This is Our Time – Planetshakers (Release date: Oct 21, 2014)
Planetshakers. The name is bold. Audacious, even. But the global implications are exactly what the namesake band has in mind. From humble beginnings in the Land Down Under, Planetshakers Band has grown in scale and scope to reach a generation spanning countries and continents, and they’re on a mission to inspire that generation to do the same.
Worship leader and co-senior pastor Sam Evans knew something was beginning to grow even as she started her journey backstage at Planetshakers, preparing food for guest speakers. Joth Hunt, now the band’s worship leader, guitarist, and producer, wasn’t on stage in those early days, he was in the crowd. Today, Sam, Joth, and the band are part of Australia’s largest youth/young adult Christian movement. Along with their parent church, Planetshakers conducts local ministry at the multi-campus, 10,000 member congregation, service in prison ministry, refugee outreach and disaster relief, and education at Planetshakers College. The band’s reach is remarkable. They recently led over 200,000 people at a single event in Asia, their touring has spread across Europe and the US, and their annual Awakening event stresses their core mission, to “empower generations to win generations.”
Through these years of expansion, that core mission has remained fundamental to the work of the band. Joth is a prime example. From those early days in a January crowd at a Planetshakers conference, he knew he wanted to be a part of this movement. He started playing keyboards and touring with the worship band, and has grown into songwriting and production. He knows, however, that he is called to equip generations, so he also makes it a priority to train and develop a new generation of musicians and songwriters who today collaborate to produce the band’s remarkable sound.
For her part, Sam knows that a growing ministry must remember its foundations. Just as Jesus spoke the language of the day, Sam is compelled to deliver the message of Christ through the media of our day, musically and visually. The good news is that the message never changes. “We love to use scripture,” Sam notes. “We believe that it is what will bring Him the greatest pleasure and we believe there is power when you sing the Word of God.” Never wanting to settle, her greatest desire is to transcribe the songs of heaven and usher people into the presence of God.
As the wife of co-senior pastor Russell Evans, Sam has had a unique perspective on the story of Planetshakers. The first conference was launched in 1997 in Adelaide. The call of God to relocate to Melbourne came in 2002, and the church there was established just two years later. As the overall ministry has grown – the conferences now serve over 20,000 delegates – it might have been easy to lose perspective and direction. Instead, Planetshakers greets the present with a declaration as bold as their name: This is Our Time.
“This is our moment,” Sam declares, “to seize the opportunities that God gives us and to approach them with great passion and fervor. It’s our moment in history to make a difference for Jesus.” The assertion became the theme of the 2014 Awakening event, which became an extraordinary THIS IS OUR TIME CD/DVD poised to invigorate the worship of a generation.
Joth speaks to the undercurrent of joy in the Planetshakers sound. “Our sound is full of life, energy, and excitement. We have incorporated more electronic sounds and EDM, not because it’s ‘the current thing’ sound-wise, but because it brings great joy and fun to our praise. We pray that listeners will be inspired to release their own sound of praise through this passionate sound of worship.”
The energy and passion found in the album really is infectious. Sam points to My Heart is Alive as an example. “When you sing it, you feel so alive! It’s not just what Jesus has done that impacts me externally, but also the dynamic life that the Spirit living inside of me brings.” The song speaks to this heart-change with a clever lyric: Because of You, my heart is alive. You got me dancing on the inside. Sam continues: “The impact that Christ has on my soul and my heart enables me to live a continuously abundant life despite my circumstances. Nothing else in this world can do that other than Jesus!”
Joth finds particular meaning in another standout track, Covered, which he co-wrote with Israel Houghton. “It’s a very empowering song,” he says. “When we understand God’s grace it helps us live out the call of God on our lives with great confidence and boldness. It gives people fresh hope that no matter what they’ve done or where they’ve been, they are covered by His grace. The song keeps me grounded knowing that it’s by the grace of God that I’m doing what I am doing today.”
There are moments on the album when the pulsing drums and keys take a quiet turn, and one captures a transcendent moment from the conference. The powerful Andy Harrison-penned song You brought a singular focus on the singular Audience for the praise. You, You, the hope and the cry of our hearts, God it’s You. The band felt that when the song was performed live, the audience needed even more time to dwell on the Almighty. “A tag was spontaneously created during a phone conversation where Sam and I were planning the worship set and discussing ways to follow up You, giving a moment for worshipers to just soak in the presence of God,” recalls Joth. That tag was one word, a word of proclamation and adoration fit only for the King of kings: Holy.
Whether they’re earning Dove Award nominations, appearing on national television across the US, or leading worship among 200,000, Planetshakers are through the grace of God realizing their world-sized appellation. Joy is being released, and it is doing its supernatural work. Souls are turning their hearts to the God who is Holy. This is our time, and a planet is shaking.
For more information on the music and ministry of Planetshakers, visit planetshakers.com.
Story by Mark D. Geil