3f3266a6-e652-4a74-a23e-6f5230fd583cWildfire, the latest live album from New Wine Worship, the worship ministry of New Wine is out now. 

Recorded at regional conferences held in three different cities across the UK earlier this year, it captures a move of the Spirit across the New Wine movement and seeks to reignite the Church to become a radical agent of transformation.

The album features original songs written by the New Wine Worship Team of Chris Lawson Jones, Chris Sayburn, Lauren Harris, Susie Woodbridge and Sam Bailey, and marks a step forward in terms of creativity and experimentation. Alongside these new tracks are songs from other writers, chosen for inclusion because of a sense that they are particularly significant for the Church in this season.

Wildfire is out now, available everywhere 

 

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THE CITY HARMONIC CHAMPION CHRISTIAN UNITY WITH NEW ALBUM “WE ARE” RELEASING GLOBALLY SEPT. 4 FROM INTEGRITY MUSIC

 

Raucous, award-winning band, The City Harmonic, known for its eclectic modern hymns and worship anthems of longing, hope and celebration, was formed through the sweat, joy and tears of urban mission. From a crucible of small churches of various denominations in Hamilton, Ontario, calling themselves TrueCity, the heart and line-up of the band was fused. Grappling with the struggle of everyday people and writing songs for worship fueled by a “together for the good of the city” ethos, The City Harmonic returns with its third full-length album, WE ARE, releasing through Integrity Music September 4.

Composed by The City Harmonic members Elias Dummer (lead vocals, keys), Eric Fusilier (bass), Josh Vanderlaan (drums) and Aaron Powell (guitars), and produced by Jonny Macintosh, WE ARE (#WeAreTheCityHarmonic) bursts with a renewed commitment to the band’s original pulse. With 11 authentic expressions of worship and unity, WE ARE captures what gets them up in the morning and keeps them grounded come what may.

“It’s easy in the craziness of making music to lose sight of why you started,” Elias says. “But we’ve been through a lot together. We’ve traveled the world in a way we never expected and we’ve seen the beauty of Christ working through this crazy, diverse family we call the Church.

“Along the way, we’ve seen first-hand how powerful it is when the Church works in unity,” continues Elias. “Christ changes us every day and Christ is changing our hometown… if we can somehow inspire the Church around the world to do the same… that’s more than we could ever have hoped or imagined.”

From soaring anthems like “Solid Rock” and “Maranatha” that call believers to loudly declare their praises to the quieter moments of devotion in “Still and Small” and “One,” WE ARE builds on the truth that in Christ, we are one. As the album’s first single and video, “We Are One,” boldly proclaims:

All life and death and what’s to come belongs to Christ
So here we stand, hands lifted high, the very hands and feet of Christ,
No holding back, no wasting time for we are one… to the glory of the one true God

It can take months before some songs become popular. Most never find success at all. But, every so often, a song strikes a chord and finds an audience, literally, overnight. This was the case for “We Are One” following the band’s debut performance of the song on the May 2 episode of “Beyond A.D.,” the NBC.com talk show that accompanied the network’s hugely successful miniseries “A.D.: The Bible Continues” from producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett. To measure audience reaction, Integrity made the single available as a 48-hour iTunes exclusive following the band’s performance. The very next day, the song hit best-seller status on iTunes charts in North America, rising to No. 1 on the inspirational chart for the band’s home country of Canada and remaining there for the entire 48 hours it was available.

The single is now permanently available on iTunes leading up to the global release of WE ARE in September. The band has been sharing “We Are One,” along with other songs from the new album and fan favorites like “Manifesto” and “Praise The Lord,” during recent appearances such as the Festival of Hope with Franklin Graham in Jacksonville, Florida, the YC Alberta Conference in Edmonton, Alberta, and the National Worship Leader Conference in Kansas. They are also working with churches to arrange “We Are” events in cities across North America to help build unity within communities, and are developing a mini documentary that shares the TrueCity story and model for churches. The band is further developing a special website created to support the “We Are” community events and unity initiatives.

