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July 26th, 2010
12:59 PM ET

Hillsong Live, long popular in church, tours the U.S.

[cnn-video url= http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/showbiz/2010/07/25/holmes.christian.rock.cnn%5D

If you told your friends you were going to a Hillsong Live concert, worship leader Ben Fielding would have a good-natured correction for you.

“We’d probably err to call it a performance,” he said during the band’s second U.S. concert stop in Johns Creek, Georgia over the weekend. “We see these nights as being about people coming out to worship. We don’t just want to play our songs to people; we want people to take hold and to encounter God. That first night ... we saw a lot of people give their lives to Christ.”

With more than 11 million records sold, Hillsong is one of the most popular worship groups in the world.

But they haven’t been to the United States in nearly a decade, and the two-week nearly sold-out tour is an opportunity to make new fans and reconnect with long-time admirers.

Many Americans have sung their songs at church, but most have never seen the band–a worship team, really–in person.

“We hope that more people are getting to know our music," said band member Reuben Morgan, a pastor and songwriter. “We’re doing a lot of new music so we want to connect with them and connect with people who have known us for years.”

The group just released “A Beautiful Exchange,” with 12 songs recorded in November at Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia. The band is extremely popular there on the radio–more so than the United States, where their influence is felt much more during Saturday and Sunday services. “Mighty to Save,” written by Morgan is sung by an estimated 40 million people each week.

The CD is off to a strong start in the States, hitting No. 1 on Billboard's Christian music chart after its release three weeks ago.

But the band says numbers don't mean much.

“When we do these projects, which are really reflections of what we do at church,” Morgan said, “our hope is people take on these songs, play them in their cars, sing them in church. If we were artists, maybe we’d have other goals, but we want to hear that people are laying on to God.”

On Saturday night, more than 3,000 boisterous fans packed Mount Pisgah church in Johns Creek, an Atlanta suburb. Hundreds of teenagers left their pews before the lights dimmed to scrunch together around the altar.

The two-hour service began with three power anthems, with the crowd singing along at full volume. The only time people sat was during a short intermission, when pastor Phil Dooley of the Hillsong Church in Cape Town, South Africa, discussed his project to raise money to build a facility for poor children in his country, the Tembaletu School Housing Project

After the show, Fielding was on emotional high, amazed at how the crowd sang along despite the newness of the songs.

Earlier, Fielding talked about coming to the States, saying he was observing “a real movement in the church in new ways to worship.”

Morgan says he is especially proud of the new song, “The One Who Saves,” written by Fielding.

“It’s really connected with the soul of our church,” he said. “You can write a great song, and it doesn’t connect with a congregation but this one had an amazing reaction.” For Hillsong, that's more important than radio play or album sales.

- Producer/Writer

Filed under: Christianity • Faith • Jesus • Music

soundoff (194 Responses)
  1. Luke

    I love their music in the sense that it helps me and many people to connect with God and I love the fact that, these concerts and albums have that same focus. I hope that many lives will be touched and changed by the Awesome Creator in this tour...keep rockin for Christ guys!!

    July 27, 2010 at 4:01 am |
  2. rowell

    hillsong live songs comforted me in the time when i was so down and depressed.While listening to there songs gave me hope and made my faith more stronger to god.Thru there songs im inspired to continue and live my life in no fear coz i know god is with me.I really love this band so much.I wish i could see them one day here in my country Philippines.I believe God has been good to everyone.I hope god will continue bless the band and thru them they can touch more people's life the way they touches my life.

    July 27, 2010 at 3:57 am |
  3. Nita Ngoy-Tha

    I believe Hillsong music is fresh, young and alive. I never experienced one of their concert as " a concert" but as a worship experience. The attention is always drawn to God and their songs enable us to encounter the living God in a real way. Technically, they are excellent, the musicians are excellent and their stage presence is well-balanced between letting people focus on God but also bringing them into the worship moment and engaging them. The production reveals that they work with professionals and their humility on and off stage stage shows that they themselves are true worshippers and acknowledge that they serve the One who saves: Jesus-Christ.
    I have experienced their worship concert in Europe and I love that so many youth were there. Jumping around or reflecting according to the music tempo etc...
    Now that they are super well-known or not, that they are ranked high on the radio or not...I don't care.
    Hillsong music is ALIVE thanks to God's Spirit and it brings people to know more of God's character. That's what matters and they know and live it. Oh yes!

    Cheers from Zürich.

