I used to be a pastor at one of the largest churches in my community. As the pastor in charge of music, I was the one who handled all the calls from musicians looking for a place to play.
These days, I live on the other side of those phone calls. I spend a lot of time corresponding with pastors about hosting a concert or a workshop, or offering to minister in their Sunday morning service. I’m grateful for the hundreds of pastors who’ve hosted me over the years. Many of them have become dear friends. But every so often when I phone someone new for the first time, I can hear that familiar hesitation in their voice. Pastors field a lot of these calls. It’s easy to feel a bit bothered and overwhelmed by them. “Why do these people keep calling me?”, they wonder. I’m so glad you asked…
1. We are Stewards of a Gift.
Musicians, like everyone else in the Church, have been given gifts for the edification of the Body of Christ. Through careful discernment, years of guidance affirmation from people in our home churches, and some unique doors of opportunity we have come to believe that our gifts are meant to be shared much more widely than just in our own congregations. It would quite literally be a sin not to use our talents to edify the Church, and to participate in the mission of sharing the Good News with those who are far from Jesus. In a word, this is about obedience. When we call, we’re just looking for the place where God might want to use us next.
2. We Have a Unique Talent and Experience.
Sometimes pastors will say, “We don’t usually host guest musicians, we have great musicians here.”. I believe that’s true. Many churches these days are blessed with great musicians who do an awesome job Sunday to Sunday. I’ve been in hundreds of churches and have seen some great worship leaders, jaw-droppingly good vocalists and guitar players who could shred circles around me. But sometimes it’s good to give your volunteers a morning off and to allow your congregation to hear a different voice or a fresh word of testimony from someone who’s spent years devoting themselves to ministering in this way. This isn’t about “leaving it to the pros”. It’s about bringing in someone with a different kind of ministry to sharpen your people by bringing something fresh to the table.
3. We Believe in Beauty:
I firmly believe that where beauty is, God is present. That’s why we feel that sense of awe and wonder when we look at the ocean. Beauty calls to us and demands a response. Having an eye or an ear for beauty, and a desire to express that beauty and communicate it to the people around you is what makes you an artist. Often, I am asked what the purpose of my concerts is, and while I believe my concerts clearly communicate the Gospel and call people closer to Christ, I’m often baffled by that question. Even if the purpose of a concert was simply to create moments of beauty, it would be worth it. Where beauty is, God is present.
4. We Believe in Community:
To be healthy, churches need to cultivate community. Concerts do that. They bring people together in a way that is still in keeping with the purpose of making disciples, but they do so in a way that’s a little more relaxed and fun than a Sunday morning. Don’t get us wrong. We take our faith seriously and our primary objective isn’t to entertain, but we do hope your people will have at least a little fun while their souls are being sharpened and ministered to. Sometimes hosting a concert can be a great way to bring your congregation together to have fun and build community.
No One is in this to Make Money:
As I said earlier, our hope in offering this ministry to you is to edify the church. Even though you may see a lot of money change hands between the merchandise table and the offering plate, let me assure you that no one is getting rich off of this. Touring and making albums is incredibly expensive, even for solo artists like me. In my best, busiest year, I’ve never made even close to what I did when I was a youth pastor. All of the money that comes in goes right back into the ministry to cover expenses and keep things going. Whatever is left over is used to scrape together a modest income for work that is very seasonal and which offers no safety net or guarantees.
We’re not doing it for the recognition either. I’ll be the first to admit most musicians love affirmation, but as glamorous as our hour and a half onstage may seem, we’ve all spent too many unglamorous hours on the road or sleeping on the Youth Pastor’s couch for that to be a reasonable trade.
The reason we spend hours on the phone asking pastors if they’d like to invite us to their church is because we’ve been called to be stewards of a gift. We believe God wants us to use our gifts to help edify the Body of Christ, and we’re looking for people who’ll let us partner with them to do just that. We don’t mean to interrupt your day or add to your burden, we’re just trying to come alongside of you and help you care for the people God has entrusted to you.
Thanks for taking the time to listen.
On behalf of musicians everywhere,