This is part two of an incredible interview with Brennan Claborn, minister, musician, and worship leader from Rialto, CA. If you missed the first part, you can snag it here! If you’d like to check and support an amazing Apostolic artist, check out our review of his EP here.
BtC: Eventually, you ended up at Urshan College and were heavily involved. You wrote a song featured at Youth Congress, and were involved in some other music projects, I believe. Can you describe some of what you were involved in there?
Brennan: Ohhhh… Urshan College was busy. I tried my best to be involved in as much as I possibly could, and I don’t regret that. It was certainly rewarding, and a wonderful season, but it was a lot of work at the time. I had many responsibilities, as well as working two jobs–such is the case with most (serious) Bible College students. To name a few things: I was on student senate, in charge of other various clubs and committees, and I would participate in outreach opportunities however possible. As far as music goes, I had a pretty small part to play compared to others (music majors, etc). However, I did get the privilege one year of writing and singing an original song called “Dreamers” for Urshan College Preview Weekend entitled, “Dreamers Wanted.” This song ended up on the Urshan CD, “Faith Is.” I also was blessed to be able to head up the music and lead worship for the Spring Preview Weekend of “Dreamers Wanted.” In between some of those larger events, I helped play acoustic guitar at various outreaches, services, and events. I was privileged to lead chapel services many times, help others song-write, and a few more little things here and there. Being at Urshan College also helped grant me the opportunity to write and record my song “Gravity” for the NAYC 2013 theme song (And a huge thanks to Travis Rigney). Urshan provides a great platform for students who wish to grow in their creative abilities for God. Music is just one of those things. And as great as the musical opportunities were, the main things that changed my life while I was there were the classes, chapel services, prayer meetings, outreaches, etc.
BtC: Can you describe the importance of Apostolics being pioneers in the writing and creation of original music?
Brennan: Absolutely. I think there are too many young Apostolics who are not yet completely convinced of the Truth they profess to believe. If they did, there would be a lot more people singing about it, writing about it, etc. This is due to a number of reasons, but it is important to realize that you can be creative without compromising. You can write songs with excellence–songs that people want to listen to–without compromising the message of what we believe. I am certainly not tooting my own horn, but this is exactly what James Wilson and I intended (and I believe we achieved it) with the song, “Holy Ghost.” The song is geared in a way that saints and sinners alike would enjoy listening to it, but the message is completely unaltered and not watered down. Sing about holiness, in a creative way! Sing about baptism, write songs about the power of the Truth! I am not saying that every song we write has to be about speaking in tongues, but the principle is clear–be proud of Apostolic truth, don’t be afraid to sing about it.
Don’t make your goal to be personal notoriety and secular success. If secular success comes in your music, and God and your pastor allow you to pursue it, so be it. But your goal as a songwriter, singer, musician, etc, MUST be to give glory to God, and see the Gospel spread. If you never receive secular notoriety for your efforts, you need to be okay with that. The moment you begin straying from that goal, is the moment you begin compromising. None of this is about us, and you can always tell a Godly, humble musician/singer/songwriter, from a vain, self-seeking musician/singer/songwriter. If we believe the Apostolic message and lifestyle, we should be “pioneers” on every front possible–Songwriting, singing, musicianship, preaching, and even in the secular workforce! Whatever we can use to get the message out, without compromising or changing the message, we need to give it out best. Once people realize this, there is no telling what could be accomplished.
Too many Apostolic young people are influenced by the secular Christian music genre. Unfortunately, while there is good Christian music out there, we also have music today that is labeled “Christian” but its message really isn’t. There are many groups under this label that sing about everything but God, and it seems they are always trying to find ways to remain under Christian label, without actually mentioning Christ. We cannot follow this trend. We are Apostolic. Part of being Apostolic is to be bold about Truth. Now, I am not saying songs cannot be poetic or contain metaphors. The book of Psalms contains incredible poetry and metaphors that can leave you dazed (and maybe even a little confused). However, David was constantly mentioning his God, and every psalm in some way leads back to giving glory and credence to God. My goal every time I write a song is to balance between being creative and poetic with the lyrics, while not being so creative and poetic that the message is blurred or unclear. In some way, shape or form, your song needs to lead back to Jesus. This is something I have learned as I have grown in God–something God dealt with me strongly about. If I could go back, I would change a lot of the lyrics in my songs, and make the message more clear and obvious. To summarize, God needs to get the glory from every song you write. It’s not about you, and it’s not about leaves on trees or water in the seas. Make it obvious Who and what you are singing about.
Lastly, music can have a strong influence upon a student’s life–positively or negatively. As Apostolics who have the Truth, we need to be proactive in using that influence to reach our lost generation, and inspire young people within our own ranks to live like an unashamed Apostolic. With our music, we ought to make our own feel proud to be Apostolic, and make everyone else want to be Apostolic.
