Newsboys' original members, bassist Sean Taylor, vocalist John James, and drummer Peter Furler, formed the band in Mooloolaba, Queensland in 1985 along with Furler's guitarist school mate, George Perdikis. The band's original name was The News, but once in the U.S. they changed it to The Newsboys to avoid conflict with the U.S.-based band Huey Lewis and the News. The band came to the United States in late 1987 after getting signed with Refuge Communications, and released the album Read All About It in 1988 in the United States.
After signing with Star Song Communications, they released two more albums from 1990 to 1991: Hell Is for Wimps and Boys Will Be Boyz. None of the three albums garnered much attention, and the band's lineup changed with every release.
It wasn't until their 1992 album, Not Ashamed (containing a cover of the DeGarmo & Key song "Boycott Hell"), that the band gained notice in the Christian music scene. Steve Taylor, a singer-songwriter and producer, began a partnership with the band, producing the band's record and writing most of the lyrics for their songs; Furler remained the band's primary songwriter and beginning with this album began sharing lead vocal duties with James, which he would continue until James' departure.
In 1994, amidst continued lineup changes (which included mainstays Jody Davis and Duncan Phillips), the band released Going Public, their fifth album and first success. The record proved to be a watershed for the group, winning a Dove Award for "Rock album of the Year" in 1995. It also produced #1 hits such as "Spirit Thing", "Let It Rain", and, most notably, "Shine". "Shine" won the 1995 Dove for "Rock Recorded Song of the Year". In 2006, CCM Magazine listed "Shine" in the top ten in its ranking of the 100 Greatest Songs in Christian music.
The 1996 follow-up album Take Me to Your Leader was recorded with the band expanded to six members, including new additions Phil Joel and Jeff Frankenstein. The album produced more #1 hits: "God Is Not a Secret", "Reality", "Breakfast", and the title track. This album also won the group's third Dove, this time for "Recorded Music Packaging of the Year". This album spawned the newsboys only movie "Newsboys Down Under The Big Top" (1996), which was based on the song "Reality".
In late 1997, John James announced he would be leaving the band. Furler moved from drums to vocals and auditions were held for the now-vacant drum position. Eventually, Duncan Phillips, who had previously played keyboards and percussion for the band moved over to the drum kit. From 1998 to 2003, the band's lineup of Furler, bassist Phil Joel, guitarist Jody Davis, keyboardist Jeff Frankenstein, and Phillips stayed constant.
The first post-James record, Step Up to the Microphone, sold well. The song "Entertaining Angels" won the 1999 Dove for "Short Form Music Video of the Year".
The band returned in 1999 with Love Liberty Disco, the band's only album to significantly deviate from their pop rock sound.
In 1999 Peter Furler co-founded Inpop Records with Wes Campbell, as an independent contemporary Christian music record label.
In 2000, Newsboys headlined the annual, traveling CCM festival Festival Con Dios with Audio Adrenaline and The O.C. Supertones. That same year, Newsboys released a greatest hits compilation, Shine: The Hits, which did not include any songs from the Love Liberty Disco album but included four new songs, two of which ("Joy" and "Who") went to #1. The band did not release any all new material until the spring of 2002 when they released Thrive.
In 2002, Newsboys recorded the track "In the Belly of a Whale" for the end credits of the 2003 Veggie Tales movie Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie. The band, with Steve Taylor providing vocals, also recorded the song "Yo Ho Hero" for The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: A VeggieTales Movie released in 2008.
The Newsboys followed with two praise and worship albums: Adoration: The Worship Album in 2003 and Devotion in 2004. Late in 2003, guitarist Jody Davis departed and was replaced by Bryan Oleson; in 2006, Oleson left to focus on his own band, Casting Pearls and was replaced by Paul Colman, formerly of Paul Colman Trio. The Newsboys also co-authored a book of devotions with Jim Laffoon, Our Daily Blog, published by Inspiro and released 1 November 2005 .
More radio hits came in 2006 with a live version of "I Am Free" (originally written by Jon Egan of the Desperation Band), and "Wherever We Go". On 31 October 2006, Newsboys released a pop/rock record entitled GO. GO featured David Eri as a co-writer. Their songs "Something Beautiful" and "In Wonder" were big hits on Christian Radio. That December, Phil Joel announced that he would leave the band to pursue his own projects and albums. On 8 May 2007 the band released GO Remixed, composed of new versions of almost all of the songs on the original GO album. It featured remixes by Tedd T., Jeff Frankenstein, Max Hsu of Superchick and Lee Bridges. Their song "City to City" was featured in the trailer for the 2011 Disney Pixar movie, "Cars 2"
On 20 November 2007 the Newsboys released The Greatest Hits. The eighteen-song CD also features two new songs "I Fought the La..." and "Stay Strong." This was followed by Newsboys Live: Houston We Are GO, a CD/DVD combo recording package of a show from the Go Tour, released on 30 September 2008.
On 5 January 2009, Paul Colman announced he would be leaving the Newsboys to return to his solo projects. At the same time it was announced that Jody Davis would return to the band, after a 5 year hiatus. “I am thrilled to be returning to the band and back with my bandmates, who are some of my best friends,” says Davis, “this is a big change in my life, and I’m looking forward to the tour and new record with excitement.”
Peter Furler, having toured with the Newsboys since the band began in 1985, decided to step back into a support role continuing as the band's primary songwriter and producer. A replacement lead vocalist was required so the band could continue touring. On 9 March 2009, it was announced on the band's web site that Michael Tait, formerly of dc Talk, would be the new lead singer. "Michael Tait will be touring with the band as lead singer with Peter making special appearances throughout the year. Peter will continue with the band and his trademark songwriting and production will remain as he focuses his professional career toward future newsboys recordings." On 17 March 2009, Michael Tait performed his first full concert as the lead singer of the Newsboys in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. During their 11 September 2009 concert, in Orlando, Furler announced that this would be his final guest appearance with the band.
Newsboys released the studio album In the Hands of God on 5 May 2009 on Inpop Records. Max Hsu (Superchick and tobyMac) produced the album. Steve Taylor co-wrote all the songs for the album, and sang on one song.
The Newsboys' latest studio album, Born Again, was released on July 13, 2010. The album debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200, by far their highest position on the chart. It also sold over 45,000 copies in its first week. On October 12, 2010 they released a Christmas EP called Christmas! A Newsboys Holiday.