[INTERVIEW] Planetshakers, 'The motive was to empower churches'

To say there is something in the water (or rather, the outback) when it comes to Australian praise and worship is nearly an understatement when you consider Planetshakers. Based in Melbourne, the iconic sounds of the worship band have taken over the planet.

Australia’s primary youth and young adults movement has released 30 albums, peaked at #1 on charts across the world and toured across continents to share the message of Christ. If that’s not enough though, Planetshakers just released a new album. Titled Outback Worship Sessions, the established band returns to their roots to reprise some of their most beloved songs, this time with an acoustic flavor.

“The whole motive behind the outback album was to empower churches of all generations to have an experience with Jesus,” shares Planetshakers worship pastor Bj Pridham. “These songs have facilitated significant encounters within the life of Planetshakers Church. Many people, of all ages have been transformed as these powerful statements of who our God is are declared.”

The challenge was paring down their extensive discography to make the best choices for the album. “You know, I’ve lost count of the times we’ve sung songs like ‘Nothing Is Impossible’ or ‘Like a Fire’ over the years. But I’ve not forgotten what happened when we sang them,” Pridham says. “That’s how they were chosen. These are the songs that have had the greatest impact on not only our people at Planetshakers, but also those around the world that we’ve come in contact with.”

Flying into the Australian outback to film videos of songs like “My Soul Longs for Jesus,” which will be available as a free resource to accompany the release, Outback Worship Sessions also features three songs co-written or produced by the acclaimed writer/producer Ed Cash. A Grammy award-winning writer best known for penning the worship anthem “How Great Is Our God” with Chris Tomlin, Cash wrote “My Soul Longs For Jesus” and joined Pridham in writing “Spirit of God” and “Father.”
“The moment I began cowriting with Bj over Skype, I knew that heaven was going to fall heavy on this project,” Cash says. “It became increasingly clear that the Planetshakers family has habitually drawn near to God, and in His matchless covenant fashion, He has drawn near to them.”

In talking about Cash’s contribution to the record, Pridham can’t speak highly enough of the Dove award-winning Producer of the Year. “To say he’s a brilliant producer/songwriter would be correct, but even more so … The heart within is to be honored. He’s someone who carries the song of the Lord and does so with much reverence and respect.”

As the Planetshakers team carry Christ’s message of hope and redemption across the globe, they join a movement pioneered by their home church in Melbourne. Even with multiple campuses across the world and an annual conference that youth and young adults alike clamor to register for, the heart of the ministry remains centered on Christ.

“What’s incredible about our team is that it’s built on Kingdom principles such as honor,” Prideham says. “The Bible indicates that where Jesus was honored, miracles were released. Honor by definition is ‘to highly esteem or place value.’ So we highly esteem and place value on the Kingdom structure that surrounds us. That’s how we keep focused.”

Senior pastors Russell and Sam Evans (a worship leader for the band) also play a role in how the team stay focused amidst their success. “They keep us well-grounded and moving forward in the things of God,” Pridham says. “We maintain a soft, honoring heart as leaders and that reciprocates throughout the team. It’s a family kind of thing we have going on here, and we feel very blessed to have it.”

The journey of Planetshakers in the last 15 years is incredible; what began as a youth ministry stemming from Adelaide has become one of Australia’s fastest-growing churches. Pridham highlights the distinctive role God has played in their development, from their first live recording When the Planet Rocked in 2000, to the Melbourne church plant that encompasses a ministry college and internship program, as well as the success of their 2015 Encounter conference. “There have been many times we’ve stood speechless in the presence of God … literally not knowing what to do next, or what God is going to do next. It’s happened in rooms of 20 people, and it’s happened in front of 200,000 people,” he says.

“One stand-out moment was when we toured in Myanmar,” he continues. “As we lifted up Jesus, despite culture and language barriers, 20,000 plus people joined in a mighty roar of worship. It was in this meeting we heard that hundreds of miracles had taken place. One included an infant’s deaf ears popping open, the other a man walking away from his wheelchair. Powerful things happen when we lift up the name of Jesus!”

Continuing to tour internationally, the team is eager to embrace the future of Planetshakers. “We’re excited about life in Jesus and know that the possibilities are endless with Him,” Pridham says. “We can’t wait for everyone to hear the Outback album, as we feel so strongly that it will be a great blessing to the body.”

Working on their next live album, good things are on the horizon for Planetshakers. And as the team returns to its roots with the latest offering, Jesus will be lifted up in a whole new way. “Outback Worship Sessions is about taking our message further, sharing with as many as possible and empowering generations to win generations,” Pridham says. “I think as a church, we have organically reached a younger audience. We want to be intentional to reach not just one generation, but all generations.”


For more information on Outback Worship Sessions, visit www.planetshakers.com.