Here Be Lions will release their debut album, Only A Holy God on June 22. Here Be Lions takes its name from the ancient mapping tradition in which explorers marked unknown, dangerous territory with a symbol and the phrase "Here Be Lions."
Originally meant as a warning, the phrase has become a call for the Here Be Lions team to advance God's kingdom and authority. They do so through focusing on discipleship, music and community with three ministry outreaches: Be Fierce, a discipleship resource for families, All About Worship, a worship resource for churches, and Healing Is Right, a resource for the sick and hurting.
The Here Be Lions worship team, including Smith, his wife Jeanna, James Galbraith, Jordan Clause, Jeremy Weedman and Garner McGregor, aspires to create music that welcomes the power and presence of God in expectation of salvation, healing and restoration. Only A Holy God delivers 12 songs of reverence and repentence written around the character of God and the forgiveness and wholeness found in Jesus.
We are honored to be able to catch up with Dustin Smith for this exclusive interview.
Q: Dustin, thank you for doing this interview with us. I have been raving about your new album with Here Be the Lions ever since I heard a review copy of it. It's such a bold, powerful, and dynamic record. Let's start with yourselves, why did you call your team Here Be Lions?
A. It's an honor to be able to do this interview. And thanks for the encouragement about the album. The words "bold" and "powerful" were two of the things that we wanted to portray through this project... so hearing you mention those two words when describing it means a lot! Here Be Lions comes from the old mapping tradition in which explorers marked unknown, dangerous territory with a symbol and the phrase "Here Be Lions." It was originally meant as a warning. But for us, it is a beacon that is calling for us to go out and find those places in people where resources are untapped, passions are over-looked and new adventures are awaiting ... to advance God's kingdom, authority and order.
Q: Who are the members of Here Be Lions? And how did you guys come together?
A: James Galbraith plays electric guitar and leads a couple of songs on the album. Garner McGregor plays acoustic. Jordan Clause on bass. Jeremy Weedman on drums. And last but not least, my beautiful wife, Jeanna, sings backup vocals. I led worship in Kansas City for about 14 years and all of these guys were on my worship team. We have been traveling and ministering around the world for about the last 5 years.
Q: What were some of the joys and highlights when you were writing and putting the songs together for "Only a Holy God"?
A: There are so many powerful stories behind these songs that it is hard to narrow it down. "Only A Holy God" was written in Sydney, Australia, with Michael Farren and our friends at City Alight Church for their worship project. I knew it was a powerful song for the church when we wrote it. So when we started working on this album, it was at the top of my list. "Miracles" will always be a special song because I believe that it is a message of hope and life for those that are sick and need healing in their bodies. Really, I could go down the list because there are so many stories behind all of these songs... each one carries a testimony of what Only A Holy God could do. We've started shooting videos with some of the people whose stories inspired the songs and have already posted one to YouTube.
Q: It's not just the songs but the recording too -- there's such a Holy Spirit presence in the entire recording. Was this album recorded live? And how did you guys prepare yourselves before you led worship?
A: When we were planning the album, the two main priorities we had were doing it live and doing it in Kansas City. Every album we have recorded has been in Kansas City but this time we just wanted to rent a space where we could have about 200 of our closest friends get together and worship our hearts out. So we rented a barn about 30 minutes north of Kansas City in the middle of nowhere. We put up a few lights, set up a couple speakers and we worshipped. There was not a lot we had to do to prepare for this night. We knew that when we got together with a bunch of people who love Jesus and have no other agenda than to worship, that He would meet us there. It was an unforgettable night for all of us.
Q: The song that I absolutely love is "God Would You Forgive Us." For our readers who have not heard it yet, what's the song about? And how did the song come about?
A: This could possibly be the song on the album that has impacted me the most. I recently traveled to 12 different cities with a couple of my friends to meet with key worship leaders and pastors. I walked away from those meetings amazed at how many ways the enemy has divided us. Race, gender, musical style, you name it and it was there. Needless to say that when I went into my next writing session with my producer, Jacob Sooter, and my good friend Mitch Wong, we did what songwriters do and we put words and a melody to what I was feeling. The scripture that stirred us to write this is found in Amos 5:21-24 where it says, "I hate all your show and pretense- the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won't even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living."
Q: There are very few songs these days that confront sin and seek the forgiveness of God, why do you think worship leaders need to sing more songs along these themes?
A: We are called to be more than song leaders. We have been called to be shepherds that lead! It's not an easy thing to address but I think we need to take a close look at the way we do things and ask some hard questions. Have we fallen in love with the stage more than the savior? Have we cried out for the nations while ignoring the racial injustice in our own communities? Have we said we wanted to change our cities but have failed to even change ourselves? If anyone truly knows me, then they know that I love the powerful and declarative anthems but we have swung the pendulum so far in that direction that we have forgotten the idea of humbling ourselves and turning from our wicked ways that He might hear us and heal our land.
Q: Besides leading worship, you also have a great passion for missions, including a tour you are doing in India! In your opinion, what's the relationship between worship and missions?
A: Scripture says every tribe and every tongue will confess Jesus as Lord. So, we are making sure we do our part to see that happen! Psalm 86:9 says, "All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name." There is something powerful that happens when you go to another country and you hear them worship in their language.
Q: What are your hopes for this new record? How would you like this album to impact missions and worship?
A: Some people complain that there is too much new worship music coming out but I have a different take. Habakkuk says that "the knowledge of the Glory of God will flood the earth." We are just a small part of what is happening at a global level to make earth look and sound more like heaven. Our hope is that these songs would become the anthems of a people coming awake and that the knowledge of the Glory of God would spread like wildfire throughout the earth.