Hillsong United… launching a revolution
Though the music of Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia, has impacted the global Church for over a decade, it has only been in recent years that the church’s youth worship team, Hillsong United, has exploded. Their passionate lyrics and fresh brand of modern rock helped catapult them to top-selling status and earned them Dove Award nominations for Group of the Year and Praise and Worship Album of the Year. Amidst the growing zeal for the Aussie group, Hillsong United releases their newest CD, With Hearts As One, and launches a revolution of the heart.
Originally, there was no plan for United to become a recording artist and touring band. United is first a vibrant and active youth ministry and a sophisticated operation with about 200 young people directly involved creatively as musicians, vocalists, production techs, artists and designers. The key musicians and worship leaders who appear on the albums also help direct the age-focused worship teams that meet weekly for a time of music, worship and discipleship.
Hillsong Church has long drawn its worship leaders from the deep and talented pool of songwriters discovered in its United youth ministry, which includes over 3,000 young people at the church’s Sydney and suburban campuses. This includes worship leaders and songwriters Reuben Morgan, Marty Sampson and now, Joel Houston.
"One of the strengths of our church is the way the youth are embraced and encouraged to be a part of all that is happening," says Joel. "It’s what makes United distinctive. We’re not just a band. The very nature of who we are and what we do is inclusive. It’s a discipling model. Everything we (the current band) do is because someone gave us an opportunity."
The desire to chronicle what was happening at their church transformed United from just a youth ministry to a major recording artist and touring band that has released nine CDs since 1999 including With Hearts As One. Their previous eight CDs include the best-selling and Dove-nominated All of the Above as well as United We Stand, Look To You, More Than Life, To The Ends of the Earth, King of Majesty, Best Friend and Everyday.
Believing that our worship should compel us to action, Hillsong United as a youth ministry and band are actively involved in social justice issues on a local and global scale. This passion for the "poor and broken" led them to launch TheIHeartRevolution, a three-part social justice movement. Part One includes the release of With Hearts As One, a 30-track double-album recorded live around the world. Part Two includes the release of We’re All In This Together, a DVD/documentary filmed around the world. The CD and DVD are to create awareness for Part Three, the development of an online social justice network that directs people in ways to act locally and globally and also provides an opportunity to share experiences and be inspired by others.
"We’ll do our best to set up a platform and a network where we can be educated on the issues and directed in ways we can help…" says Houston. "But, practically speaking, the revolution depends entirely on all of us choosing to act."
"We’re just getting started," says Joel. "There are a lot of people who need to know Jesus. If our worship is just great youth meetings, nice songs, lots of jumping around and a few CDs, then we’re missing it. Our vertical expression must have a horizontal effect. So, we’ll continue to worship, praise and honor God with heart, soul, mind and strength the best we know how, but the fruit of that must be a generation who are totally committed to reaching the lost and helping those who need help, locally and globally."