Tour updates and news related to the “We Are” events can be found at thecityharmonic.com and on Facebook

About The City Harmonic
Born out of a church unity movement in the blue-collar steel town of Hamilton, Ontario, The City Harmonic formed in 2009 after leading worship for inter-denominational student events. By 2011, the band had won its first Gospel Music Canada Covenant Awards, including one for Modern Worship Song of the Year for the anthem “Manifesto,” a rallying cry for believers around the world. More Covenant Awards, a Juno Award and a Dove Award nomination followed as the band released the critically acclaimed albums I Have A Dream (It Feels Like Home) and Heart and introduced the songs “Praise The Lord,” “Holy (Wedding Day),” “Mountaintop” and “A City On A Hill” to churches and radio stations internationally.

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Worship Leader and Minister Tim Hughes Releases Album Pocketful of Faith,  Plants New Church In Birmingham, England

Tim Hughes is one of a small group of British worship leaders and songwriters who have helped shape and define the faith journeys of worshippers young and old for the last fifteen years. The author of songs that have deeply resonated with generations of Christians around the globe, Tim is best recognized for his Dove Award winning modern worship anthem “Here I Am To Worship” along with songs such as “Happy Day,” “Beautiful One” and “At Your Name.” On July 17, he delivers a new set of songs with Pocketful Of Faith, a 12-track album that reflects a new season in his ministry.

Tim’s story is a well documented one. From leading worship for tens of thousands at the annual UK Soul Survivor events, to joining Holy Trinity Brompton as Music Director. Tim, who is ordained within the Church of England, also pioneered Worship Central, a global movement of worship leaders that run conferences, create online resources and record albums (Spirit Break Out, Let It Be Known and Set Apart.)

A career spanning so many high points is surely an impressive statement, an incredible contribution to resourcing churches from all corners of the globe. These are all tremendous accolades and achievements to have accomplished. And at only 37, Tim’s just getting started!

This year, Tim and his family embark on a new adventure as they relocate from London to Birmingham, England, where Tim will serve as Priest-in-Charge of St Luke’s Parish and where he will plant a new church in the heart of the city’s entertainment district. So, it is fitting that his latest music project, which he describes as a “deeply cathartic experience,” is titled Pocketful Of Faith.

“This project has been a very personal one for me… these songs are prayers, cries of hope, declarations of promises, vulnerable, raw longings for God to do something truly extraordinary,” said Tim. “I don’t know about you, but I’m all too aware of my short-comings and weaknesses. But I want to be someone who offers up my ‘pocketful of faith’ and lives a life believing that God could do something immeasurably more than I could dare dream or imagine.”

Pocketful Of Faith, his fifth studio album, includes songs co-written with Martin Smith, Matt Redman, Reuben Morgan, Phil Wickham, Jonas Myrin and Tim’s Worship Central teammates Nick Herbert, Luke Hellebronth and Ben Cantelon. The tracklist, including “Hope and Glory,” “Plans” and “Only The Brave,” speaks perfectly to this new chapter in Tim’s life, but also reflects the struggle of all believers.

This is why I’m living / To face the giants with You…

And though my heart is racing / I’ll leave my armour with You – “Only The Brave”

In step with faith is obedience, a deliberate theme throughout the album. Tim explains: “On this journey I’ve been thinking about obedience and how often we don’t like to embrace its challenges. It can be so easy to get caught up in building a successful career thinking about how we can become safe, secure, comfortable, happy but actually Jesus’ call on our lives is to follow, and obedience is at the heart of that command… if this album carries a message, and it’s predominately preached to me, it’s that we need to seek the Lord and step out obediently in following him whatever the cost… stepping into the unknown, trusting and believing that God will come through.” 

Pocketful Of Faith is the story of Tim’s family stepping out, leaning into God when His new call came, unsure of what might happen but sure God was on their side.

“I was keen that the album captured this blend of celebration and raw abandoned intimacy, that seemed to be so much of what life is about… these moments of joy and exhilaration, adventure, excitement, mixed with moments of pain, insecurity, fear, uncertainty. And in all of this, we find God. I wanted the sound to capture something of those extremes. To feel brave but also to feel intimate. To carry that tension of being bold but feeling overwhelmed.” 

