each with their unique sound. This means that from week to week we can have a band leading worship music with an alt-country vibe, the next week with an indie vibe, and the following week with a more Top 40 vibe. It gives a lot of diversity and adds excitement to our weekend services. The musicians are each committed to the church and serving in other areas, while actively participating in small groups.
Q: What are some of the characteristics a worship song needs to have before you lead or record it?
Great question! We try to foster the best out of each individual writer and try to help them stay true to their sound. Some of our songs have had parameters based on singability in a corporate worship setting, or whether they will appeal to a "broader audience." Prior to recording, our pastors review the lyrics to make sure they are Biblically sound. We have recorded EPs with songs to reach the lost through specific styles and content, but all of our songs are about highlighting Jesus and being found within the local church. To date, I believe we have recorded over 20 bodies of original music.
Q: Tell us about your new single "All Around" -- how did this song come about?
"All Around" was originally a much slower, sadder song. At first, the name of the song was "Words Fall Down," and it was about falling away from faith in Christ. I showed the tune to the band and they liked the melody, but they said it would be better with a faster tempo. Also, my wife loved the idea of the Church on Earth waiting for Christ with longing, so she helped re-write the song lyrically. It took on a whole new life of hope, love, and God's beauty.
The process of writing "All Around" speaks about the power of creative arrangement and songwriting itself. A person can have an idea and the bones are there, but it needs input from other creatives. I listen to the song now and I can no longer imagine it being any other way. God's love is all around us. It's better to focus on that anyway...to keep our eyes on Him.
Q: Are you guys working on a new album? If so, can you give us a preview on what we can expect from this new record?
It seems like we are always working on something new! Right now, we have enough material for a new album, and we are really excited about the content. However, we wanted to take a run at releasing singles for a little while to see what resonates outside our walls and give a steady flow of content. We are seeking God's heart on what He may have for us next.
Q: How do you hope your songs would impact the lives of your listeners?
We hope our music brings glory to Jesus while also highlighting all that God is doing in Utah. As I mentioned previously, we live in the least evangelical state in the country, but all around us God is doing amazing things. It can feel a bit like we are in a spiritual desert in our neck of the woods, but Jesus is making streams in this desert each weekend. We truly believe that if we can be a part of winning Utah for Jesus, we can reach the world.
We pray often that our Mormon friends and neighbors would embrace historical Christianity found within the Word of God, and we pray our music can be a small part of bringing that to reality. If the LDS/Mormon religion could come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ, what a glory to Jesus this would be and what a wonder for the world to behold.