Hillsong musicians visit campus, mentor students
As the new semester got underway at Liberty University this past week, students and faculty had the opportunity to personally experience one of the most innovative and dynamic Christian music groups in the country.
The worship team from Hillsong Church NYC — one of the most prominent of the Hillsong Church branches in the U.S. — took an eight-hour trek from New York City to Liberty’s campus to perform and interact with students over a three-day stay, starting on Wednesday.
Wednesday night, during Liberty’s weekly Campus Community event, Hillsong musicians performed before and after a message given by Liberty’s Senior Vice President for Spiritual Development David Nasser from the book of Ephesians.
There, the band showcased some of the most popular original songs from Hillsong Music, including “Oceans,” as well as a few popular cover songs, including “King of My Heart,” originally written and recorded by John Mark McMillan.
On Thursday, members of the band participated in an hourlong Q & A session, led by Nasser, giving students the opportunity to hear their stories and learn from their professional experience. Hundreds of students, many of whom are studying in the School of Music, gathered in the Center for Music and the Worship Arts Concert Hall for the event. Chris Davenport and Lauren Hodges, two members from Hillsong NYC’s creative team, and three musicians — Zachary Mullings, Dalton Hughes, and Denvre Couts — shared their backgrounds before taking student questions.
“Everything I have and everything I’ve done has been a gift from God,” said Mullings, a drummer. “Ever since I got my first drum set at age 4, it’s been my passion, and it’s been amazing to see how God has been able to use that for His glory.”
Davenport, who is a worship leader and a creative director, spoke about why it is important for churches to be at “the forefront of creativity.”
“I see a renaissance of creativity coming from the church,” Davenport said. “I really want to get to where the secular world will look to the church for creative inspiration.”
Questions from students focused on the band’s operations, including how a typical rehearsal is run, how the band recruits its members, and how a typical service at Hillsong Church NYC is managed and executed.
After the session, band members interacted with students and answered more questions.
Later in the day, the band spent time with the Liberty Worship Collective (LWC) during a songwriting session. The LWC is a group of student worship leaders, songwriters, and musicians who lead worship at a number of campus events as well as at conferences, youth events, festivals, churches, and other venues across the country. The LWC has already produced an original single and appreciated the opportunity to learn from some of the top worship music writers in the country. Davenport said that as the band gave students tips, instruction, and direction on the process, they opened themselves to learn from students as well.
“We really just came here to serve and to hopefully pour into the community ... as much as we can,” Davenport said. “And since being here, we’ve been incredibly looked after. We’re really humbled and grateful to be able to be here.”
The band capped off their visit to campus by playing during Friday morning’s Convocation, performing more Hillsong original songs, including “Alive,” “Who You Say I Am,” and “What a Beautiful Name,” as well as a cover of “Cornerstone.” They led students and faculty in worship before Hillsong Church NYC’s Lead Pastor Carl Lentz preached about growing in your relationship with Christ.