Passion's Brett Younker

Podcast Episode #167

Brett Younker joins the podcast to discuss staying relevant in our ever changing culture, what it takes to recharge after a big project, and incorporating individual music styles on Passion's new Burn Bright EP.

Jason and Kristina discuss how at-home worship leading improved their own styles and the guitar wizardry of John Mayer.

On keeping momentum through the pandemic

Passion 2020 was one of our most significant gatherings we had. We met in Mercedes Benz stadium with over 60,000 18-25 year olds to ring in the new decade. As we all know, three months later the world turned upside down. In 2021, we felt we needed to have a conference but we couldn’t gather so we did a virtual one. It obviously wasn’t the same but God allowed us to reach over 700,000 people through that broadcast; it’s mind-blowing.

In May or June of 2021 we found a window we could gather for 2022. At the time, it was hard to even envision 6 months from then but our team prayed asking God what to do and we believed God was calling us to gather. That sent us on the journey. Once we decided to go, our prayer turned to what God wants to say to this generation. “God, what are you doing?  What is Your desire. What songs do they need to sing? 

On the themes of the music 

We really had an image of the throne room. Every nation, every tongue would gather around the throne room and worship. All through Acts you see the story of the Church is that the disciples went here and then the message went there. We really wanted to be a part of that.

"Shine Like Stars" really embodies that great commission message. It says I have seen You, I’ve been touched You, I want to shine for You. "Beautiful Jesus" is another Passion anchor song that embodies the message. Everything I do is for Your glory. That is the purpose of our lives. So that vision was really clear for all of us.

On reaching 18-25 year olds who are shifting away from the church.

The Church has weathered a lot in 2000 years. Every generation sees change but we really see a hunger in this generation. They really want to see consistency in what’s being said and what’s being done and I believe Jesus meets us there. Everyone wants their life to count, to matter. Even Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount was coming to a place of unrest to introduce His kingdom.

We always have to get to the end of ourselves, to realize we are spiritually bankrupt, We have nothing. We need God. Even in hardship of these last few years, this generation has been given a great gift. They’ve seen with their own eyes that the systems of this world can easily shake and very easily crumble. They are broken. That’s where Jesus meets us and shows us there is a different kind of Kingdom.

On bringing different musical influences into production

Over the last couple of years we haven’t really travelled as much and it’s helped me find my voice in the way I write. The power of worship is that you and me and our faith all come together to sing and so it’s important that we all want to belt these songs out. At the same time, God makes us different and gives us different styles. The first time I heard Chidima sing Beautiful Jesus I was blown away–it’s so her.

Kristian listens to country music and in What He’s Done it really comes across. I’ve known him since we were fourteen and if you prick Kristian that’s the stuff that comes out of him. I love the The Beatles and Shine Like Starts has that flat 7 and some riffs that betray that influence. We've been parked at home for so long those influences are maybe felt a little more than before. Even so there is still a unity to it all. It feels like it’s in the same family but everyone is unique.

On working with a choir

Working with the choir brings so much more energy. It’s not just a band. We’re here to serve a moment where people are coming together and sing. The influence of the choir is really felt differently depending on where in the process they are brought in. When we tracked "You Are The Lord", we really wanted the song to be built around that wide vocal sound so we tracked the choir before anybody else.

On other songs we got the band sounding really great and then invited the choir in. In that scenario you have something that already sounds cool and that choir brings it to life. Hearing people sing really inspires the worship leader because it gives them some freedom to back off the melody and it inspires the congregation because they can find their home among the other voices.

On recovering and finding new inspiration 

So much work goes into putting on the Passion conference and writing the songs that it’s important to take time to inhale when it’s over. I get so focused on the project that I get a burst of energy when it’s over so I take time to explore new music and styles.

It’s also a special time to pursue God not for a song or a vision for a conference but simply to know Him more. It’s agendaless. We just get to keep walking with Jesus and know that He will provide what we need when we need it.

Follow Brett Younker and Passion on Instagram.

Listen to the podcast on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Jason Houtsma is the co-founder and guitar teacher at Worship Artistry, where he is helping musicians of every level answer the call to worship with passion and confidence. Jason has been leading worship and writing music since he was 15 years old and currently serves as Worship Pastor for Mosaic Church in Bellingham, WA. He is husband to Alli and father to Bjorn and Asher.

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