Jesus Culture: Chris Quilala speaks about the revivalists' album

Friday 29th January 2016

Relocating to Sacramento has not hindered JESUS CULTURE. Tony Cummings spoke to Chris Quilala.

Jesus Culture
Jesus Culture

Wikipedia describes Jesus Culture as "an international Christian revivalist youth outreach ministry" while back in 2010 Cross Rhythms called the Californian worship ministry "one of the most significant Christian movements in post-war America." Six years on and more and more of the world Church has come to recognise that significance and Jesus Culture's latest album 'Let It Echo' has, in its first week of release, entered Billboard' mainstream album chart at 35, number two in America's Christian chart and number one in Britain's. I spoke to founder member, singer and songwriter Chris Quilala about 'Let It Echo' and the surprise relocation to Sacramento.

Tony: Has everything settled down at Jesus Culture after a monumental year?

Chris: I don't know. It's been pretty busy, like you said. We started a church in Sacramento a little over a year ago, then recorded an album at the church in September - all kinds of little things going on here and there. December is always in theory going to be a month we slow down, enjoy the holidays; but usually it's when everybody ends up trying to throw their work our way. We've been doing all sorts of things, getting ready for the album release, getting ready for our travel. I don't know if it's slowed down, but we find time here and there.

Tony: Have you got a system whereby you allocate so many weeks a year to minister at your church and so many weeks to tour?

Chris: We're still figuring it out. We went from being a travelling event/conference ministry to starting a local church. Jesus Culture Church is about a year old, and we're trying to find that balance of still being a good steward of what God's put on our hearts to do nationally and internationally, but wanting everything to be refocused and go through the local church. There's not really a system in place, but we did try our best to be home, specifically Sundays, as much as possible.

Tony: Those times when you're not able to get back for a Sunday, are there sufficient musicians to cover for you back at the church?

Chris: There are. We've had some amazing volunteers; not only are they serving as far as playing, they're setting up - we're a mobile church still. It's not a huge team, but definitely enough to make sure that when we're gone the worship is covered. We have a few worship leaders as well; most of the worship leaders on our label travel, on their own outside Jesus Culture events, but we have some amazing worship leaders locally, doing an awesome job.

Tony: Do you have a set routine in terms of what songs you want to do week-by-week, or is it a lot of freedom in the Spirit?

Chris: There's definitely a lot of freedom. For me, I've always tried my best to hear what God's saying, what he wants to do specifically for each service. It's a little easier when I'm playing with the Jesus Culture worship band: we can pull songs last minute, because they're familiar with them. But when I'm building a set-list at home I'll add a few songs, just to be ready. If God's going somewhere I can say, 'Let's not do that song, let's do this song'. For the most part we're doing similar songs every week; it's a young team, and we're trying to do things they're familiar with as we're raising musicians - also introducing a new song a week to keep things fresh.

Tony: How do you feel 'Let It Echo' compares with your previous albums?

Chris: Usually every album we're like, 'This is the album!' We're always really excited about something that we're putting out, but I think we're learning that we do the best we can and just give it to God; whatever he wants to do with it, he can do that with it. That being said, we are really excited about this album. It's been a really wild year for all of us, and I think these songs come from a really deep place, individually and personally but also as a team, a community. We've recorded at our local church, just an amazing live experience - this community we've been building over a year and a half, leading these songs. They're not just our songs, they're our church's songs, victories we've walked through. In that sense, this is my favourite album: it feels very personal.

Tony: Were they church-tested?

Chris: A few of them were. The funny thing is, the goal was to start leading them before we actually recorded in September - I started writing in February - and a few of them made it before the recording, but most of them were introduced the first Sunday we recorded! Over those six weeks we recorded, people began to get familiar with them.

Tony: The title track seems to be a prayer for worldwide revival.

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