Noting that your self-titled debut album was just released, you're best known for being part of Housefires. Although you've been releasing albums since 2005, the 2014 Housefires II release included "Good Good Father" which Chris Tomlin also went on to cover. Considering the Housefires version you lead has 25M plays on YouTube compared to Chris' 32M, people are nearly as familiar with your worship leading as they are with your songs. You're not only the first artist to sign to Chris' Bowyer and Bow label, he also produced your album. Ironically, at the time of this interview you had 1,300 followers on Facebook and 4,800 subscribers on YouTube. Given the strength of your album coupled with your upcoming tour with Chris, chances are the number of people following you on your social feeds isn't the only thing that is about to change. Can you describe the feelings you have going into all of this as well as some of your expectations for this disc?

  OK, some of the feelings I have - excitement, pure joy, and crippling self-doubt (laughs)! I've been gearing up for this for the past two years, so I've gone through every range of emotion. When I started this whole process, I never had it in my mind that I would do a solo record. There's part of me that feels like I'm doing the same thing that I've always done - writing songs, leading worship, and connecting with leaders.
  There's nothing really new, per se, about any of that. But releasing it under my name makes me feel all of the good butterflies that remind you that you're alive. That you care about what you're doing, and that you don't know how it's going to turn out. There's something about that feeling that I really love.
  What Meg, my wife, and I have said over and over during this process is that it feels like faith again. And it's not like it didn't feel like faith before, necessarily, but something about this phase of my life reminds me of when I was 18. The start of something brand new reminds you of all of the unknowns you're about to walk into. It just forces you to depend again; depend on God, depend on the people in your life that help to give you strength and encouragement when you need it. There's a dependency that's amazing that I think is happening.
  My expectations! I decided early on in this process that I wasn't going to worry myself with things that I couldn't control. On my best days, that has actually worked (laughs)! I can't control if someone likes a song or wants to share a song. As an artist and songwriter, I want to be as honest and transparent as I can. I want to be sharing things with people that I actually connect with myself so I'm excited to share them. These songs have all come from life experiences. I needed to sing them. They brought hope, peace and perspective to my own life in a way that has been really meaningful to me.
  It's easier to share things that have been really impactful and really helpful to you. Then you are just sharing something that you love, as opposed to, "I'm only going to love this if you love this too." These songs have been part of my daily walk with Jesus for the past years, so I'm excited to share that with people. How it goes over, who knows - those are expectations. I don't think human beings are meant to worry about as much as we do.

As an appropriate and telling juxtaposition to how many YouTube subscribers you have is that fact that the video for "Sails" has over 300,000 views. Amanda Cooke and Steffany Gretzinger weren't just co-writers, they also sang on that track with you. People are obviously connecting with how their style of worship is intersecting
with what you are doing.
What did it mean to you to have them come along side you to be part of the album?

  Amanda and Stef are such a gift. I had the first line of the song "Falling is easy/staying in love is hard..." and that's all. I had a couple other ideas around it, but weirdly, I felt in my heart that Amanda and Stef were supposed to help me with this. Months later, we wrote together, and I loved it so much because there was a forced sincerity. You can't be around them and just talk about shallow, surface level things that you don't care about. This song is about relationships and vulnerability, the difficulty of connection at times, and staying in a place that is open. The Latin origin of the word vulnerable means to be wounded, a willingness to be wounded - that type of openness. That one line felt so true of my relationship with my wife. It felt true of my platonic friendships. It felt true of my relationship with God.
  Connection is such a dynamic thing that can be tended or neglected, cared for or forgotten. Connection is affected by that. It was one of the songs that was so important to me, and I knew it was different. It wasn't like, "Oh, here are some themes I want to write about." To have them be a part of writing it and to have them sing on it - oh my gosh... it was such a joy! When I first got back the initial rough with their vocals on it, I was in the car with Meg, and I had to pull the car over and I just weep. Then I simultaneously thought, "Should I have had them sing on every song?" (laughs) I just can't tell you how happy I am that they were able to be a part of it.

The line "I let out the sails of my heart - here I am, here you are..." opens up into what sounds like
a moment of free worship. Is this something that you planned, or did it happen organically?

  With the layout of that song, I knew there was going to be verses and a chorus, but once we went into that part, it was just going to stay there. I wanted it to be long and extended. Funny enough, I was not in the room with Amanda and Stef when they recorded their vocals, so it really was like, "Hey, this is the plan!" and then just let it rip. And that's what happened, we had the base already there because the music was already recorded, but the way it was sung and their take on how to sing it was just a mix of both - planned and not.

Speaking of writers, Ben Smith co-wrote
"The Way" with you and numerous other songs. How did you guys meet, and in the framework of this moment in your 'career', what does that connection mean to you?