You know her best from her two hit songs "Mighty to Save" and "Indescribable." Laura Story is a singer, songwriter …
You know her best from her two hit songs "Mighty to Save" and "Indescribable." Laura Story is a singer, songwriter, and composer who takes music ministry seriously. In this conversation Laura talks about her passion for worship, songwriting and facing life’s struggles with honesty.
Q. You are a singer/songwriter. It’s obvious that your music ministers to listeners, is that your primary calling?
A. Well, besides being a performer I work at a church, too, as a worship leader, and I travel. I’m probably in a whole different category because I do both and I’m trying to figure out balance. I’ve been doing this for three years. That means part of my time is a music minister. Ministry is bigger because I spend time shepherding the women in the community–trying to get them involved in church. And I play concerts, write songs for performing live and for church. I’m all over the place!
Q. When did this purpose take shape in your life?
A. In college, I began to write songs. I studied bible at Columbia International University in South Carolina. I wrote songs on truths from the Bible, from what He showed me in my personal life. I tried to get songs recorded and it just wasn’t happening. Then, I felt a sense that God was calling me to play them–not somebody else. I wasn’t comfortable with that. I liked being behind the scenes. But God showed me that I needed to be the front person. That’s when I started playing at churches. As a worship songwriter, I see it as helpful to be an integral part of church where I’m with same parishioners day-in and day-out. Our responsibility is writing what we are supposed to be saying to God. That’s a weighty responsibility. So if you’re not plugged into a church, it’s hard to discern what God wants you to sing. For my writing it’s helpful … and to have roots somewhere, too.
Q. What is something from your journey that you feel would encourage other leaders?
A. One thing that is really influential in my ministry and songwriting is that my husband, Martin, was diagnosed with a brain tumor two years ago. He’s had surgeries and health complications. I bring this up because as a minister, songwriter and singer who travels around singing about God, it can be hard when you don’t see God [or think] that He’s forgotten about me … that He’s allowed this to happen even though He says He’s going to give us abundant life. But when life doesn’t look like that, you have to believe what God says about Himself. Listeners tell how they’ve been encouraged to hear our story and how we’ve continued to worship. God’s given us a great deal of faith. I wish I could tell you the hard stuff is in the past but we deal with it daily. In the midst, that’s when you need your faith–the core of you says “God is good.” He has a plan for your life, even when you can’t see. This has been encouraging to my ministry. It doesn’t mean our life is going to be easy. He says we’ll have persecution and trials. We have a watching world that wants to know how to handle trials. This is when we get to show them that we are in need of a Savior.
Q. Are there pastors or teachers who have influenced your writing and your ideas about ministry?
A. I’d say a lot of the local pastors–Randy Pope, at our church–he’s wonderful, a gifted teacher. From a worship side, Lou Giglio and the Passion movement. I learned what God says biblical worship looks like.
I’m in seminary pursuing my M.A. in theological studies. If I can suggest something to worship leaders: Get Bible training. Music training isn’t enough. I love that my church wants to support me to go to seminary. You can have the best pastor in the world, but if your music teacher has poor theology … well, it’s worth investing in your worship leaders.
Q. Are you primarily a free spirit when writing?
A. Everything definitely comes from the Holy Spirit. I haven’t figured out a formula to songwriting. I’ve tried to use, “Hey I’m just gonna sit down and write something!” That’s not helpful. What happens is I will be meditating on scripture, something the pastor said, or something I read in God’s word.
I had a friend that was struggling with sin. I was thinking, “What do I say?” I thought of the truth–"If the Son has set you free, you are free indeed.” I wrote Free Indeed (on her second CD). He used that to touch a lot of people. You never know what God is going to use. Everyone is writing music based on what is going on in their life, their heart. As a believer I spend time in God’s word so that is what’s resonating in my music.
Q. Is your music primarily focused on the church? Are there songs that we haven’t heard yet that might intrigue someone whose seeking God?
A. Both. I write worship songs that God’s people can sing. But, a lot of it is about life, about how life is hard. I don’t want to be whiney. My recent CD is Great God Who Saves, the common point, Christian or not, is that we can admit life is hard but we all need a Savior. Some turn to drugs or sex. We believe that Christ can bring about change and He’s the only one worth living for. Even though I sing Christian music, I address that need that every human has in their heart.
I’ve had some people who aren’t Christians say, “I don’t believe in that Jesus stuff, but it was great to hear you sing about how hard life is sometimes.” Some believers don’t admit life is hard. They wear a mask. All that does to non-believers is say, “My religion won’t work for you because you have to have it all together.” Jesus was not about that. He had real problems. He knew what is like to be oppressed and go through hard life circumstances–that’s what Christianity is for.
Watch more of Laura’s story here: