This week people have flown in from all over the world and gathered with one objective: to lift up the name of Jesus. And while they do, Hillsong Worship will push record.
This year, a team of creative leaders, musicians and songwriters have tirelessly worked on a new album project that will be the next annual Hillsong Worship release.
Talking with some of that team, songwriter and worship leader Ben Fielding said, "We've been intentional about writing songs that will translate across the Church globally." From many of the Hillsong global campuses including Sydney, London, New York and Los Angeles, songs were written, re-written and constantly collaborated on in the lead up to this weeks album recording.
"The collaborations have been more through relationship this year, and it has felt less segmented. We've been writing in the studio and there would be people from three different campuses in three different countries there. Each would be representing their own congregation's unique sound, but working together to create something that will translate for all campuses."
Rich Langton, who oversees the pastoral care of the creative team in Australia, said, "The theme this year is 'let there be light'. Jesus is the light of the world and we carry that too." Ben continues, "So many songs reference that theme. Jesus is not threatened by darkness, He has no rival."
And it seems that poignant theme is just what the world needs to declare. Amidst political tension, wars, attacks, conflict and so much unsettling pain in the world, this emphasis on the light of the world is a powerful refocusing on an unshakeable belief by which the church professes its faith.
On every level, this team has given their heart and soul; and that much is evident right from the new volunteer up to the experienced worship pastor carrying the weight of the whole project. Creating art that expresses the heart of God and reverberates truth to the Church is a "labour of love that is painful and takes lots of hard work." Said Rich, "The gold often comes with a bit of a fight. And in that process, issues come up."
This is the part that most people will never see. Far away from the lights and the loud music, away from the smiling faces and the confident proclamations, this is the price that is payed. The truth is, worship comes at a cost.
Many of this team humbly bear their pain, fears and personal battles to bring forth a song of worship that the world can join in on as authentic worship to God. However, the reality for a lot of these costly expressions of worship that are laboured over and presented to the team, is they will never be heard my most people.
Rich's wife and Global Creative Pastor Cass Langton talks of this "wasteful worship" that has come to define the creative community of Hillsong Church. Cass refers to the biblical narrative of the woman who breaks an alabaster jar and pours all of her very expensive perfume on the feet of Jesus.
The woman gives wastefully and pours everything she brought onto Jesus' feet; but that was her worship to Him. Rich continues, "So much of what the team has sacrificed will never be seen. But the sacrifice isn't wasted; it turns into worship when we lay it at His feet."
Early morning call times and late night rehearsals are just part of the sacrifice this team willingly makes, but it's the private worship that really sets it apart.
So this week, as people flew from all over the world and gathered with the one objective to lift up the name of Jesus, new songs will be sung, stage designs will be built, lyrics will be memorised, melodies will be crafted, seats will be set and set again, blood, sweat and tears will be shed, sacrifices will be made with such extravagance, and it will all be wastefully poured onto the feet of Jesus.
But make no mistake; what is poured onto the feet of Jesus is no waste at all. It is powerful and authentic worship; and what is being recorded just might change the world.
Daniel J. Mathew is musician, teacher and writer with a Bachelor of Music at Sydney's Wesley Institute who serves in Hillsong Creative, City Campus and Hillsong LA.
Daniel J. Mathew's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/daniel-mathew.html