Tony Cummings spoke to singer and songwriter Mack Brock of the aggregation ELEVATION WORSHIP
The latest album by Elevation Worship from Charlotte, North Carolina, 'There Is A Cloud', is a powerfully stirring one. The album's press release read, "Revival is rising. Faith is stretching. Hope is being restored. Echoing this spirit of Elijah, it is the prayer of Elevation Worship, with the release of their new live album 'There is a Cloud', that these songs will usher in a new season of revival in our hearts, in our churches, and in our world. These new songs will fuel your faith and restore your hope as you draw closer to the heart of Christ."
The church from which 'There Is A Cloud' emanates is currently experiencing revival. On 5th February 2006 Elevation Church, founded by preacher Steven Furtick, held its first Sunday worship service which 121 people attended. Today the church, meeting in 15 different locations, has a regular attendance of over 25,000.
Modern worship music has been a spearhead in the steady growth of Elevation. In 2007 it released the album 'The Sound' credited Elevation Church Live and the following year 'We Are Alive' by Elevation Worship was released. There followed a stream of powerful worship projects, 'For The Honor' (2011), 'Nothing Is Wasted' (2013), 'Only King Forever' (2014), 'Wake Up The Wonder' (2014), 'Here As In Heaven' (2015), 'Speak Revival' (2016) and now 'There Is A Cloud' which debuted at number one on Billboard's Christian album chart. It was recorded at Elevation Ballantyne during meetings dubbed Code Orange Revival.
Elevation Worship's main vocalists are Chris Brown, Mack Brock, London Gatch, June Williams, Jenna Winders-Barrientes and Jonsal Barrientes. I spoke to Mack Brock about Elevation Worship and what is happening at the Elevation churches.
Tony: Elevation Church seems to be in a constant state of growth.
Mack: It's been pretty amazing to see; at our church every year has been kind of like a monumental year for us, very special and very big and seeing God multiply continuously the people who are coming to the church or that are giving their lives to Christ. In that, I would say that we have seasons magnified. So, even this past year we did a 12 night revival at our church, 12 nights in a row, teaching in the word, great worship. So many people in our church were coming and people were coming from out of the State to be a part of this revival. That was a really special awakening for us as well, It's so funny, even in the midst of it being draining and tiring because it's a lot of work to put on something like that, at the same time as much as you're pouring into it God is pouring into us and refreshing us. And just really inspiring us and revealing himself to us in a dynamic way. I would say every year we've experienced something along those lines and then just moments throughout the year it's magnified or multiplied.
Tony: Elevation Worship have been releasing music for quite a while now.
Mack: The last couple of albums have been the first ones that have gotten out into the world. Sometimes we'll hear, 'Oh, I hear you released an album; congratulations', not knowing that we've been doing an album a year pretty much since we started the church. And that was really intentional. We wanted to create songs for our church; we wanted to have a voice to speak to what God is doing at our church, but we also wanted to have stones to remember what God has done in our church. We wanted to have these anthems, just like the Israelites set up stones to remember what God did for them, we wanted to have these songs so that we can look back every season, every year of our church and look back at certain songs and be like this is what God did during this season, this is what we were going through. We've had an album out pretty much every year that we've been a church.
Tony: Some churches tend towards more rock guitar type stuff; other churches have started bringing in more electronic music elements. So to somebody who's not heard any Elevation Worship music, how would you describe the overall musical direction?
Mack: I might describe it as a combination of both. We definitely have guitars and drums and we like things loud and big. But we like to have fun too. One of the things we always talk about at our church is we want, when people step in to the building at Elevation or step into a worship experience at Elevation, that it feels alive and celebratory of what God is doing. I think that represents a lot of the music that we create as well. We also really try to create a great atmosphere to be aware of God's presence so the style of music that we play we try to create a good atmosphere; an atmosphere that might be reflective or an atmosphere that might stir up somebody's faith. We have a lot of songs that talk about declaring God's promises and really believing in faith that God is going to move on our behalf.
Tony: You seem to be indicating that almost from day one when Reverend Furtick first took up the ministry at the church that you've been experiencing some dimensions of revival.
