Passion Stirs Kristian Stanfill
Featuring Kristian Stanfill Posted on June 10, 2011
More than 20,000 university-aged students converged on Atlanta, Ga. January 1-4, 2011. The four-day event centers on worship, teaching and encounters with God that will refresh, restore and inspire the emerging generation to live for Jesus and to be filled with His love.
With a veritable “all-star” line-up of gifted and consecrated worship leaders, the albums made from the times of worship at Passion conferences have given birth to many much-loved songs in the global Church. Passion: Here For You, the much-anticipated of new songs features sixstepsrecords artists Chris Tomlin, David Crowder Band, Matt Redman, Christy Nockels and Kristian Stanfill. The album and new song offerings reflect the desire of a generation to lay down their lives to live for the renown of Christ.
NRT's Bill Lurwick had the chance to talk with Kristian Stanfill about Here For You, and about his journey to the Passion movement.
Here for You, the latest Passion Worship Group release was recorded live back in January in Atlanta. There were over 20,000 there this year for Passion. Is that a new high?
Well, I guess you never really know exactly what to expect, but it was pretty high. We had more than 22,000 college students between two different venues in downtown Atlanta and it was just a sight. Just a beautiful sight. When that many students come and converge on a city like Atlanta, it turns the whole city on its head and people don’t know what’s going on. It’s funny to watch people go, “What are all these droves of college students walking through the streets?” It was definitely a beautiful thing.
Can you talk about the heart behind Passion and what you guys are doing?
I was not around in the very beginning. I was one of those college students at that time. I wasn’t involved with Passion in any way, but I was waiting at the door of the Christian music store to buy the Passion record every time I knew it was coming out. It had such a huge impact on me just in my walk with Jesus and my walk with God.
I think that’s the heart behind everything that Passion does: trying to gather university students from all over the world, pull them together and say collectively, “There is nothing better, nothing greater that we can live for than the name of Jesus.” And we all come together, converge in one place like Atlanta for three or four days and then everybody just explodes back out into the world--into their universities, into their jobs, into their families, their churches, their schools just carrying the name of Jesus. That is what we pray for. That is what we hope for more than anything.
We love songs. We absolutely love songs, but we want people to not just carry the songs back to where they came from. We want people to carry this passion and love for Jesus back to where they came from. That’s the goal, that’s the heart of it. We’re seeing it happen. It really is cool to see this generation of college students all coming together to live for Jesus. It’s pretty cool to be a part of it.
You’ve got two cuts on Passion’s Here for You. Let’s talk about the first one, “Forever Reign.”
You never know what is actually going to be on the Passion records while you’re at Passion. You wait and see what the moments are and how God elevates certain songs.
“Forever Reign” just became such a moment for us at Passion. It centers around this idea and the bridge: “My heart will sing no other name; Jesus,” and Jesus was at the center of everything at Passion 2011. That song really rose to the top as one of the anthems for those few days. To be able to carry that song and to put my voice on that song is just such a cool thing because I have loved that song since the first time I heard it. I couldn’t be a bigger fan of the writers, either. Jason Ingram produced our record. I wrote with him and Reuben Morgan on a song on our new record. So, I couldn’t be a bigger fan of the song all around.
Well, a new guy showed up at Passion this year to sit in on the set with the David Crowder Band. I’m talking about Lecrae, who’s on the song “Shadows.” How was that?
Oh my gosh. That guy brings a certain energy and heart to Passion that I really have never seen around before. The guy obviously brings something fresh musically, but just the spirit of the guy and his team is electrifying to be around. As soon as Lecrae came on stage, I felt like our cool level went up. He is the coolest dude. He looks cool. He was a rapper/hip hop dude. Super smooth guy, but then when you talk to him you’re like, “Man, you are just solid.” He loves Jesus and he knows the word of God and it was just so cool to have him around.
I didn’t get to see or hear Crowder do “Shadows” with Lecrae. I heard about it. Everyone was talking about it and I’m like, “Man, I wish I had seen that,” and so, I loved that it was on the record. I got to hear it and that’s a pretty dynamic duo right there.
You’ve got another track, “Always,” on Here for You.
That song, which I wrote with Jason Ingram, is on my new record, Mountains Move. Like I said, you don’t really know how God is going to elevate certain songs at Passion. But leading that song one morning, it really was a moment for us to sing this amazing promise we have from God: that in the midst of everything falling apart in life sometimes, we have Him to hold onto no matter what is going on. We can lift our eyes up to the hills and know that our help is coming from God, and that just seemed to be something that just resonated with so many people that morning. To hear it now on the record, it’s just such an emotional track; you can hear a lot of my personality coming out. I’m just screaming a lot and just really getting into it because I’m standing in front of 15,000 university students who are just clinging to this promise of God. I just can’t help but lose my mind a little bit. It’s pretty cool.
Since Passion was important to you long before you joined, what was it like for you the moment you were asked to be a part of it?
It was just absolutely wild because ever since I first got a Passion record, there was something about this little tribe of people at Passion. I couldn’t put my finger on it. I didn’t know how to describe it at the time, but now I look back and I know. I just felt joined with these people. I wasn’t really sure what it was.
I met Louie back in ’04, we were leading at a high school summer camp together. We met, had lunch, and a friendship started, and soon I started leading in a small capacity at Passion events starting in ’05 in Nashville. It was all just very surreal to me, but at the same time it just felt like this is my family. This is a family of people that I love and I felt connected to for a long time, and it’s still like that. Passion and Sixsteps, it’s just a family of people who believe in each other, love God and want to see university students love Jesus and live for Him. That’s all it really is. It’s just a family of people with the same heart and the same mind.
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