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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. Ashley Curley

    I went to Hillsong Live in Abq, New Mexico, it was one of the best nights of my summer! 🙂 Not to mention my all time favorite worship song Inside Out was going to be performed!

    August 8, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
  2. Vivian Trevino

    I was sitting at home and then thought damn I am just feeling down and lonely and decided I would go to church...I hadn't been in a few weeks and so I went, when I got there I was like what is going on this is a Wednesday night parking lot was FULL well when I went in come to find out Hillsong was there first time I had seen them but it was great and I left there feeling good, I LOVED THERE MUSIC! THEY ARE AWESOME...I recommend if you have the chance to hear them go!!!

    August 5, 2010 at 1:19 am |
  3. Music_Girl

    Love hillsong united and believe that it's a great organization....and great music, too!

    July 31, 2010 at 11:43 pm |
  4. Jake

    Discovered this great group about a year ago & have been following them ever since...great songs. Wish they would come to Canada soon.

    July 31, 2010 at 10:59 pm |
  5. Freeman

    Just attended a Hillsong concert last night. God is using them in a very mighty way. I am ever so grateful for their faithfulness. Thank you Hillsong for all you do,all you have done, and all you will do in the future through the Lord Jesus Christ. AMEN!!!!!

    July 31, 2010 at 10:19 pm |
  6. Josua Gonewai

    i always always love most of your songs and i'm not suprised to see them on cnn. i'm from fiji and we are really looking forward to seeing you on stage here in fiji. all of you guys. love you all and may the LORD continue to shower HIS riches on all of you.

    July 30, 2010 at 7:17 pm |
  7. vanessa

    I Love Hillsong...I Love how all their songs are all about God and they are not afraid to say the name of Jesus like some bands. And they have the most amaizing worship songs!
    All I ask is that they cotinue to live Holy and dont compromise with the world and continue to bless us with such powerful music that is pleasing to our God!!

    July 30, 2010 at 1:30 pm |
  8. Reality

    One more time for the "Hillstoners" et al out there:

    Singing about Jesus "ain't" going to correct the flaws and errors in his mythical life story. Other than this simple, preacher man getting crucified for being a rabble-rouser, the rest of his life story is simply myths and embellishments made up from the fortune-telling, "messiahing" of the OT/torah by Paul et al. Said Jesus did not raise from the dead and he did not die for your sins!!!!

    All Christian songs are simply "mythatians" of those trapped in the bible box.

    July 29, 2010 at 7:35 am |
    • Freeman

      God loves you, in fact He sent His Son to die for you!! There is some anger behind those words. I pray for that anger to be healed in your life. I pray that God sends someone into your life to help you find The Way, The Truth, and The Light.

      July 31, 2010 at 10:25 pm |
    • Christopher Allen

      God loves you very much. There is hope in Him. Turn to Him, and He will save you.

      August 12, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
  9. Davis

    I love Hillsong's music, thank you for the great work you are doing in God's people, i wish one day i sing from hillsongs because i like singing n' that's my dream..............fro Kampala, Uganda

    July 29, 2010 at 6:40 am |
  10. natalie restrepo

    hilldong is amazing. It was not a concert, it was a wonderful opportunity to get closer and reconnect with our God 🙂 i loved it and was by far the highlight of my summer!
    God is great. God is love ❤

    July 28, 2010 at 8:59 pm |
  11. Tim Williams

    HILLSONG!!! I love 'em. Unashamedly. Got to see them live in Chicago and it rocked my little world! The presence of the one true God was so richly manifest through the spirit of worship they exemplified and led in. I actually started crying during the opening of the first song and I had never even heard it before that day. Keep it up. Let Jesus' name be lifted high!

    July 28, 2010 at 6:38 pm |
  12. Reality

    "Hillstoners",

    Singing about Jesus "ain't" going to correct the flaws and errors in his mythical life story. Other than this simple, preacher man getting crucified for being a rabble-rouser, the rest of his life story is simply myths and embellishments made up from the fortune-telling, "messiahing" of the OT/torah by Paul et al. Said Jesus did not raise from the dead and he did not die for your sins!!!!

    July 28, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
    • Cheryl

      You are not even close to the reality of how much Jesus loves you.No matter what you say about him or others of the bible, I am praying for you right now.
      He is the truth and I pray for you to get into a good bible teaching church, which can be hard to find.
      There is all the proof you need in prophecy if you learned a little at a time and even if you don't believe that is ok too.
      My only reason to comment is that I want you to know God does love you.

      July 28, 2010 at 6:02 pm |
  13. Meisiebyderhand

    God has truly blessed you guys to make such a huge impact on the world through your music. When i was first saved, your music taught me so much and i came to love worshiping God! Whenever I meet a new Christian one of the first things i do is introduce them to couple of your old time CD's. Thanks for the great music! Glory to God!

    July 28, 2010 at 2:33 pm |
  14. moses

    When God is moving, the devil is trying to do his utmost to discredit what is being done. To Hillsong, it's beautiful to see that He who started the good work has His Hand over you all to bring it to His expected and preordained end. God Bless and keep on fighting the good fight....!

    July 28, 2010 at 8:23 am |
  15. Deborah, India

    God bless Hillsong & every member and volunteer of Hillsong conference 2010. Been there in July for the conference and had an amazing time in my whole life. Presence of God and anointing was overflowing. Worship was very special and the way they continuously emphasize the glory to God is their speciality. May God take them to greater heights and use them mightily as His vessels.

    July 28, 2010 at 6:44 am |
  16. Shirley Inglis

    Keep doing what you are doing. You inspire the youth group at my church. Making beautiful music in the background while we play. I believe in subliminal messaging, and I have seen a turn around since doing that.

    God bless you and keep you abundently!
    Love you guys
    S

    July 28, 2010 at 1:59 am |
  17. Jonathan Dabu

    we at our church or even in our house and car stereo we play, sung hillsong music, also many of our church youth organization in our clustered area are really moved and even touched by God in thier songs. May the Lord our God always give this band a new songs for us to sing and use this band a instrument of worshipping HIm.

    July 28, 2010 at 1:04 am |
  18. Connie Justus

    Praise God the way this group has helped bring us to the throne of God. We had a taste of it in our EN2010 gathering in Manila last week. So wonderful! Broke a Guiness world record by singing Amazing grace in 50 different languages with Darlene Zschech leading!! So cool!!

    July 28, 2010 at 12:36 am |
  19. David Jensen

    Thanks so much for doing this coverage on Hillsong Live. I really appreciate it. I just saw them tonight here in Plymouth Michigan, and they did a totally amazing job leading us all in worship. It was a beyond amazing experience!!!! I don't know if I would refer to them a Rock Band though. They are so much more than that. Thanks again for doing this coverage. God Bless, David

    July 28, 2010 at 12:15 am |
  20. Patty

    hey guys, please come to mexico. God bless.

    July 27, 2010 at 11:32 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.