Mack: Totally. From the beginning I just feel that God has had his hand on our church, he's got his hand on our pastor. What we've seen happen at our church is amazing, and the times that we've seen really tangible - going back to that revival mentality, of really seeing God move in a special way - that has happened since the beginning. So, the more we've grown, it's been really, really exciting to see the growth and it's been awesome to see God multiply the ministry but it's also - it feels like we really are walking in it continuously. Going back to revival as a part of the album too, that's something that we talk a lot about on the album. We really believe that the way you align your faith to God and are open to receiving from God is also a way you can stir revival in your own life. We've got a lyric that says 'Speak revival, prophesy like it is done' and that is declaring that we believe that God is going to move in our lives. We believe that God is going to pour himself out over us. Sometimes we just have to open ourselves up to do that.
Tony: Presumably, because you're such a big church, you've probably got a very big team of musicians.
Mack: We've got nine campuses in Charlotte alone and several campuses outside of the Charlotte area. So we've got a lot of musicians and a lot of people who are involved. It's kind of awesome to see so many people God has brought into our ministry with a lot of talent, a calling for excellence and really see how it translates on all of our campuses.
Tony: How many song writers does the church have?
Mack: We've got a lot of people who write songs in the church on our team. Pastor Steven is one of our main songwriters. He's such a great preacher, such a great communicator and on top of that he's such a great songwriter. He's a great writer but he's also a great lyricist because he's such a wordsmith in his preaching and in his communication and that just translates so well into songwriting. Sometimes the preaching just does it but for him he's really in tune with the way that we can say stuff with what people want to sing when they're in a worship experience.
Tony: On the specifics of the songwriting, who wrote "There Is A Cloud"?
Mack: I think that one was written by Pastor Steve and myself and Chris Brown who's another one of our worship leaders.
Tony: Is there an ongoing and ever-growing pool of songs which are circulating in the church and then once a year you have to make the difficult decision which ones are going to be put onto a CD?
Mack: We try to constantly introduce new songs to our church so even right now, as we're releasing 'There Is A Cloud' out into the world, at our church we're starting to sing new songs. We're writing throughout the year, we're introducing songs, we definitely make sure that the songs that we are introducing to our church have gone through a lot of vetting and tweaks to make sure that what we are presenting in our worship experience isn't like a test song but it is actually a solid song that we can get behind. Then when it comes time to make the album, some of those make it, some of them don't. It's a never ending process.
Tony: I've spoken to revivalists in the past and one or two of them have spoken about the healing dimension that exists in some songs. Would you recognize that as a part of what some of your songs are about?
Mack: I think so. The last song on our album is called "Here In The Presence'. It's a song about being in the presence of Jesus. The lyrics at the end of the song are, 'Mercy is following/Lift up your hands/Receive it now/You're in the presence of the Lord/I know your past is broken but you can move on/It's over now/You're in the presence of the Lord." When we sing that in church, you can sense the tangible shift in the atmosphere, of like people being able to let go of things in their lives, people being able to be set free from maybe something that they were holding on to in their past, something that was kind of weighing them down. So much can happen in worship; so much freedom can be had in worship and chains being broken, literally being broken. We really believe that worship is a gateway to that freedom and to healing, to redemption in people's lives. We definitely have moments like that in our songs that we try to capture to help people have those revelations, those moments in their own lives.
Tony: What about physical healing? Is the church seeing brothers and sisters get healed physically?
Mack: We don't have moments in our church where we stand up and kind of call out physical healing a lot. We definitely have seen that for sure. Even our worship pastor Wade Joye, he's got a really amazing story where his twin girls were born three months premature, one suffered a really bad brain bleed to where the doctors said you might consider taking her off life support because even if she survives she's not going to be able to do anything, she's not going to live past a certain age. And that was a moment where our whole church rallied around and we prayed for healing and believed that God was going to take care of those girls. Now they're eight years old, healthy, normal twin girls, so we've definitely had a lot of moments like that in our church.
Tony: Any of Wade Joye's songs on this album?
Mack: Yes. He's one of our songwriters as well. We're a super collaborative group of songwriters so every song on our album, it's rare that you'll see a song written by one person and really even two people, it's almost always a group of us, so Wade's got some songs on the album.
Tony: Elevation Worship have in the past toured with Hillsong Worship, Kari Jobe, Jesus Culture, etc. Is there much touring coming up?
Mack: Church and home is the most important thing to us so figuring out how to travel in the midst of that has been a learning curve for us. But I do think that we've realised what the Lord is doing through our church and how we want to share that with the rest of the country, the rest of the world. So I think that in the near future you'll see us tour more and hopefully get over to see you soon.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.