David Hanley, perhaps best known as founder of the Christian worship band Press Play, has served as a full-time worship leader for over 16 years. Before it became a vocation, he volunteered in leading worship for five years. Worship is clearly a distinction that defines his life—one that should define all of our lives, he believes.
“A lifestyle of worship unto Christ is truly a calling for all,” says David, an ordained Foursquare minister who has served as worship pastor at New Hope Christian Fellowship (Simi Valley 2 Foursquare Church) in Simi Valley, Calif., since August. His wife, Gina, is also ordained and an assisting minister at the church. They serve alongside James and Teresa Craft, New Hope’s senior pastors.
“I believe that while the corporate worship experience is ever so important, the most important key to worship is how we live our lives off the platform,” David continues. “Instead of thinking that worship is the 30 minutes on the platform, I focus on that it’s what we do with the other 23.5 hours of the day that determines our true worship unto the Lord. The way we live our lives is a true expression and reflection of our true worship and adoration toward Christ.”
The many expressions of true worship lived out in the real world by members of New Hope Christian Fellowship are exciting to watch and be a part of, David says.
“It’s so great to see a church faithfully serve not only their congregation, but also their entire community,” he explains. “Pastor James and the entire church body pour themselves into seeing that multiple needs are met throughout the church and community, seven days a week.”
The congregation’s many activities and outreaches include taking care of and feeding the homeless; ministry to children and youth; practical ministry via programs such as Celebrate Recovery and Financial Peace University; Spanish ministries on Friday and Sunday nights; an emerging leaders program; and a recently launched Saturday night service that David says offers the community the most exciting place to be in town. Attendance at these Saturday night gatherings has tripled in just six weeks.
Additionally, in September Press Play released their third studio album, titled World Anthem, on the Dream Records label. The project’s purpose and mission is very clear, David asserts—it’s for the lost to find Christ through its message, sound and style, and for believers to get motivated and excited about loving, caring for and rescuing the lost.
“The latest radio single is called, ‘Three Little Words,’ ” David explains. “Of course, those are, ‘I love you.’ The message is that it’s not enough to simply say it; we also have to put that love into action, show the world that Jesus loves them.”
Seeing God’s love change lives is what worship ministry is all about. David shares a vivid story that, to this day, serves as a powerful reminder to him and his team to keep the true purpose of worship in constant focus. It’s easy to get distracted by performance or myriad issues that arise during any particular day. But what happened to a young man who attended one of Press Play’s worship concerts will snap one’s cloudy focus back into sharp view.
Press Play was doing a concert in Queens, New York, and David remembers being completely exhausted by the tour’s hectic schedule. At the concert’s close, they offered an invitation to accept Christ. David invited one of the young teens who had come forward for prayer on stage to dance along with the band’s closing number. After the concert, they exchanged high fives, hugs, and said goodbye.
It was very late by the time the band tore everything down and got back to their hotel. The airport shuttle picked them up at 5 a.m. David was on the shuttle, half asleep, when he got a text from a pastor’s daughter who had been involved with the event. She told him they had been trying to get that young man to church for a long time, but he had never come until this concert.
The next line made David freeze. When the teen left the concert, he was killed in a car accident.
“Our hearts dropped to the floor, and we all began to cry,” David recalls. “Our hearts broke for him and his family, but we also knew he was with the Lord. We knew then that God could have put the entire band together for the one purpose of that one kid’s life that cold night in Queens.”
This reality is what keeps David and his worship band focused, whether they’re performing a concert out of town or leading a time of worship back home. His words serve as an important reminder to anyone involved with worship ministry.
“Our heart and goal,” David says, “is to provide an evangelism tool that the congregation and community know they can count on; and to be consistent and faithful in prayer and preparation, so that they can use it as a soul-winning tool. We pray that through our faithfulness, lives are being changed and drawn toward Christ.”