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 (193 Responses)
  1. Hengky Susanto

    In fact, Hillsong WAS impacted my country in Indonesia.. In my city.. Almost Christianity (in the country when we are minority than islam) from child, young, and adult is know about Hillsong.

    July 27, 2010 at 2:53 am |
  2. Luke

    Hillsong, come up to the Gold Coast in Australia. 😛

    July 27, 2010 at 2:50 am |
  3. faith

    i js love worship.your song frm th inside out rily made an impact in mylyf.

    July 27, 2010 at 2:50 am |
  4. Christina

    I've never had the pleasure of seeing Hillsong live. But listening to their cd's is like being there with them as they worship. That's the beauty and the difference that sets Hillsong apart from others. I think thats why people all over the world love them. There not a band or celebrities.. You hear them an know these are people just like me. People who love God. My nephew is 5 yrs old and he sits in the backseat and can sing every word to "Mighty to Save." There music is universal, whether your 5 or whether your 50. It touches amd moves your heart to interract withGod and to have a relationship with Him! That's what its all about!

    July 27, 2010 at 2:50 am |
  5. rommel


    July 27, 2010 at 2:49 am |
  6. kevin babb

    Great interview! Hillsong Church and others like them are the fulfillment of that passage in the OT where God says that when "the enemy comes in like a flood, I will raise up a standard against him..." Well, the enemy is coming in like a flood brainwashing the masses with his wicked message through music and the standard God has raised up against that are groups like Hillsong, United, Desperation Band, Youth For The Nations, Gateway, David Crowder, Chris Tomlin, Passion, Mercy Me and a host of other annointed musicians who use their musical talents for God's glory. Praise God!! I thank The Lord for you guys!! i flew to Sydney in '09 to see Faith+Love+Hope and i also saw United in Orlando, FL and San Antonio, TX. Every show was awesome because the focus was on Jesus Christ, who is our Love!! As JD says, we are not doing a concert, we are here to encounter God and worship Him through music. Anyway, great interview guys...God bless!!!

    July 27, 2010 at 2:48 am |
  7. Vianney D

    This is a Blessing band ...the first time I heard this band I did`t understand english and I wasn´t christian either but, just hearing the music I felt something (I didn´t know that you guys were christian).....Then after months I knew God ♥ Thank you guys for keeping the heart focus... =D

    July 27, 2010 at 2:48 am |
  8. Lawrence

    There needs to be a Hillsong North America!

    July 27, 2010 at 2:46 am |
    • Kangopie

      I heard there is a church in New York don't have details but they are on twitter @hillsongNYC

      July 27, 2010 at 7:25 am |
    • Paul

      It's true. Hillsong is opening a campus in Mahnattan, NYC. Head pastor is Carl Lentz. Carl spoke at our church in Oklahoma City this month, and is truly annointed.

      July 27, 2010 at 4:53 pm |
    • Christopher Allen

      It is true! And you will never believe who is leading it!! Joel Houston is moving here to lead the whole thing!!

      August 12, 2010 at 4:56 pm |
  9. Sola (MTHATHA)

    I love HILLSONG, when we talk about a worship group that has changed people's lives, why not put Hillsong first. May God bless, and reveal what u aré suppose to say to this broken, God seeking world. Keep it up.

    July 27, 2010 at 2:45 am |
  10. Linda from California

    What an amazing time of worship with Hillsong to lift your soul unto the Lord of Hosts! The Hillsong worship and its lyrics when "breathed in", one cannot help but to utter songs of praise for the God of Love who longs to adorn us with beauty from ashes, and deliver us from death to life with showers of freedom, mercy, hope and joy!!! It's simply overwhelming to worship in the presence of God. Glory to God!

    July 27, 2010 at 2:45 am |
  11. Marthea

    Love the music..its so anointed! Thanks Hillsong for many years of beautiful worship songs.

    July 27, 2010 at 2:43 am |
  12. Kati

    I really love Hillsong songs and music and it's not only for that but because of that music and words I have felt the presence of God so many times. I used to hear their cd till I was a young girl, and I listen their songs still........ It's wonderful how God has used them and how blessed ones are they for me and I believe for all...... I hope that very soon they will have the possibility and a calling from God to come here in Albania in Balkan and bless our country too, I would love that very much......the youth people need to hear a band like Hillsong and to be encouraged to keep walking and trusting God......
    However GOD BLESS U and KEEP USING U for HIS KINGDOM.... 😉

    July 27, 2010 at 2:39 am |
  13. Lloyd

    Love you Pastor Phil! Missing Hillsong South Africa like crazy. I think a church needs to be opened in Johannesburg, SA.
    Guys, support the Tembalethu project. Its for an awesome cause!

    July 27, 2010 at 2:36 am |
  14. Criselle

    Their songs really trigger the longings of my heart, they inspire my faith and rekindles the fire within. 🙂 Love them!

    July 27, 2010 at 2:36 am |
  15. Augustyn

    I'm from Ghana, West Africa and Hillsong has been a great blessing 2 me. They focus your mind on things above and a desire 4 a closer walk with God. God bless Hillsong !

    July 27, 2010 at 2:35 am |
  16. Lady Morales

    Hillsong is really great ...... they express their faith through songs which gives people new hopes and they uplift the spirits to those people who want to give up ........ CONGRATULATIONS Hillsong and more power ....... God Bless and God speed

    July 27, 2010 at 2:35 am |
  17. Firdaus Ginting

    I love Hillsong, ive been listening to their music since 'by your side' album. and never stop buying their next album since then.
    and they've come to indonesia ( where i live ) a couple of time, and it felt AMAZING to praise and worship the Lord with them. well keep up the GOD work guys.

    God Bless..

    July 27, 2010 at 2:33 am |
  18. sbsb

    Hillsong is VERY popular! I think the only reason that they are not played on many radio stations throughout the states is because most Christian radio stations only play contemporary artists. However, many contemporary artists record their own versions of songs written by Hillsong band-members such as Reuben Morgan. Needless to say, Hillsong is prolific in everything they do, and I believe God is using them for His glory!

    July 27, 2010 at 2:33 am |
  19. Mandla

    I love Hillsong! You are a blessing to this world! "Yahweh" oh! What a song! Keep them coming!
    Mandla from South Africa, Durban

    July 27, 2010 at 2:32 am |
  20. Nadine Britton

    Hillsong is so amazing and they give all the Glory to God.

    July 27, 2010 at 2:31 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
About this blog

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.