BtC: You recently returned from an extended missions trip to Europe. What was your favorite experience while on that trip?
Brennan: There are too many to count. I spent two months in Europe, and it was a beautiful time. I spent a month and a half out of my two months, in Southern Germany with a missionary family. My favorite moments were seeing the German people pray and be touched by God. The German people can be very rigid, stubborn, and it is difficult for them to do things differently than what they have always done. The country of Germany is almost strictly Catholic, so most people have never truly had a real experience with God. So it may seem like a small thing to some, but watching these people lift their hands, sing to God and weep at an altar was a beautiful thing, and a tremendous sign of progress in their own lives and walk with God. A favorite experience was when one of the ladies in the church received the Holy Ghost for the first time. I preached that Sunday about deliverance. Afterward, during the altar call, the missionary called me over to help pray for Sister Philameno. She had never received the Holy Ghost, and said that she had been feeling very troubled, and felt she had a dark presence disturbing her, following her, keeping her up at night, etc. We prayed for her, and not only did she receive the Holy Ghost, but she said she felt a peace that she did not feel when she first walked in the church that morning and that the dark presence had lifted from her. God “swept the house” and filled it that morning, and it was a wonderful testimony of deliverance!
BtC: How can someone take their ministry to the next level, not just in terms of joining a group that’s going somewhere, but spiritually?
Brennan: Well, for things to go to another level, there has to be at least a level to start with. You cannot have a ministry at all without a prayer life, without sacrifice, and without a knowledge and understanding of the Word of God. If you lack all or any of these things, then you need to get started. With that being said, the answer to your question is simply consecration. This word, in general, means an act by which a thing is separated from a common use to a sacred use–dedicated to a special purpose or service. The word consecration in a more literal sense means, “an association with the sacred.” There are no formulas or modern techniques that can do the job. Ministry is a spiritual thing, and so it takes spiritual investments to advance to deeper dimensions. You have to begin associating with the sacred things, more than any other thing(s) on the planet. Pray more than you have ever prayed. Pray for miracles. Pray for favor. Ask for more anointing. Study and read the Word more than you ever have. Serve God by always serving others. This may sound too simple to be true, but I have never seen anyone go wrong who is consistently doing these things. When it was time for Jesus to go deeper, he prayed so fervently that he sweated drops of blood. If you want the blood of Christ to flow in your life and ministry, there has to be some sweat on your part, and some tears. When you begin consecrating yourself, God will always meet you there, and take you deeper (1 Cor 2:9-10). He wants to give you as much as you want of Him. But in order for him to increase, you must decrease and deny your flesh (John 3:30). God cannot get any bigger, but we can get smaller. There is much more I could say on this topic, but to summarize–consistent consecration is the key.
BtC: What advice would you give to a room full of Millennials if you knew they were going to implement it no matter what?
Brennan: #1. Be God’s man, be God’s woman, and win souls for Him. Plain and simple. Our entire purpose of being on this earth is to worship God and lead others to Him so they can worship Him in spirit and truth (Eccl 12:13, Rev 4:11, Prov 11:30 John 4:24). Point being, whatever you are doing in life, do it with the goal of souls in mind. Winning souls is addicting. Soul-winners are the happiest people I know, and most soul-winners have no desire to leave the church. The reason it is so fulfilling is because it is what we were created to do! This does not mean you have to be a preacher behind a pulpit. Preach on your job, preach in your classroom, preach this Truth everywhere you go. Because witnessing, and putting this Gospel to the test is what will make it come alive for you. If you have doubts about the Word of God, and what we as Apostolics believe, it might be because you have never really applied it in your life and ministry. I spoke to a preacher one time during an altar call after a youth rally. He told me that the turning point for him during his teenage years was evangelism. He said that he was tired of hearing all of the great stories about all that his father and grandfather had done for the kingdom–he wanted to experience those things too. He said he determined in his heart to knock every door in his town and invite everyone who answered to church, or to a Bible study. As he began teaching Bible studies, he said that as he was converting others, he was being converted himself. Faith without works is not faith at all (James 2). The greatest advice I could give to my generation is to stay busy in the Kingdom, put the Word into practice, and watch it come alive–in your life, and in the lives of others.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” – Acts 1:8
#2. Stay humble. Pride is what leads to destruction (Prov 16:18), and it can manifest itself in all sorts of different ways. No matter how many souls you win, or how great of a singer/preacher/teacher/artist you are, remain clothed with humility. No one should think highly of himself or herself, ever. (Rom 12:3). Pray that God would do whatever He has to do to keep you humble. And, when he sends those humbling lessons your way, don’t reject them or be upset–Thank God for them.
“I live with people who are…humble.” – Isaiah 57:15.