Christian rock band Leeland were in town for FOPx’s Impossible Conference 2024, and we caught up with band members LEELAND MOORING and CASEY MOORE over breakfast. Chatting about their latest album, City of God, as well as that awesome collaboration with Steffany Gretzinger, Moore and Mooring shared insights into the songs and the supernatural stories behind them.

1. How was your experience of leading worship at Impossible Conference?

It was amazing! Seeing many young people there was really unique and special. There seems to be a really strong hunger in the younger generation to encounter the presence of Jesus, and that was awesome. 

We also got to lead and play music with some of the teams from Cornerstone. That was cool because it was kind of like a blended band; we brought some of our guys and they brought some of their musicians.

It felt like a team effort and it was really fun. We had good chemistry and it was a good time.

2. How did the idea for your latest album, City of God, come about?

It’s one of the favourite things we’ve ever done. It started in 2020 during the pandemic. When the whole world was shut down and we couldn’t leave our houses, I started to spend a lot more time reading the Bible.

Then I found myself in the Old Testament, reading stories like Moses and the Israelites going out of Egypt. That was when I realised that even though the Church was facing many challenges globally due to the pandemic, it wasn’t the first time that the Church was experiencing massive changes.

Many big challenges happened in the Bible, but God always came through. And during that time, I started encountering Jesus by just reading these Old Testament stories.

Sometimes I would play the piano and sing in my living room, and it felt like different songs just fell into my lap.

We weren’t trying to make an album at all. We were honestly just trying to survive, but somehow desperation turned into inspiration.

One day, I found myself in Psalms 46. And in verse 4, it reads, “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.

So the idea is that there might be chaos happening everywhere, but there is a place in the Church where the river of God flows. And that is where we encounter the presence and the goodness of God.

And interestingly, the Bible refers to the city of God as a “she” (Psalm 46:5). I believe that it is talking about the Bride of Christ. We are the Bride of Christ. We are the City of God. And we carry the presence of God wherever we go.

This revelation formed the concept behind this album.

3. How is this album different from your previous albums?

There came a point when we had about eight or nine songs, and God began to give us a strong vision. We saw an image of us with some musicians and friends of ours worshipping God in a circle.

So we started sharing the idea with our team and invited some friends. It was really special because we knew from the beginning that we wanted different friends of ours to come and sing the songs together.

We got guests like Taya Gaukrodger, Vanessa Hill, Charity Gayle, Rita Springer and Lauren Strahm. We also got five background vocalists who are all independent worship leaders and our friends from Houston, Texas.

The entire band felt like a big family. It consisted of all the different members who had never worked together before. But I think that really resembled the idea of the City of God because it showed so much unity.

I think the process really felt less like making an album than accomplishing an assignment from God. It felt like God was commanding us to do this, and we were just obeying.

Not all the songs in the album can be sung at our Sunday services and some of them are more contemplative, but I hope that they will encourage people to read Scripture. I am really excited to see how God will use this album.

4. “You’re Not Done” is my personal favourite from the album. Can you share more about the story behind this song?

There is a really cool story behind this song.

In the height of the pandemic in 2021, we had a friend who was warded and put on a ventilator due to COVID. His conditions weren’t looking good, and we really needed a miracle.

So our whole family began to pray, and about three days later, his oxygen levels started coming back up. It was a total miracle. About a week later, he was even released from the hospital.

When he got home, my family called him on FaceTime. When we were still being excited about his recovery, he called my name and said, “Leeland, there was a really special moment that I want to tell you about.

“It was really really bad. I couldn’t breathe, and I was so tired of fighting. There was a moment when I told God in my mind that I was ready to come home and be with Him. He can take care of my family and I’ll just let go.

“But as soon as I said that, I heard God say, ‘No. You’re not done.’ And immediately the Bluetooth speaker started playing your version of Great Is Thy Faithfulness. That’s my favourite hymn.”

When I heard that, I just froze. Because I’ve never recorded a version of Great Is Thy Faithfulness, but he was certain that he heard my voice.

The only time I’ve ever sung that song was when I was alone with God. And I remember that in Malachi, the Bible says that there’s a book of remembrance for what is done in secret.

That was when I realised that something supernatural might have happened in that moment. And this story inspired the song “You’re Not Done”.

5. I am also a fan of Steffany Gretzinger. How did you guys come together and sing “No Turning Back” recently?

We are a huge fan of Steffany Gretzinger too! Her music is unbelievable and her voice is amazing.

But more than that, her relationship with Jesus is really powerful. You can tell that she’s constantly in a state of communion with Jesus, and she ministers to people out of the overflow, everywhere she goes.

We wrote the song “No Turning Back” a couple of years ago. Back then, Steffany shared with us that she hosted a couple from Iran at her home; the wife was a pastor from the fastest-growing church in the world.

The couple shared with her about the persecution faced by Christians in Iran. They faced so much more than just cultural persecution. They could literally lose their lives by following Jesus and professing Him.

That was when the idea for “No Turning Back” came about and we started writing that song.

This song didn’t make it into our City of God album because we had a strong vision of what we wanted to include in the album.

But eventually, Steffany reached out to us and asked if she could publish the song. So, we decided to get together and record the song with the help of Essential Worship.

Steffany wanted to do it outdoors so they found this location with a wooden platform in the woods. 

It was a cool day because before we got there, it was raining and there was thunder and lightning. But when we reached the place, all the clouds went away and the sun came out.

And there were also many birds chirping, so that’s how we got the chirping sound in the song!

6. What is one lesson you would share with the young people today?

I think the biggest challenge faced by this generation is how we make use of this technology that has us connected 24/7.

In Deuteronomy, God instructed the Israelites to teach their children God’s Word when they sit at home, when they walk along the road, when they lie down and when they get up.

But our challenge is that we have our phones with us in all of these moments.

We all have things to do throughout the day. Our work, our job, our school… so these moments are probably the most precious moments we have in our day to contemplate and think about God.

If I were the enemy, I would definitely want to distract God’s people in these moments so that they will forget about God.

That’s why I think that it’s really important for us to guard our time and our communion with God.

Don’t be so distracted by technology that we forget to talk to Him.