Worship and mentoring school Awaken Generation (AG) have recently released their new full-length album, Fire on the Altar.
How has God been speaking to them and through their music? We chat with them about the inspiration behind the new album and the lessons they’ve learnt along the way.
Tell us about your latest album, Fire on the Altar. How did the album name come about and was there a significant incident that made you guys go “this is it”?
Fire on the Altar is a collection of songs that encapsulates the heart of worshippers: He is worthy of all.
Every year, a group of songwriters from our AG community gather to share and “workshop” songs, and from there we shortlist the ones we feel the Church needs to sing to the Lord.
The album name is actually from our title track. It started on a flight from Kansas City to New York. A team of us were travelling the US for a month, ministering at churches and making new connections.
Moved by the verses in Romans 12:1 and Leviticus 6:8-12, Alarice Hong (Senior Leader, AG) began singing and writing parts of the song on this flight.
We believe this song captures what true worship is: complete sacrifice not just of things and time, but of our entire lives for the sake of the Lord, ministering unto Him and his people.
This was why we chose it as the title of the album.
Sounds like you guys have been on the road for quite a while! Were there any significant experiences or milestones you guys have had as a ministry since your last release?
Wow, so many! A big one is seeing how God moved as we brought our monthly worship and prayer nights into local churches.
We witnessed incredible unity of the Body, different churches and generations represented and praying for one another.
One key moment we remember is Revival Night at Barker Road Methodist Church. On the grounds where, 50 years ago, God poured out on students earnestly praying and seeking Him, we prayed again for the fire of God’s presence to burn in churches and our nation.
At the end of the night, one of the pastors released a word about the fire of God moving into the sanctuary.
When she asked Him why, He replied: “Because you invited Me in.”
That was a powerful moment for us.
Another big milestone was a team of us had the opportunity to travel to Israel end of last year.
That was where we experienced profound encounters with the Lord about His heart for Israel and the nations, and the powerful role of worshippers in this age.
We’re still allowing the Lord to shape us in that, but that was a major milestone for us.
Is there any particular song on this album that the team felt has really moved and touched them on a deep, personal level?
One song that moved us all quite deeply is the song With All My Heart. It’s such a simple song but that’s what devotion to the Lord is – simple.
We sometimes overcomplicate what loving the Lord means; With All My Heart expresses that pure, holy devotion to the Lord.
Inspired by Psalm 27:4, we feel this is a revelation we want the Church to grow towards. Come back to our first love.
Let’s talk about Friend of Sinners. The song lyrics explore the humility of Jesus and His servant leadership. How do you think that message relates to our generation now in a culture that can be so selfish at times?
First of all, we want the song to cause us to be amazed again by Jesus, to be in awe of His humility and servant-heartedness.
When we behold God, we are transformed – we want this song to help worshippers do that.
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
Perhaps this is what it means for the Church to be set apart in today’s culture. To not seek one’s own gain, but to lose oneself for the sake of others.
Didn’t Jesus Himself say that the way the world will know that He is real is through how we love one another? Surely, servanthood will be central to this.
As Paul says, “in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).
It’s one thing to serve the King of Kings, it’s another to serve the unloveable, the ones who have hurt us.
The lyrics in the bridge of Living Water reminded us of what has been happening in Asbury recently. Tell us more about how the story came about.
We do know that it is God’s heart to pour out His Spirit (Joel 2:28-9) and to have for Himself a kingdom of priests (1 Peter 2:9, Revelations 5:9-10) who will minister unto Him – Living Water is a declaration of this.
2022 was also the 50th year anniversary of the ACS Clocktower Revival, and the bridge of the song expresses what we want to see: old wells of revival springing to life again.
Asbury was just a testament to God’s heart that desires to pour out on all flesh!
It’s been a wild ride in the past couple of years with the pandemic and all. How has that impacted the work of your ministry, and how has that shaped your songwriting process and worship experience?
Any church would probably feel the same. People-centric work all had to pivot, so we were thankful for a strong media team that adapted to the changes as we shifted to livestreaming worship.
Last year, we were so thankful to finally have a full band and even a choir for our live recording.
We believe that during the pandemic God was doing something new in all of us.
Because of this season, our online worship school was birthed. We realised that we are not bound by physical location, and began to dream about extending our equipping classes into the nations.
This year we launched our pioneer cohort of international students! What’s more exciting is that through an integrated approach, we have both international and Singapore students in the same classroom.
What else is AG up to? Anything new we should be looking out for?
We don’t have to keep looking for what is new and exciting; our heart is to faithfully steward what God has placed in our hands and seek His heart for what He wants!
Our Revival Nights will continue monthly, and we are most definitely preparing for our annual live worship album.
If there is one thing we must take away from this album, what is it?
“For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. “ (2 Chronicles 16:9)
God wants people fully committed to him! We pray that as we behold Him and are captivated by Him, we will give up our half-heartedness and throw off anything that hinders us.
May we climb onto the altar as living sacrifices and walk in holiness as He is holy.
- With all my heart. In practical terms, what does such a life look like for you?
- Consider your family, relationships, work and ministry (in relation to the first question).
- Spend some time with the Lord in worship. Ask for an undivided heart for Him.