Bethel Music's Josh Baldwin on using music to address hot-button issues through biblical lens

Josh Baldwin
Josh Baldwin | Courtesy of Josh Baldwin

Bethel Music worship leader Josh Baldwin believes music is a powerful conduit to speak truth into an increasingly secularized and post-truth culture, especially as young people are struggling with depression, anxiety and identity like never before. 

“In this day and age, we're just getting bombarded on social media telling us who we're supposed to be, or who we are or who we're not,” the 44-year-old Gold-certified singer-songwriter and father of two preteens told The Christian Post.

“With my kids, that's always the tension; I want to be the one, and I want the Lord to be the one, and my wife to be the one speaking in their lives and shaping who they are and reminding them who they are in Christ. … As parents, we're building a foundation for the rest of their life. If it's shaky … it’s going to be chaos. If it’s not built on the Word of God, that's just a recipe for disaster down the road with kids and their identity and trying to figure out who they are and who God's called them to be.”

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With his seventh studio project, a live album titledMade for More, Baldwin, the son of a pastor, weighs in on relevant issues through a biblical lens while highlighting the unifying sound of corporate worship for the local church. 

“I'm still a worship leader at heart, but then I can see the artist's side of me coming out more and being more comfortable with who that is,” Baldwin said. “I wanted to go back and do a live album that was me leading my little church in worship. But also, as an artist, I feel like it sounds more authentic to who I am, naturally, than any album I've done.”

Addressing hot-button issues

One of the album's most personal tracks, "Prince of Peace," addresses the struggles of anxiety and depression, drawing from Baldwin's experiences with his wife.

“The song came out of a season a year ago when my wife was battling anxiety and having panic attacks,” he shared. “Off and on over the last five years, that's been something that we've been hit with in some seasons bigger than others, and this one was a doozy. This one was big … we were really crying out to the Lord for help."

The song came to life during a scheduled writing session Baldwin almost skipped. "I didn’t even want to be there," he admitted. "I just wanted to be at home with my wife. But I went, and my friends were close enough that I could be honest about what we were going through."

This honesty set the stage for "Prince of Peace." Baldwin and his friends decided to write a song that candidly addressed their struggles. 

"It sent us down the road to write a song that calls out to the Lord and is honest and authentic and says, ‘Here’s what I'm dealing with, Lord, I feel like I have a lack of control over my world. I feel like I'm being attacked by and wrestling with the demons that are trying to come against my mind and my peace.’ … The chorus talks about how the Lord has been our Savior, our help, our friend, 'but at this moment right now, I really want the Prince of Peace part of God to come and be with me.'”

Initially, Baldwin thought the song would remain a private comfort for his family. "We had a little recording, and we just played it at home," he recalled. "But we really felt like it was important to do this song, and put it on this album and share our testimony."

The inclusion of "Prince of Peace" on Made for More turned out to be a pivotal decision; Baldwin said the response has been overwhelmingly positive, with listeners expressing how the song has brought them peace and comfort. 

"I’m kind of shocked at how many people have reached out," Baldwin said. "It’s the hidden song on the album, not the title track or the one you’d expect to hear in church. Yet, people have told us how much peace it has brought them and how they finally feel like there’s a song that connects with their experience … it’s giving people hope.”

For Baldwin, the song’s creation was part of a broader creative process rooted in Scripture, personal experiences and a keen awareness of cultural and church issues. 

"The title track, ‘Made for More,’ came from a conversation about Romans 6 and our identity in Christ," he explained. "It’s about being aware of how the Lord can speak through daily moments and times spent with Him."

“My kids have been listening to it for the last year-and-a-half,” he added. “I love that they know every word in it. The whole song is, ‘I know who I am because I know who You are/ The cross of salvation was only the start.’ And then, 'cause I wasn't made to be tending a grave/ I was called by name.’ It’s talking about how they were made for more.”

Ensuring biblical accuracy

Baldwin, who joined the Bethel Music Collective in 2014, is best known for his songs “Praises,” featured on Bethel Music’s Have it All, “You Deserve It All,” from his solo project Rivers and “Stand in Your Love,” a song featured on Bethel Music’s album VICTORY (2019) which reached No. 2 on the Christian Billboard charts.

As worship music continues to evolve and gain mainstream popularity, ensuring theological accuracy while maintaining artistic authenticity in his music is a priority for Baldwin.

"I definitely read my Bible and try to know as much as I can," Baldwin began. "But I’m also aware of where my knowledge ends, and I need to tap into other intelligent, smart theologians and pastors. I try to do a balance of making sure it lines up with the Word but also, I want to be inspired, and I want to be creative.”

"Sometimes, I don’t want to think too hard about whether I’m saying the right thing initially. I get the creative ideas out and then send it through a review process."

This review process includes input from his father, who has a master’s degree in theology, as well as friends who run theological seminaries and his pastors, including Bill Johnson of Bethel Church in Redding, California.

"I’m very spoiled in that I can send stuff to my dad and other theologians I trust," Baldwin noted. "We want our songs to naturally line up with the Word of God and be theologically sound."

Baldwin said he’s acutely aware of the challenges that come with its increasing appeal and looking ahead. The artist said he hopes worship music remains authentic as it becomes more mainstream.

“It's easy to think that worship needs to sound a certain way or look a certain way,” he said. “I pray it stays authentic to whoever's writing into the Church and to where the Church is.

“I don't want it to all start sounding the same,” he added. “I think it would be a shame if you hear a song and you think, ‘Oh, that’s Christian music or worship music’ because of the way it sounds and not necessarily the content of the words. I would love for it to sound like good music, but it is also about the Lord. That'd be really cool.”

Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at:

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