Q&A with TransMission Worship

Being real in my own relationship with God allows Him to work through me, whether I’m leading a congregation, or writing songs for them.
TransMission Worship

As an Atlanta-based CCM band and ministry of The Salvation Army, transMission Worship exists to engage The Salvation Army and wider Church in new and revitalized expressions of worship and worship-driven mission. Joshua Powell serves as electric guitarist for the group.

PEER: How did you come to know Jesus? 

JOSHUA POWELL: I grew up in a Christian home with parents who are Salvation Army officers, so I’ve been going to church all my life. But I met Jesus in a very real and personal way for the first time at a Youth Councils in White Oak, South Carolina. I was 13 years old, and I had never before seen worship like what I experienced at that youth conference. The worship band for that weekend was a group called Quarter Past Three (which was the precursor group to transMission), led by Marty Mikles, Phil Laeger and (now) Anna Street. Seeing the way these guys would invoke and respond to the Holy Spirit was moving in ways I had never experienced. It was so meaningful to me that I went home determined to learn to play guitar, to capture that spirit of worship, and get those around me to feel it too! It’s humbling to me, thinking about it now, that for the last 12 years, I’ve been able to minister with the group that was instrumental (pun intended!) in helping me surrender to Jesus.

TransMission Worship

P: How did transMission worship come together? What is the origin of the worship group? 

JP: Around 1999 or so, Marty and Phil started and led a worship band called Quarter Past Three. They played at a ton of Youth Councils, and even had a world tour where they were able to minister in various places in central and eastern Europe. Around 2001, Lt. Colonel Eddie Hobgood wanted them to put together a group to play for the Southern Territorial Youth Institute. Something amazing happened at that TYI, and Col. Hobgood immediately started booking studio time for them to record some of the songs they wrote and used, in hopes to capture the fire and energy of that Youth Institute. That was the unofficial first transMission album, “Send the Fire.” From there, they adopted the name transMission, and we’ve written and recorded eight albums for the purpose of expanding The Salvation Army’s vocabulary and theology of worship!

P: What does transMission worship mean to you? What is the meaning behind transMission worship?  

JP: The name transMission came from the desire to transform our worship into mission. We fully believe and buy into the mission of The Salvation Army in taking the gospel of Jesus into the world, as loudly as possible! What we do is worship. What we do is also evangelism. It’s also compassion. And it’s the hope of Jesus! And hopefully this evokes the same motivation in those that worship with us!

P: How does your personal relationship with God influence your worship and songwriting?  

JP: Each of us has a responsibility to seek the Lord and cultivate our own personal relationship with Him. The good news for us is that He is always there, wanting to connect with us, but we have to be active participants in the relationship too. This becomes vitally important to me as a lead worshiper. My job as a worship leader is to foster an environment that allows for and encourages people to experience Jesus. I’ve come to understand that a congregation can see through insincere worship leading. If I’m faking what I’m singing, or not being true to what’s happening in the moment, they can tell, and I become a distraction. Being real in my own relationship with God allows Him to work through me, whether I’m leading a congregation, or writing songs for them.

P: Do you write your own worship songs? If so, who or what are your songwriting influences?  

JP: I do some songwriting. That’s one of my roles in the Territorial Music Department, to create resources for our territory. If I’m honest, songwriting is kind of a chore for me. It doesn’t come easy. It’s immensely rewarding, but I don’t think crafting lyrics is a gift that I have. The advantage I have is that I’m part of a team that are very creative and work well together to take an idea and transform it into something hopefully meaningful. Rachel Wiley and Chris Hofer have been huge in that regard. I think we write well together.

As far as influences, I’ve always loved the way Marty Mikles and Phil Laeger can take a hymn and transform it into something new and fresh. I also love the stuff coming from Cody Carnes and Pat Barrett. Those guys are incredible.

P: How do you remain close with God in the busyness of life?  

JP: It’s tough for sure, but like I said earlier, it’s our own responsibility to cultivate and maintain our relationship with God. When it’s neglected, I feel it. You can’t pour from an empty cup. For me, that’s making sure I’m staying in the Word. My wife and I just finished reading through the Bible last year using the Bible Project’s reading plan. If you haven’t seen that one, it’s amazing! Check it out in the Bible app’s (YouVersion) reading plans.

TransMission Worship

P: How do they keep their worship/worship leading from becoming a job vs. authentic worship?  

JP: Sometimes it does feel like a job. I mean it is a job. That’s part of what my employment entails. There’s a lot that goes into preparing for leading worship, especially when traveling around. Between set list planning, packing lists, assembling tracks, changing guitar strings, making chord charts and wrapping cables, there are a lot of logistics that go into what we do. But what happens when a group of people engage with and respond to the Spirit after all that preparation is life-giving for me. That’s the main thing. The moments of surrender, passion and joy in worship are what keep it from just being a boring job. This is a holy calling, and it’s humbling to be able to play a part in the expansion of God’s Kingdom.

P: Why is it important to worship?  

JP: I once heard Rick Pino say that worship is the supreme vocation of all beings. I think that’s 100 percent true. We were created to be in constant communion with God … the most intimate of relationships. Sin came between us, but our purpose remains the same: to remain in communion with God. Yes, this takes place when we gather to offer songs of praise and worship, but it’s also how we live when we leave the church and do what we do. Jesus said, “Remain in me and I will remain in you.” That’s a harkening back to our original state of being, and it’s how we’ll be when He restores all things again!

TransMission Worship

P: What’s your favorite worship song to record and perform?  

JP: Right now, I’m really loving the new Charity Gayle album. Every song on that record is fire and I especially love that they work well congregationally. There’s a song on the album called “Endless Praise” that I think is my favorite at the moment. Rachel Wiley leads that one when we play it out, and she kills it!

P: What’s one song on repeat in your playlist?  

JP: Other than the Charity Gayle album I mentioned earlier, probably “Holy Spirit Come” by Patrick Mayberry

P: What’s a go-to self-care habit?  

JP: I think just getting outside. Mowing the yard. Hikes with my family. Riding scooters with my kids.

P: What’s your favorite Bible verse?  

JP: 1 Timothy 1:12-17 is my testimony passage, but particularly verse 16: “But since I was worse than anyone else, God had mercy on me and let me be an example of the endless patience of Christ Jesus. He did this so that others would put their faith in Christ and have eternal life” (CEV).

You May Also Like