    July 27, 2010 at 3:49 am |
  4. Modie

    Iam am one of the proud africans livin in one of the smallest and poorest country of Africa called Malawi. I tell my friends that one i hav to b part of the audienc of Hillsong live worship. I see myself layin on the floor for hours. This is even true for the times i listen to them on audio. I hav almost every album of their xcept beauti4 xchange of which am on the hunt for. Their songs i hav them by heart. My brother is now born again and he blasts hillsong 24/7. I lov hillsong so much. It has for countles times ushered me into the presence of God. Please hillsong continue in the fear of God. If it wer not 4 the presenc of God in your songs,u wud hav bn any other group to me BUT you are a unique and sanctified group coz of His presence. I can write 4 days bt i hav to let go. Bring on the songs, we are always ready to worship. Love you

    July 27, 2010 at 3:48 am |
  5. A aq

    They are right, it's not just about the songs but it's about having an encounter with God. The songs are amazing, and have messages for the people. I love their songs and God has blessed them with such good talent that they use to the glory of his name. They all remind us to fix our eyes and hearts on God and not on them (humans). I would gladly go and worship with them if they come to Ireland 🙂

    July 27, 2010 at 3:43 am |
  6. victor H

    Hillsong is put simply is hillarious.. They have very prayerful songs and catchy worship. They have been a tool in this generation used by God. Am a fan if not number one of hillsong music. God keep blessing this this band always..
    Vic UK

    July 27, 2010 at 3:39 am |
  7. Sandy

    They are blessing. I love all their songs but it is difficult to find their CDs where I live! May the Lord bless you and reward you all according to His riches

    July 27, 2010 at 3:34 am |
  8. Diego Malasa

    GOD is everything we all want in life without him we are nothing so lets Praise Him and whorship Him. Hillsong is one of my Favourite i always listen to it on youtube and it makes me look upon Jesus and Believe that Jesus is the Way And Truth May God Bless you all

    July 27, 2010 at 3:28 am |
  9. Sam

    Once more, HIllsong demonstrates that Worship music is not bout sales is bout "watch people laying on to God", God Bless His people

    July 27, 2010 at 3:26 am |
  10. Mark

    I hope that this song is not a song for just ourselves, but for God. I hope that this is not just a show for the world to see that they are good, but this is for God only God. Take no Glory...

    July 27, 2010 at 3:23 am |
  11. nhiangely

    keep praising GOD through your songs church! spread the love of CHRIST to this world! shout loud the TRUTH! & bring JUSTICE through your life!

    July 27, 2010 at 3:10 am |
  12. Eben Sampong

    The young generation is rising up, there is a movement, n Hillsong has definately had n continue to have an impact! To God be the glory!

    July 27, 2010 at 3:09 am |
  13. daisy

    the band is always my fave. May God continuously be glorified through their music. May God bless you more HILLSONG LIVE!

    July 27, 2010 at 3:08 am |
  14. Jacqueline Mccrorey

    I used to have a lot of Hillsong cds and I love their music it brings me closer to God each time I hear their songs and I go to my local christian bookshop and buy my Hillsong cds there. I would really love to go to a Hillsong concert here in Australia but I live out in the country

    July 27, 2010 at 3:05 am |
  15. Victoria

    I was listening to 'What the World will Never Take' as this article popped up on my FaceBook page. I am amazed at how well Hillsong, joins all of us together in praise and worship, all around the world. Thank You, CNN for sharing this story with those missing out.

    July 27, 2010 at 3:00 am |
  16. melai

    plz come again here in phillipines,I hope I come on ur concert!!!!

    July 27, 2010 at 2:57 am |
  17. eric hall

    I saw Hillsong on the Daystar Network about a month ago and immediately felt the awesomeness of God through the music. These people truly do inspire people to live and walk as Christ did..two thumbs up absolutely!

    July 27, 2010 at 2:55 am |
  18. Natalie Nuna

    I thank God for your wonderful work you guys are doing I hope for you guys come on this way to hear you guys sing and what a lovely songs you sing and I'm from Sheshatshiu Labrador.Google it and write down Happy-Valley Goose Bay Labrador to find us and Please pray for our Communties all around Labrador in Canada and there isn't very much people here are saved and there hearts are so hard and they don't believe in the world will end and that JESUS is coming soon and there's a lot of drinking going on and drugs is used and little kids are smoking and being all bad.but I know that GOD will move His holy spirt soon in this place where I'm from. GOD BLESS you all out there and be ready for JESUS is coming soon. Love's you all

    July 27, 2010 at 2:55 am |
  19. Euphrazier

    I had a very powerful time at hillsong worship concert a year ago when they came to zambia. I love them,til now people of zambia still talk about that night.We are looking forward to seeing them again.When are they coming to africa? May God continue to use them.

    July 27, 2010 at 2:54 am |
  20. melai

    wow!!!! Amazing Glory To GOD this is it!!!!!!!!!!!!!! u r the one and only!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    GOD IS GREAT!!!!!

    July 27, 2010 at 2:54 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.