How do you stay grounded?
The question rises up above the congregation and lingers, challenging the atmosphere.
For the past three years we’ve led a night (or three!) of worship here at our home church in Bangor, Northern Ireland. And one weekend during every August we meet here for worship with our local church, and to share with our home church all the things God has been doing across the world through their prayers. They ask us questions, we answer, we sing, pray and celebrate God’s faithfulness. Every year they send us out again into the world with joy, prayers and heart-felt banter.
This year we were not only gathered for three nights of hometown worship, but we also were celebrating the release of our newest album As Family We Go. We found out that weekend in its first week As Family We Go broke all sorts of records in the U.K. We were blown away by the fact that it became the first Christian worship album to ever make the U.K. top 20 best-selling albums in its first week. This is history making for a church worship album and it’s been nearly 20 years since any Christian album has made the U.K. secular chart at all. For everyone who has asked us if Christianity is dead in the United Kingdom, these statistics are a resounding “No”. These statistics have left us humbled, grateful, and surprised. To top it all off, it also hit number one on iTunes Christian Album Charts in seven countries including the U.S., Australia, Canada, the U.K., New Zealand and South Africa.
Of course, this is hugely exciting for us, but not because we think we’ll be rubbing shoulders with Taylor Swift at the Grammys this year (we won’t). It’s exciting because the message is out there, where the people are, where it should be and not tucked away in the pocket of a pew.
Album sales are yesterday’s news, God’s people are forever.
The whole heart behind As Family We Go centres around the idea that God’s family was never meant to be a stagnant, insular bubble never touching the world. God’s love is love on the loose – a wild, rampant love that won’t be confined by the walls of a church. We’re called— no, commanded— to go into the nations proclaiming the love of Christ. And this record is our love letter, our invitation from the church to the world— that they can belong, find rest, hope, peace and joy in relationship with God.
As Family We Go has done just that; it’s gone into the world. And that is an answer to some of our deepest prayers.
So, how do we stay grounded? Is that even the right question?
We look at each other. There are a million answers to that question.
It could be that we know better than to boast in our meager abilities as musicians. You know those claw machines they have in arcades? Where you try to grab a teddy bear or a Minion or an Elsa and it’s more or less impossible? If there were a giant claw hanging over Nashville, and you grabbed five people at random, you would be very unlucky if you didn’t find a better band!
It could also be we’re constantly watching out for any stupid behavior in each other (as family do). Or the completely unglamorous reality of our day-to-day lives full of un-showered plane rides, stale coffee and suitcases full of dirty laundry that keep our noses out of the air.
But the real answer is that we’re keenly aware of our role in what we do. We are a vapor. Charting, ticket sales, numbers, money… it all can come and go. These were never the reasons we started out playing music together, and by God’s grace, they will never be the things that make us get up in the morning. Today we may be on some chart, and tomorrow no one may remember who Rend Collective was. And that’s okay. Ideal even.
It’s often said that this verse from Luke 4:18 is Jesus’ mission statement.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
It follows that this is our mission statement too. This is the stuff that matters. The extent to which we’re participating in these things is the extent of our success.
What we want is to impact lives for heaven. We want to gather with our family within the church and find ways to invite others into the glorious love of the Father. Album sales are yesterday’s news, God’s people are forever.
Because when we cherish the things and the people who are important to Jesus, then we can truly be a family that goes on the ultimate adventure— one chasing after God’s own heart and building His kingdom here.