Might As Well…

Well…Isaac pushed my blog a few times (sort of, he said the link wrong every time) at Thursday service Q&A, so I figured I should update it again. Haha. So here’s a random, multiple thoughts, quick blog for an update:

1. The Edge goes to camp tomorrow. I can’t believe it’s already here. We have a little more than 40 kids signed up, I believe. It’s going to be awesome. So many fun things planned for the weekend. I’d really love to just live at camp for a couple years. It quite possibly could be one of my all time favorite things of life. Here’s to hoping I don’t get sick before then…been feeling kind of crappy the last couple days.

2. I had the opportunity to help lead worship at Summit Herdon for the first time in who knows how long tonight. That was pretty awesome. Since leading worship at the jail, I haven’t had the time to lead else where. Tonight was really, really fun. I always enjoy helping lead worship at Herdon.

3. I had the great privilege of getting to drive a former 33rd street Summit congregant to his place after the Thursday service tonight. He got out of  jail 3 days ago, came to service tonight, hung out for Q&A, met Isaac and Eddie, and was so filled with joy he was about to burst into tears every time he spoke. It was incredible. There’s nothing more fun than seeing buddies of mine from 33rd in normal street clothes, no longer in a blue jump suit, and walking around Summit Herdon. It’s pretty indescribable.

4. Marriage Prep starts for Sarah & I on Sunday. Holy crap. I’m getting married. I’m not quite sure if it has fully hit me yet. I’m sooo stoked, but man, I’m totally growing up too. Crazy.

5. I’m very excited to finish my new EP. I couldn’t be more proud of these songs. They are turning out killer. I really can’t wait to share these jams with other people. It’s been a really fun time writing and recording these songs.

Alright, I’m done. Off to sleep……..camp starts tomorrow. Let the craziness begin.

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Can The Institutional Church Save The Music Industry?

:::Disclaimer…this post very well could end up being ramblings of random thoughts. In my head, this is a good idea. On paper, it might not be…or even make any sense. You have been warned. Happy reading.:::

Here’s a question I’ve been mulling over the past few weeks or so, and I might have a solution. At the very least, an idea I feel worth sharing that hopefully people with smarter brains, better ideas, and larger influence would think is an idea worth expanding upon. So here’s the question:

Does the institutional church have an opportunity to potentially save the music industry?

That’s a gutsy question with a very huge answer (if an answer at all). I am sure people who I am friends with that aren’t Christians and don’t want anything to do with the church or God think that’s a ridiculous question to ask & even more ridiculous of a question to try to answer. I am also sure people who I am friends with who are Christians, involved in church, work at a church, or even work with me at a church think that’s a ridiculous question to ask & at best, is not worth the effort to try to answer. Well, these are the ridiculous sorts of questions that run through my head on a daily basis…along with questions of when the next auction is, what’s the grossest game we can play at camp, what should my next hobby be, how many Hot Dog Heaven mug colors are there, etc.

I think first, that question assumes the music industry is in trouble. That’s such a tough thing to prove too, especially since I am not at all even a fraction of a part of the music industry. Some really smart people would say that it is, other really smart people would say that it isn’t. Here’s what I know…the majority of the music that consistently is released has no longevity, is gone in an instant, generic, reproduced. Record labels are constantly going out of business. More & more articles are being written about stopping the downloading “crisis” and how can the current music industry shift to survive in the digital age. So, who am I really, but I think it’s safe to say that the music industry as a whole could use some help. It is at least somewhat on edge at the moment.

I will also say that Christian music generally really sucks. Honestly, probably 90% of it really blows (at least in my “professional” opinion). It’s worse copies of generic music with Jesus-filled lyrics that are just straight up corny. Modern worship is also consistently more & more generic carbon copies of itself (which just sounds like bad carbon copies of Coldplay). I could really go on & on about my problems with the Christian music industry itself, but that’s another blog for another day.

So why would I think it’s a good idea for the institutional church to get involved in the music industry? Well, here’s my thought…

I have been hearing a little bit here and there about some churches have a staff person, or even a small department, that will pay a songwriter to literally just write normal music, play shows at clubs or bars, record albums, and just be a musician. Their only responsibility is to lead worship occasionally, say once a month, at the church. The rest of the time, be a musician. Not a worship leader in a bar. Not a “Christian” singer/songwriter or band. But just a musician because that was the God-given gifts & talents they were born with and this institutional church thinks it’s important for that individual to be allowed to develop those gifts and peruse those abilities, so they allow that by supporting that person financially. I think that’s brilliant.

