If you asked Jordan Atwell as a little boy growing up in Hancock County what he wanted to be when he grew up, he probably would have said that he wanted to be a musician. He dreamt of the glory, the fame, and of seeing his name in lights. Now grown and married, and back in the Owensboro area, Jordan is no longer seeking the glory for himself. He is now playing music for God’s glory as the worship leader at Owensboro Christian Church, one of the largest churches in Owensboro.
Music has always been a part of Jordan’s life, but it wasn’t until high school that he considered it a hobby. Jordan says that once he picked up the acoustic guitar he “never looked back.” He taught himself how to “play by ear” by listening to Coldplay and other bands on the radio. While he always believed he was creative, Jordan never really considered himself an artist, but rather someone who just enjoyed playing music.
After graduating from Hancock County High School in 2005, Jordan attended Union University, a private Christian University located in Jackson, Tennessee, where he majored in communications and minored in music. Although Jordan had grown up in the church, was attending a Christian university, and felt that he knew a lot about Jesus, he didn’t feel that he truly knew Jesus intimately. In 2009, at the age of twenty-two, Jordan found himself at Crossings Ministries summer camp in Louisville, Kentucky. It was at Crossings that Jordan became a committed believer, and believes that the same year he found Jesus, music really found him. Once he became a believer in Christ, Jordan says his entire world view changed, as did his relationship with music. Jordan recalls, “When I became a believer, my desire to play and write music kind of exploded.”
“At the end of the day, it’s about lost people knowing Jesus; it’s not about being a celebrity at Owensboro Christian. I’m not trying to make my name great or Owensboro Christian’s name great, I’m trying to make Jesus’ name great — by the grace of God I will.”
His experiences in camp over those next three years would help him to discover his true gifts in music ministry, as well as find his beautiful wife of five years, Jamie. Crossings would also serve to influence the type of dynamic musician he is today. He discovered the electric guitar and “learned that different amps had different tones when pedals were manipulated in different ways.” Although he did not originally set out to be a worship leader, Jordan says, “I felt the Lord was saying, ‘I want you to.’ It was a weird combination of finding a vocation and a calling, and at the same time feeling freed in my music.”
In his quest to honor his calling, he discovered spiritual influences and mentors along the way in Phil Wing, Mike Cosper, Christian Stanfield, and Steve Cripps and John Stamper of BridgePointe Church. These gentlemen pushed him when he needed pushing, provided authentic examples of what true worship should look like, and allowed him the freedom to be creative and try new things. While Jordan appreciates the value of a Christian education, he also believes that he is “a bi-product of discipleship and grace.”
Even though others may see him as “the dude in skinny jeans that plays hip music,” Jordan is not necessarily drawn to contemporary Christian music. It is his desire to preserve the integrity of the traditional hymns that makes Jordan unique. When writing and working with various songs, he asks himself, “How do I sing these songs in new ways? How do I preserve the melody? Change chord structures? How do I change the sonic landscape of some of these songs?” The answer is to sometimes replace the background music of a pipe organ with drums and synthesizers to create a more current sound. Jordan says, “It is this constant balance of how do we create something new and (still) hold onto what is true and good?”
Throughout his spiritual journey, Jordan has discovered that he no longer wants to be a rock star or a celebrity. He feels that the Lord brought him and his wife back to Owensboro where he now has a heart “to disciple and equip everyday people” so that the city of Owensboro can flourish. He says, “My prayer is that people would be more drawn to the Christ I preach rather than the name and face of Jordan. I want to be a dude that loves his family well and loves his church – by the glory of God I will be.”