AUSTIN—Todd Agnew’s musical journey has taken many twists and turns. But Agnew sees that journey as the fulfillment of his dual calling—to lead Christians into meaningful worship and to engage nonbelievers in asking the right questions.
“First and foremost, we make sure that our goal is to lead people to the throne of God,” he said. “God is larger than any words we can use, and music is something beyond words. Music is a gift that God has given us, and it allows us to express beyond what we can actually say.
“As I’m writing songs, I’m always thinking about the tough questions that will challenge people to take the next step and move forward in their walk with the Lord.”
When preparing for an event, Agnew carefully selects songs he feels best suit the target audience, with the goal of leading others to Christ.
While leading worship at events, his set list includes traditional hymns and contemporary songs. He enjoys sharing the history of the hymns with teenagers and helping them understand their rich meaning.
“I’m not someone who just gets up on stage and starts playing songs. When I’m leading worship, I really try to teach about what worship is and also teach the songs—not just musically, but conceptually. I’ll break down the phrases in hymns so teenagers can understand the meaning, and I’ll share about how the song was written. I think it makes the songs so much richer when people know the story behind the song.”
Agnew, who was adopted as a baby, grew up at Plymouth Park Baptist Church in Irving and was involved in a variety of ministries. Agnew credits his adoptive parents for his strong foundation in faith and knowledge, for his musical upbringing and for his understanding of “adoption by grace.”
“I’ve come to understand that the concept of adoption on earth is a parallel to the concept of being adopted into the family of Christ, which is an incredibly powerful story of love and grace,” he said.
While studying music composition at the University of North Texas, he began leading worship for local youth ministries and summer camps. He also performed at a variety of venues including senior adult breakfasts, coffee houses and secular clubs, which gave him many opportunities to plant seeds in the lives of non-Christians and share the gospel.
After 13 years of being an independent artist, Agnew signed a recording contract with Ardent Records/INO in 2003. As a result, many doors began opening for performances at larger venues around the country.
“I was at a point where I had many different avenues I could have gone down in my ministry,” he said.
“I feel like God took his time molding me, because I could not have handled this platform earlier in my life. God basically took my heart, refined it and sculpted it. Then he said: ‘This is who I want you to be. I want you to be somebody who wants to be serious about reaching as many people as possible for my glory.’ Once I really had a grip on that, those doors started to open.”
For Agnew, the musical journey has come full circle—leading worship on a regular basis at Austin Stone Community Church and recording albums that not only are relevant to believers, but also spark conversations and pose questions with non-Christians.
Agnew has garnered numerous hit radio singles, including two No. 1 hits, “Grace Like Rain” and “This Fragile Breath.” He maintains a busy schedule, performing more than 150 dates each year and has sold more than 500,000 recordings. In recent months, he released a new album, Need.
“Seeing people come into a relationship with the Lord is so special, it’s beyond words,” Agnew said. “We all have a need to be loved, to be rescued, to be redeemed, to be restored, all these things. Those are the universal needs, and they are all met in Jesus. I love sharing truth with people and helping them connect with God. Our goal each night is to step back while God works in people’s hearts and begins to change their lives.”