Hailing from the US, Renner Worship have been described as one of the leading worship bands in Russia! LTTM caught up with Philip Renner to find out how the team has influenced Russia in such an amazing way and to hear how they are now working back in America.
For those who haven't heard of you before, tell us a bit about you and how you got involved in making music.
When I was young I watched my Mom who is a professional opera singer sing songs like “How Great Thou Art” and “His eye Is On The Sparrow” in church. When I saw how God would use her and the healings that took place after, I told myself “ I’m going to do that someday’! I felt the anointing and the power of God through music and ultimately that is what I found my calling.
Many people might be surprised to hear that a US worship leader has spent a lot of time working and living in Russia! How did that come about and what can you share of your experiences there?
I moved to Russian at age 6 with my family, where I spent 25 years, serving with my father Rick Renner, pastor of Moscow Good News Church. In my teenage years, I was into groups like Pillar, Kutless and Skillet. This motivated me to have a band in which years later, I almost signed to Russian music label, which I turned down. God showed me that music had become a idol for me. So, I didn’t really pursue music for 3 years and told myself, I would never pick it up again. I fell in love with God through those years and truly loved God more than music. That was when God made it clear that he called me and brought music back into my life writing some of Russia’s first national modern original worship songs. God used my team and I to tour across 10 time zones of Russia and the nations surrounding it. Like Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine and Armenia.
What is God doing across Russia and the former USSR? We hear things on the news, but what have you experienced?
I have seen thousands of Russian youth engage in a mosh pit during worship then the next moment they are falling on their knees crying out to God. Through the anointing in music I have seen miracles, healing and salvations. Generally, a night of worship can go up to three hours and a lot of it is spontaneous worship. There is a Russian revival happening that few in Western media have covered or realize is happening. God is doing amazing things in this generation and they are touching nations for Jesus.
You've now relocated back to the US - what are you involved with now?
I continue to travel internationally all over the world to do what God has called me to do to do youth events, speaking and working on a book, called Worship With No Limits to be released in March 2018. I want to release a relevant sound that will release revival and restoration wherever God calls me. Also, I want to raise up an army of worshipers who will worship him in spirit and in truth. I also am developing a movement of worship in Tulsa, Ok where I serve as the worship Pastor in residence at Millennial church, Pastored by Paul Brady who moved to Tulsa from Ireland.
Tell us about your new song “With Me”.
I remember God telling me. Read the book of Romans over and over again. I especially focused on Romans 8. I must have read it 8 times in a row. I asked myself there has to be a song in what I am reading. Then the idea hit me, He is always “ With Me “.. I meditated on this, Romans 8:37-39 and the song With Me is the result of that meditation. My manager connected me with a great producer and ministry out of Nashville, producer Caleb Eversmith and his sister Esther Smith that does backing vocals. Caleb is really talented and really captured my vision for a youth and worship sound that this generation needs to hear of God’s transformational power, grace and goodness.
How would you describe your style of music and what are your influences?
I’ve gone through phrases of various styles from Pillar, Kutless, Skillet to Pure Worship. In the end I have learned a lot from Martin Smith. The way Martin interacts with the crowd and leads them into worship became my model. I learned how to lead worship using his songs before I graduated to writing my own. I don't listen to a lot of Non-Christian music now, but back in the day Metallica, Chili Peppers and Papa Roach, P. O D and Sting, Police were influential. I listened to them for their rhythmic style and guitar riffs, but Josh Groban and Pavarotti, for their vocal projection.
Your style on “With Me” is said to be edgy worship, do you feel this is a new wave or trend?
I like it to be pretty rocking and push the envelope, but above all I don't want the melody or the point of the song to be lost in the grudge and synth. The song “With Me” has a very different sound than Jesus Culture, Hillsong or Elevation. I would not be surprised if this new wave or style begins to catch on. There is a vibrant youth revival across former USSR, because the church are doing not only relevant music, but music with a focus on God in lyrics and events that have a purpose beyond entertainment or developing an industry.
What is your favourite album of all time?
I really like Jesus Freak, D. C talk. It really spoke to me, when I was a young teenager. I remember rocking out to it in my room.
You're stuck on an island, it's hot, you only have enough battery life left to listen to one song on your iPhone. What track is it?
Martin Smith... Song of Solomon
What does the next year hold for Renner Worship?
Renner Worship will be traveling internationally touring and speaking in Russia, former USSR, US and UK to lead worship and share new music. We want to release the sound of heaven of what is God is doing now and not put limits on God in style or how things have been done. You can be cutting edge and see miracles happen! If Brian “Head’ Welch of Korn can pray for fans to get saved and healed, we can do the same in Christian music and the Church!
I’m excited about the release of my book- “Worship With No Limits”, I believe it will encourage worship leaders all over the world especially in USA, UK and Russian speaking countries. It is the teaching in this book that caused a chain reaction of worship all over Russia. Through workshops, I encouraged worship teams and leaders to find their own songs and sounds to release. When we started traveling in the former USSR, Renner Worship was one of the first worship movements on that side of the world, but not anymore. Through the teaching I share in my new book, other worship movements have began to rise up and make impact in their church, city and nation. Even in remote areas such as Siberia, South Africa to Manchester, UK.
God is on the move and he is “ With Me” and He is with you ! Everywhere I go, I encourage worship teams and churches to rise up to find your God given calling in a fresh and new way- WORSHIP WITH NO LIMITS!