Stephen Hart is a native of New Zealand, who now resides in Redding, California. He is the Visual Worship Leader for Bethel Music. The position of Visual Worship Leader includes graphic design, photography and custom typography, with the emphasis on using this skill set to lead others in worship.
Stephen is passionate about seeing people released into their God-given worship expression and pursuit of an authentic journey with Jesus. Outside of Bethel Music, Stephen runs “The Worship Project,” a social media movement of creative worship expression through the arts.
What is TheWorshipProject.co?
The Worship Project at it’s physical form is an art project. I design / hand letter phrases and worship songs to be a blessing and encouragement to the body of Christ worldwide.
In it’s ministry form, it’s a movement that I’ve created to bring awareness of worship and what that actually means, to the global church. As a visual worship leader, I’m seeking to challenge what the church has long believed; that a worship leader has to be musical. I’m an artist and through this project I’m leading the world in worship.
Why did you start it?
I started this project out of a deep longing for the more of God in my life. I knew that I was called to so much more than just a mediocre existence. I was crying out to the Lord and He spoke so clearly to my heart. He literally gave me the entire idea in one long download from heaven. I went home and obeyed what He had called me to!
Where does your inspiration come from?
Anything and everything! Usually I’m inspired by the song or the scripture that I’m illustrating / designing from. I’m a huge lover of the 90s, so I spend many many hours listening to the worship of days gone by. I’m a big user of Tumblr, Pinterest and Behance. I love just searching on those websites for new art styles, and new ways of expressing creativity.
What is your favourite artwork, and why?
Of my own?! Oh that’s so hard to answer. Not because I have so many…but because I typically can’t stand to look at most of my designs after a few days of completing them!
If I had to pick, I’d say this one…
I’ve always loved this piece. I think because it really reminds me of myself; of humanity. At our most basic form, we’re nothing more than skin and bones, on our knees, hands clasped, looking to heaven for every breath and every direction. At least, that’s how we should be postured.
What have you struggled with along the journey, and how did you overcome?
One of the many things that I’ve struggled with throughout the journey of The Worship Project is attraction of homosexuality. It was a huge thing in my life - never acted upon - but an incredibly real struggle all the same. My life felt like it was going to implode because I was drowning in this struggle, that’s when God reached down, stood me up, and gave me the idea for the project.
I hear you don’t like seafood, why is that?
Some would say it’s ridiculous, especially as I’m from New Zealand, but I can’t stand anything from the sea. It really grosses me out. I can handle “fish and chips” but oysters, seaweed (sushi no thanks!)
Would you rather: Wear clothes made out of an actual living bee hive? Or have a human body, but with the head of a fish?
Considering my last answer, I’m gonna go with wearing clothes made out of a living bee hive. I mean, hey, honey for life right!?
What is the legacy that you would like to leave?
If history looked back at my life; at what I left behind when I’m gone, and saw a man of God who was always after God’s heart, and helped to shift the church’s perspectives on worship, worship leadership and what it means to be secure and whole in our identity…I’d be pleased.
What advice would you give someone looking to pursue their purpose in life?
Surrender. It’s the simplest word that I can share, but it’s everything. Everything that I have started and stepped into in my life has come out of a place of real, raw, ugly-crying, surrender. I had to get to a place where I was ready to lay down all the dreams in my heart - knowing that God might never give them back - and still surrender regardless. When we’re fully emptied of ourselves, God fills us up with all the purpose, destiny, life, and love that we could ever imagine.
Head to TheWorshipProject.co for more.