Facets of Faith: Hillsong to lead worship in Baton Rouge

Well-known worship group Hillsong, based in the Sydney, Australia, church of the same name, will perform in Baton Rouge on Monday, Aug. 18.

David Ware, one of Hillsong’s worship leaders, said the crowd at the sold-out concert at Healing Place Church can expect favorites as well as new songs.

In addition to Ware, Rueben Morgan and Ben Fielding will lead worship for the night.

“We really feel like this year we are going to the next level in terms of what we are bringing to the cities in America. A lot of effort’s been put into the staging ... A lot of expectancy behind it. We are really excited,” he said.

“Worship night with us, we have really great worship anthems that we sing all the time, like ‘Mighty to Save,’” Ware said. “You’ll hear a lot of the stuff that people already know, but there’ll be a lot of fresh songs that I feel like the church will really grab a hold of, which is cool.”

Those new songs are from Hillsong’s recently released project “No Other Name.”

“Just the theme, which kind of happened accidentally,” Ware said. “Or probably not accidentally, it’s quite a God thing. “

Ware said the group’s writers kept bringing in songs about the name of Jesus or the power of the name of Jesus, and “When Joel (Houston) wrote the title track ‘No Other Name,’ it solidified the theme and the direction of the album.”

Ware’s favorite piece from the new album is its first track “This I Believe.”

“My friend Ben Fielding and Matty Crocker wrote that,” he said. “The song itself is a great declaration of our belief in God.”

The song was born when John Dixon, an Anglican leader in Sydney, used social media to suggest that it would be “awesome for the songwriters at Hillsong to put the Apostle’s Creed to some inspirational music.”

Ware said the piece has been a blessing for his church to sing.

“The chorus goes ‘I believe in God our Father, I believe in Christ the Son, I believe in God the Holy Spirit, Our God is three in one. I believe in the Resurrection, that we will rise again, for I believe in the name of Jesus.’”

Ware said Hillsong has two pastors on its staff — Robert and Amanda Ferguson — “who check the theology of our songs with great scrutiny.”

And “because John Dixon is this Anglican leader and him asking us to do it, we were back and forth with him going ‘Hey, we’re Pentecostal, so we want to make sure that you guys see this and believe what you’re singing.’”

The writers, the Fergusons and Dixon, finalized the lyrics to “This I Believe.”

“I love it because I feel like there’s a lot of disunity among the greater church ... I feel like anyone who can extend the reach of unity, we are so happy to work with them. In this case we did and such a great worship song has come out of it,” Ware said.

“We believe that hopefully it’s going to be something across the world in churches to create more unity and more multidenominational projects and songs and endeavors to build up God’s kingdom.”

While the album is fresh for audiences outside of Hillsong, Ware said the group is already working on “new and fresh ideas, because even though you might hear these songs now, these are the songs that have been fueling and inspiring our church for the last 12 months. So once a project comes out, we’re kind of like, what’s the new song now? And then by next July, everyone will be able to hear the collection of songs that we’ve been singing at church over those 12 months.”

For the current project, Hillsong was able to take an idea and make it big.

While developing the cover, “Someone said why don’t we just light up Times Square with the ‘No Other Name’ ad then have just one screen that flashes the name Jesus and it doesn’t have a Hillsong logo,” Ware said.

The designers learned they could afford about 15 minutes of billboard time in Times Square and got the go ahead.

“But the night it was meant to happen ... all these people from our New York campus gathered out there to celebrate this declaration ... and it didn’t happen,” Ware said.

He said the man who set up the time came back and cut the price, added screens and gave them an hour of time on the well-known screens.

“So on a Thursday night, from 10:30 to 11:30, Times Square in New York was lit up with ‘No Other Name’ and there was a main screen that just flashed the name Jesus.

“That for us was pretty monumental and significant. We are so humbled. It was a pipe dream thrown out there because someone was enthusiastic and imaginative enough to think of it,” Ware said.

“And for God to open up those doors and do it in a way that didn’t cost us as much as it should have and to have impact — a whole hour!”

Ware closed the conversation saying, “We feel so many pieces of this album have been God-breathed and God-inspired and now getting to travel with that album across the United States puts icing on the cake and the cherry on top.

“There’s nothing like worshiping with our American family.”