A Day With Hillsong Live

On Thursday, July 29, we had the amazing opportunity to host Hillsong Live here at COTM. Since we do a lot of their music it was awesome to be able to let our team peek behind the curtain of the most recognized worship team in the world. I am glad to say that we found Reuben Morgan, Ben Fielding and the rest of the band just as we had hoped they would be – real, engaging, and in love with Jesus!

Having time to reflect on the 12 hours or so that they were here, I have a few observations that I believe can help all of us as worship leaders who desire to do something meaningful with our music and teams. So here are 4 quick thoughts:

They were here promoting their new project, “Beautiful Exchange”, but they did several of their older songs as well. Instead of rehashing old arrangements they took songs they have been doing for years and made them sound fresh. I’ll be honest, their version of “Mighty to Save” was my favorite moment of the night. They made it interesting and moving, even though I’ve heard and sung that song 1,000 times. It’s motivated us to rethink older songs that we know our congregation loves to sing, but that we have grown tired of as a worship team.

Hillsong definitely knows how to “idle” in a worship moment, allowing time for the Spirit in the room to go to another level. Obviously, for most church services, we don’t have 2 hours set aside for worship – 20 or 30 minutes is more likely. But we can always find time to build personal worship moments where our congregation can close their eyes and worship in their own way, without someone telling them what to do.

It was refreshing to see artists not being artists. They were here to lead us in worship, not necessarily to sell the “Hillsong” brand. Yeah, they sold cd’s, dvd’s and t-shirts, but I never got the sense, on stage and off, that we were just another stop on the tour. They were kind to our staff and crew, always taking time to compliment our facilities and show genuine interest in our church. They never seemed to put themselves above us. Sometimes as worship leaders we can get caught up in the performance and execution of our sets (and don’t get me wrong – performance and execution are extremely important!), causing us to lose perspective. Why do we do what we do? Ultimately, our worship service is exactly that – service to our church and our pastor. Hillsong modeled this beautifully.

Although we do a lot of their music, we are not them! It’s a good thing to emulate what moves you – vocals, guitar sounds, drum patterns, etc. We spend a lot of time breaking down songs to find out why they work musically and emotionally, and it definitely makes us better at what we do. But at some point we have to realize that we are unique. So many people have emailed us to let us know that although the loved the Hillsong concert, they love what we do here at COTM more. Why? Because we take the best of what we see around us and make it our own, which, honestly, makes it better. It is a constant struggle to stay current by introducing the most exciting new music every week, and yet be sensitive to what music will encourage our people to drop their guard and worship with all they have. To become Hillsong Tulsa is a mistake; to let Hillsong and their music influence us to be better at what we do is more appropriate. And we are better for having met them and having worshipped with them.

Food for thought.

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Andy Chrisman
Worship Pastor
Andy came to Church on the Move in 2005, having been in the music industry for over 25 years. He's dedicated to raising up the next generation of worship leaders, and even though he spent many years with the group 4him, he says he's "having more fun now than I ever did on the road."