Written and Media by Stephen Hillrich.
If you have not heard the music coming out of Bethel Church in Redding, California, you have got to check it out. Really, I cannot imagine how you could have not come across them earlier, because they have been contributing to the world of Christian worship music for years. Bethel Church places an emphasis on revival, and describes their mission as,
“to create a vibrant family of hope-filled believers who deeply experience the love and presence of God and partner with Jesus to express the joy and power of His kingdom in every area of life.”
Although they do have a large congregation, the greatest influence of Bethel church is through the group of musicians and worship leaders known as Bethel Music. Some of the most recognizable contributing artists include Brian Johnson, Jenn Johnson, Jeremy Riddle, and Kari Jobe, among others. The worship group known as Jesus Culture also originated from the youth group of Bethel Church years ago, and they have also put out dozens of songs on several albums that are popular in the modern church. There has been some overlap in musicians between the two groups, especially earlier in the history of each group. As we are here in 2014, both of these groups have established themselves as part of the standard in the worship music world. Both groups continue to put out music that is rich in lyrical content, while still maintains musical integrity.
The past year has been a busy one for Bethel Music, as they have put out multiple albums, while still being involved in conferences and tours. In order to keep up with the latest music, this article is going to attempt to break down some of what these talented worship leaders have been up to.
Last year, the folks over at Bethel Music released their album “Tides,” which was a bit of a shake-up for people who had gotten accustomed to the sounds they normally put out. “Tides” is an album recorded fully in the studio, something different for a group that was previously known for live albums (“Be Lifted High,” “Here is Love,” “For the Sake of the World,” etc) or unique acoustic jam videos or albums (“The Loft Sessions”). “Tides” is a fantastic album, from upbeat hit “Chasing You” to the popular “Forever.” From the instrumental cover song “Tides” to Bethel’s fresh take on the classic lyric of “Give Me Jesus,” this album is full of songs to encourage listeners in their faith.
As the description on their website says, the songs off of this album were such a big hit with the congregation that they decided to record a follow-up worship album. Enter “Tides Live,” which was released this February. Although the live versions of the tracks are different from the studio versions, each is still extremely powerful, as the voices of the congregation call out in praise. The worship leaders and musicians also take a slightly different approach to the songs, striving to involve the congregation in worship. Although not new songs, “Tides Live” is a strong album full of songs for congregational worship and worth a listen.
The other big event that Bethel Music has been involved in over the past few months is the Lovely Women’s Conference, hosted by Bethel Church. This is an annual conference, and the latest was held back in August 2013. Featuring female speakers and worship leaders local to Redding, CA, thousands of women gathered to hear teaching and participate in worship. Bethel Music’s Jenn Johnson, Kari Jobe, Steffany Frizzell Gretzinger, Amanda Cook, and others led some powerful worship sessions, and these were compiled into the live album “You Make Me Brave” (2014). This album lets us get a little bit of a feel as to what the conference was like, and similar to other Bethel worship albums, it attempts to capture the powerful environment of a worship set. Every song in loaded with emotion, no matter which of the talented women is leading. Popular Christian singer Kari Jobe does her own rendition of “Forever,” Jenn Johnson sings her hit “Come to Me,” and Amanda Cook absolutely nails the title track “You Make Me Brave.” A wonderful balance of new songs and old ones being redone, this every song adds to the overall composition of the album. They were also nice enough to provide us with many videos filmed at the conference, and the messages can also be found online. An extremely moving album, “You Make Me Brave” is a solid addition to the Bethel Music collection.
Probably my current favorite in a long list of groups putting out strong worship music, Bethel Music did not disappoint over the past year. Putting out multiple albums, while still touring and being active in their home church, I am still left wanting to hear more music. If you are like me and would like to see more, their website is fantastic, and full of media and information.