Pocketful Of Faith is Tim’s musical statement of belief and a declaration of faith that God is there, ready to catch you when you step out into His plans for your life.

Tim concludes, “My prayer now is that these songs would be a blessing to many churches and individuals as they seek God earnestly, trusting and believing in someone that has a greater purpose for our lives…to be part of something bigger.”

For more information on Tim’s music and ministry, visit http://www.worshipcentral.org and http://www.gasstreet.org.

Leslie Jordan 630WConnection in the Digital Age by Leslie Jordan
Every morning, I have my social media routine. Instagram first – it’s my favorite. I open Twitter, check my email and finally Facebook where I mindlessly scroll and swipe, pausing on the stories that I’m most interested in seeing. Sound familiar?

Throughout my day, I would unconsciously open my browser on my phone, type in “f” and hit enter. My phone knows that “f” in the search bar means Facebook. I’ve trained it that well. Then, a month ago I quit Facebook.

To be honest, I was struggling to see the purpose of my scrolling. I would find myself just wasting time and getting lost in the deep abyss of updates, religious rants and cat videos. I would log off and fail to recall seeing anything of value. Yes, it was nice to be “connected.” But the more often I said it, the less I believed it was actually true.

The average American spends 40 minutes a day on Facebook.(1) And among adult users on the social media site, the average number of friends is 338.(2) So if we do the math, we spend roughly 7 seconds per friend (assuming we haven’t blocked half of them because of their political views, baby pictures, or Farmville invitations!)

I suppose this is why I quit. I didn’t need one more excuse to perpetuate false connections with friends. Being a traveling musician, I am learning to value the time spent face-to-face with people. I long for deeper relationships, broader conversations; to know and to be known. It is becoming more and more difficult to cultivate offline relationships in our online world.

Henri Nouwen says this, “What we see, and like to see, is cure and change. But what we do not see and do not want to see is care: the participation in the pain, the solidarity in suffering, the sharing in the experience of brokenness.”(3) Care takes time. True connection takes time and presence – much longer than the 7 seconds we allot while we are online. Brené Brown defines connection “as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”(4) In our ever-present need for social connection, the temptation is to believe that it happens online. That by sharing our opinions, favorite selfies and blogs, we are seen, heard and valued. But we were designed for more. We were designed for an exchange. Jesus’ ministry was not only focused on the masses, but also spent intentionally with his 12 best friends. The night before he was betrayed and murdered, he gave them the greatest charge. “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples – when they see the love you have for each other.” (John 13:34-35) Jesus revealed that connection was an exchange. A receiving of love and a giving of love. Connection is not something we observe, but rather something in which we participate.

Love is cultivated over time. Quitting Facebook didn’t free up a ton of time and I don’t believe it is the solution to our problem with connection. But it is one less distraction I fight against each day. My hope is to be more present in each moment. To love more fully. To care more deeply. To take serious the charge of Jesus, to love the way He has loved me.

(1) Mark Zuckerberg, Q2 earnings call. Reported by nbcnews.com,
(2) Pew Research Center, 6 New Facts about Facebook. Aaron Smith. 2/3/14
(3) Henri JM Nouwen, Out of Solitude
(4) Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection.

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Congratulations to our ministry partners ICF Zurich and ICF Worship, whose new album Pouring Love recently hit the No. 5 position on Switzerland’s mainstream music chart! ICF Zurich is part of the International Christian Fellowship of churches, one of the biggest church movements in Europe, with 36 congregations sharing the Good News of the Gospel.

Pastored by Leo and Susanna Bigger, ICF Zurich is a non-denominational church with over 2,800 attendees spread across five different locations within the city and its surroundings. Pouring Love captures the original songs birthed within this church and the larger fellowship.

