Reshaping the Church

Cody Carnes on the importance of an All-Men’s Christian Conference

Posted September 14, 2021

by Rachel Freeman

Anyone who has tuned into a Christian music radio station or listened to Spotify’s WorshipNow playlist in the past two years has heard the sweet melodies of Cody Carnes’ music and creative influence. The mastermind behind famous hits such as “Run to the Father” and “Christ Be Magnified,” Carnes might not be a household name, but his songs are taking over worship services and playlists everywhere.

And, he’s not taking them over alone.

Carnes and his wife, fellow Christian music artist Kari Jobe, lead worship together at Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas, as well as tour around the country leading worship services in stadiums, auditoriums and churches. Their collaborative efforts are most notable in the worship song, “The Blessing” which they performed alongside Elevation Worship.

In July of 2021, Carnes got to bring “The Blessing '' to the AT&T stadium in Arlington, Texas as the opener of the Promise Keepers 2021 Conference. Once an extremely popular movement amongst men of the '90s, Promise Keepers is hoping to kick their movement of building men of integrity into high gear starting with a new generation of men gathering together under the soft-top roof of the Dallas Cowboys football stadium.

Twenty minutes prior to walking on the stage in the middle of the field, Carnes and I sat down to discuss the beginnings of his musical career and why he feels it is so important for men to be able to gather together to worship. Our conversation has been edited and condensed.

First, I really want to talk to you and just get a summary of how you got into music and felt called to this profession.

Cool. Yeah, so I grew up in a musical family, I always knew I wanted to do music. I started playing music at age 2, and now, I have a 2-year-old son who I'm watching him—

Do the same thing?

Yeah. And, I always thought my parents were crazy for saying that, and then now I'm actually realizing, "Oh no, I get it." Just this innate thing. So, I always knew I would want to do music. I met Jesus when I was 8. I got saved when I was 8, and I just loved church. I was always in church every time the doors were open, basically, and learned how to play music in church. So I started leading worship in my youth group when I was 15, and really just fell in love with it and didn't know that I would—I always wanted to do music. I always wanted to. I didn't know that I would do worship music until I was 19, and I was kind of chasing some other musical avenues in rock bands and things like that out of high school, but just jumped into leading at church in Dallas, here where we are now at Gateway Church, and just really feeling like God was saying, "Hey, I want you to leave all the other stuff behind, and I want you to focus on being a worship leader and a songwriter."

I remember just arguing with God and saying, "Yeah, but I can't write a worship song, like I've tried. I don't wanna be singing everybody else's songs all the time, I wanna be creative in this space.” And so I was just kind of like, "I don't want to."

And, funny enough, now I don't know how many worship songs I have written out, but God really just provided the tools that I needed, but he waited until I just said yes anyway, so I jumped in with faith, "God, I know you're calling me to do this, I don't really know how I'm gonna do this, but I'm saying yes."

Well, prior to getting involved in this event, had you heard of Promise Keepers, did you know what it was?

To be honest, no.

Being here now, what are you, would you say, most excited about for this weekend and in this conference and being a part of it?

First of all, I love a room full of men worshipping together. There's something so unique and significant about that, I think for men to show up to something, committed to worshipping God together, to let God speak into their life, the ramifications of our community when men come together to put God first, to seek God, so to be in the presence of God, that makes us all better fathers, better husbands, better whatever we're doing. And so, just the moment that we have together, I know God has such significant things. He sees a moment like this and sees just the ripple effect that will happen when a group of men like this get into His presence and are changed, and are... So I'm excited about that, I'm excited just for what God wants to do. We're gonna sing The Blessing tonight. I'm very excited about that.

Amazing.

We were rehearsing it, and I was just... As we were rehearsing it, I was thinking about the men that would be in the room and just all of us singing this blessing of God over each other, and over our families, and yeah, I'm excited about that. It's kinda great.

I feel like The Blessing is such a good segue into my next question, which is Promise Keepers. A big part of their mission and what they stand for is praying for massive revival and transformation by 2025. For you, what do you think that looks like and how do you think an event like Promise Keepers and things like this are gonna help achieve transformation?

I think revival starts in the heart. It starts in me. That's the... It is a corporate movement that we often think about revival, we think about massive groups of people giving their heart to Jesus, but it's at one heart at a time, it's in me. And so I think revival looks like, people's hearts being turned to Jesus, people's hearts being softened, people's hearts being committed, and really, the realization of Jesus happening for people 'cause when you see who Jesus really is, He's way too good to turn down.

To not believe.

Yeah, yes, exactly. He's way too good to not believe. That's true, and so salvation comes when you see Him for who He really is and not for all the things you thought He was or the bitterness that crowded your sight and your heart or... So, I think it's just... Especially now and what's happening in the world today, it's bitterness, and shame, and everything, being completely broken off. And seeing Jesus for who He really is. And if you think about it, it seems so easy, but it's also so complicated. But if everyone could just see Jesus for who He really is, we would all be changed. We would all be... We would be able to see who we really are.