Getting to know....Laura Payne (Founder of the Heart Of Worship)
Could you tell our readers where you're from?
The question of where I am from always stresses me out a little bit. Because I don't quite know how to answer :-) when I was four, my family went to the country of Greece as missionaries. I spent the next 14 years of my life there, with only two visits back to the US. So I guess I'm from Greece. But I don't speak English with an accent or anything! 😂
Since coming to America for college, I've spent 14 years of my life in California, and then almost 9 years in Nashville. But I'm getting ready to move to St. Louis. So you can understand why I am terribly confused when you ask the dreaded question, “Where are you from?"
What do you miss/love most about Athens, Greece?
I really love everything about Greece. It's the one place in the world that feels completely like home. I love the bustle of Athens, the genuine warmth of Greek people. I am amused by the fact that they are strongly opinionated and caught up in their own bravado. I adore Greek food. I love the Islands and the sea. The country today is quite a tragic, desperate place. That makes my heart ache.
What got you started in music ministry?
I feel like I landed in music ministry completely by accident, and yet by God's providence. I went to Bible school with the intention of staying one year. I chose to be a music major because it seemed like a good chance to strengthen my musical skills. Now here I am, with two Bachelors in Music and a Masters in Music. That one year of study turned into 10! I really feel myself first as a minister, and secondly, that music is my unique vehicle for that ministry.
What are your biggest pet peeves on the platform?
My biggest pet peeve on the platform is people who do not seem emotionally engaged to the presence of God while they are playing their instruments or singing. Dull affects drive me crazy! I think some people get so worried about their notes and the rhythm that they can't seem to engage their heart. I can handle a million mistakes. But my spirit gets riled up every time I see someone who is disconnected from God and trying to lead others in worship.
How did Heart Of Worship (HOW) start?
Heart of Worship started in Stockton California at Christian Life College. I had always said that I would never do a music conference unless God gave me a unique perspective and a model that was not just a re-creation of other great conferences that were already happening. I can honestly say that the Lord started to download his plan and intention. That's when I first got excited about doing a worship conference. From it's very inception, great voices such as Kevin Howard helped me form and shape what was really needed in our movement. Our first Heart of Worship Conference took place in 2001. We began taking it on the road in 2006.
Where will HOW be in 5 years? What are your vision and goals for this conference?
It is my prayer that Heart of Worship grows to be much more than just an event, but rather a movement or a fellowship of worship leaders and participators. We see this happening already. People becoming part of the Heart of Worship feel very linked to one another. There is such strength in doing life and ministry alongside people with a shared perspective. I believe that Heart of Worship will begin doing tours, taking the spirit and vibe of what we do in our conference to local churches. I believe in the next couple of years Heart of Worship will release a recording. We have a very unique, God directed sound, and I want to see that released.
What is your favorite pastime?
I'm not much of a lone hobbyist. My favorite pastime is probably doing anything with the people that I love. That includes my family and my dear friends. I love being outdoors. That nourishes my spirit in a very profound way. Or just sitting around a table playing games. And of course, I'm a foodie, so a great restaurant with friends or family is always a joy!
Who is your favorite author?
My favorite author is Paul. Isn't that spiritual of me? But seriously, I love the incredible balance of intellect and heart that Paul's writings show. And then after Paul, I enjoy crime fiction. That doesn't sound so spiritual does it? But since I'm raising three boys still, I don't have much time for reading. Except the Bible, of course!
Who is your favorite musician/worship leader alive or in their heavenly reward?
This is an incredibly difficult question to answer. I feel like I don't get many opportunities to sit under worship leaders because for the past 10 years I've been the worship leader. This might be a very sad commentary, but I'm just being honest. The worship leader who has impacted me the most in recent years is probably Shawn Bigby. (Shawn, you can buy me lunch at Monell's later for the shout out). His ability to lead both intimate and high-energy moments is beautiful. His voice is as smooth as butter, and he doesn't lead out of nervous energy or awkward attempts to pump up the crowd. So many worship leaders create, unknowingly, nervous energy in the room, and that becomes emotionally draining. I love the fact that Shawn can lead us through a variety of emotional, spiritual moments without ever projecting his own personality into the moment.
What is your favorite part of being a mother?
I really love being a mom. It’s an incredibly heavy responsibility, and the weight of it is crushing in a way that nothing else in life is. But I love every phase that my children have gone through. I enjoy those precious moments that we can just hang out as a family and have fun. I also love seeing my children's growing relationships with God. That is incredibly precious!
Who created the best "Slain Payne" meme?
I think I deserve the credit for the best “Slain Payne” meme because I was the one who was willing to share that precious picture of Jaeden laid out in the presence of God. LOL. And for all of you who have no clue what we're talking about, don't worry about it. It's just one of those goofy HOW moments. Some things in life are just better left unexplained.
If you could plant any nugget of wisdom into every worship leader, what would it be?
One nugget. Hmm. Only one? LOL. Worship leaders need to become incredible communicators. This means communicating with your pastor and catching his vision and his preferences, and learning how to articulate your own feelings in a healthy way. This also means communicating from the platform to the pew. Learning how to lead out of a relaxed, authentic place. Learning how to communicate with your team through struggles and personality conflicts. Without communication, we don't thrive. Most train wrecks, disengaged leaders, people moving on, unresolved conflict and ministers leaving the ministry can be traced back to something that needed to be said that never was communicated in a healthy, productive way.