“So wonderful to see the songs coming from the ICF movement go beyond the four walls of the Church and into the Swiss mainstream… I believe there is a sound arising from Switzerland that will reverberate around Europe and that the songs from ICF are a significant part of that soundtrack.” – Les Moir, Director of Artists and Repertoire for Integrity Music UK.

For more information on ICF, visit icf-movement.org and www.icf.ch.

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Fresh from selling over 7500 copies of his last album ‘Nachoonga’ worldwide, internationally celebrated Indian singer-songwriter, musician and producer Sheldon Bangera is back with new album ‘Raaja Hai Mahaan.’

’Raaja Hai Mahaan’ documents both Sheldon’s personal spiritual life and also that of the Indian church in 2015. Sheldon says, “This album is a reflection of many seasons with God, some of them we’ve been singing for the last 5 – 7 years. They mark personal experiences and reflections of what God is doing with the church. They are songs of hope and I feel like the whole aesthetic of it will be a blessing to many, even people who don’t understand or speak Hindi.”

Sonically an “east meets west” vista, blending traditional Indian sounds with a western worship flavor, ’Raaja Hai Mahaan’ is a celebration of cultural diversity at its finest. Inspired by a good friend in England, Sheldon decided to write what he describes as a ‘new part of God’s bigger picture of the east meeting the west in worship.’

Bringing these two worlds together through songs on ’Raaja Hai Mahaan,’ the album has given a western audience the chance to glimpse an interesting and exciting perspective on what God is doing in Sheldon’s native home country, India. He elaborates,“COLOR! It is beautiful. In the middle of the chaos and brokenness, we see the compassion of a great and mighty God. Culturally, there is a fresh wave of Indian-ness and the belongingness and awareness of being Indian is being felt like never before.”

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By Kevin Davis – NRT, Staff Reviewer

Australian-based worship band Planetshakers partnered with Grammy nominated producer Ed Cash for Outback Worship Sessions to capture a more acoustic, organic delivery of some of their best-known songs. Known for their high energy sound, this acoustically driven collection also includes the new songs “Spirit of God,” “Father” and “My Soul Longs for Jesus.”

The opening track “Like a Fire” has tender and powerful vocals, taking listeners on an emotional and spiritual journey with every lyric sung about faith in our God Almighty, our Lord and Savior Jesus. The lyrics are very stirring and convicting: “Jesus I’m desperate for You, Jesus I’m hungry for You, Jesus I’m longing for You, Lord You are all I want.”

“Spirit of God” is an emotive song crying out for God’s Presence and for an indwelling of His Holy Spirit. The standout track for me personally is “My Soul Longs for Jesus,” featuring female worship leader Sam Evans. The Ed Cash-penned song is an ethereal vertical worship ballad and modern hymn, sung with a stirring passion and filled with prayerful declarations. This is an incredible song for the Church, and you’ll express your longing for Jesus along with Sam.

Another standout moment is the worshipful prayer-song of adoration, “Leave Me Astounded.” You’ll want to sing these words with fellow believers: “Leave me astounded, leave me amazed, show off Your glory, let heaven invade, we’re waiting with worship, we’re waiting with praise, for the almighty presence of God to invade.”

“Endless Praise” is an example of being obedient to our calling to make God the object of all of our worship. This song is a great answer to that calling. One of the sections that I really enjoy in this song is the bridge: “We lift You up, up, up… We’re giving You our love, love, love for everything You’ve done, done, done.” As the Scripture and famous hymn repeat “Holy, Holy, Holy,” God often speaks to us three times. Biblical scholars consider the number three as something that is used to get our attention, draw emphasis or show completion, as God is Three in One (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). Join in with the angels and saints and sing to God “We give You all the praise.”

The beauty and majesty of our King Jesus is reverently captured throughout the album with anthem after anthem, including “Covered,” “Father” and “Made for Worship.” Every single song could be added to your worship set. More importantly, this is an album about submitting to the Lordship of Jesus and declaring that there is no other name under Heaven by which we are saved than Jesus Christ our God.

