Jonathon Douglass: "We just want to keep being able to reach people the message of Jesus and His love for them and acceptance and such."
Over the last few years, Hillsong United has evolved as a band, but never lost focus of their one purpose and passion: Worship.
Creative, diverse and not limited to any one demographic, the heart of Hillsong United is to create music that reveals the truth of who Jesus is. The faces remain the same--fronted by worship leaders Joel Houston, Jad Gillies and JD--but the team is an evolving collaboration of pastors, worship leaders, musicians and songwriters - all intentional about giving voice to a generation passionate about God.
In studio and out of the studio, on tour or home at Hillsong Church, United is committed to writing songs that speak truth, create a unique sound, connects with churches, individuals and ultimately connects people everywhere with God.
NRT's Kevin Davis chatted with United's Jonathon Douglass ("JD") about the band's recently released CD/DVD experience, Live in Miami, as well as the mission that keeps them going.
For starters I'd love to talk a little bit about kicking off the concert with the song "Go," and what the main message of that song is to you.
I think to start with it's quite upbeat. It's more of a fast type of song, which I think is great for us to start the set. We bring energy in our songs, whether they're fast or slow, but it just really sets up the whole night well. Around each song there's such a different meaning, but yet there's the same theme runs through the whole night.
All the songs, what we're about, it's not about us. It's about praising God, giving our all. It's more than singing a song, but it's a life. It's putting God first. It's giving our all and laying it down, understanding that it's not about us. We're not here for us, but we're here to serve Jesus.
One of my favorite lines is in that second verse about we are sold out to your calling. Everything that we are for your glory. Take our hearts now. Have it all now. Let our lives shine the light like the morning. To me I think that so much reflects to me the ministry of Hillsong United.
Yeah. I think you definitely said it. When it comes to the lyrics of those, there's no question, there's no second guessing--trying to find the meaning of what we're singing. It's so straightforward and obvious. Hold nothing back. Give it all. For Him, for Jesus and His glory. I think it's so releasing when you sing something like that that you can just be saying I'm done. I'm done with me. It's not me. It's you and it's everything. It's not just this part of my life. This life's not mine anymore. It's such an incredible statement.
For sure. Now, in the video I believe you have a megaphone in that song. Is that right?
Yeah, I do. We want to be really creative in what we do and with the sounds and all those--trying to do something fresh and different. For me I'm never really held down to one instrument. I've usually only just held a microphone, but this time we thought let's do something cool and fun and new. I've got a megaphone basically because I can. It sounds good and a tambourine and a few other toys.
One of my new absolute favorite Hillsong United songs is the ballad "Like an Avalanche." What that's like for you to sing that song and be part of performing that song for people? I was watching the crowd response and it really looked like they were truly worshiping with all their hearts along with you.
Yeah. When we do albums and write new songs, they start a little bit differently than how we've done it. We never know how people are going to take it. That song has been one of the songs that's been received the best from the album and I think it's the imagery that goes with it. A lot of the times we can approach God humbly like we should because He's an incredible power and amazing God that He is, but there's so many facets inside and angles to this huge God that we serve. And the picture of this song is all about God's grace, but it's not necessarily us coming and begging for it.
It's the fact that Jesus loves us and He pours out His grace and it actually overtakes and overwhelms us and the imagery and the lyrics that we get caught like an avalanche. It's so clear and I like it because you wouldn't imagine if I told you that we talked about an avalanche in a worship song. You'd go how does that work? You hear the song and it's so powerful in that picture of just coming at that at a different angle and the fact is we're all human and we all have fallen short of the glory of God, but the fact is we've got an incredible loving and gracious God and His love is unending and unfailing for us and that goes the same for His grace.
I really like singing that song every night. It's amazing and it helps people to not see this big angry God that we have to bow down to. He's a fierce God, but He's a loving God and He's gracious for everyone.
I wonder if you wouldn't mind sharing a little bit about your writing the song "Yours Forever" because I know you were one of the writers. What is it like to perform that song?
I was helping the process. I helped with the arranging and recording, but I was with the guys when they were writing it, which is close enough. The thing that I love about that song, again, the statement is pretty straight forward and clear. It's just getting a bit undignified before the Lord. David was a mighty king, but he also danced down the streets in his undies next to being naked and I think with what we do we just want to unashamedly go crazy for God because there's so much power.
The whole deal of lifting your hands in worship, it's unnatural. Your hands flop down by your side, but lifting them up goes against gravity. I think just jumping and dancing and just letting loose is a physical sign about praising God and giving Him everything and it's just a lot of fun. We look back and even I can watch the DVD and I hold my hand over my head and go what was I thinking? What was I doing because I don't ever go out to plan any types of moves, the dancing and stuff like that. I just am so excited that I've got an incredible God that despite my weaknesses and failures, He just loves me and He accepts me. My response is just going absolutely crazy.
That's awesome. The love of Christ is what the world needs most. I just wanted to thank you as a fellow Christian for what you guys do.
Thank you very much. We're just humbled and excited and can't believe it for ourselves the incredible opportunity that God's given us.
I know it can't be easy to travel as much as you do and all that, but I know God is clearly blessing what you're doing because you guys are so faithful. Is there any way we can pray for you?
We always need and want prayer. We just want to keep being able to reach people the message of Jesus and His love for them and acceptance and such. You could just pray that God continues to speak to us and open doors for us that we can really keep doing this so that more will hear the message of the Gospel. That would be amazing.
For sure I will absolutely do that. Thank you for your time today.
Great. Thank you. Appreciate all you do as well.
Posted May 22, 2012 | NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.