Interview with Ben Fielding of Hillsong
This week I had the awesome opportunity to interview Ben Fielding of Hillsong. Hope you enjoy!
Wisdom: Could you start out by telling us how you got involved with the worship ministry at Hillsong and what your current role is?
Ben: I started attending Hillsong Church as I had some friends that were at the church. One of those friends was Reuben Morgan. I attended our church and our creative team nights (basically our training and rehearsal night each week) for about a year before I started playing. I grew up playing and writing music, but never thought I would be doing what I do now. I gradually got more and more involved as a volunteer until joining our staff about six years ago. In addition to leading worship and songwriting, I currently sit on our core creative team overseeing our worship teams across Australia. I am also very involved in our projects, especially our Hillsong Live albums as well as overseeing our songwriters and songs process. I love what I do and constantly feel honoured to be entrusted with this opportunity by our pastors Brian and Bobby Houston.
Wisdom: How many songwriters do you have on your team at Hillsong? What does collaboration amongst the songwriters look like?
Ben: We have an incredible community of songwriters. There is a core team of experienced and proven writers, but it is not an exclusive group. There are literally hundreds of our team that write in some capacity. Collaboration is one of the single greatest influences on my songwriting. I have been stretched, inspired and encouraged by the writers in our team. I would encourage every songwriter to find a community of writers to work with. Largely, collaboration is purely relational and at the initiation of our individual writers. We also organise songwriting retreats and songwriting workgroups to facilitate collaboration. I want to keep building a culture within our team that highly values the craft and hard work of songwriting, and to build a team that is passionate about the outcome of seeing our church inspired to worship.
Wisdom: When putting together a new album like the latest, Glorious Ruins, how do you pick the songs that will be on the record?
Ben: I think it is always challenging to know which songs best exist together on an album. This is no exception. We sing songs in church that never make it on to our albums. Our greatest challenge is to keep writing songs that are authentic and relevant to what is happening in our lives and in our world at large. Songs are always more powerful when they carry personal meaning.
The task of every songwriter is to give expression to something real and authentic. Church songwriters have the additional task of ensuring that this personal expression connects with a vast collection of people. We are placing words in the mouths of the Church, so we must write words that are both true and are the very sort of words that our churches have always wanted to sing. We become poets, enabling our churches to say the things they have always wanted to say about and to God, in a way that resonates as if they were singing their own words.
Wisdom: Could you share the story behind the song “Anchor”, which you co-wrote?
Ben: "Anchor" was written from Hebrews 6. It speaks to the hope that we have in the promise of God. A promise that was sealed with an oath, sworn by the highest name of all, Jesus. This hope is an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. I wrote this song with my good friend Dean Ussher. He and his wife suffered the tragedy of a miscarriage earlier in the year and held onto Hebrews 6 as hope beyond the pain and loss that seemed so overwhelming. The confession of this song is that through Jesus, God has made good on His promise, bringing hope that surpasses all understanding. No matter what we are facing, we can declare that His name is higher, His word is unfailing and His promise is unshakable.
Wisdom: For smaller churches, maybe under 1,000 people, that may have the desire to record their own worship album, what tips or insights could you share?
Ben: There must be an authenticity about our worship. Worship songs exist for the glory of God. It follows that a worship album must exist for the same purpose. We must be careful that in our attempt to be creative we do not neglect the Creator. Songs for our churches must glorify Jesus and should seek to serve the people of our churches. Before setting out to record any album, we need to once again ask what the purpose of doing so is; and then to ensure that this never detracts from the primary task of empowering our church to worship.
Wisdom: Many of our readers are worship leaders in their local church. As worship leaders, we all face criticism about the worship service. Everything from the music being too loud and complaints about the setlist. It can get discouraging. How would you advise dealing with criticism?
Ben: I remember one occasion as a young worship leader, I was in the middle of my second song, when an older gentleman staring complaining out loud about how high the song was. Everyone could hear him, he was insisting we stop and start in a lower key. I just kept ploughing on. We will all face criticism, hopefully not too many of us in the middle of leading worship.
We need to take seriously and with honour the feedback from our leaders and those we respect, be it criticism or encouragement. It takes a mature worship leader to receive criticism and use it to get better. On the other hand, there is unnecessary criticism that will come our way also. We need to be able to discern when criticism doesn't serve to build the church. We can draw confidence to press on through our confidence in Christ and the call that is on our lives. Hebrews 10:35 "therefore do not throw away your confidence".
Wisdom: You influence and encourage countless leaders around the globe. How can our readers pray for you?
Ben: That is a very kind question. We are constantly in need of God. There is so much that can only be explained by the grace of God. We need prayer to be able to push forward and keep creating. Our best songs are yet to be written. We pray that God would bless our team and their families and keep enlarging our capacity. Ultimately, as a church we are all about seeing our cities changed for and by Christ. We need wisdom and the grace of God for our time. There is so much still to do. Thanks for your prayers. They are much appreciated.Comment on Facebook Comment on Twitter
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