Big Daddy Weave
Everybody has a unique story to tell. God has placed each of us on a specific journey and as one chapter closes, another opens. For the band Big Daddy Weave, the next chapter to their story began this past September with the release of their new album, Beautiful Offerings. Lead singer and founder, Mike Weaver wouldn’t have guessed that five guys leading worship at a small Baptist university would still be singing and glorifying God almost two decades later. The award-winning Contemporary Christian band also consists of Weaver’s brother Jay, Jeremy Redmon, Joe Shirk and Brian Beihl who took over on the drums in 2013. Big Daddy Weave’s story is big; it’s bold living as they continue to submit their music, their ministry and their lives to Jesus Christ. Mike Weaver talked with Risen about their seventh studio album, missions and a joke that has stuck with him until this day.
Interviewed exclusively for Risen magazine in Houghton Lake, Michigan
Risen Magazine: Take me back to your college days. How did Big Daddy Weave become a band?
Mike Weaver: We were at the University of Mobile – a little Baptist school in Alabama – we were leading worship on campus together and literally we just never stopped. It’s weird because in October  we hit 17 years for Big Daddy Weave [being a formal band]. Sometimes I get this feeling of, “Dude, sometime we’re going to have to get a real job or something.” But then I think, “Dude it’s been going on for almost two decades so I don’t know, maybe this really is what we’re supposed to be doing.” I do know it is what we are supposed to be doing though because early on we [as a band] said, “God, if you bring the places for us to play, then we’ll know that it’s You and not us.” We’ve seen too many people crash and burn chasing the dream, and we all had other plans. We probably would be ministering in local church, individually, if we weren’t a band. However, God just opened doors and He has continued to sustain us for this long. Honestly, we’re seeing God move in a greater way than we ever have and so we’re excited.
RM: I have to ask, how did you come up with the name Big Daddy Weave?
MW: It’s so, so stupid and that has been the most asked question. Basically if you’re my size in the South, then you are instantly nicknamed big daddy. It’s not like I give permission for people to call me that, they just do. And then of course my last name is Weaver. So the first time we got together to play, somebody asked us to play at an event. We were all joking around because we had only been together briefly and they asked what name should be put on the flyer. I said, “Dude, we’ve only been together fifteen minutes. Sweet.” I was just kidding [about Big Daddy Weave]. So, be careful what you name your group because you never know where God’s going to take your dream.
RM: And 17 years later you are all still together playing! It is great to see the longevity with your band members, especially since many times college friendships can be fleeting. What do you attribute the staying power to?
MW: You’re really right. We’ve seen groups come and go, gosh, for more than a decade now. We spend so much time on the road together that when we are not traveling, it’s not like all of us are best buddies. We don’t even really hear from each other much when we’re not on the road, but I think what it is [that keeps us together as a band] is a similarity in our hearts. It’s that each of us really wants to do what God wants us to do. Sometimes it’s scary, because you wonder if you really know what that is. We just trust Him. We’re like, “God, I trust that you’re so big, and you’re so good, that you can figure this out, even when I don’t understand what you’re trying to tell me. I believe you can get your point across to me greater than my ability.” And so we just trust Him like that and we’ve always just tried to default to God.
We have been ugly to each other and at one point I think we hated each other’s guts – we have fought like brothers. But, then God began to bring a new life just a few years ago. We were so tired and so scared [questioning], “Man, how is it that we’re doing this, and we’re leaving our families?” And God truly brought a revival to our group where we began to want something more than even just the music. God rekindled in us a desire that we had in the beginning, a desire to just worship Him. We really want to see Him move and be aware of His presence in our shows. We began closing shows in a different way. We would stop and ask people if they needed prayer and then we would come off the stage and pray for them. And in those times, the stories that began to come back of what God was doing and how He was moving in others was so encouraging.
God stoked all of us up on the inside in that way. That’s what we’re still doing today and we want to know how to hear Him more. We want to know how to submit to Him more. I love music and I love worshipping God with music, but that really is becoming a secondary thing to learning how to hear God in the moment and just flow with whatever it is that He is doing. We have seen Him do a lot of things; not everything that we wanted to see Him do, but probably everything that He wanted to do. I’m sure there’s so much more that He desires to do through us, as we’re learning how to yield to Him. At this point, I’m in it for the long haul because God has not only sustained us, but He has really brought vision for the future, as well.
We began closing shows in a different way. We would stop and ask people if they needed prayer and then we would come off the stage and pray for them.
RM: Speaking of hearing people’s stories and praying for them, your single, My Story says, “Oh, to tell you my story is to tell of Him.” What message from that song do you hope to get across to the world?
MW: I think people see performers on a stage or they know an artist has a record and all of a sudden people think – I don’t know that better is the right word, or bigger – there’s more validity to what you’re doing. But that’s just simply not true. And I think the message of My Story is that every single person’s life is an opportunity for God to speak truth, to bring truth, and to bring the love of God and the reality of His Kingdom. Everybody has a story. And the ironic truth about My Story is when you get into the song, it’s not about my story at all, it’s about what God has done in my life. And that’s really it. Our lives seem like the loaves and the fish that the little kid brought Jesus [in the Bible]. It was definitely not enough on its own, but Jesus took the offering and He made it into something so much more. So much more that centuries later people are still talking about it and connecting to the story.
The title of the record is Beautiful Offerings and embodies the idea that God has not only redeemed us from our past, but He has redeemed us to new life in Him. The Bible says that the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us. So, that’s the beautiful part; that God is beautiful and He has placed himself within us. Now our life becomes an opportunity of learning how to respond to Him with what He’s put in us, which is His Spirit. Every life is an opportunity to become a testimony for God.
