Hello and welcome to a new feature of our worship blog! This feature will hopefully give you a chance to meet and learn more about some of the individuals who are involved in leading worship across our various ministries at JCC. We begin this week with Pete Cowley, who oversees our worship team, while also serving as an elder here at Jubilee. The video above shows a Q&A session recorded during advent in 2017, but if you haven’t got time, the questions and answers are all detailed below! Enjoy!
Q1) What is your best facial hair moment?
A hard hitting question to begin! I think this probably passed a few years ago! The perfect moment was probably at the point when the hair on my head grew at the same rate as the hair on my chin! Since then the top seems to have begun receding, my beard trimmers broke, and the whole lot seems to have become a little unruly!
Q2) Who would play you in Pete Cowley – The Movie?
I think the most obvious answer is my brother Jed! We look alike, I’ve started to notice that sometimes we even wear very similar clothes, so I think it would provide a pretty easy job for the costume designer, he could just bring along his own clothes!
Q3) How do you prepare during the week to lead on a Sunday morning?
There are lots of elements which make up a Sunday morning service, so I start by considering some of these. They might be the preaching topic, the potential theme of a Sunday, who we might be praying for that day, and who is on the platform with me.
I am also influenced in my preparation by what is going on this week, both in our lives as a church and around the world. My aim is to choose songs which bring people’s focus back to looking at Jesus, and help them engage with the presence of God.
There are also practical steps involved of course. When rehearsing songs I will do my best to make sure they are in a key which is accessible to the maximum number of people. I’ll also structure the list of songs so that there is a balance between new songs and better known songs. There are literally thousands of different songs I could choose from on a Sunday! I tend to choose from our own, regularly updated JCC Song list. When choosing songs to use I try to focus on using songs which are full of truth, and allow the whole congregation to engage in worship and have the opportunity to encounter God’s presence.
Q4) What is your favourite worship song at the moment?
Right now it’s a carol! Recently we’ve begun watching Songs of Praise on a Sunday afternoon as a family, and that’s where I was introduced to this song. It’s called Hills of the North Rejoice!
One of my favourite lines from the song says ‘The God whom you have longed to know, in Christ draws near and calls you now’. I love that! The truth of Emmanuel, God with us, in this season and always is that Christ allows us to draw near to him by first drawing near to us! Advent and Christmas is God with us, it’s his rescue plan from the dawn of creation right through eternity. It’s mind blowing truth!
Q5) What one piece of advice would you give your younger self as a worship leader?
If I only get to give one piece of advice I think it would be this…
Let your mistakes be a friend that points you to Jesus. I think there are two points I could make off the back of that.
1 – There are times when you can think ‘If I do something this way, or lead worship in this exact way, that will bring breakthrough’, but your perfect plans are often not what people need! However, this also means that…
2- You can sometimes lead having had a rubbish week, and then make a mistake! In those moments God wants to remind you that he works all things together for the good of those who love him.
We need to know that somehow God can use our mistakes to bring glory to him, Chris Bryant preached over the summer on Proverbs 3:5-6 ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.’ This just helped to remind me that whether you think you’re all that or whether you think you have nothing to give, submit to God, trust in him and he will direct your paths.
I’m still taking that advice today!
Q6) What are you doing at the moment to push yourself?
Reading! Last summer I realised I was making a lot of excuses for not reading (Very busy, no time, tired, screen is more appealing, young kids, lots of responsibilities).
We are currently in our second year of home education, and one thing we’re encouraging in our kids is to develop a love of learning! That doesn’t stop in adulthood, but should carry on throughout our lifetimes. So I took the easy yards to begin with and started with Narnia! I read them quickly, and realised God has put a love of learning and desire to learn within me, which needed fuelling! I’ve continued to push on with my reading and I’m currently on the last chapter of a book by Dave Devenish (Fathering Leaders, Motivating Mission).
I would encourage anyone, whatever your age and stage, to develop a love of learning and do things which help you to engage with God. We want to encourage that across JCC, and invite everyone to grow in your love of God.
I hope this post has encouraged you and allowed you a brief glimpse into Pete’s life and his walk with God as a father, elder and worship leader. I’m sure he would be happy to discuss any of his answers with you, and to hear your suggestions as to what to do next with his facial hair!