Tony Cummings spoke to Kristian Stanfill of the Atlanta-based modern worship trio, PASSION
Passion is many things. It is a Christian organisation that runs the hugely influential Passion Conferences which, since they were founded by preacher extraordinaire Louie Giglio in 1997, have reached a multitude of American college students. It is the source of a stream of worship albums which have taken dozens of modern worship songs to the worldwide Church. It is the foundation stone of the church plant Passion City Church in Atlanta, Georgia. And now it is the name of the exceptional worship trio consisting of Kristian Stanfill, Brett Younker and Melodie Malone. I spoke to Kristian and began by asking him what has been the response to the latest Passion album, 'Whole Heart'?
Kristian: The response so far has been great. We've been leading these songs at our church in Atlanta, Passion City Church, for a little while now, and the response we're seeing is fantastic. I think the biggest test is seeing how it's affecting people's lives. Are these just words and melodies, or are they actually getting into people's hearts and effecting change? We're hearing people are really being touched. The theme through this record is the unmatched love of God - this love that comes with no conditions - and people are being affected by that.
Tony: Are any of the new songs shaping up to be church-wide hits?
Kristian: We hope so. It's hard to say what songs will rise to the top. "God, You're So Good" has been such a big song for our church, and whenever we lead that song out on tour it seems to really connect. What I love about that is that the central message of that song is the cross. Whenever you're singing about the cross or about the gospel, that's timeless. That song has really connected with people.
Tony: Isn't that a rewrite of an earlier song?
Kristian: Yes. We wrote that with Brooke and Scott Ligertwood. Brooke had the idea to write some verses around that old chorus we all grew up singing at church. We don't know exactly where it came from or who wrote it, but it's a good thing to sing. Brett Younker and I wrote some fresh verses and a bridge with Brooke and her husband Scott.
Tony: Have you known Brooke a long time?
Kristian: We've known each other for a while. Obviously Hillsong is amazing, and we've been friends with that family for quite a while. Brooke has led at Passion quite a few times, and she's led at our church in Atlanta, so our paths have crossed quite a few times.
Tony: I was familiar with her when she was Brooke Fraser, working in the mainstream. Did you get to hear her during that era of her life?
Kristian: Yeah, I did. Like you, I knew her music and followed what she was doing, especially when she would write songs like "Hosanna" or "Lead Me To The Cross" that touched down in our church world.
Tony: When did you become involved with Passion?
Kristian: I've known of Passion since I was 15, 16 years old. As soon as the movement launched, the rumours started flying around that God was on the move. I met Louie in 2004. I was leading worship at a student conference and he was speaking. The first year I led at Passion was 2005. Been here ever since.
Tony: It must have been daunting at first, because it's such a vast event. Up until then, you'd presumably never led worship with such a big crowd.
Kristian: I had not. It was very daunting, putting it lightly. I remember when Louie asked if I would lead in 2005. I tried to play it cool, but inside I was losing my mind. I was like, 'I don't know if I can do this.' But I'm so grateful he asked, and I'm so grateful I get to be part of it today.