RM: Where did that inspiration for the songs in this album come from ultimately?
MW: On my last record, Love Come to Life, there is a song called Redeemed. God used that song in a way I’m telling you that I’m still blown away by. As we began to hear stories from fans about how Redeemed impacted them, we saw a trend. The trend even crossed over into our shows, where people would be thankful for the forgiveness and the redemption of God’s throne. It almost felt like this corporate exhale of people saying, “Okay, we’re going to sit back down into where we are.” And I’m like, “No, no, no. Wait, wait. God is calling us forward.” I’m telling you we do not pretend to have it all together. I mean, without Jesus, we are very needy and very messed up.
Here’s the good news though, we’re not without Jesus. If we receive God into our lives, not only is forgiveness available, Jesus says, “Greater is He who’s in you than he who’s in the world.” Like Paul [apostle] says, “In Christ, we can literally do all things.” There’s not anything that’s too much for God. It’s too much for us, but we don’t have to live just in us anymore. We can live in this new identity of the fact that we are children of the living God, and that His Spirit lives in us. If we step out into that we will see things that are greater than we could ever imagine. That is the inspiration for all of the songs on the Beautiful Offerings album. The songs come out of our journey, because we’re really writing songs to ourselves and then those songs are resonating with other people too.
I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited to share a group of songs with people just because of what they really mean in our lives and because I believe that it’s something they can have too. We’re not holding ourselves up as something special, but rather we’re saying, “Hey, God wants to work in all of us. We’re asking Him to do that in us, so why don’t you come along?”
RM: You also use the old hymn, Blessed Assurance, in your My Story song. How do you think we can best listen to each other’s stories and ultimately reflect Christ in our daily lives as we develop new chapters and journeys to our stories?
MW: I love that everybody has a story and I think that is really what the church is supposed to be about. I think church is people, the children of God, not a building. When we get together and begin to share about what God has done, it’s like there’s this lifting up that happens. All of a sudden the stuff that you were subject to before – the situations, the hardships, or whatever it is you’re going through in your life – they don’t change, but rather you are literally changed in the middle of the situation. So, you’re not even looking at stuff the same anymore. We become encouraged and lifted up.
I think real fellowship is talking about what God has done in your life with others. There is a more surface level fellowship like going to a movie with a friend. But it’s a deeper level when you say to your friend, “Dude, I just want to talk about what God has been doing in my life right now.” See, that is the type of conversation we need to become less uncommon and more a regular part of our normal lives. We need to fall in love with Jesus to the point where we just can’t help but talk about Him because He is the most important part of our life. When sharing Christ with others comes from that place in your heart, it’s more effective because it’s real and natural and it doesn’t come across to others like you have been coached into giving someone a spiel.
For instance when a friend says, “Hey man, I have to tell you about what happened to me yesterday. I didn’t know how I was going to pay the bills and then somehow God made it possible. And I know that it is Him because when I was so scared about not being able to pay the bill, I just started talking to Him. And I said God, I need Your provision.” God already knows what we need before we ask Him, but He wants us to come to Him because it’s a relationship.
RM: In your music videos, I’ve seen the band traveling around the world and you even sponsor children through World Vision. What role does missions work play into your story?
MW: We’ve been on three trips, so far: Ecuador, Tanzania, and earlier this year, Cambodia. Every time we went abroad we were hoping that God was going to use us to help people that are hurting, But the crazy thing is that it seems as though God is working on us more every time. I feel like God is changing me through seeing His heart for the world. So absolutely missions is a huge part of the story that God’s telling through Big Daddy Weave. And I think that Jesus wants us to be about helping people who are hurting. That is what He did when He was here.
We need to fall in love with Jesus to the point where we just can’t help but talk about Him because He is the most important part of our life.
RM: Having been involved in the Christian music industry for almost two decades, how have you seen the genre influence culture and what are your thoughts on how mainstream music keeps pushing the line further and further out to the point that nothing seems off limits to grab an audience?
MW: For a long time I was trying to figure out how we could be relevant. I always wore myself out thinking about that [laughter]. In life, people have so overused the sensors that are stimulating them because the masses want to be entertained all the time. Everyone always needs more. Someone is always trying to go further.
I think it all just points to a great emptiness that is in everyone and all of them are looking for something to fill that emptiness. And nothing makes us more aware of emptiness within, than when we’re hurt in some way. But when someone is hurt and desperately in need, oftentimes it is hard to come to grip with the fact that they need something more. I heard Pastor Greg Laurie say, “If you are willing to minister to the broken, you will never lack an audience.” When you meet with somebody who’s in a broken place, you don’t have to worry about if you’re wearing the right kind of shoes – if your shoes are cool enough to make you relevant – all that needs to happen is that the message that you’re bringing needs to be true. And if that message is the Gospel, if you are telling them about a God who cares about them and a God that will meet them in their brokenness, that is all of a sudden very relevant to any human being who will listen to you. When they begin to receive God in that way, man, I’m telling you, that is all the validation that you need. The proof is in the message. He is very relevant.
Big Daddy Weave has been around a church culture for so long – and I say this including myself too, I’m not trying to point the finger at somebody – we talk about how great God is, but you never really see how great God is. And I think that is what the world is hungry for – to see the reality of God. So in our shows, the most refreshing time to me is when I’m bone tired and then all of a sudden the presence of God fills the room and I’m like, “Dude, I feel like I could run a marathon,” which is really hard for fat people [laughter]. I am not athletic in anyway, but I just feel refreshed. And nobody can ever take that away from me and that’s the importance of my story; I have encountered a living God and I’m not going to be the same again.