Tony Cummings quizzed the frontman of Superhero, Tim Cheshire, about the radical new worship initiative IGWT (In God We Trust)
Superhero is a band with a unique place in postwar UK Church history. For 16 years they have not only survived but flourished, at least in the spiritual dimension. Over the years the Glasgow-based musicianaries, led by singer and songwriter Tim Cheshire, have conducted numerous tours - taking the Gospel to numerous Eastern European countries - and have released five albums whose excellence has been evident to Cross Rhythms reviewers. In 2000, writing about 'Burn & Dazzle' Mike Rimmer commented, "the band deserve to feel proud of what they've achieved"; in 2005 Steve Best enthused "this album hits all the right buttons"; and in 2012 Lins Honeyman stated that 'Things We Need For The Journey' was "a rollercoaster of an album that, like the band itself, gets better and better with every listen." But even rock music excellence has been of less importance to Cheshire and his cohorts than a passion to minister to non-church and church goers. Now Tim has established a further expression of that with the worship ministry IGWT (In God We Trust) and the record label M4M Music For Mission.
Tim set out for Cross Rhythms what IGWT is all about. "IGWT stands for In God We Trust and is the culmination of much soul searching as to how we should make some church worship songs available. I have struggles, probably unnecessarily, about the worship industry, the amount of money generated and the fact that the vast majority of that money escapes out of the Kingdom and into the hands of others like iTunes and EMI shareholders. Anyway, we decided that we would record the songs with friends we had made over the years and some Superhero guys and give all the money from the music sales towards mission projects, so that is what we are doing. There is no 'set' line-up of players but instead a bunch of crazy musicians, missionaries from around the place who form the band as and when needed. They do gigs in the country where they live and raise money for local youth missions. It's all about worship and mission working together."
The 'In God We Trust' album was recorded over a lengthy period of time, utilizing a number of singers and musicians. Tim explained, "We had people recording guitar parts in Tallinn, Estonia and piano parts in Prague, Czech Republic, et cetera, and sending files to me who produced the record with my good friend and genius musician, producer and writer Sam Gallagher. One of the musicians who contributed to the project is famed percussionist Terl Bryant (Iona, Psalm Drummers). He is playing drums on four songs. We know Terl from touring with Compassion. Others who gave up their time and talents are Mike 'The Heed' Uphill, who is the most rock and roll drummer I know, my best mate and fellow Superhero comrade; guitarist Matteus Elbrecht, who is a young Estonian guy we met a few years back; vocalist Noah Ellenwood, who is a young missionary from the Czech Republic and was a finalist on Czech Idol(!); Superhero guitarist Matt Spicer; Rebecca Brown, who is one of the best fiddle players from the Highlands; Johnny Mcadam, who plays banjo; and pianist Shelby Flowers, a North American missionary we met in the Czech Republic. The list goes on..."
Unlike the increasingly generic approach of most modern worship releases, 'In God We Trust' has a decidedly eclectic musical approach. Said Tim, "It has my writing style but it is a bit more gutsy and not so formulaic as some worship albums I have heard. If you are just looking for another Hillsong or Bethel rehash then you will be disappointed. And we are not a stylised band trying to be the Christian version of say Coldplay, U2 or Mumford so this freed us up to be as diverse as we needed to be. But I think the main thing is the songs are reflective of a desire to emphasise the great need for worship and mission to be an equal part of our everyday lives as people of faith."
Tim spoke about three of the outstanding songs on the IGWT album. "'Passion For The Lost' is a call to action, a reminder a provocation to us all that what this is really all about is Matthew 28, doing all we can as people and as the Church to reach as many as we can with the only thing of any worth that we have and that is the Gospel message, a message of hope, love and forgiveness that this world needs to hear so very badly. We cannot get complacent and just slip into an introspective 'feed me feed me and take me deeper and deeper' mentality. All that is so good but if the last time you shared your faith was three months ago then you're in trouble! We need a real passion for the lost to see as Jesus saw and to feel as he felt.
"'Grateful Music' was written out of a heart of abounding thanks and gratefulness for all God has done for me. There have to be moments when we just kick off our shoes and go crazy because we are just overwhelmed with just how amazing God is and just how good he is. This song is about that and it will involve moving your body as well as a bunch of chairs probably also when you sing it.
"The title track is a big song musically but a simple song lyrically. It is a reminder to ourselves that God is trustworthy, faithful and in control. In an increasingly uncertain world we serve, love and trust a God who is the same yesterday, today and forever. We must be careful not to put our trust in anything else, all else is sinking sand. He is faithful and when we put our trust in him we find peace, provision and joy."
Alongside the formation of IGWT comes a new label M4M Music For Mission which commits profits to missions. Explained Tim, "We launched M4M at the same time as the 'In God We Trust' album and will have our second release in March. IGWT music is available only at www.music4mission.com where your money will be given to the charity of your choice. IGWT and Superhero will be out and about here in the UK and overseas throughout 2015 and we would love to see Cross Rhythms readers at an event."
To round off our interview Tim talked about the celebrity culture and materialism of parts of today's Church in the West. "I love the Church and believe passionately that God is outworking his plans through it. We need to keep the balance right, especially here in the West with the constant bombardment of celebrity nonsense and consumerism that without question has and continues to permeate the Church and the hearts and minds of all of us. We need to keep reaching out and making sure we stay Kingdom focussed and never become empire builders. I think that has happened and it always fails, never lasts and is built on very different motives and foundations than those of the teachings of Jesus.
"With both Superhero and IGWT we are trying our best to make sure it is always about reaching the lost, honouring God and giving him the place in worship he deserves which is not just about singing songs but the way we live our lives. We want to inspire a generation of young people that the journey, the adventure and the challenge of God are much more worthy and exciting ways to live than just wanting to be famous or rich! Whatever we do, however high profile, if it stops us living the way Jesus lived then best stop doing it and sort ourselves out. I don't care how 'successful' it is, I just cannot be that pragmatic about my faith and walk with God."The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.