Opposite Ends of the Artist Spectrum

Last month I had two starkly contrasting artist experiences that left me with a mix of emotions and a call to prayer…

Advertisements

It was Sunday night and Johanna was about to sit the kids down to eat as I said my goodbyes and began my drive out to a dinner party in Peoria, AZ (a northwest suburb of Phoenix). The party was being hosted in honor of my friend Micah and his band Wild Earth. The purpose of this gathering was to engage Micah’s process of dreaming about the Kingdom impact his band could have in 2017.

Over dinner Micah shared his story with the intimate group of us who were invited to attend the event. Micah explained the calling he felt from the Lord to pursue a different platform for sharing his life and music; far different than the national touring he had done with a band for several years. Micah went on to chronicle how Wild Earth emerged through his desire to pull back out of an active touring lifestyle and to enter into more of a grassroots and localized experience. Micah desires to allow the Lord to open doors for him. Micah also desires to work through his own fears and inhibitions and take steps of faith to direct people’s attention away from him and towards God with his music.

Once Micah finished sharing his story he invited us to speak into his journey. Creative ideas and words of encouragement were shared. Ultimately we surrounded him and prayed blessing over his endeavors to pioneer a different way of stewarding his talents as an artist; different than what the music industry would prescribe. I left the event excited about what the Lord had in store for Micah and brimming over with expectation for a growing number of musicians to embrace the same type of self-sacrifice and surrender that was evident in Micah’s story.

Two nights later the inspiring experience at Micah’s dinner party was starkly contrasted by the experience I had attending a concert in downtown Phoenix. I went to the Crescent Ballroom, a venue I had gone to once before. The previous time was to see Micah perform as a local opening act for a tour that was coming through town. This experience, however, was greatly different. 

I arrived early and found a seat to wait in until the show started. Once the concert began I made my way to the front. Throughout the show the lead singer made several references to his depressing lyrics and talked openly about how his lack of self-confidence clashes with his narcissism. His spirit was heavy and I could sense he was weighed down by years of hardship and disappointment. I drove home with mixed emotions. I was broken hearted for this artist and the life he was living off stage, while also feeling even more grateful for my friendship with Micah and for the experience I’d had at his dinner event two nights prior.

These contrasting experiences left me with a clear call to prayer. If you share my passion to see an awakening of faith, identity, and purpose among musicians then I invite you to pray as I am:

  • Pray for my friend Micah. Pray that the Lord would continue to lead Him into greater arenas of cultural influence, and ask God for a fresh outpouring of creativity as he works to complete his sophomore album with Wild Earth.
  • Pray for the RYFO Phoenix team I’m leading. Pray that together we can bridge the divide between the Church and the musician community, in order to birth a movement of hope within our city’s music scene.

Faith Building Vision

Recently I had the pleasure of attending a leadership development trip with 26 other CRM missionaries. The week long trip took place on Lake Powell (see picture below) and was hosted on two house boats. My personal priority heading into the trip was for rest and spiritual renewal, but what I walked away with was so much more than that.

fullsizerender-3

A God-sized Vision Emerges

Leading up to the trip everyone was asked to reflect on the past 10 years, and to dream about the next 25. As you can imagine it was easier to reflect on the past decade than it was to cast a vision for the next quarter of a century. The challenge didn’t stop there. We were asked to dream about the next 25 years using the lens of Ephesians 3:20 (“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…”). So that’s exactly what I did, and the result was both overwhelming and exciting.

I started my reflection by looking at the mission and vision of RYFO and asking the questions: What if God supernaturally intervened and our mission was able to be accomplished in 25 years? How would culture be influenced? What would things look like for the next generation of musicians? How many people would become committed followers of Jesus?

As I wrestled in prayer with these questions I began to see a picture of the future, a picture that was much bigger than what I could ever “ask or imagine.” It was this picture (described below) that I carried with me to the Lake Powell trip in order to share it with my fellow CRM leaders. The magnitude of this vision was personally inspiring and motivating, but also so grand that I was actually afraid to share it.

Faith Building & Personal Discovery

Prior to my opportunity to share I discussed the vision privately with one of the leaders and admitted my fear to him. In response to my lack of confidence he challenged me to boldly share the vision God had given me, and specifically highlighted the fact that sharing it would cause faith to rise up in other leaders. So I did, and the response was resounding! Several leaders went so far as to publicly note their desire to help me accomplish the vision God had given me, and a couple mentioned to me that they thought what I shared was actually undershooting the ministry impact God was prepared to unleash.

Through this experience I’ve begun to fully own my role as an inspirational leader; a gifting which I’ve often dismissed in the passed. The response of my fellow missionary leaders revealed to me the fact that what God shows me prophetically is meant to be shared broadly as an inspiration to others, and a rallying cry for what He seeks to accomplish. Big vision isn’t prideful unless we fall prey to the temptation to believe we can accomplish it on our own. God reveals what would otherwise seem overly ambitious for the sake of His children working together to establish His Kingdom. Through our partnership with Him and each other His power is able to be freely released to accomplish the immeasurable.


In 25 years I believe…

(1) The cultural divide between the Church and the musician community will be eliminated, and that through RYFO’s strategic partnership with missionally-minded musicians we will see 20,000,000 new committed followers of Jesus (disciples making disciples).

(2) The next generation of musicians will be released into ministry with a new normal that looks like this:

-Musicians operate out of an unshakeable faith that’s supported by a healthy identity and a clarity of their calling/purpose

-The church no longer use artists for their talents, but rather partners with them to spread the Gospel, and supports them in growing in their artistic creativity and spiritual maturity

-Territorial spiritual strongholds within the musician community are torn down and the idolatry of artists becomes an anomaly

-As musicians head out on tour their church commissions/blesses them in their departure, prays for them while their gone, and when they return home there’s a fully developed process for reintegrating them back into community


In light of the way God has recently been at work in my life I’m compelled to challenge you to dream with the same level of faith I was asked to:

What do you envision could be if God were to bless and honor your calling in an Ephesians 3:20 way?