The AZ tour

09 Jun

I want to write just a little bit more about “christian” gigs and “church” gigs by telling you about the 18 day tour that Holly and I took down to Phoenix and back the last part of November.

On this trip, we did concerts for a number of churches and we played gigs for a number of “secular” coffee houses. Almost all of the gigs fit pretty precisely in the respective descriptions of the different kinds of gigs that I described in the previous to posts.

The churches were very complimentary and generous with their financial support and their encouragement. We sold lots of CDs at the church gigs and I think people were honestly encouraged and exhorted by what I had to say.

The “secular” gigs were pretty poorly attended. We played in Flagstaff, Albuquerque, and Phoenix, where nobody knew me and very few cared. I sold very few CDs and the performance fee we received was maybe $50 if anything at all. At the same time, I got to play them. The few people who were there any given night, heard my songs, maybe checked out my web-site later, a couple people bought CDs.

Here’s the kicker: For the most part, I sang the same songs at all of those gigs. Now, at many of the “secular” gigs, I had at least 2 hours to fill, so there were, understandably, a lot more covers. At the church gigs, it seemed appropriate to sing a couple of my older songs that the lyrics are specifically directed to church folk. There were a couple of instances on the trip when we led worship in church settings. But, the core of the selection of songs I took to all of those venues was made up of the same songs.

I talked a little more in the church gigs. People were attentive and interested in what I had to say. Because it was pretty apparent that we were all on the same page, in our mutual relationship with Christ if nothing else, it was appropriate to discuss my faith openly, to share openly how those songs came out of me; what I was thinking, how they are informed by my life and faith and struggles therein.

Did I talk less at the “secular” gigs because I was ashamed of my faith? Was I afraid those 2 or 3 people who were listening might not like me? Give me a break. All I wanted to do was keep those people listening and trying to get some more people to listen too. That’s all that singer/songwriters want; for people to hear their songs.

Those same songs that encouraged and exhorted and connected with the “church” folk, found their way into ears of the folks in the “secular” venues that I would never expect to show up at a church concert to hear. The same words and the same glimmers of truth that I have sought and wrestled with were expressed in the way they were conceived; as songs simply trying to find listeners.

I’m a songwriter/musician who happens to be a Christian. I’m not an evangelist anymore than any other Christian who happens to be a truck driver or banker or plumber, telephone operator. The fact that I stand in front of a microphone and sing my songs for people doesn’t give me any more right or responsibility to be trying to “save souls” than any other believer.

As a Christian, I am called to be salt and light to this world. How are we to be salt and light? How am I to be known as a Christian? By my songs? By my words? By my abstaining from illicit sex, drugs, alcohol, movies, rock music? Will they know I’m a Christian by my going to church on Sunday, by reading my bible everyday, by praying at meals, by telling people at every opportunity that they need to convert so they can go to heaven like me? Will they know I’m a Christian by my successfully removing myself from “secular” venues and only singing to people in church or in places where “opportunities for conversion” are apparent? Sorry. Wrong Answer.

Like Jeff already pointed out: They’ll know who we are by our love. (Jn. 13:35)

I just went back and found where Jeff quoted that, and realized that he’s described my endeavor quite well. I consider him a close friend and admire him in many ways, not least of which in his knowledge and understanding of faith and the bible. For anybody (still) reading this, I’d encourage you to check out his comments posted under the blog on 6/5 entitled conversation over… or his post on the bulletin board called “Anonymity vs Face to Face” which succinctly describes Pauline principles which closely reflect why I do what I do now.

I also want to thank Jeff for his observation of what has happened in my “secular music career”. I have made so many friends and built so many great relationships with so many people, which if I had kept to my “church venues” would never have developed. I’ve never hidden my beliefs from these friends, but have allowed them to know me and my beliefs by how they influence the way I live my life. I’ve had a number of very interesting and honest conversations with these friends about life and faith and belief. Can’t you agree that building and cultivating those relationships would be more important as “ministry” than anything I could ever say or sing into a microphone?

ugh. There were a couple of other things I wanted to say regarding this, but this is too long already. I hope I’ve made my position clear.

Nope. Not done. I think I’ve got one more entry that needs to come out…

Coming up next: Church Support (I think it might be shorter.)

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Posted by on June 9, 2004 in Uncategorized


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