Jonathan McReynolds intends to make room for rest and celebration after an “incredible” 2018.
The 29-year-old musician toured the U.S., received two Grammy nominations for his chart-topping third studio album, “Make Room,” and published his first book of the same name.
“Make Room: Finding Where Faith Fits”, published in November, is an extension of the album, giving readers practical ways to involve God in every area of life, according to the artist.
McReynolds said he wrote the book for people like himself—a “church boy” who had questions about how to apply messages from the pulpit to his specific experiences.
“We get the idea we need to make room for God, but how? Give me the how-tos on it. What does that even mean? Sometimes you hear ‘good preaching,’ but you still have no idea what to do after that,” he told Faithfully Magazine.
Wanting to lead others to put in work to find the answers God has for them kept the singer from writing a rule book, he said. In “Make Room,” McReynolds explains Scripture verses and theological ideas often talked about in church, such as strongholds and waiting on the Lord, but stops short of explicitly telling people what to do.[emaillocker id=60875]
“I definitely didn’t want to present myself as some big expert on everything. At the end of the day, I’m writing from a place of pursuit rather than mastery,” he said.
The artist is transparent about regularly examining and praying about his own ideas, mentioning heavy topics like suicide and evolution, as well as less polarizing issues like reading horoscopes and only listening to gospel music. “This is simply my list of thoughts, concerns and questions for which I must intentionally give God room to give me understanding and transformation,” he writes. “I do research and study the scriptures on those subjects until I can have peace.”
In addition to making sense of how a relationship with God corresponds with human relationships, careers, goals, and even daily thoughts and activities, another theme McReynolds points to consistently is the need for humility when dealing with others and facing himself.
“I’ve had to learn how to get over myself,” he said when asked about his concern listed in the book about not being “a huge people person.”
“I became so disgusted by the monotony of church, I didn’t realize that I was the one bringing a monotonous relationship to church.”
“I might want to not talk to anybody on this plane or even in a service, but you never know how people might need your voice. Some of us have a shy or introverted personality and God gave it to us like that. It’s in the blood, and He built us like that, and He has special uses for us. But some of us, we pile our own fear, and our own insecurity, and our own selfishness on top of it. He didn’t do that. So are you acting out of your own selfishness or fear or insecurity in that moment? Or just being who you are?”
Ironically, McReynolds started writing “Make Room” when “God-oriented things—writing gospel songs, giving scholarships, defending the faith, and serving God’s people”—started consuming his time and edged out personal prayer, devotion, and worship.
“I barely prayed. Never fasted. Only read Scripture to win a debate,” he revealed. “I became so disgusted by the monotony of church, I didn’t realize that I was the one bringing a monotonous relationship to church. Like every album, God preached to me with this one.”
McReynolds performs his Grammy-nominated song, “Cycles” live.