When Micah Bentley and the Axiom Church worship team took the stage on Easter Sunday in Peoria, Ariz., one of the songs they sang was their own. Axiom Worship has been creating original music for five years, and their latest single, Awe & Wonder, debuted in April.
“Awe & Wonder is all about sensing a desire among our team and leaders and probably Jesus himself to see our community and, even more, our culture, reclaim a childlike sense of awe and wonder of God and the mystery,” Bentley says. “Our culture is so cynical, disenchanted and worried about correct information or having it all figured out when it comes to God, yet maybe there’s an opportunity to just innocently seek his presence and ‘come like a child’ as Jesus says and actually let Jesus lead us. We want to see our community filled with a burning hunger for God’s presence.”
Awe & Wonder is one of a number of original worship songs created by Axiom Worship for use in church and made available to others online.
Bentley, who is the worship and arts pastor at Axiom, has served as songwriter, singer and musician for many of the songs Axiom Worship records. He co-produced Awe & Wonder with fellow musician and band member George White, who also plays drums and produces, engineers, mixes and masters songs.
Awe & Wonder was birthed out of intentional time the Axiom worship team spent listening for God’s voice.
“We did this knowing that what was said would be used as inspiration for a new song,” Bentley says. “We wrote down words, statements and ideas of what God desires to see in our community and noticed where there was overlap and agreement in what we were all hearing from God. I then took that time and the notes we gathered and prayerfully condensed the thoughts into a theme.”
Bentley created a demo, then he and White spent a day tracking the instruments, he says, adding that additional worship team members helped with vocals.
“George then took the recording and mixed and mastered the song,” Bentley says. “This was sort of a rushed process compared to normal because we were trying to put the song together to release on Easter weekend.”
The timeline for release depends on the project.
“Typically, one song can take one to three days to record and a week or two to mix,‚Äù Bentley says. ‚ÄúAn EP or album is one to three weeks, depending on length and detail, and about one month of mixing and mastering.‚Äù
The creative process of recording music not only provides content for Axiom’s worship services, it also gives opportunity to mentor young musicians.
“The purpose for us for creating original worship music is out of a desire to capture and create prayers and worship in songs for our community that speak to what Jesus is doing in our community at the time and can be used in our liturgy,” Bentley says, adding, “We have an awesome worship team of around 20 people who all contribute in different ways. We’re developing those with the desire to grow as songwriters and musicians by collaborating on these original songs. Sometimes some of the team plays or sings on songs and helps with writing.”
Axiom Worship released its first original music project in 2015, an EP called Novus that correlated with a series on spiritual transformation.
“We’ve been slowly doing more music projects since then,”Bentley says. “It started out of a desire to simply create something that came from within and was very much ‘us.'”
Next came the Of Christ EP—containing liturgy, a single and an instrumental—released in 2016, then Advent in 2017.
“The Advent EP was drawn from the desire to walk through the four weeks of advent and journey toward Christmas,” Bentley says. “The Of Christ project was a desire to create an experience with Jesus using song, silence and prayer. Some of the music we create is also useful for some of the other content we create like videos, so that inspires some of the instrumental stuff we do.”
Inspiration for content for Axiom Worship’s EPs comes from a variety of places.
“We’ve drawn a lot of inspiration for the content in these EPs from following the church calendar and its rhythms, spiritual formation practices like lectio divina, and just from the things we sense Jesus doing in our community at the time,” Bentley says.
Axiom Worship’s style has been influenced by the alternative rock band, Wild Earth, of which Bentley is a part.
“Axiom Worship’s genre is ever-evolving but probably based in the indie/alternative/folk rock categories,” Bentley says. “At least, those genres definitely influence a lot of our team. We do some things very intimate, stripped down, acoustic and sometimes very dynamic and full band, rock sounding.”
The worship team incorporates Axiom Worship’s music into services at Axiom.
“We do lots of different songs, from modern worship songs in the church, to re-arranging hymns as well as our original songs from Axiom and Wild Earth,” Bentley says, adding that he has also created instrumental songs to be used during communion.
Bentley says Axiom Worship is currently working on a hymns EP to be released later this year, as well as formation content such as audio liturgies.
“To me, worship is inevitable, it’s just a matter of what we worship,” Bentley says. “When we create something like music and direct it towards proclaiming truth and creating space to experience God’s love and presence, it can be a really transformational place. I think music is a powerful instrument for that, and we really try to make Jesus the complete and only aim with the music we create at Axiom.”