Being a worship leader wasn't always Joel Houston's plan, but when Hillsong United's most recent album, Zion, hit the number one spot on the iTunes album chart the day after its release, it was affirmation that the son of Hillsong Church planters Brian and Bobbie Houston had found his calling. TCW talked with Joel last week about the group's global tour, and the importance of women, worship, and community in the global church.
Talk about your recent release, Zion. What are the main themes you want to come across on the album?
Zion is a title that can beg a bunch of different questions. The reason we called it that is because we wanted to say that we have the opportunity to realize that as believers, as the church right here and right now, we're a part of what God is doing on the earth. I believe we're not supposed to just wait out our days as Christians, looking forward to the one day when we all get up to heaven. Instead, God actively wants to breathe his kingdom in and through us, right here and right now.
Wherever we find ourselves, whatever it is that we're doing, there's a real call to action and a sense of urgency. I believe this is an empowering revelation, and something that will hopefully breathe passion in people wherever they are on the spectrum of their journey of faith. Because of God's grace and what Jesus established on the cross, he wants to use us, and he has a plan and a purpose for us. That's the reason why we went about making the record in the first place. That's the key message behind it, then beyond that there's layers of different themes: of understanding God as Immanuel, that he's here with us; to recognizing the relentless nature of the love of God, that he pursues us, and that we serve a God who went to extreme lengths to reveal himself to us.1