Five Modern Worship Movements You Should Know About
Believe it or not, the term “modern worship” didn’t really pop up until the late 1990s when acts like Delirious, Sonicflood and Matt Redman were crafting culturally relevant music grounded in praise. These days, that umbrella has grown exponentially to not just include artists making pop and Brit rock, but also everything from arena rock to electronica, hip-hop and screamo. Besides increasing genre diversity, today’s worship troupes have expanded beyond merely the standard CD release and touring cycle of yesteryear, but are steadily becoming parts of worldwide movements, complete with worship services and conferences wrapped around some of the most cutting-edge music the church has ever encountered. Read on to find out more about five familiar organizations and how they’re changing the world one tune at a time.
The History: Birthed out of Australia’s Hillsong Church, Hillsong United (members pictured above) is an alternative-leaning youth band that writes songs for services and CDs, while also touring all the globe over. Since its first EP in 1998, the results have been nothing short of astounding as songs like “Mighty to Save” and “Hosanna” have become some of the church’s ultimate anthems, not to mention hit covers by Michael W. Smith, Newsboys and Jeremy Camp.
The New Tunes: Catch both the band’s aggressive rockers and stripped down reflections in the two CD/single DVD set Live In Miami (Hillsong), which features both the soundtrack to 2011’s Aftermath tour with the accompanying visuals and multimedia elements.
The Future: The aforementioned collection will have to tide over listeners for now as the band prepares for the annual Hillsong Conference on July 2 at Sydney’s Allphones Arena, which is expected to attract worshippers from all across the globe.
The History: What began as a sole worship gathering in Austin, Texas geared towards college-aged churchgoers in 1997 has since become an internationally touring conference series. As troupe leaders like Louie Giglio, Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, David Crowder and Christy Nockels rose to prominence, so did Passion’s platform, which now includes sixstepsrecords and Atlanta’s Passion City Church.
The New Tunes: Mixing marquee names like Tomlin, Redman and Nockels with veteran Charlie Hall and relative newcomer Kristian Stanfill gives Passion’s White Flag (sixstepsrecords) a mix of heavenly rockers and booming ballads cast in a vertical tradition.
The Future: The remainder of 2012 includes Passion World Tour conferences in South Africa and Uganda, followed by Passion 2013 (January 1-4) at Atlanta’s enormous Georgia Dome.
The History: The first Jesus Culture conference took place in 1999 as an offshoot of a Bethel Church youth group in Redding, California with the goal of serving other churches and helping cultivate ministry leaders of various disciplines. As attendance increased, the conference hit the road primarily throughout America (in addition to Australia and England), also spawning Jesus Culture Music (“Your Love Never Fails”) and Campus Awakening (geared towards college-aged Christians).
The New Tunes: Awakening: Live From Chicago (Kingsway) features highlights of a three-day event that revolved around the theme of igniting the current generation with a fervor for worship and evangelism, reinforced by songs like “My Everything” and “Holding Nothing Back.”
The Future: Though the Jesus Culture band is popping up for some spot tour dates, all eyes are on conferences flanking the coasts. From June 28-30, the entire movement sets up shop at New York’s Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, followed by August 2-4 at Los Angeles’ Nokia Theater.
The History: Since 2000, Planetshakers has helped teens, 20-somethings and beyond find a home for contemporary-minded praise through church services, CDs, conferences and even a Bible college. The Melbourne, Australia-based ministry may concentrate primarily on the land down under, but have also toured internationally and taken home Dove Awards in America.
The New Tunes: The CD/DVD set Heal Our Land (Integrity) is a modern rock/sometimes soulful musical snapshot recorded live at the worship conference of the same name, which besides the explosive Planetshakers, also includes a guest appearance by Israel Houghton. Together, the troupe spreads a message of unity amidst believers from all cultural backgrounds in hopes of banding together to impact the world at large.
The Future: While services continue regularly at Planetshakers City Church in Melbourne, Geelong and South Africa, the congregation is already spreading the word for 2013’s conference, which comes to Melbourne’s Hisense Arena from April 2-5.
Worth Dying For
The History: After debuting in 2007 on Integrity Music and leading worship throughout Creation Festival: The Tour, California’s Worth Dying For switched to its own Ammunition Records, named after the annual Ammunition Conference where members lead worship. While all of the group’s songs have the potential to usher listeners into a prayerful atmosphere, many explode with unconventional sounds, including everything from screamo to hip-hop to electronica.
The New Tunes: The recent Live Riot was recorded during last year’s Ammunition conference and serves as a sequel to 2011’s Love Riot. While a handful of that studio album’s songs repeat in the live setting, ten selections spun in the band’s ambitious direction are brand new.
The Future: Besides continuing on the recording/conference cycle, the members of Worth Dying For are currently involved in a church plant throughout Los Angeles called FEARLESS, where they hope to build up an army of worshippers equipped to witness with cultural relevance.
About the Writer
Andy Argyrakis is a Chicago-based entertainment writer/photographer who appears in the Chicago Tribune, IllinoisEntertainer, Daily Journal, Concert Livewire, Hear/Say Magazine and Image Chicago (to name few). His record label writing credits include Warner Brothers, Atlantic, Curb, EMI and Universal, with additional photo credits for Fuse TV, Live Nation, Nikon, Pollstar, Celebrity Access, Paste Magazine, MTV.com and Vibe.com. He’s also the author/narrator of "Access Matthews" (an audio CD tracing the career of Dave Matthews Band) and spends considerable time on tour, including outings with Arlo Guthrie, The Guess Who, Madina Lake (on Linkin Park’s Projekt Revolution) and Gospel Music Channel’s very own "Gospel Dream" (where he served as season one judge).
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