Reviewed by Matthew Cordle
Anyone tracking the evolution of worship music over the last few years cannot have missed the huge contribution that Jesus Culture has made since their first release back in 2006. Originally springing from the youth ministry at Bethel Church in Redding, California, Jesus Culture has existed as a church since 2014, releasing an enormous amount of music under both the Jesus Culture name and from individual artists. A quick look at their YouTube channel shows stats of almost 147 million views to-date! The video trailer for this latest collection, 'Living With A Fire', overviews the journey Jesus Culture has recorded through the years and focuses on still living with the flame of faith burning brightly. Lyrically the songs centre around the wonder of what Jesus has done, how his power is made perfect by working in weak people. Kim Walker-Smith's powerful lead on "Not Afraid" is particularly moving as she declares with confidence that "My God will make a way, so I am not afraid". "How Amazing" wonders at why Jesus would go to such lengths to free us from the weight of sin, marvelling at "Where I saw death, there You saw life and You ran to my rescue", and in "For No Other Reason", Chris Quilala reflects on the words from Psalm 27, "Just to see you, to look upon your beauty, I live for this one thing". Sonically flawless, expertly performed and with no lack of anthems, Jesus Culture is, however, beginning to feel a bit like a factory production line, turning out too much material to really take it all in properly. Not only that, the glossy production sheen becomes fatiguing after a while and the CD would have benefitted from a sonic break. Another observation is that, whilst we do at times need to simply sing songs of what God has done in our lives, after 100 minutes (great value!) I was left longing to sing something with more depth. The songs are mostly subjectively experiential, exploring little objective biblical truth and often primarily focussed on 'me' and 'what I want God to do'. Jesus Culture is excellent at drawing the listener into the presence of God with their songs and they will continue to do so with this release, but they do need to think about where they go next.
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|The new live worship album 'Living With A Fire’ was recorded at Jesus Culture's home church during their conference in Sacramento, CA and features worship leaders Kim Walker-Smith, Chris Quilala, Bryan & Katie Torwalt, Derek Johnson and Chris McClarney, with three new songs - ‘Freedom', 'Center of Your Love' and 'Living With A Fire’.|
"It was amazing to record at our home conference again," shares Chris Quilala. "The worship that poured out by every single person in the room was contagious. I forever want my heart to burn with passion for God so the world might know the love of Christ through my life. This is the simple message of Living with a Fire. It is especially important for the church, in this time, to keep their hearts burning for Jesus and to be a light to the world.”
Kim Walker Smith adds, "Over the years we have poured our lives out for Jesus, fought for our relationships with Him, and also our relationships with each other. When we first started, it was a passion that ignited in our hearts that became the flame and Jesus fanned into a fire. Our prayer in the beginning was that we would never lose sight of what matters above everything else; relationship with Jesus and bringing Him glory! Now, on the verge of 20 years, we can say with conviction that our hearts are still burning for Jesus, and we are still wanting to bring Him glory, above all.”
This album proclaims the matchless love of Jesus and to see a generation of young and old, completely given to walking in His presence.