If you live in Nashville, you are well aware our city is crawling with incredible musicians, songwriters and vocalists. These musicians fill the platforms of churches every weekend to usher God’s people into worship. Some get paid while others volunteer but most all have one thing in common, they are well versed in the politics of worship teams.
I’ve heard many stories of musicians who feel called to serve on worship teams but they just can’t break through the politics. Granted, churches need filters in place to ensure the musicians on stage are proficient on their instruments, true Jesus followers and have a genuine desire to be a part of a worship team as opposed to using the platform as a stage to showcase. That’s not an easy task in a town of musicians who serve the country and Christian music business. Some who land worship positions at key churches can be very territorial.
This week, I spent some time with a musician who moved to Nashville from Australia a year ago. In Australia, he served at Hillsong directing some fairly big worship teams. My friend is an incredibly talented musician on both keyboard and guitar and probably one of the nicest fellows one could hope to meet. Upon arriving to Nashville, he landed in a church full of musicians and songwriters. This particular musician spent a year serving his new church in numerous ways including setting up chairs and various other things required for a church that meets in a temporary meeting place. I’ve gotten to know him quite well and it was obvious from the outset of our friendship that his Jesus following heart is in the right place. This musician isn’t looking for money or a place to showcase on the stage but instead looking to serve his church using the talents God has given him. Feeling called to serve on the worship team, he began trying to network with the leaders of the church and members of the worship team to let them know his desire to audition for the worship team. Unfortunately, the politics of worship at this church won’t even allow him to audition.
I’m sure some of you reading this post have had similar experiences. While it can be frustrating, I would encourage you to use the time to really listen to God. Is he teaching you something through the experience or is he telling you to move on to another church that needs your talents? I’d love to hear how God helps you navigate the politics of worship teams.
So you write great songs, put on a great live show and radio programmers across the country have decided to catapult you to the top of the charts by spinning your song in heavy rotation. Success is knocking on your door with a special delivery of fame. Are you fully prepared for the platform God has just given you?
I’ve heard numerous Christian artists state “I’m not a minister, I’m a Christian entertainer.” Before making that statement so quickly, maybe we should examine the platform God has entrusted you with. While you will be on stage entertaining, thousands of young impressionable minds will put you on a pedestal. Like it or not, that pedestal comes along with the job. From this moment on, every word spoken from your mouth on or off stage matters in a bigger way than you ever imagined. Your words will either reflect truth about Jesus or they will deflect truth about Jesus. Your words matter whether you are performing in churches or in mainstream arenas. You are now a teacher with a following.
The Bible tells us in James 3:1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgement. God apparently looks at the role of teacher as a huge responsibility. And you thought being an entertainer would be a piece of cake? Interestingly, God also reminds us that no one will be the perfect teacher as James 3:2 goes on to say For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. While we will never be the perfect teacher, we should strive to be the best we can through knowing God’s Word. Entertainers are a different kind of teacher than pastors or college professors, but they still teach through words and action both on and off stage. Words said from stage, interviews in the media and lyrics written in songs all teach to some degree. Therefore, knowing Truth should rank as a high priority.
I would encourage all Christians, who are chasing a career on stage, to make studying the Bible a priority. Seek out a wise mentor and others to study with. God has given you a platform that others will look up to, and he expects big things from you. Know the Truth, Live the truth and Teach the truth!
What an incredibly strange year we have experienced with the US Presidential election! I’ve read about crazy elections in our past but the one we just experienced felt a bit like war. While the huge division and disfunction in our country was exposed, something even bigger revealed itself.
I talk a great deal about platforms and stages, with primary focus being on creatives. However, politicians are given some of the biggest platforms. As platforms for presidential candidates grew, the monster was feasting on ego and pride. A handful of candidates professed to be Christians, but as we watched the debates it was difficult to see Jesus as they ripped each other to shreds.
Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed similar behavior amongst Christian artists vying for the top of the charts. While smiles don their faces in public, conversations backstage, in green rooms and on tour buses are laced with jealousy, pride and ego. If we are all on a quest to make Jesus famous shouldn’t we lift one another up as brothers and sisters in Christ? Imagine the size of the platform if everyone joined together, shared success with all and offered a helping hand to the less successful?
There is only room for one at the top and his name is Jesus. Let’s join together and make him famous!
Undoubtedly, we live in the new world order of social media. Most everything we do in life is centered around building kingdoms of Followers and Likes on social media. Even Bible Study groups use Facebook to stay in touch with one another and to quickly deliver messaging. Our daily lives have become so busy that we now depend on social media to keep us connected.
For those who work on a stage, connection is even more important. Music artists, speakers, authors and even pastors have been drawn into the emphasis and importance of one’s following. Record companies, book publishers, booking agents and event programmers demand big followings in order to do business with music artists, authors, speakers and pastors. That in turn can create an unhealthy emphasis on one’s number of followers.
