The Christian worship artist is making history with his new Worship Night in America tour.
- Posted on Aug 12, 2015
It’s an unseasonably cool night in August and a group of 18,000 strangers is heading into Madison Square Garden for a Saturday night concert. The arena is packed and pitch black save for a few hundred phones beaming amongst the crowd. There’s a special kind of energy. An anticipation.
It would be easy to assume everyone was here to see Taylor Swift or maybe even One Direction perform – there are enough teenagers wearing matching t-shirts, herding to the main stage to support that theory. But tonight’s show isn’t starring a pop icon or a hysteria-inducing boy band, it’s a collection of Christian worship artists who’ve come to have church at one of the most famous and storied music venues in the country.
They’ve all come for Worship Night in America, a nationwide, three-stop tour featuring Christian artists Matt Redman, Matt Maher and Kari Jobe and Christian speakers Louie Giglio of Passion City Church and best-selling author Max Lucado. The headliner and visionary behind Worship Night in America is Chris Tomlin, who may just be one of the most widely sung Christian artists in history.
With an estimated 20-30 million churchgoers singing his songs every Sunday, the Grammy Award-winning Tomlin has sold over 4 million albums, racked up 32 Dove awards and consistently found himself at the top of the Billboard charts. The singer shows no signs of slowing down with his latest album Love Ran Red, which was released earlier this year. Tomlin will be the first to say that 2015 is shaping up to be one of the best years in his career.
“You caught me on a crazy year,” Tomlin tellsGuideposts.org when asked about his packed schedule. The artist just wrapped his Love Ran Red tour, is planning another run on the road this fall and is releasing a Christmas album later this year. But it’s Worship Night in America that has him really excited.
“A couple years ago I felt like God was giving me this vision of gathering the church together,” Tomlin says of the tour. “The initial thought was that it would just be amazing to get my friends, who have such influence in the church, around the country and around the world, and just do a night (of worship) together. I hadn’t really seen that done before.”
And it was no easy feat to round up some of the most influential names in Christian entertainment.
“It takes a lot of unity,” Tomlin admits. “You don’t just call people…. It takes years and years of friendships and relationships.”
But the payoff is something the 20+ year music industry veteran couldn’t have imagined. He describes Worship Night in America as his “favorite night of playing music,” because he got to share the moment with his friends and with so many people who were reaching out to God simultaneously.
“At the end of the day what my heart was so full of was how God has given us these songs to give people a voice to worship Him. Everybody [on stage] has such a pure heart in that. There’s no ego. These songs are for people to worship God with. Let us get out of the way.”
Worship is definitely taking place at The Garden as Tomlin’s first night of his dream tour winds down but the scene is less Sunday morning service, more summer music festival.
There are beach balls being hurled through the air as Jobe, Tomlin and the rest of the crew on stage dance through an energetic rendition of Tomlin’s “God’s Great Dance Floor.” It is, as Giglio joked, way past a pastor’s bedtime at this point but though hours have past, no one seems to want the night to end, least of all the performers on stage. They have seamlessly integrated each other’s most powerful songs – and graciously bowed to a crowd of fans who would rather take the reins and sing those lyrics themselves than quietly sit and hear them performed. They’ve been able to give ticketholders a chance to do something that doesn’t happen too often; to joyously and unreservedly celebrate their faith. All on a Saturday night.
Tomlin hopes this tour ignites a revival in the church.
“These first steps of Worship Night in America, I pray that they spark an awakening in people’s lives,” Tomlin said. “I hope that it becomes something that when people hear about Worship Night in America, they get excited about it like a normal concert and they say ‘I really want this to come to my city.’ It’s something that I hope goes bigger and goes past me and the dream that I had.”
If anyone can create something that can explode beyond his wildest dreams, it’s Tomlin. His music has been able to transcend him and his intentions to become a part of the “fabric of the church,” –what he calls his greatest success.
“It’s the thing I’m most proud of because at the end of the day, to have a number one radio song is great, but that lasts about 4 months. Then it’s gone, that song is gone and everyone is looking for the next thing. So, to have songs that find their way into the church and have this staying power and longevity with people, that’s powerful because then it goes beyond you. It’s not attached to you anymore.”
That’s how Tomlin can tell the difference between something he’s done for himself and something God has truly anointed.
“I always say there’s good songs, there’s great songs and then there’s God songs. I’m always looking for the God songs. It’s not like everything I write will be (one) but there’s just something about when God touches a song and uses it and uses it in people’s lives. I’m so grateful for that.”