I wonder what it would be like if there was a department that did just that, hired say 3 musicians/songwriters/bands/etc, to just be musicians, have the occasional worship service responsibility, but then was also very intentional about spiritually developing those singer/songwriters or bands, mentoring them, keeping them accountable on tour, developing their writing ability, keeping them accountable as musicians, etc. You would need a department supervisor who has already been there, done that. A person in the Summit community I thought of was Eric Champion (for most of you reading this, that name probably means nothing). Someone who has already had a music career, recording albums, touring, but also someone who cares very deeply about the person, the maturing of their character, their spiritual growth, their musical growth. Someone who would know when a song is good & when a song is crap (that is very important). Someone who knows the emotional & spiritual burden of being on the road and who could keep them accountable, cheer them up, comfort them, etc.

See, here’s the benefit of this and why I think that it maybe could “save” the music industry (and NO, that was not a spiritual pun, it was just in quotations due to it being a relative term, not a spiritual joke).

Imagine if 500 churches around the country were intentional about doing this for just say, 2 artists/bands, and GOOD bands. That is very important. Not crap, not the same generic worship stuff you hear everywhere. But people who are serious about just being a good band or singer/songwriter because that’s what they were born with. You now have 1,000 artists & bands who are able to develop their God-given gifts & abilities, write & release new material, and tour on that material with much less of the financial worries & burdens that plague most indie artists these days.

You have 1,000 artists & bands who are being developed by a seasoned musician who truly cares about seeing them become better musicians & songwriters, not just some record label who wants them to reproduce the same garbage that is “in” at the moment because it’ll make them money.

You also have 1,000 artist & bands who are intentionally being spiritually developed. Being held accountable when on the road, allowing their character to grow. Being mentored to be leaders for their generation & community.

You have 1,000 artists & bands who are actually good at their craft, passionate about being good songwriters/musicians/bands, releasing quality material, who are quality people that are passionate about being quality people.

Essentially, you have 1,000 missionaries who are releasing great records, playing great shows, & developing their craft.

A church will financially support a traditional missionary for years & years to live another country doing some sort of craft or trade they are good at…construction, teaching, community development, agriculture, engineering, you name it…and be totally OK with that. Even will do that here in America; financially support a missionary to live in the projects and develop a community, whatever. A church is also OK with paying a musician to lead worship on a weekly basis, organize the services, rehearse with the band, etc.

But is a church OK with financially supporting a musician to be a musician, because heck, that individual is born with God-given talent and is one heck of musician/songwriter/frontman/etc and they have just as much of an opportunity to missionally impact America?

I think it should be.

I can’t imagine the impact that quality, high character, individuals writing, releasing, & performing quality music would have on a generation. Individuals who have been mentored and trained to recognize & leverage their relationships that they build all throughout the country for the kingdom of Christ.

I don’t know if this would save the music industry, but I think it could be a huge movement. Labels aren’t signing, they are losing money, and mostly only want to release what they know is selling and for the most part don’t care about the artists as people. So churches essentially become the pocket books the labels are without the intense level of greed to make crap records that sell (although I’m sure many would argue me with churches not being greedy for money) and caring more about the development, musically & spiritually, of the individuals. These musicians would no longer need to worry about supporting themselves or families financially. There would no longer be the internal struggle of quitting music to work as a food server just because they can’t pay the bills. More people would be developing the gifts that God gave them while being able to support themselves or a family.

Then, like I said, potentially thousands of individuals being missionaries in their fields. Not because they are poorly writing carbon copy Jesus-filled lyric worship songs and playing those at bars, but because they are actually just good at their craft. All the while being supported financially, as well as intentionally developed musically & spiritually, by the institutional church.

It’s already happening in some places. I believe it could happen more. I believe it could change the music industry. I believe it could change America.

————————————————————–

Semi-separate from this post, but related, I do want to just say a couple more things quickly.

The only reason I am able to think & dream like this is because I have a killer job that encourages me to think & dream. I love where I am at Summit Church and this blog in no way me saying I am discontent with Summit or think they are doing things all wrong. In fact, they do so many things so incredibly well and are constantly pioneering the way church is done. I absolutely love it and am so humbled to be a part of the staff here. One of the most recent “pioneering” I’ve been blessed to be a part of is the worship service at 33rd street jail (wrote a recent post about it). Seriously has been life changing.

They have been so incredibly supportive of who I am, my love of playing shows, writing, and recording music. I am sooo grateful. This post is simply just my personal thoughts, dreaming, & “what if” discussions. Another potential way the institutional church as a whole could pioneer their way forward.

And I do believe that the thoughts in this post could truly start a revolution if more people (smarter and more influential than myself) took a hold of these ideas, made them better, and ran with them.

That is all.

I Suppose That’s How It Goes

I feel asleep at like 10:30, woke up at about 10:45, and around 11, picked up my guitar and wrote this song instead. I already had the first verse kind of rolling and the chorus melody idea (thanks to Josh Pearson), but knocked the rest of it out this last couple of hours.

This is probably the most “journal entry” style lyric I’ve written in the last 10 songs or so. Granted, songs I have written recently all have bits and pieces of truth & my story throughout, but they just have all been more about writing a good song, good poetry/imagery, relatable lyrics, etc. Even songs that are clearly not about me or my story (i.e. “Followin’ You” about a cheating girl) have some bits of truth or maybe the way I would think or act in that situation, but it’s always more about telling a good story in those songs than telling my personal story.

