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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. debra jacobsen

    Kim, you are way up there on the comment list somewhere so you will probably never see this but others will! I also am 52 years old, a mother of 5 & grandmother of 18! I LOVE HILLSONG!!!! We do several of their songs, Savior King, Healer & others. My son, who is in Afghanistan right now plays guitar quite well & played their songs with our worship team before shipping out & will again when he comes home. I listen to Hillsong ALOT! I have most of their songs on my MP#. I can walk around at work in the Spirit all day long, if I want!!! God bless Hillsong & their wonderful witness to people of ALL ages!!

    July 27, 2010 at 11:28 pm |
  2. Michael

    This group has a gift...A gift to lead people into worship, which ushers in the manifest presence of God.

    July 27, 2010 at 11:26 pm |
  3. Dorothy Dacumos

    Hillsong music has been popular in local churches everywhere since they heard of them even without knowing who the members of the band are. It was more so from the time of Eagle's Wings and The Potter's Hand. The music became even more popular after the 2005 album and now soaring high. It is not because of the artists but because of the high spiritual level of worship and praise it brings that easily calls and turns the children of God.

    July 27, 2010 at 11:12 pm |
  4. Joseph C.

    I'm from Peru.Hilssong came last year to my city and it was so wondeful and blessing to the pleople here.

    July 27, 2010 at 11:01 pm |
  5. Jeff R.

    The Hillsong band is a great favorite of mine. They convey the essence of God thru music better than any group I know.

    July 27, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
  6. Katheryn Murillo Argueta

    wow... Hillsong... they are getting their purpose... everytime I hear their songs or watch their videos I cant stop getting chicken skin... and feel like connected in a praise for God... Hillsong is a great xample of christians... they really live acording to what God wants... they are so great I really admire their ministry... Its amazing this feeling everytime we sing togheter their songs... hope to have them in Honduras very soon... blessings =D

    July 27, 2010 at 7:51 pm |
  7. Kathryn

    Some of the music from beautiful exchange was also recorded in the Hillsong London as well as Sydney. This music has impacted my life in such a powerful way. That is why it is doing so well and evolving the way it is, because it's not just music, and you probably won't understand until you hear it for yourself because it goes beyond lyrics and you can't describe that with words.

    July 27, 2010 at 6:36 pm |
  8. Shonsan

    You should go to a Hillsong concert expecting life changing worship through relevant words, truth, music and interpretation. I've been two years in a row here in ATL and each time the songs I worship the King of kings to each morning transform my thoughts in a new way. It is something you experience and can't/don't want to get over. Praise the Lord for Hillsong making the Name of Jesus famous here in the states.

    July 27, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
  9. Ana

    This is bit music is just one of many ways how we worship and praise our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless all musicians and his church all over the world

    July 27, 2010 at 5:08 pm |
  10. Michele

    I don't know who wrote this article but Hillsong was in Miami last year and it was awesome.

    July 27, 2010 at 4:59 pm |
  11. Kymmyb

    I got "ABeautiful Exchange" a month ago and have not stopped listening to it. It is truly inspired and anointed.

    July 27, 2010 at 4:47 pm |
  12. nikki

    I wish they would come to jacksonville, florida usa. I would love to see them here singing. I dont drive so I cant travel anywhere in the us to go to any concert but if they would come to jacksonville florida I would be able to go and I know alot of people would go. there music is awesome and i love there music

    July 27, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
    • Reality

      The Three B Syndrome must have reached the epidemic stage in Jacksonville.

      July 27, 2010 at 4:44 pm |
  13. Reality

    One more time, said group is singing the songs of myths. There were no resurrections and no ascensions. The whole show and songs are vitiated by one line of lyrics: "Jesus' body lies a-mouldering in the grave!!!!"

    July 27, 2010 at 3:42 pm |
  14. Mel

    It's no about fame, it's about making Jesus more famous. It's the simplicity of loving God and worshipping Him for who He is. I love this band and I went to one of their concerts in Colombia and I was really touched by all of their songs, they're very very cool! 🙂 ❤

    July 27, 2010 at 3:28 pm |
  15. Sneja

    Yes I kile Hillsong They making e great work.I listen there's worship for years and we sing it in my church.I jast can say that this worship change my heart and life and broth me close to Jesus like never before.Well done Hillsong God bless you all.

    July 27, 2010 at 2:42 pm |
  16. Aimee Julia

    There's none to say but they're filled with the presence of God, no ordinary people, they're different and when I'm listening to Hillsong United I feel me like an eagle ready to show the world the love of Christ and fill it with FAITH+HOPE+LOVE!If I have one thing to say is thank You Jesus for put incredible people in the earth to bless our lives!Xx

    July 27, 2010 at 2:41 pm |
  17. Aura ramirez

    *La GLORIA Y LA HONRRA SEAN PARA DIOS CREADOR DE TODO EL UNIVERSO!!! Q DIOS los continue Bend!ciendo y sigan llevando las buenas nuevas d salvacion atraves de su musik;) q por cierto s buenisima!! **I LOVE GOD**!!

    July 27, 2010 at 2:29 pm |
  18. Deepak

    The songs from hillsong really move me everytime i hear it.. Its my daily dose of worship.. This is our god, with hearts as one and faith+hope+love are my favs.. Love to hear them all day long.. Praise the lord. Hope they make a tour to India.. 😀

    July 27, 2010 at 2:21 pm |
  19. verify

    "After the show, Fielding was on emotional high..."

    That's all it is, kids. That's all it is.

    July 27, 2010 at 2:17 pm |
    • Peter F

      Don't even bother Tdubs... some of these guys try their hardest to incite us... telling them off only fuels the fire

      July 28, 2010 at 7:07 pm |
  20. Carolyn

    So inspiring and wonderful to see how God uses these talented men to continue to spread His word and bring hope to milions!!! God bless you Hillsong United!!!

    July 27, 2010 at 2:13 pm |
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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.