Worship leader Kari Jobe grew up traveling with parents in ministry before experiencing a "divine appointment" at the age of 10, when she decided to commit her life to writing songs to help people communicate their feelings to God. She's currently on tour with Chris Tomlin, but recently took a break to lead worship for 8,500 women at Gateway Church's Pink Impact Conference. When she's not touring or leading worship at Gateway, her home church in Dallas, Kari supports various anti-human trafficking organizations. She has numerous life-giving things to say about what it means to worship authentically both on and offstage.
You're currently on tour with Chris Tomlin. As a worship leader, how do you navigate the balance between performance and worship on stage?
That's a good question. It took me a little while. When I first learned to lead worship, I was focused on sounding good and not missing a note. It's natural to do that, but I think over time, practice makes permanent. As worship leaders our job is to be so in love with God that it's contagious and catches on for other people. For me personally, I need the Lord so much. There are just everyday things I'm going through, and I have to say, Lord, give me wisdom in this.
Worship for me is such a place of connecting with the Lord and laying down my burdens. If I'm able to do that on stage in front of people and not worry about what they think, it helps me look more authentic and not be so performance-oriented. But you can't lose people either—there are some worship leaders who don't care at all what the congregation's doing, and they often completely lose people. So there's got to be a good balance. I'm working on that all the time. I don't have it down yet.
You've recorded several albums in Spanish. What has that process taught you about worship in the global church?
I went to Colombia in 2005, and I just sang Hillsong songs in Spanish that I memorized. These people would come up to me and be speaking in Spanish really fast, but I'd have to say sorry, I don't speak Spanish. They told me I sounded authentic, so I thought there must be something to this. I got a coach and had my songs translated, and it's been cool to have that tool. I feel like in Latin culture, their hearts are so passionate, so when you meet them in worship they're weeping and crying out to the Lord. I feel like it's easier to lead worship in Latin countries because they're so genuine in worship.
What are some of the biggest hindrances people find worshipping in the United States today, and how do you encourage them to overcome those hurdles?