I grew up without a personal relationship with Jesus and only listened to mainstream music. When Ireland's alternative rock band U2
released The Joshua Tree
in 1987, I didn't have a Christian's eternal perspective on life but I fell in love with British alternative rock (Brit rock) music. As a new believer in 1999, the British worship band Delirious
grabbed my attention with "I Could Sing of Your Love Forever," "History Maker" and "Deeper."
Recently the mainstream music charts have been dominated by several British music artists including Adele, Coldplay and Mumford & Sons. In that same musical vein, Bangor, Ireland's Rend Collective Experiment
picked up where recently retired Delirious left off with their debut album Organic Family Hymnal
Canadian worship band The City Harmonic
has also written some amazing songs for the Church including "Mountaintop," where the song prays "we are the Kingdom of our God." It's that type of bold statement that I feel is somewhat lacking in Christian worship songs, but I personally think it's important for the Church to have courage and to be bold for Jesus and to understand that the world hated Jesus, and the world hates us as Christians for being followers of Jesus.
Several standout songs including this song reflect the brilliance of Rend's new album, Campfire
—in my opinion one of the best worship albums ever made. (As for the group's unusual name, Rend Collective is a reference to the places in Scripture where it says to "rend your hearts and not your garments.")
I had the great opportunity to interview band member Gareth Gilkeson about their hit song "Build Your Kingdom Here."
Please tell me the message behind the song.
I guess for us, it's actually been a bit of a prayer of where we are as a band right now. We are praying for the Kingdom to come. We are new to the music ministry—only a few years of experience. Really it's in the next few years we'll find out whether we'll be able to do this long-term and what our goals are. We're praying to God to reveal that to us.
Amidst all of our making music and playing concerts there's one desire that we have, which is for God to build His Kingdom wherever we go. It's funny, in the 1990s there was a Church prayer for revival. It's interesting how that word revival has become less and less popular. In the 1990s we prayed for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and we prayed for God to move like He did in days of old. It seems that for people that if nothing dramatic enough happened for people to see the answers to their prayers, that the Church has gotten tired or cynical in that area of prayer. Almost like, "Well that didn't work, let's pray for some other stuff."
This song came from a place of calling the Church back to the place of praying for revival. I feel like we've matured, and we must mature beyond just asking for God to come and do stuff. Jesus sent the disciples out in twos to proclaim the Kingdom. It seems the more mature approach is, yes, pray for God to build His Kingdom here, but also say, yes God, I'll be the hands and feet and I'll be the vehicle for Him to build His Kingdom. A difference in the UK and Ireland compared to America is that the only "worship music" we have is focused on congregational singing.
Please tell me which Bible verses best connect to the message of the song.
Colossians 3:14-16 (NKJV):
"But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."
...Matthew 6:33-34 (NKJV):
"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."
...and Matthew 10:7 (NIV):
"As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.'"
How can listeners apply that message in their walks as Christians when they listen to the song?
The chorus is filled with our prayers for God's building of His Kingdom which are important to us. The verses are us asking God to prepare our hearts for His work for us. One of the lines that's the most powerful in the song that gets me every time is at the end of verse three, "We are Your church / We are the hope on earth." I actually wanted to put that at the end of every verse, but I was concerned that people would not understand that we are the hope on earth without the context of the song.
The chorus is the other part of the song, "God You come and move." The verses are praying that Jesus is the hope in us. With the Church, sometimes we are all a bit insecure and a bit embarrassed. Because of mistakes in the past or strange ideas by some charismatic leaders, or whatever, the media has portrayed the Church in a way that some believers are embarrassed. That's why we sing the lyrics, "We are Your church." That's powerful.
The idea of "Build Your Kingdom Here" is that wherever you are, at school, at work, at home, that here is exactly where you are right now. God's Kingdom is His Church. Not, God please build Your Kingdom in Africa. It's right here, right now. As the body of Christ, our hope is that as churches around the world sing this song, it will be stirring their faith and they'll live out the Truth of the song.
Come set Your rule and reign
In our hearts again
Increase in us we pray
Unveil why we're made
Come set our hearts ablaze with hope
Like wildfire in our very souls
Holy Spirit come invade us now
We are Your Church
We need Your power
We seek Your kingdom first
We hunger and we thirst
Refuse to waste our lives
For You're our joy and prize
To see the captive hearts released
The hurt, the sick, the poor at peace
We lay down our lives for heaven's cause
We are Your church
We pray revive
Build Your kingdom here
Let the darkness fear
Show Your mighty hand
Heal our streets and land
Set Your church on fire
Win this nation back
Change the atmosphere
Build Your kingdom here
Unleash Your kingdom's power
Reaching the near and far
No force of hell can stop
Your beauty changing hearts
You made us for much more than this
Awake the kingdom seed in us
Fill us with the strength and love of Christ
We are Your church
We are the hope
This song is a prayer, a confession, and a call to action all at the same time. Spiritual warfare is real. We need to do our part to build His Kingdom here. It takes Christians demonstrating their walk with the Lord for people to desire to be part of God's Kingdom. In a lot of ways, the media has portrayed "Christian celebrities" as the Church. That has gotten in the way of The Way, The Truth and The Life–Jesus.
Every song on Campfire moves me, and as a believer I connect to every message personally. I've had the privilege to speak with Gareth about "Movements," "Come On My Soul," "Second Chance," "Praise Like Fireworks," "You Are My Vision," and "Build Your Kingdom Here." These are all songs that are unashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and are all based on biblical truth.
1 John 5:14-15 tells us, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him."
Listening and singing along with this song is a challenge for believers to live for Jesus and earnestly ask Him: "Set Your church on fire / Win this nation back / Change the atmosphere / Build Your kingdom here we pray." I've personally never stopped praying for a revival, especially as our nation has become more and more secular. Together as the Church, we can start a revival. Let's win this nation back! Amen to that!
(You can watch the music video here