Jesus Culture Brings More Worship Songs

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Walker-Smith KIm  studio shotKim Walker-Smith of Jesus CultureSinger-songwriter Kim Walker-Smith had a few minutes to spare for a phone interview. "I'm taking advantage of some respite time while my children are sleeping," said the mother of three from her Sacramento, Calif. home.

Walker-Smith is part of Jesus Culture, a worship band firmly connected to a church of the same name. The band members were about to embark on a new tour coinciding with the release of their latest album, "Living With A Fire." (The tour comes to West Michigan on Oct. 16....see details below).

The album was recorded live at the church's annual conference.

"One of the new songs that's been standing out is called "Freedom,'" said the artist. "It's a really upbeat powerful anthem of praise that's similar to a song called "In The River,'" she noted of one of their popular earlier songs. (See the live video for "Freedom" at the link

The songs are a mixture of originals and cover songs written by other artists or groups known to the band. One of those is "Not Afraid," first recorded by the RedRocks Worship group.


Jesus Culture began as a youth movement, part of Bethel Church in Redding, Calif. where Walker-Smith and Chris Quilala were part of a band that led worship. Eventually the band began recording and now has nearly a dozen collections of live worship music, joined by fellow worship leader-artists Chris McClarney, Derek Johnson, and Bryan and Katy Torwalt. In 2013 they planted a Jesus Culture church in Sacramento. (McClarney lives in Nashville and is a more recent partner with the band). All of the artists also have solo albums - including Kim's latest, "On My Side."


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The new tour features McClarney opening the evening with songs from his solo project "Breakthrough." Then the remaining artists take the stage, leading songs both old and new from the Jesus Culture catalog. Presenting a spoken biblical message will be their Jesus Culture church founder and pastor Banning Liebscher.

"Chris (Quilala) likes to tag a lot of songs like 'Here I Am to Worship'...choruses that everyone knows," Walker-Smith said of anthems that will find their way into the program.

The prevalence of "modern worship" music in contemporary churches should not neglect older music nor eclipse the goal of a worship experience, according to the artist.

"The bottom line is pointing people to Jesus and creating an atmosphere for them to freely worship Him," she offered about preparing songs for worship or a tour. "So every song we pick – whether new or old – is striving to do just that. I don't choose songs just because they sound cool or are popular."


Walker-Smith and husband Skyler's three children are ages 5, 3 and 1. On past tours the family has traveled together. But this one will look a bit different.

"Recently, Skyler has taken on the role of creative director for Jesus Culture which encompasses the church and the music side of things," she noted. "So this is the first tour that he won't be out with us for the whole time."

The singer-songwriter (now in her mid 30s) knows the joy of having her children watch her from the side of the stage, dancing and singing with the songs.

"My oldest is getting to the age where he's starting to understand more about what we're doing," she said of their musical ministry. "He asks things like, 'Are we gonna pray for people? Or help them find Jesus?'"

Production for this tour isn't the size of last year's OUTCRY gathering, which included several other worship artists and graced Van Andel Arena in 2017. But their traveling team includes several other church members and support crew they've worked with previously to ensure supportive lighting, sound and video effects, including on-screen lyrics.


"It's really hard to choose my favorite of the songs from the new album," she said. "But one song that is really speaking to me personally right now in this season I'm in is 'Defender'" (a song by Rita Springer). "It's a beautiful and honest song that speaks so much of who God is and His nature toward us."

Walker-Smith is putting final touches on her autobiography which will be released next spring. The book's title is "Brave Surrender" – also the name of one of her earlier songs.

"It's my story, my testimony of what Jesus did in my life and how I came into worship which is not in a very conventional way," she hinted.

Details on the "Living With A Fire" tour:
*featuring Jesus Culture, with pastor Banning Liebscher
*7pm Tues. Oct. 16
* at Grand Rapids First, 2100 44th St SW, Wyoming
*Tickets: $26.50 general admission, $42.50 early entry and pre-show Q&A. Friends &Family 4-pack available for $22.50 per ticket.
*Order online
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Author Information
Terry DeBoer
Author: Terry DeBoer
Terry is a journalist/feature writer for newspapers, magazines and websites, with a background in radio broadcasting. His usual beat is arts and entertainment, specializing in Christian/gospel music. A married father of two, he is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan Contributing Writer: West Michigan Christian News August 2011 – Present Feature writer: (website and various newspapers) 1988– 2016 -Spotlight New Christian Music Magazine 1997-2008 -Church News Editor, Church Herald Magazine 2004-2009

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