This lyric is different. This is right where I am at, right now in life. It’s this weird tension I feel like I’ve been living in of growing up, but feeling young, wanting to take chances, but also wanting to be wise. If I am faithful in the small things, I know God will bless me, but where is that line between being wise or playing it too safe and missing opportunities? Don’t get me wrong, life is great. I can’t wait to get married, I love my job, and things are really awesome. Yet, I still constantly struggle with those questions…am I settling in life or am I being wise? Have I gotten comfortable? Have I made God out to be smaller than he really is or am I just being faithful in the small things? I would also bet that I’m not alone in these questions. No matter how good life is, I am positive that everyone asks these questions to themselves occasionally.

So here it is. My most personal, journal-style lyric in the last 10 or so songs.

“There’s a time and a place for everything
So I’ve been told
Dream when you’re young
One day you’ll be too old
I suppose that’s how it goes

The race to lose the spark
In our youthful eyes
Is a race that I ran quicker
Than I realized
I suppose that’s how it goes

Still I find it funny how
I think that I am missing out
There’s a time and a place for everything
I suppose that’s how it goes

The older that I get
The less chances I take
It’s hard line to walk
Between wisdom & playing it safe
I suppose that’s how it goes

Still I find it funny how
I think that I am missing out
There’s a time and a place for everything
I suppose that’s how it goes

There’s a time and a place for everything
So I’ve been told”

I hope you enjoyed them. If you can relate to them, I hope maybe you found a little comfort hidden in there. Even if it’s just the simple fact that you’re not alone in asking these questions or the struggle with settling, taking chances, growing up, getting comfortable, and pursing dreams.

Ask those questions. Live in that tension. God already knows your heart anyway.

Yuuup

I’ve been working on a new release recently. I’m pretty excited about it. I know I’ve blogged about it already, but I really am proud of these jams. Some of my favorite songs I’ve written and the way they are turning out is pretty awesome.

I’d really love to make an honest living playing these songs. Or any songs really.

That’s all for tonight.

Songwriter’s Stage

Songwriter’s Stage is one of my favorite things that happens here in Orlando. The first Monday of every month, Downtown Credo hosts an open mic competition for singer/songwriter’s. Each performer has to play only original songs, no more than 2 songs per person, and just acoustic instruments only. No amps, pedals, effects. 3 finalists are chosen by random judges to play 1 more song each. A winner is then picked from the final 3 and ends up with $50 as well as entered into the shoot-out of all the finalists at the end of the year.

This is why I love this event:

1. Everyone is dead silent while the artists play.
2. Younger and younger singer/songwriters are playing each month. This month a 15 yr old girl played.
3. Although it is a “competition,” the community of songwriters that has been built because of this event is incredible.
4. Everyone is so encouraging to each other. Nobody has poor attitudes.
5. It has brought together so many different groups/clicks of people. Starting to blur the lines between different pockets of communities. I love that.
6. There really is talent in Orlando. Believe it or not. I could easily name off probably close to 20 singer/songwriters who you as a listener would enjoy listening to that all are local to Orlando and consistently play at Songwriter’s Stage.

So many other reasons why it’s great. Really, you just need to come out for yourself.

33rd

These last 6 weeks being involved with the service at the jail has been pretty incredible. I know we were asked to come in, help encourage them, lead them in worship, and hopefully brighten up their week a little bit, but man, it really couldn’t be any more reverse than that.

I have not felt more encouraged & more blessed in who knows how long than I have by these guys. I have genuine friends now that I get to see once a week, Sunday nights, in the jail. Some with shorter time and lesser offensives I will get to see outside those walls (which I cannot wait for), others headed to prison and I more than likely won’t see again (which is difficult to really grasp). All of them more full of joy, peace, & love than I often am.

I have learned more from my buddies in jail these last 6 weeks than I would have ever imagined.

Thank you Marcus, Stone, Jonathan, Fred, CB, Robert, Donald, Michael, & everyone else at 33rd I get the privilege of being blessed & encouraged by each week.

Engagement Photos

So my fiance, Sarah, and I both hate engagement photos. “Let’s figure out 15 different ways we can hold hands, hug, & kiss on camera! Oh! And don’t forget to show off the ringgg!” Yea, that kind of sucks…well, doesn’t always suck…but just isn’t us. We feel super uncomfortable and forced doing something like that (Disclaimer: I have seen some really great engagement photos of friends and such that are just normal, & that’s great! Just not our style…) So we chatted about it and wanted to come up with a little storyboard with our shoot.

Sarah & I had such a great time shooting this photos with my friend Cody Jordan. I hope y’all enjoy looking at them as well!

www.codyjordan.com for more photo information