I AM THEY never expected the journey they are on. The group started during a stand alone worship night in 2008 when a collective of local churches in Carson City, Nevada hosted an event bringing together musicians for a unified evening of praise. Little did they know that night would start a project that would touch the hearts of millions over the next fourteen years. With songs including “Scars,” “My Feet Are on the Rock,” and their brand new song “In Between”, they’ve garnered more than 45 million Youtube views and over 112 million streams.
We had a beautiful conversation with the Christian band while filming outdoor worship series Our Story Our Song, and because we can’t fit it all into one episode, we’re taking you behind the scenes. Catch the full episode at YouTube.com/RootandVine and be sure to subscribe, like and comment for more live music.
What does unity mean to I AM THEY?
Guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Matt Hein shares, “The whole message of our band is really unity and diversity. So there’s just a sense of all of our voices being heard, all of our faces being seen, everybody kind of like sitting together at the table. Even the first group of people that came together to host that first night of worship, were all from different churches in the area. In doing so God created kind of that there was this unity in our diversity, like, we were all part of a different family, a different community, a different church. God drew us together through worship. And we got to experience this unity that, you know, ironically, is the very thing God wants for us, according to John 17. So ‘I am they’ is the identity that we have as disciples has been something that God has not only worked through us over the course of the life of this band, but in us. God has refined that identity and created that identity in us and shown us really what he intended for us. Even through the name of our band.”
What do you hope people will hear when they listen to your song “Scars”?
Matt says “I think there’s certain things that we hide as scars in our lives. And we feel shame about. I hope that people hear the joy of the Lord that comes through, actually like being able to take that as a testimony. Turn it around into Thanksgiving, the things that maybe confine us or shame us into hiding are the things we actually turn around and through the gospel, we can actually turn that into praise, turn our pain into praise, and recognize that there’s actually purpose in it. And so I pray, it’s just a reminder of the scars of Jesus that the Bible says, By his wounds, we are healed. So there’s redemption for our scars through the scars of Jesus.”
When you are outside in a place as beautiful as this, and it’s diverse, and it’s stunning, and it’s creative: what does that tell you about your own creativity?
“It tells me that everything we produce as a band is just from God, and it’s a gift from God. And it’s his creativity that’s flowing through us. And it’s another way of him creating, is through us, through our music. Yeah, it’s just another evidence, I guess, of creation. Because the songs that we sing and stuff, they don’t come from our brains, you know, they come from God.” says Justin Shinn, keyboardist.
What is your favorite thing to do outside?
“We go on prayer walks, my wife and I, and go up to a ridge. I think that’s another invitation that God has, like, ‘Hey, come on out. I’ve got space for everybody here.’” shares Matt.