From all outward appearances, Kristian Stanfill was like a lot of teenage kids growing up in the suburbs in the 90’s in a fairly typical American home. He went to church, loved music, and even taught himself to play guitar.
While the upbringing might have been typical, the kid was not. He didn’t just pick up the guitar because it was cool. He picked it up because, even without knowing how to play a single instrument, he had been writing songs in his head for years. He recognized a profound need to praise this God he was discovering, and he learned guitar to give voice to that praise.
Stanfill’s past is really a story about an almighty God who calls His people to praise. That call has been unmistakable in Stanfill’s life, even as that 15-year-old growing up in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta, finding the connection between the strings of a guitar and the Maker of music.
With the release of Mountains Move, Stanfill’s songs stand ready to give voice to the praise of people and churches all over the world, recognizing the tumultuous conditions we live in today.
“These songs are about having faith in God,” Stanfill notes, “and believing that God is who He says He is, no matter what our circumstances are. There’s a beautiful phrase: ‘Let’s stop living according to the size of our issues and start living according to the size of our God.’ That’s really what the record is saying. The situation might seem impossible, really bleak and dark right now, but remember how big our God is. Remember His promises. That gives you hope.”
NRT's Bill Lurwick took time to talk with Kristian about his new album, the Passion conference, and stories that shape his music.
Kristian, your newest project is Mountains Move, but before we get to that, tell us about Passion 2011. We’re fresh off that conference, where you were leading worship. How was it?
It was nothing short of amazing--22,000 college students coming to say we want to live for Jesus. We want to put Him higher than everything in our lives. It’s hard to explain, honestly. Just like moments you have there with God where you feel like you leave Earth for a little bit and you feel like you step into Heaven and it really is amazing. We just really believe a huge movement has started with these students. It’s going to be incredible to see how the next several years play out. It’s going to be fantastic.
Do you think it gets bigger and better every year?
Every year I say I don’t know how it can get better or more powerful, and then every year it just seems like God just pours out this massive amount of anointing and blessing on these days. You walk away wide-eyed going, “God, thank you so much for letting me be a part of this thing. Just a small part, but wow.” It’s incredible.
You have a song--”Say Say”--that was on Passion’s Awakening project. That song has also found its way onto Mountains Move. For those unfamiliar, tell us what that’s all about.
Well, last year, I, Chris Tomlin and some guys from his band, Matt Redman and Christy and Nathan Nockels all sat down in a room with Louie Giglio to write songs for Passion 2010. The very first thing Louie said to us before we started writing was, “I think we need to get back to the root of what Passion is, what we believe … let’s write songs about that.” That’s where “Say Say” came from.
It’s a pretty simple thing to say in the chorus. Say you believe that Jesus is King and He’s worth giving your life to and living for. So, that’s how that song started. Funny thing about it was that I was ready to throw that song in the garbage, but Christy told me to play it for Chris, and so Christy, Chris and I ended up finishing it together.
One of my favorites is track eight, “Holding My World.” Can you talk about that song?
I wrote that song in a day last year, when my wife and I were just going through a pretty hard time. We were looking at each other, saying we couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. We literally got on our knees in our living room and said, “God, all we have is our faith in your right now.” So, I went up to my office kind of tucked away in my house and I sat down and I wrote “Holding My World.” It’s just a way for me and my wife to say, “God, I am not going to forget that you haven’t forgotten me, and no matter what is happening right now in our lives, we know that you’re holding everything together and you have given us these days for Your glory and for Your kingdom.”
There are 11 tracks on Mountains Move. Do you have one personal favorite?
The song that has stood out to me from the moment it was finished is the song called “You Will Reign,” which is where the title came from. I just think thematically and content wise, this song is such an anchor for the record. It really does set up what this record is about. It’s having faith in God; with Him, anything is possible. He is fully capable to move the mountains in our lives that seem so monstrous and looming. From the moment we finished it I’ve had this connection and been drawn to it.
Are you jumping on a tour with anybody this spring? What’s the plan?
I am. November and December we had some time off, but we’re about to hit the road again. We’re going on tour with Brandon Heath and Dave Barnes--amazing, fantastic people. So, I’m so pumped to jump on tour with them. Then we have another Passion conference in Dallas/Fort Worth the beginning of April. We’ve got a lot going on. It’s a lot of good stuff, though. We’re trying to get these songs out there, the record out there. Just praying that God uses it.
Kristian Stanfill, appreciate you spending time with us brother. God’s blessings to you.
Thanks so much for having me. It’s been great. Thank you.
Bill Lurwick, the voice of NewReleaseTuesday.com's weekly New Christian Music Podcast, has been in radio since 1989 and is currently heard on KJIL in Dodge City, KS.