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Former SonicFlood Lead Singer Gets Closer to God

Jeff was raised in a Christian home.  His dad led him to the Lord one night by his bedside at the age of 4.  He recalls sitting in church as a teenager singing the same old songs from a hymn book over and over.  “Don’t get me wrong; the words of those hymns I grew up with were and are invigorating,” he says.  “But for me, at 13, they were just plain hard to relate to.”  Jeff regularly read his Bible and prayed starting in middle school.  He loved youth group, but it never occurred to him to attempt to pursue a friendship with God.  Jeff loved music; he took piano lessons, played drums, sang and wrote songs.  His parents were musicians and met at Taylor University where his mom majored in voice and his dad played in a tremendous traveling trombone trio.  His sister pursued a music performance degree at Wheaton College.  “In those days, God was giving me an increasing heart for His word and for my peers,” says Jeff.  Throughout high school, Jeff wrote and performed Christian songs.  After attending a Michael W. Smith concert in 1991, Jeff knew what he was born to do.  

After graduating from college in 1992, Jeff married Martha and moved to Nashville in 1993.  Four years later, Jeff was trying to make it in the music industry, playing shows for $50 and no record deal in sight.  In 1997, Jeff signed with Gotee Records (Toby Mac’s label) with a surfer rock band called Zilch.  After a few months, they added a couple of worship songs to the end of their set which was a growing trend with many popular Christian bands.  They worked up a little rock version of “Lord I Lift Your Name on High.”  “It was our little nod to God,” says Jeff.  But then something happened.  “People started responding,” he says.  “It scared me.  People were raising their hands and running to the altar.  Without invitation. The more we sang that song, the more we wanted to sing that song.”  Somehow Jeff knew it was more than that.  “It was God moving in the expression of that song as we lifted our hungry praise to Him in a childlike freedom that silenced naysayers,” he says, “We were experiencing something special.  Undeniable.  We were beginning to lose ourselves and yet we were gaining Him. Like never before.”

In 1998, the band played at the Brownsville Revival worship conference in Pensacola, Florida.  “We weren’t a worship band.  We didn’t have a worship album,” says Jeff. “We didn’t consider ourselves worship leaders.  But we were wrecked,” he says.  After much thought and prayer, with their label, Zilch decided to record a worship CD.  “We dreamt of playing in bars, not churches,” he says.  At the time, there were no worship bands like Hillsong, Bethel or Passion.  As they were recording, Jeff says God’s Spirit was touching them.  “A new vision was budding.  Our hearts were awakening,” he says.  Then in the final stages of recording, they decided to change their name to SonicFlood.  “A flood of sound.  A flood of worship,” says Jeff.  One night the Holy Spirit told Jeff that we can spend time singing worship songs, reading the Bible and going to church yet still never encounter God’s presence.  “Music is only a tool,” he says.  “It can certainly aid us as we endeavor to come boldly into God’s presence, but the keyboard and the music are not His presence.” He reminds us that living a life of pure worship is the easiest and the hardest thing we will do.  “It involves a major perspective shift,” he says.  

When Jeff teaches his students about worship, he says our view of who God is influences how we worship. He felt the Lord laid on his heart these truths:  To experience pure worship we must worship with body, soul, mind and strength; we must be like the woman who poured expensive perfume on the feet of Jesus and worship extravagantly; we must enter into God’s kingdom with childlike faith; we can awaken our appetite for worshipping even when we don’t feel like it simply by worshipping; we must remind ourselves that God is a big God and that we have the opportunity to enter into His presence; and He invites us to worship with Him face to face.

Jeff will sing “Come Away With Me.”

Mentioned in the Video

Guest Info


Author: Awakening Pure Worship, Destiny Image 2018, Former lead singer, SonicFlood (originally Zilch) 1999-2000

SonicFlood has been Grammy-nominated

Dove Award Recipient for 2000 Song of the Year (I Have Come to Worship), New Artist of the Year, Rock Recorded Song of the Year and  Praise and Worship Album of the Year, 2001 Dove Award for Song of the Year (I Could Sing of Your Love Forever)

Has sold over 2 million records sold

Music Ministries Director, Celebration Church, Minneapolis, MN

Full-time faculty member, North Central University, Minneapolis, MN

Music Business Degree, Anderson University

Wife: Martha since 1992

4 children: Roman, Evan, Channing and Clara


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