A sincere desire for the presence of God and to see His Kingdom on earth is found in every song, especially the closing tracks “This is the Day” and “This is Our Time,” which are both instantly singable prayer songs featuring declarations about Jesus, as found in the refrain “This is our time, this is our place, this is our moment to lift Your name.”

Closing Thoughts:
One of my favorite aspects of singing a new song to the Lord is the thought of our eternal worship in Heaven, which is an exciting picture for me. We gain glimpses of eternity from this collection of vertical worship songs. Sometimes people think that worship is something they do at an event or at church or only through music. We know from Scripture that worship is what you put your “worth-ship” in, and that a biblical definition of worship is a lifestyle of “Endless Praise.”

There are several instantly singable and worshipful arrangements that you’ll want to add to your Sunday morning set-list. I especially recommend “Like a Fire,” “Spirit of God,” “Leave Me Astounded,” “Father,” “Made for Worship,” “This is Our Time” and one of my top worship songs of the year, “My Soul Longs for Jesus.” I’m really engaged by the emotional vocals and the deep, prayerful lyrics throughout the album. All of the songs are catchy and worshipful. Outback Worship Sessions is a truly anointed set of songs for the Church, expressing a longing for Jesus.

PlanetShakers_Outback-Worship_IM_Post_630x410INTERNATIONAL CHART-TOPPING PLANETSHAKERS OFFER
OUTBACK WORSHIP SESSIONS MAY 12 FROM INTEGRITY MUSIC

Recording Features Top Planetshakers Songs Re-Imagined By
Grammy-Winning Ed Cash, All Geared For Corporate Worship

Cash Writes/Produces Three New Songs For Album, Two With Planetshakers’ Bj Pridham

Featured At ICRS, National Worship Leader Conference,
Rock the Universe Events, Planetshakers Also Tours S. Africa

The worship team from Planetshakers Church, one of Australia’s fastest growing churches in history, is set to release Outback Worship Sessions globally through Integrity Music May 12, 2015. What started as a project to re-craft Planetshakers’ most-loved worship anthems into a form accessible to worship teams representing the wider church body has since grown into a studio recording that is, as Aristotle might say, “greater than the sum of its parts.”

Known for its cutting-edge, joy-infused sound that is full of energy and that has sparked the young and young at heart around the globe to celebrate in worship, Planetshakers’ recent recording, THIS IS OUR TIME, immediately soared to the top of the overall charts in several countries during its first week at retail. The project, like the Planetshakers ministry, has transcended cultures, languages and geographic boundaries.

Outback Worship Sessions is about taking our message further, sharing with as many as possible and empowering generations to win generations,” says Planetshakers worship pastor Bj Pridham. “I think as a church, we have organically reached a younger audience. We want to be intentional to reach not just one generation, but all generations.”

For the new album, Planetshakers tapped into the expertise of Grammy Award-winning, four-time Gospel Music Association Dove Award-winning “Producer of the Year,” Ed Cash. Taking Outback Worship Sessions under his wing, and with church worship teams in mind, Cash gave a new, intimate ‘voice’ to Planetshakers’ best-loved anthems. He not only brought out the best in the Planetshakers team, but also produced three brand new songs on the 11-track album.

Co-writing and producing the worldwide church anthem “How Great is Our God” with Chris Tomlin, and recently writing songs featured on albums by Jeremy Camp, Kari Jobe, Crowder, Laura Story, Hillsong and many more, Cash penned “My Soul Longs For Jesus” featured on Outback Worship Sessions. He further co-wrote “Spirit Of God” and “Father” for the album with Pridham, who is one of several featured vocalists from Planetshakers’ worship team on the album.

“The moment I began co-writing with Bj over Skype, I knew that Heaven was going to fall heavy on this project,” says Cash. “It became increasingly clear that the Planetshakers family has habitually drawn near to God, and in His matchless covenant fashion, He has drawn near to them! I pray the presence of the Lord will bless you as richly as you listen as He did me while working on it.”

In addition to the new recording, lead singers featured on Outback Worship Sessions will be in the heart of Australia’s Outback to record the brand new videos “Like A Fire,” “My Soul Longs for Jesus,” “Nothing Is Impossible” and possibly more songs from the new project.

