BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS
#188 - "Movements" by Rend Collective Experiment
What's the meaning behind the song? NRT's Kevin Davis talks to Rend band leader Gareth Gilkeson to find out.

By KevinDavis_NRT

BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS, #188 -
Gareth Gilkeson: "We all have a choice in those [difficult] moments to run away from God or run towards Him. Whether itís walking, running or crawling to God... We need to always make movements towards God."
photo credit: Shannon McClean
Hailing from Bangor, Northern Ireland, Rend Collective Experiment’s acclaim began at home as a movement of 20-somethings that has now begun to spread across Europe to the Americas and beyond. The modern worship sounds of this band are receiving praise as the debut album, Organic Family Hymnal, hits stores.

Charting a unique course, Rend Collective Experiment is a group of friends collectively wondering how to make sense of the conundrum of life, God and community. What Rend Collective Experiment’s 15-plus members add to the conversation are melodies, harmonic progression and lyrics that are scriptural and contemporary, fresh and ancient.

“This is the freshest and most exciting sound in worship probably since Delirious kicked in!” adds Adrian Thompson, Kingsway A&R. “Rend Collective Experiment are precisely at the point where today’s music culture meets worship – I suppose the musical equivalent of what people like Rob Bell and Francis Chan are trying to do with Church. I can’t wait for people to hear this album.”

“Everything we do is growing in a natural, non-manufactured environment,” band leader Gareth Gilkeson shares. “Rend was a student movement representing numerous churches, and the ‘collective’ grew out of that. The songs came from an organic environment, searching after the heart of God. We wanted to reflect what God was doing and teaching us, and offer that up for the rest of the world to hear.”

As for the group’s unusual moniker, Rend Collective Experiment is a nod to the places in Scripture where it says to “rend your hearts and not your garments,” a bold call to be genuine.

“Those passages are a reminder not to put on a show, but to be real and authentic in all we do,” Gareth explains. “In Isaiah it also says ‘rend the heavens and come down,’ so a connection with God warrants an authentic response. And the ‘experiment’ part is there because nobody knows where we’re at really, do we? We’re all just experimenting with life and going with it.”

As label representatives and media try to explain the fresh sound they are hearing on Rend Collective Experiment’s Organic Family Hymnal, the band has drawn comparisons to a wide variety of musical icons ranging from Sufjan Stevens and Sigur Ros to Arcade Fire and The Glorious Unseen.

“We’re a ‘collective’ that is not into the celebrity aspect of the worship scene - a bunch of guys and ladies, a body, an experiment in progress,” explains Gilkeson, helping to underscore why the band’s images do not feature individual faces. 

“Our heads are getting shaped by anything from John Piper, with his straight down the middle, pure Bible, pure Jesus teaching, to Tony Campolo. I love the way that Tony is always talking about the need for justice, always pushing the agenda of the poor, always reminding us of the need to connect with God in more ways than we’re used to.” 

“There’s probably about 15 of us who are in the collective,” continues Gilkeson. “Chris Llewellyn, Will Herron, Patrick Thompson and I are there all the time. We write the songs and work together like an immediate family. We don’t have a lead singer, but Will and Chris both jointly take that role to add to the collective heart. And then there’s the rest of our family that varies in size. Why things are structured so differently is because we don’t believe that Christian music and worship music should be about individuals. It’s about a body and a movement of people."

I got the great opportunity to interview band leader Gareth Gilkeson about “Movements,” the band's first radio single. (You can listen to our entire interview here.)


Please tell me the message behind the song “Movements.” How can listeners apply that message in their lives as Christians when they listen to the song?

This is a really intense song, lyrically. The song is about commitment and reminds us to move closer to God no matter what happens in our lives. We can think of commitment as sobering, but it is also freeing. We made a music video which is good fun. The music is upbeat. We had experienced tragedies as a band. A close friend of ours had been killed. That experience really challenged us to see God at work in our lives. We all have a choice in those moments to run away from God or run towards Him. This song is a prayer of commitment, whether it’s walking, running or crawling to God. We need to always make “movements” towards God. When we sing this song live in concert, it re-emphasizes the commitments we’ve all made to God. When we’re struggling, rather than be sad, we need to find joy in Christ. “The joy of the Lord is our strength.” Through the crazy times and unanswered questions, we think about the bridge of the song, “won’t walk away,” and we remember to keep that commitment.

Please tell me about any Bible verses that you used to write the song.

Nehemiah 8:9-10: And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."

Here are the lyrics:

I wanna soar with You
Up on wings like eagles
But I'll crawl with You too
When the dark and lonely questions come
I wanna stand true
No matter what's new or comes through
I can’t stand still
Whatever hits I'll keep making movements to You

I'm running fast and free to You
Cos You are the movement and fight in me
I'm running fast and free to You
Cos You are my home
Where I wanna be
Come move in me
Where I wanna be
Come move in me

I wanna float with You
The currents driving me
But I'll paddle hard too
When the waves and rapids overcome
I wanna stand firm
When my mind’s weak and my emotions squirm
I must stand true
Whatever hits I'll keep making movements to You

Won't walk away, won't walk away
Won't walk away, won't walk away


Here’s Matthew Henry’s commentary on Nehemiah 8:9-10: “It was a good sign that their hearts were tender, when they heard the words of the law. The people were to send portions to those for whom nothing was prepared. It is the duty of a religious feast, as well as of a religious fast, to draw out the soul to the hungry; God's bounty should make us bountiful. We must not only give to those that offer themselves, but send to those out of sight. Their strength consisted in joy in the Lord. The better we understand God's word, the more comfort we find in it; the darkness of trouble arises from the darkness of ignorance.”

As I discussed this amazing song with Gareth, we were both convicted by the strong lyrics and comfort in this song filled with biblical truth. I am especially comforted by the truth of the lyrics of the song which comes straight from Isaiah 40:30-31: "Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

I can’t get enough of this great song. Sing this song to God with all of your heart, and know that God wants to hear from you. Accept Jesus as your personal Savior and the Holy Spirit will come make a home in you. When you get weak, stand firm and make movements towards God. He will never leave or forsake you.

Check out the music video here.
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Posted February 14, 2011 | Kevin Davis is a long time fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. Kevin also writes reviews for ChristianMusicReview.org.

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