I headed up to Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, MI yesterday to see Hillsong United. Joel Houston and team led us in a 2.5 hour worship experience. I stood the entire time, but never really got tired.
Four Main Impressions:
1. Hillsong knows how to program a worship concert. They know how to take a crowd on a ride that keeps people engaged. As they kept the focus on Christ, they were able to move us through a journey of high energy praise to intimate worship and back again. Their use of lighting, video and instrumentation made the night full of spontaneity and wonder.
2. They understand worship FLOW. Too many worship team, occasionally my own included, go from song to song with many starts and stops without a great deal of thought about helping people stay connected to Christ between them. Whether it was performing songs in similar keys, or creating a high energy drum transition, or a video scripture with keyboards underneath, the night kept going. I also noticed their effective use of blackouts to allow people to switch instruments without it being awkward.
3. They shared the stage between them. Although Joel was the main leader, it was obvious that leadership was shared. Each leader had his/her unique contribution to make. It was this sharing that allowed the audience to connect to a whole team rather than one person. I loved this!
4. Hillsong United has an amazing following considering very little airplay. The arena was packed! How cool to consider that this was their first trip to Grand Rapids and they packed it out. Also, besides "Mighty to Save", you couldn't tell me a Hillsong tune that has hit the top of the Christian charts in recent history. They have built up a following by equipping local congregations with great music that edifies. This is a unique way to build a following, through other people playing your music. I'm not sure if there are any other examples of this out there.
A great night of worship!