Luke’s journey from Norwich to worldwide worship
In 2000, aged 15, Luke Hellebronth was baptised at King’s Community Church in Norwich. Now he leads an international Christian movement that is seeking to inspire Godly worship and make it central to church and community life across the world. Jenny Seal reports.
As the Global Director of Worship Central, 32-year old Luke Hellebronth gets to do what he loves to do – write, play and lead worship music, and inspire others around the world to do the same.
In 2006, with his friend and mentor, Tim Hughes, one of Britain’s leading singer-songwriters of contemporary Christian music, Luke was part of the team which founded Worship Central. With an online course, a year-long academy, events and albums, Worship Central resources worship teams in local churches to build their confidence, creativity, theology and skills.
Luke and his wife Anna collaborate with Tim Hughes and three other talented worship musicians, Nick Herbert, Josh Gauton and Ben Cantelon, in the collective also known as Worship Central. They lead worship all over the world and have released five albums together.
Luke, who towers over his bandmates, wears on-trend glasses and a cropped beard. He plays a key role in the band, writing songs, singing vocals and playing the acoustic guitar. In 2013 he released his own worship album, ‘Stand Up’.
He is a graduate of Trinity College of Music in London, where he studied after leaving Norwich School in 2003. During his two years of Sixth Form at the Cathedral based school, Luke met a teacher who would have a big influence.
Luke said: “I had a music teacher called David Fitzgerald who was a Christian - amazing man - and he said, ‘when you go down to London, you’ve got to go to this church, HTB’. He said: ‘You’ll really enjoy it, the music’s great, get involved in the worship team there.’”
Norwich School’s David Fitzgerald is a saxophonist and woodwind musician, who in the early 90s founded the Christian Celtic folk band Iona. Not only did Luke follow his advice and start attending Holy Trinity Brompton (HTB) in 2003, but the track ‘Waves’ on Worship Central’s recent ‘Mercy Road’ album is reminiscent of the haunting quality of Iona’s beautiful vocals.
Holy Trinity Brompton is an Anglican church in central London, perhaps best known for birthing the Alpha Course. “I played in the worship team there as soon as I arrived,” Luke said, “and then began to lead worship in the student group. That was really my bread and butter. I did that week in, week out and loved it. From there I shadowed different people and led at bigger gatherings, services and events. It has grown from there really.”
Following graduation, Luke was employed for six years on the staff of HTB as a Worship Pastor, transitioning into the role at Worship Central.
He grew up in Eaton, where his family had moved when he was eight, attending Fairway Middle School (now Eaton Primary). Luke’s parents, Dieter and Jane are musicians and Christians but he never felt pressurised in his faith. “I think my parents encouraged me to find my own faith really,” Luke said.
During his teenage years he attended King’s Community Church in central Norwich, where he got baptised when he was 15. “I had a couple of great youth leaders there who were key in my faith journey,” he said.
Now in a position to influence the faith of people around the world, he is quick to count his blessings. He said: “It is such a privilege to be able to use the gifts that I believe God has given me and what I’ve trained in to serve Him and to serve a church and also wider in the church’s mission to see people come to Christ.
“I think music can be such an amazing way to draw people in and to paint a picture of who God is. That’s one of the things we love to do – paint pictures of this God whom we worship. People have so many questions, and through music and worship and the songs we write, we want to describe our God.”
The headquarters of Worship Central is now in Birmingham. It is here that Luke’s wife Anna Hellebronth is the Worship Pastor of Gas Street Church, a church plant of Holy Trinity Brompton led by Tim Hughes who is also an Anglican vicar.
Worship Central has over 20 hubs worldwide including in Australia, Canada, Costa Rica, South Africa, Malaysia, Spain and Slovakia. It is part of Luke’s role as the Global Director to be a link to those hubs, stay in touch, give training opportunities and set the vision and strategy for moving forward.
Luke said: “I love all the practical training elements but really they are all tools to facilitate that encounter with God. Obviously music and sung worship is one way of how that happens. I’ve seen that time and time again, whether it’s through a healing or a revelation of who God is, through a lyric or an emotion that has been struck through a melody – so many different ways.
“But I think seeing the change and transformation in people meeting with God is always so satisfying. I think that is the thing that is going to change lives and hopefully the world.”
The Worship Central course is a free 7-session online training course for local churches to run themselves. To find out more about this and other resources go to www.worshipcentral.org.
‘Mercy Road’ by Worship Central is available on iTunes, Spotify and on CD. Their new live album ‘Stir a Passion’ releases worldwide on May 18.
Pictured above is worship leader Luke Hellebronth.