I would encourage all of us to examine our focus. Are we more concerned about following Jesus than we are about building a following? Do we have faith that God will bring the audience he desires to hear the message we are proclaiming? Are we kingdom building or building kingdoms?
Last week I was out on a college tour with two of our artists. The tour is making stops at a number of Christian universities over the next couple of months. During the week I experienced two contrasting scenarios.
One of the universities has a very strict conservative policy about what they allow on stage for concerts during their convocation services. They require their students to dress up, cover any tattoos and remove all nose rings etc. In order to be consistent, they ask any musician entering their stage to do the same. The Dean of Students noticed one of our musicians had a tiny diamond stud nose ring and another was wearing an earring at the top of his ear lobe. The Dean asked me if I could have them removed before our band took the stage. A brief conversation with our artist resulted in instant compliance. I was so proud of our team for acting quickly to acquiesce to the Dean’s wishes without hesitation. I think the Monster (ego, pride) was successfully starved that evening.
At another university stop, we had asked for a local acoustic opener in order to create an opportunity for a student musician. We had limited inputs, limited soundcheck time and our desire was to create an experience that transitioned from acoustic to a fully plugged in band. Discovering they had picked a student band, I had a phone conversation with the leader of the band about the acoustic nature of performance we were looking for. The student didn’t like the acoustic nature as they normally play fully plugged in but he committed to figuring it out. Unfortunately, the student band showed up at soundcheck as a fully plugged in band. While the student was blatantly ignoring our wishes, we let it slide and didn’t address the situation. After sound check, the student approached me to ask if we were all good with his defiance. I explained why we had asked for acoustic and asked him why he didn’t comply. With no real answer, he then committed that they would stay within their 10 minute set time we had agreed on. His band then preceded to go 14 minutes instead of the 10 minutes he had just committed to. While it may seem trivial, this artist broke his commitment twice in an effort to grab what he thought was a better presentation and stage time for his band. After leaving the university, I emailed the student to share our disappointment in his broken commitment and to encourage him to re-think his actions with future music opportunities. The student apparently didn’t appreciate the encouragement and forwarded the email to some of the University staff. Instead of addressing the student’s integrity issue, the university staff, choosing to protect the student’s ego feeding behavior, was upset with me for sending the email. What an incredible teaching opportunity the University staff missed. The Monster (ego, pride, entitlement) was well fed at this university stop.
While it is impossible to get it perfect, our Christian universities certainly have major influence on the Monster that so badly wants to control the next generation of adults. Would you join me in praying for protection and wisdom over our Christian universities as they mold the next generation?
If you are like many Americans, you found yourself glued to your TV over the last couple weeks watching the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil. While Americans picked up 121 medals, it was interesting to see winners from multiple countries giving glory to God. Olympic winners are given an incredible platform as every media outlet in the world wants to grab a interview with the winners. We have seen American gold medal gymnast, Gabby Douglas, speak about her faith in Jesus over the last four years and it was nice to see so many others join her in sharing their faith at this year’s Olympic games.
Simone Manuel, the first African-American woman swimmer to win gold – “All Glory to God. Isn’t he awesome!”
American gold medalist Maya Dirado – “I don’t think God really cares about my swimming much. I think God cares about my soul and whether I’m bringing his love and mercy into the world”
Ethiopian gold medalist Almaz Ayana – “I pray to the Lord. The Lord has given me everything. My doping is in Jesus”
American women’s triathlon gold medalist Gwen Jorgenson – “I really think you just have to keep God as your focal point and know that he is always number one. When you do that it will help you gain perspective on everything in life-not just endurance sports”
“We both know our identity is in Christ” – Mens diving silver medalist David Boudia says about he and fellow American diver Steele Johnson
How are you using your platform to make Jesus famous outside the church?
Do you often look at the platform God has placed you on and wish for more? Bigger audience, Bigger stage, Bigger influence, Bigger sales! Have you ever wondered where that desire comes from?
Do you feel called by God to be a musician? I often wonder if the word “called” is misused. We are all called to make Jesus famous with The Great Commission but does God call us to play guitar or sing? I would offer the supposition that God calls us all for the same purpose which is to make Jesus famous but he gives us varying platforms to use for that purpose. Instead of saying “God called me to be an artist” I think it makes more sense to say “God called me to make Jesus famous and he has given me specific skills and a platform to carry out the calling through music.”
Platforms come in all shapes and sizes. A fast food drive-thru window, a corporate board room, a meal wagon serving the homeless, a major league sports field, or an arena concert for twenty thousand people can all serve the same purpose. The platform God gives us is our sphere of influence. Our “calling” is to make Jesus famous.