Let me introduce Jake Mason to you.
I meet him and his wife at a quirky coffee shop in Huntington Beach, CA where he lives and works with Circuit Riders, a team of radical missionaries known for their creative talent and passion for evangelism. He strolls in, wearing causally cool jean shorts and a sweatshirt. Super chill and friendly, Jake embodies the effortless “cool kid” persona we all once aspired to have in high school. Which is a great thing, actually, because he’s also a worship leader with One Voice Student Missions, an organization devoted to introducing high schoolers to Jesus. After niceties and a couple pictures, we sit down to get to know him, his heart for ministry and his recently recorded album, So Much More.
Jake’s ministry started in the skate parks of Kona, HI, boarding with a group of middle/high schoolers over the summer and after school. His involvement there with YWAM allowed him the opportunity to help staff a summer youth camp, a ministry that he found himself leading within three years. “I thought I was just going to be really nervous and not really know what to do, but it just came naturally to be in front of younger people,” Jake shared. At 23, Jake took on the ministry himself. It was in it he discovered music, teaching himself guitar. When asked if he had any guidance in his musical process, Jake shrugged, “I don’t think [I had any]. My playing is always from a place of risk. To me risk really equals faith. You just believe, ‘Wow, God really created me to sing crazy stuff and challenge the norm.’ And that’s how my music’s always been.” His wife, Katherine shares, “…a lot of the times where he grew was when there was just a need for someone who knew how to hold a key and strum a guitar to lead a room, and he was risky enough to take it.”
Jake reminisces one night leading worship where he and the students erupted in a spontaneous chant: The Lord is my light, and my salvation. Whom shall I fear, whom shall I fear. A chant that even five years later, his wife and friends join in on. “I was a high schooler in that specific year,” his friend Chip remembers, “and we were going ballistic, like something in our souls…awakened. It was so wild, so crazy.”
We would later talk with another of Jake’s friends, Brian Barcelona of One Voice Student Missions, who would agree wholeheartedly:
“Jake has probably one of the most unique sounds I have ever heard, and he’s able to do something that I’ve not seen any other worship leader be able to do, and that’s totally engage a dead room- not by just leading worship, but he engages that room and gets students to do things that they would never do, like singing along, even singing songs over each other. I’ve never seen anything like that…he just carries something special.”
It seems like everyone has come to the same conclusion: there’s something quite special about this guy when he takes the stage. As he continues to talk, Jake reveals his secret to capturing an entire room:
“The young people can just smell you out, you know? I’d rather just be authentic and bare my heart for young people to see and show them like ‘Hey, this is really me and I can’t make you do anything. I’m just going show you the truth and let you see it. I’m going let you see who Jesus is, let you see what freedom is, and you can take it if you want. I’m not going to force you into it.'”
Jake continues to reveal his history with worship leading. There was no mentor, no instruction manual, just a man and his guitar in the secret place. “I didn’t know the rules, I didn’t know the rules to worship and people asked me to lead and so I was like ‘I don’t know what you want but this is what the Lord has taught me.’ So a lot of the stuff was not normal, I guess. But I didn’t know any other way.” From that place, we see the unique voice and musical stylings of an artist learning to lead on the go. Jake explains that the learning curve was steep, but being around hungry Jesus-lovers in worship allowed him to find his own sound. “There was a time where at camps we weren’t allowed amplified sound. So that’s all you got is a guitar. The voices overpower the guitar so quickly. I think it helps people engage when there’s not a lot of music cause then they can really just focus on singing. I feel like when you hear other people sing, you realize that’s what worship is.”
And that’s what he releases in high schools with One Voice Student Missions. When asked about the future he says, “I think high schoolers are the future and right now they’re just hurting so bad. They need better dads, they need better role models. I definitely am too young to be a father to a high schooler, but any way I can point them to Jesus, to my father in heaven, it’s well worth it…When God says to do something, we’re obedient and do it with excellence and intensity. I think I need to milk everything I can: all the gifts that I have, all the risks I can take, because I don’t want to get to a place and have any regret in life, like ‘Could I have done more?’ Regret is a real thing, and I don’t want to have any of it in my life. If that’s music, sweet, if that’s video series in the future, or if that’s vlogs or teachings or whatnot, I’m just going to keep pushing the envelope and see what can be done. So this is definitely a fun envelope to push. I’m excited to see where it goes.”
Buy his new album, “So Much More” here: https://itun.es/us/BLXCbb