“Set in a small church in the Outback of Australia, the videos will be recorded with a band playing in a very organic, natural setup,” explains Planetshakers Lead Singer and Music Director Joth Hunt. “There will be no flashing lights or big production elements, but we will be utilizing aerial cinematography interspersed throughout the video capturing the spectacular surroundings of the Australian Outback.”

Each of these videos will be offered free as a resource to worship leaders following the May 12 release of the album. Integrity Music will also offer a companion digital songbook for Outback Worship Sessions free of charge through WeAreWorship.com.

The full Outback Worship Sessions track listing follows:

1. Like A Fire
2. Spirit Of God
3. Leave Me Astounded
4. My Soul Longs For Jesus
5. Endless Praise
6. Nothing Is Impossible
7. Covered
8. Father
9. Made For Worship
10. This Is The Day
11. This Is Our Time

Having led over 200,000 people at a single event in Asia and sharing new music from THIS IS OUR TIME and other favorite Planetshakers worship anthems around the world, Planetshakers will hit Cape Town, Pretoria and Durban on a 10-day tour of South Africa beginning April 24. They will also be the featured worship leader June 28-29 during several events at CBA’s International Christian Retail Show 2015 (ICRS) that will also feature Lee Greenwood, Josh McDowell, Steve Green (Hobby Lobby) and others. Planetshakers will further be featured during the National Worship Leader Conference June 23-25 and headlining along with Casting Crowns and Jesus Culture “Florida’s biggest Christian music festival,” Rock The Universe, Sept. 12.

About Planetshakers Band:
Planetshakers Band is passionate about uniting generations worldwide through worship and is known for favorites like “Like A Fire,” “Endless Praise,” “Nothing Is Impossible,” “This Is Our Time” and “The Anthem.” As Australia’s largest youth/young adult Christian movement, Planetshakers’ goal is to see people encounter God, be transformed by His presence and empowered to make a difference in their world. While they tour internationally, the team remains based out of Planetshakers Church, a multi-campus, 12,000-plus member congregation based in Melbourne, Australia that is pastored by husband and wife, Russell and Sam Evans.

In addition to the music and message, Planetshakers Church is involved in numerous community and charitable causes including prison ministry, school programs, refugee outreach, disaster relief and welfare assistance. It also partners with World Vision to assist in urgent humanitarian crises around the world, and runs Planetshakers College in Melbourne, which equips local and international students to impact their world for Christ.

A church, a movement and a gifted musical ministry, additional information about Planetshakers Church and Planetshakers Band and its touring is available at planetshakers.com, twitter.com/planetshakers and facebook.com/planetshakers, where Planetshakers has over 760,000 likes.

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Raucous, award-winning band The City Harmonic, known for its eclectic modern hymns and worship anthems of longing, hope and celebration, will be the featured music guest during “Beyond A.D.”streaming on NBC.com Sunday, May 3. During the episode, The City Harmonic will reveal the title and album cover for their third full-length album, as well as play live the first single from the new recording set to release through Integrity Music September 2015. The album addresses issues of church unity, a topic also covered in this “Beyond A.D” episode by fellow guest, John Gray, Associate Pastor at Houston’s Lakewood Church. Hosted by E! News co-host Jason Kennedy and taped before a live audience at Real Life Church in Santa Clarita, CA, “Beyond A.D” is the companion digital show to NBC’s broadcast series “A.D. The Bible Continues” from executive producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett. “Beyond A.D.” covers the historical and spiritual topics depicted in the broadcast while featuring musical performances by artists, songwriters and ministry partners of Integrity Music. Recent episodes have featured Israel Houghton, Christine D’Clario and Lincoln Brewster, with upcoming episodes to feature All Sons & Daughters, Paul Baloche and NewSong. Weekly installments of “Beyond A.D.,” which follow the 12-week broadcast series that began April 12, will be available Sundays at 9 a.m. on NBC.COM and select NBC station websites and participating NBC station distribution channels. For more show information and to RSVP to attend a taping, visit nbc.com/beyond-ad. Join the social conversation on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram using #ADTheSeries.

