Erskin: Is He Worth It? (Part 1)

John FarrellBy John Farrell10 Minutes

John Farrell: Could you please tell me a little bit about your most recent music video, “Is He Worth It?”

Erskin: “Is He Worth It?”, the music video, comes as a culmination of about a four- or five-year process in which the writing of the song, the recording of the song, and the music production video were all done at separate times, and finally coming together as “Is He Worth It?”, the music video.

JF: What is the song’s message?

Erskin: The song’s title, “Is He Worth It?”, asks the stirring question of is Jesus worth the most intense persecution that you could face – the loss of your life, the loss and confiscation of your property? Obviously, the answer to that of every believer would be “Yes, He is.” But it repeats in the refrain of the song, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain possession of what he cannot lose.” Hearkening back to Jim Elliot and his martyrdom for his faith.

It’s a stirring call to action for Christians of all kinds – persecuted and non-persecuted – to respond in the area that Jesus would give us opportunity.

JF: Why is that message so important in today’s world?

Erskin: I believe that, especially in a Western context, we are encouraged to pray for our brothers and sisters in persecution. And yet as we do that, a lot of times, the sights and sounds and scenarios that they’re going through are escaping from our minds because we don’t see them as commonly here in our country.

The video, along with the song, gives us a graphic representation of how we can join them in understanding their suffering and understanding that they’re not whining about their suffering. We get in a situation in America where depending on what political party is in power, whether we like them or not, that becomes a lot of the substance of our conversation – a lot of the substance of how persecuted we seem to feel in America. Yet when we watch our brothers and sisters who are experiencing intense persecution – enduring that, not out of some sense of guilt or feeling like they have been betrayed but doing it joyfully because they get to identify with Christ – it really does become instructive for the Western church to be able to see our brothers and sisters encourage us to look above our circumstances and to look beyond the resurrection.

JF: Your song is about Christians around the world who are being persecuted, but not only that, it’s about serving Christ and even sacrificing their worldly comforts. If you were to look at this internally, how are you following the message of your song?

Erskin: The writing process has taken place over five years – from the origin of the song. I probably read the book, Insanity of God, six or so years ago roughly and was able to meet the author.

A little bit about our lives – we, as a family, had been pretty missional in the way that we’ve lived our lives. I think I’ve been to Africa five times. Then we lived in India for a while, and Thailand, Peru, Brazil, and Mexico. We recently were headed to Africa, but we had to postpone that a little bit because of some of the COVID restrictions and travel scenarios.

This book, this video, and this project has really put the fire within us again to continue the work of spreading the Gospel and even looking at the difficulty of challenges that might be faced in doing that and saying, “Jesus is worth it because of what Jesus has done for us.”

Writing the Song and Creating the Video

JF: Regarding the music video, there’s a lot of footage, which includes some pretty powerful images and clips, from Nik Ripken Ministries and LifeWay Films’ Insanity of God. What was the reason or thought process behind selecting the specific images and clips included in the video?

Erskin: I don’t want you to give me too much credit. There’s a whole team behind this project that makes a lot of those creative decisions. I had a conversation with Nik and his team, and they decided to bring my team on board to be able to put visual representation to the song because they felt like the song was powerful enough. But it also needed a visual representation.

Co-opting with my team here in Nashville, the videographer and the director did a fantastic job of putting together the raw footage and directing the imagery so that the song and the content of the song, along with the performance aspect of it, really does become a striking visual representation.

I give all the credit to my team for being able to make a lot of those tough decisions. Even in the editing process, they cut out some scenes that we thought weren’t necessarily as helpful to the church here in America. I give them a lot of credit for putting this project together and making very wise decisions about what to show and how to show it.

JF: I was reading some background on the song and, please correct me if I’m wrong, but the idea for this song came to you while you were attending a Christian songwriting conference. Is that correct?

Erskin: That is correct. We were in Richmond, Virginia, and a group of songwriters had come together. Nik was the keynote speaker to give us inspiration for the songs that we were writing. Wonderful weekend.

JF: You wrote the lyrics to the song with Nik and two other artists. What was that writing process like?

Erskin: I would say it was a divine writing process because as I look back on it, knowing the personalities and the people who were in the room for that writing project, it’s amazing that any of us could ever get a word out because all of us are quite loquacious and all of us have a lot of ideas and a lot of experience writing songs.

It’s easy to get in a process where one person dominates the song but having contributions from everybody that was involved in the project was really, I believe, a Holy Spirit-generated aspect. It allowed us to believe that we were working on something together and sense God moving us in that writing process.

JF: Had the creative team you worked with to develop and write “Is He Worth It?” worked together before and are there plans to work together on future projects? Or have you worked on other projects since?

Erskin: That was a unique situation in which we were invited – a group of select songwriters. That was a neat project.

I’m not sure what everybody is doing at this point. Matt, I think, is working with the Gettys, and Laura is finishing up some of her other projects. I would not say that we wouldn’t write together again because I would love to reunite with them, but it just seems like we’re in different places now working on different projects. But who knows what the future might hold?

JF: How does this song differ from your previous projects?

Erskin: This song is probably the only song I have that really brings attention to the persecuted church and at a sort of church level brings a certain awareness about the suffering of believers and the resurrection. It’s sort of a medium-tempo song.

I write pop, country, hip hop, R&B, ballads, soul, children’s music, and EDM. I’m generally all over the map. This is a unique song in the content as well as the delivery of this song and music video.