Tony Cummings met up with two members of the team of Californian revivalists known as JESUS CULTURE
One of the best selling worship music entities of recent years, Jesus Culture, had their latest release 'Come Away' (a CD with bonus DVD) issued last month through Elevation Records. Recorded and filmed at a Jesus Culture Encounter event the digi-pak is sure to make a major impact in the international Church and will join the other best sellers by the ministry birthed at Bethel Church in Redding, California. With the Jesus Culture band touring the UK in September I caught up with worship leaders Chris Quilala and Kim Walker-Smith on their tour bus prior to them ministering at Wolverhampton Civic Hall.
Tony: We tend to think of people who make records as 'bands' or 'artists' but Jesus Culture is not exactly either. How do you describe yourselves?
Kim: We are a ministry that is all about raising up this next generation of revivalists. We have it in our hearts to gather people together and not only have an experience worshiping Jesus but actually give them tools and training to walk it out and equip them to be revivalists no matter what they're called to do or wherever they're at.
Tony: So how do you define a revivalist?
Chris: I think some of that is encountering God's presence and being hungry and passionate to share that with others. At our conferences we have people come who have never encountered God's love or his presence or his passion and then in turn they go out on the streets and see people healed and set free. They share the encounter that they have and take it out to the world. I think that's where it starts, personally and then taking it out on the streets or in work or wherever you're at, schools or whatever.
Tony: In an audience you have lots of people at different places in their spiritual journeys. Presumably, it's not going to be one prayer fits all, is it?
Kim: The Bible says that we love him because he first loved us and we really do believe that when God's presence shows up that you can't help but fall in love with him. When you encounter God, that's just the nature of who he is and the nature of his love, your encounter with him causes you to fall more in love with him. We are just people who want to help facilitate that. We can't force people into anything, we can't try to manipulate anything or force God to come but God shows up and he pours out his presence because (1) he's faithful to do that and (2) he just loves his children. He responds to their hearts and their hunger, he responds to their cry. When we all gather together and we're making room for him, welcoming him and giving him that place to move and do what he wants to do, that's when the encounters happen, when people start to connect. We don't always know if every single person in the room is having that but we do believe that they will, even if it's not that night, it will come.
Tony: Cross Rhythms recently posted a Jesus Culture DVD to someone we knew in prison. He emailed us to say that various prisoners were profoundly affected by the Holy Spirit through watching it.
Chris: We're always humbled when we hear those testimonies; it's really what it's about. We started out as a youth group band and never had an intention to make albums or whatever, we were just going after God's presence and praying that people would get ministered to through our music. We love hearing those testimonies, and we do hear a fair amount of them. That's the reward that we get. It's definitely a blessing to be a part of what God is doing through us.
Tony: Do you find the expectations put on you make it difficult? Has fame brought pressures on you?
Kim: I would say that it is a challenge. Sometimes I think we're not really aware of how big it is. Every now and then we'll have a funny encounter or someone will say something and we're kind of surprised because we had no idea that it's as big as it is. But in all of that, there are two keys for us that we really try to hold on to. One is that we really try to stay in community, which is, we're a family and we started this as a family. It's most important to us to stay connected to each other, to let our relationships be strong. And that also includes our outside leadership, our pastors at our church, our families, our close friends, outside of this circle. And secondly, staying connected to God and remembering why we did this to begin with. The only reason that we did this was because we were hungry and we were seeking out God's presence. That's where it all started. And so in the midst of what we'd called 'fame', in the midst of pressure and things getting bigger, we feel like as long as we hold onto those two things, like by being connected, that means that as soon as someone's head starts getting too big, we're going to be the first ones to tell each other!
Tony: You have got a new record coming out. Can you tell me about that?
Chris: It's called 'Come Away' and a lot of the songs are songs that really ministered to us and we put our own spin on. It's funny because on this album particularly I felt like we were able to marry growing musically but also going back to where we came from, which is really just to encounter God's presence. Which is a good thing and a bad thing, because at the same time we had captured a lot of moments live during worship but we can only fit so much time on an album so we've had to cut parts here and there just to fit it all on to the CD. But it's an encounter where even our guitar player was saying he put on a song and was weeping by the end of it, just encountering God's presence. I love hearing that, that's what we're going for more than anything.
Tony: Where have the songs on this album come from?
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