From the rainy climate of the Pacific Northwest comes a deluge of passionate worship from Horizon Music, based out of Horizon Community Church in Portland, Oregon.
The collective formed with the purpose of creating current sounds for the emerging generation, merging timeless truths with mainstream pop sounds. Paired with longstanding worship label Maranatha Music, Horizon Music's debut project, Victory, introduces their sound and heart to the world.
I asked Horizon's pastor, Stan Russell, a handful of questions to let us get to know this exciting new band.
Who is Horizon Music?
Horizon Music started with the idea of creating current sounds for this young generation. What if worship music could be done so well with mainstream pop sounds that it became interesting to those who haven't been willing to listen before? A sound that is much like present-day mainstream pop music. Pop worship that is so excellent and current that even those who don't know Jesus might be willing to give it a listen and end up enjoying it. Our hope is that a young generation of believers and unbelievers alike will listen to this music with joy and abandon, hearing the good news of the Gospel in the sweet spot of their favorite genre. We are praying and believing that more people will fall in love with Jesus because of these new and current worship sounds.
Talk about your worship community. How do you function? Beyond just Sundays? What distinguishes it?
We believe that by producing quality worship services we are not only elevating our Sunday mornings by encouraging our local body, but we can also create an inviting environment for unbelievers to come to Jesus. This is the motivation behind everything we do, to encourage people to follow Jesus with their whole heart by providing quality, Holy Spirit inspired worship experiences.
We very intentionally did an album with radio edits of our original worship songs. The reason for this to broaden our audience to create something that not just a regular churchgoer would listen to. We want to go beyond the walls of the church and reach the world for Jesus with good music. These songs can also be adapted very easily for a Sunday morning worship experience.
You're based in Portland, Oregon; what's the spiritual climate like in your community?
One of the cool things about Portlanders is that we are into being real and authentic. We allow everyone to have their story and we value that. As a team we lean into that, we want real and authentic worship. We want more than a set for our community. We try to create a worship experience.
What's your writing process as a community?
The process was very collaborative. We started by praying that God would guide the writing session and help us communicate the things that would most bless Him and others the most. We love to come together around an idea and fine tune it. We push each other to strive for the very best and not to settle. We invite critique because we trust each other and we don't let ourselves be offended.
Is this your first record? What did you learn together in the process of writing/recording it?
Yes, this is our first. We believed that God called us to do this and would help us. It was a long and difficult process. It took way more work than we ever imagined but it was worth it. We learned that collaboration was hugely important and always made the songs better.
What's your balance on a Sunday morning? All original songs? Mix? How do you balance between your originals and others' music?
We treat our originals like any other song. We like a good balance. The point of congregational worship is that people would engage. If we introduce too many unfamiliar songs it will be difficult for them. We try to introduce only one new song a month, including our own.
Many churches are writing their own music and releasing it globally. Worship as a musical/lyrical focus is bigger than ever. What's your take on that? What's God doing in the Church?
One of the reasons that this is happening is it's more accessible with technology today. Music is an amazing platform that everyone listens to. It is easier today to get people to listen to a song than it is to listen to a sermon. We felt God was calling us to do this and we thought, why not us? We think God wants to reach our world. Jesus came to seek and save the lost.
Any stories or particular things you went through--individually or as a church--that inspired the songs of Victory?
All of them! Every single song comes from a personal experience from the writers. The song "Victory," for instance, was birthed out of the three writers' personal struggles while they were still in the midst of the storm. The song was a declaration that even though they were in the middle of it, they knew the end of the story. They would overcome, because Jesus has overcome. As the song says, "You have never failed me, I know you never will. When fear and doubt surround me, I will trust you still."
What are some of the most powerful times of worship you've experienced as a church? What are some watershed moments?
Our youth summer camps have been some of our favorite times. As a church we value the younger generation. Every summer we take five days to pour into our students. We spend hours in worship gathered around the altar. God moves in an incredible way. It was at these camps that some of our songs and even the album itself was inspired.
One night specifically after the sermon we had a long worship and prayer time. After the band stopped playing, about 15 kids stayed singing and worshipping at the altar until about two in the morning. God has met us in worship and prayer in an amazing way in these camps.
What excites you as a church, as a worship community?
We love hearing the stories about how God is using what we are doing to touch lives. We love the story of one. We love it when people come to Jesus. One young lady works with at-risk youth and highlighted our worship album at one of her meetings. The kids said, "I can't believe this is Christian music; this is awesome." Their hearts were opened to listening and hearing about Jesus because of the sound of the music. It met them where they were at. We love this!
How do you do Christmas worship? It's always so tricky when there are carols and sing-along songs involved, to keep the vertical focus going!
We are very evangelistic and outreach-oriented. The vision of it is very much like our album. We are reaching out beyond the walls of our church and engaging our community. We invite them to share a Christmas experience with us that will point them to Jesus. Our thought is to update traditional. We keep the purpose and the story of Christmas strong in our message.
What's next for you? How can people be praying?
We plan to continue making music and releasing four or five singles annually. We are in it for the long haul!
Pray that God will bless this music. That it would have His favor to get out there in a big way and touch this world. Pray that believers and unbelievers alike would get to hear it and be moved to follow Jesus with their whole hearts.
Marcus Hathcock is the Executive Editor of NewReleaseToday.com, a husband to Savannah, father of three and a worship leader living in Boise. He has released an EP, Songs For Tomorrow, and occasionally blogs at mheternal.com.
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