The City Harmonic, joined by members of Real Life Church, are pictured during the “Beyond A.D.” taping in Santa Clarita, CA April 28.

About The City Harmonic
Born out of a movement of diverse churches uniting to serve the poor in the blue-collar steel town of Hamilton, Ontario, The City Harmonic formed in 2009, having led students in worship and mission at these inter-denominational events. By 2011, the band had won three Gospel Music Canada Covenant Awards, including one for Modern Worship Song of the Year for the anthem “Manifesto,” a rallying cry for believers around the world. More Covenant Awards, a Juno Award and a Dove Award nomination followed as the band released the critically acclaimed albums I Have A Dream (It Feels Like Home) and Heart introducing the songs “Praise The Lord,” “Holy (Wedding Day),” “Mountaintop” and “A City On A Hill” to churches and radio stations. The City Harmonic is Elias Dummer, Eric Fusilier, Aaron Powell and Josh Vanderlaan… four worshipers from four small churches singing hymns and spiritual songs. All the latest detail on the band, its music and touring can be found at:
thecityharmonic.com
facebook.com/thecityharmonic
myspace.com/thecityharmonic
youtube.com/thecityharmonic
twitter.com/thecityharmonic

NCC Authenticity
Guest blog by Kurtis Parks
Ok, I have a confession to make. There are only two types of TV that I watch – sports, and reality TV. One reality TV show is one of the dumbest concepts out there, but I can’t get enough of it. It’s a show based in a Pawn Shop, that follows four family members as they run the shop and buy/sell random items of memorabilia. Every now and then an item comes in that’s been signed by a famous actor, sports star, or musician. Without fail, the head honcho always calls up one of his trusted friends to come and AUTHENTICATE the signature. It’s amazing how many forged signatures exist out there. If the autographed items are the real deal, they receive a certificate of authenticity and they can become quite valuable. However, if the “John Hancock” turns out to be a fake, the item is not worth much at all. In fact, if an item has a fake signature on it, it actually loses value.

I think you can see where this is heading…

I wonder how many forged copies of true worship exist out there? Are we just imitating others, and skating by on the faith and passion of those we admire, or are we pushing ourselves to the limits of our own faith, and seeking God with OUR whole hearts? Sometimes, as worship leaders, just as in any other occupation, it can be easy to hit “auto-pilot” and cruise through weeks, even months, without anyone outside of ourselves knowing the difference! We can pick the right songs, play the right transitions, and even say the right words in a worship setting (of course, you might have to switch to your “prayer voice,” you know what I’m talkin about). It’s sad, but in most FORGED worship settings, most people would rarely notice that something is off. But the good news is, that’s when the Authenticator comes in. As in the TV show I described, the authenticator puts the signatures under the microscope. They study every curve and nuance of an autograph to tell if it’s real, or fake. Nothing escapes the authenticator’s eyes.

In Luke 8:17 we see a picture of the GREAT AUTHENTICATOR. “For nothing is hidden that will not become evident, nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light.” God sees all, knows all, and deserves all. Who we are in the unseen places of our lives will say more about us than anything seen on a stage. If you want to live an authentic life, you have to be who you are, wherever you are. If I can only love people and lead them to Christ with a microphone in front of me, I’m living a lie. I’d be committing forgery in my walk with Jesus. I had a conversation with one of our worship leaders, Chris, about this, and he said he was striving to lead worship two hours at home, for every hour he was on stage. I’m sure his wife is loving the at-home concerts!

When we live a life of worship when no one is watching, it comes pretty naturally when everyone is watching. Worship when no one is around. Sing in your car, pray in the mornings, and see a life of authenticity naturally begin to manifest. God values the real deal, and sees when we are faking it. As in the TV show, forgeries are worthless.

Kurtis Parks is the worship director at National Community Church. He loves writing and producing, playing with GI Joes, eating meatloaf, and hanging with his wife and 2 kids, Norah and Moses.