John Fehlen is the senior pastor of West Salem (Salem West Foursquare Church) in Salem, Ore.

  Who it's for

Worship leaders who want to encourage social justice


  • Price: $13.99
  • Label: Integrity Music
  • Format: CD, MP3
  • Length: 10 songs

When Northern Ireland-based modern worship band Bluetree spontaneously wrote the highly acclaimed song “God of This City” during ministry in Thailand’s red-light district, it launched them on an adventure to share God’s love in some of the most dangerous places on the planet. Their latest album, Worship & Justice, is the result of that trajectory.

Since 2008, Bluetree has been smuggled in the back of a fish truck into Myanmar (Burma), raided child brothels in Cambodia, and led worship for four hours straight for 15,000 refugees on the border of Myanmar and Thailand, making them the only band to ever play there. Clearly, Bluetree has never bought into the “music for music’s sake” proposition.

This new album seeks to reconnect us to the big-picture meaning of avodah (Hebrew for “worship and work”). Bluetree’s founder and primary songwriter Aaron Boyd explains: “We went back home asking, ‘How does this all work? Whose responsibility is it to see these girls released from prostitution and transformed … because if I just pray over the city and nothing happens, then it’s God’s fault, right?’ It’s very easy to push that over on God, but Scripture tells us to go into the world and love people.”

Boyd goes on to say: “I think the church finally understands that our entire lives are an act of worship in the kingdom of God … when we love God and we love our neighbor, we understand that worship is justice.”

Toward that end, the band, in partnership with Integrity Music, released Worship & Justice in August. Anthems such as “It Is Finished” and “My Redeemer Lives” are a familiar yet fresh approach to the death and resurrection of Jesus. Both would be perfect for Good Friday and Easter services.

“Jesus, Healer,” “Rest” and “My Rock” each awaken us to attributes of our Savior that build up the church as well as minister to the lost and broken. The song “Magnify” captures the vertical (worship) and horizontal (justice) tension best in declaring: “Forever You remain / Unchanging You’re the same / Your faithfulness, it reaches to the sky / You’re bringing liberty / You’re setting prisoners free / Your grace unchained, unbound / It knows no end.”

Obviously, Bluetree is best known for the song “God of This City,” which continues to impact the global church. Thankfully, the boys from Belfast didn’t rest on their songwriting laurels; they’ve offered us another album full of passion and purpose. I encourage you to pick up a copy of Worship & Justice, and may our world experience more of each!