Worship music, unlike its secular counterpart, is not an enterprise of the elite. Secular music in many ways is fragrantly poise to elevate just the artist so that he or she becomes the center of attention. Fans, on the other hand, are only sideliners; other than forking out money to download their favorite singer's music and buying concert tickets, they are essentially passive admirers. However, there are no passive admirers in worship; we are all called to actively worship the Almighty God. This is why it is important to charter the cause of worship: worship leaders in the local assemblies need to teach congregation members how to worship. This has always been the primary mandate of Integrity Music. Since 1985, Integrity Music had partnered with local church worship pastors in their own tuff and releasing a series of albums in the "Hosanna" series that has changed the sound of modern worship. Out of this series, we were introduced to such excellent local church worship pastors (such as Kent Henry, Darlene Zschech, Ron Kenoly and others) that later went on to greatly advancing God's kingdom. In a similar tradition, Integrity Music has lunched "One: A Worship Collective" which gathers worship leaders from local churches for the global church.
Recorded live at the 714 Conference held on the campus of the Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Dallas, TX, this first installment in the "One: A Worship Collective" series is entitled "We Believe." Taking their cues from the latest worship releases such as Hillsong Live, Chris Tomlin and Passion, this collection will be a feast with those who like the college-circuit-style of crunchy guitar driven rock. Yet, there are enough keyboard -based worship ballads to please those who want a more contemplative time in worship. "We Believe" features worship pastors on vocals such as Clayton Brooks (The Oaks Fellowship, Red Oak, TX), Ryan Williams (River Valley Church, Minneapolis, MN), Kurtis Parks (National Community Church, Washington, D.C.), Elmer Cañas Jr. (Calvary Church, Irving, TX), Micah Massey (Free Chapel, Gainesville, GA) and Integrity Music's own bilingual worship artist Christine D'Clario. And the entire project is helmed by famed producer John Hartley (Leigh Nash, Aaron Keyes, Twila Paris & Chris McClarney).
With shouts and whistles introducing "Like Never Before," you can sense the excitement anticipatively exploding as Ryan Williams leads this praise anthem. Introduced by a crashing wall of electric guitars before giving into an ethereal moment Clayton Brooks takes us right into the presence of God where all the sounds come together in a tapestry of obeisance and worship. Easily the strongest cut by a long shot is the Clayton Brooks led "Every Good Gift." With an unmistakable hook, this song is based upon the teachings of James 1:17. By the time Brooks gets to the bridge he litanies a list of good gifts God has given to us and the atmosphere is just worshipfully ecstatic. Micah Massey reprises Israel Houghton and Darlene Zschech's "Jesus at the Center." But this is not just a frivolous cover; Massey is also a co-writer of this Grammy winning song. Massey's version has a more acoustic sound that puts the emphasis rightly on the words rather than the production.
More contemplative moments come with Ryan Williams' "Come Before Dawn." Bringing together the brooding Jesus Culture Spirit-filled vibe in the verses and that enormous heart-hitting chorus, this song is completely irresistible. Christine D'Clario is mesmerizing with her crescendo building rendition of Jared Anderson's "Great I Am." She doesn't just sing, she ministers right to the heart when she sings: "The mountains shake before Him/The demons run and flee/At the mention of the Name/King of Majesty/There is no power in hell/Or any who can stand/Before the power and the presence of the Great I AM." In summary, this album is greatly going to resource the local church in two ways: first, this is a fine collection to help worship leaders emulate what leading Godly worship looks like. Second, the songs are all congregational in intent with God at the cynosure. And if they sung across churches, they are going to inspire worship throughout eternity.