If Jesus was walking the earth today where do you think He would hang out? Who do you envision He’d be spending His time with? In the Gospels we clearly see His game plan for life and ministry, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17 NIV.)
Jesus spent His time with real people who were dealing with real life challenges. Furthermore He chose to meet people where they were, in the midst of their circumstances, and He spent time with individuals who had social influence. The verse after Jesus invited Levi to follow Him; He’s seen at Levi’s house having a banquet with all of Levi’s friends (Luke 5:27-29).
So if Jesus was walking the earth today where do you think He would hang out? Who do you envision He’d be spending His time with? It stands to reason that one place He’d be is in music venues, spending time with musicians. More than anyone else Jesus would understand the unique challenges artists face. He would offer them hope, encouragement and freedom rather than clamoring for their touch and suffocating them with adoration.
The cultural influence of the music community can not be understated. 6 out of the top 10 profiles on Twitter are musicians, and those artists alone have a following that’s greater than the US population. Despite the level of influence and the rapid secularization of our nation the music community is a mission field that’s often overlooked. The Good News of our day is that Jesus is still walking the earth! His Spirit lives within His followers and we have the opportunity to follow His lead into the places of need around us. You can be A Different Brand of Fan…
With over 100 bands performing in 32 states in under 2 months, Warped Tour is a MASSIVE undertaking! This summer Warped is celebrating its 20th anniversary,and while the tour is celebrating its 20th year; we’re celebrating our 1st time having a RYFO presence on the tour!
Since the tour kicked off last month in Texas, our volunteers have been spreading the word about our Host Home network, and looking for opportunities to build relationships with the bands on the tour. When it’s all said and done 21 different volunteers will have represented RYFO at select tour dates in 6 different states. With one date remaining for our volunteers in Atlanta next week, we wanted to share about our experience thus far.
A Warm Welcome
Since our first appearance on the tour at the San Antonio date, the bands have been wowed by our desire to care for their needs on the road. Some of the bands went so far as to stop what they were doing to sign up on the spot. Comments like, “This is the best idea I’ve ever heard!” have been repeatedly noted by our volunteers as they share about RYFO. Simply put, RYFO has been warmly welcomed into the Warped Tour Community!
One notable, and somewhat comical comment made by an artist at the Pomona date went something like this…(a phone conversation while walking up to our booth in the catering area) “I’m about to get lunch (brief pause while reading our sign) and apparently I’m about to get a shower!” We proceeded to share with this artist, as we have with most of the musicians on the tour, about the hospitality of our amazing Host Homes all around the country. He was blown away!
In contrast, some of the artists we connected with thought RYFO was simply too good to be true. When Audrey Thompson, RYFO’s Host Home Coordinator was asked, “So what’s the catch?” by one of the more skeptical artists. She responded plainly, “Well actually there is a catch. We’re doing it all for Jesus.” To which the artist responded, “That’s a good catch!”
To add to all the positive receptivity from the Warped bands, RYFO’s acceptance on the tour was fully cemented when Warped Tour’s founder Kevin Lyman took it upon himself to approach our table and personally thank us for serving their artist community.
With such a warm welcome across the board our staff has concluded one thing for sure – This summer won’t be the last time we’re Serving the Voices at Warped Tour!
A big shout out and thank you to our amazing volunteers!
Jonathan Gunasingham became involved with RYFO the year after he graduated from college. Engineering was his focal point when he attended college, but he was looking for something that blended his passions and interests with a Godly calling. The phrase, “the place you are called is where your deepest longing meets the world’s greatest need” is what Jonathan believed would happen for him. One of his deep passions is music, and he started to wonder if there was a space to craft communities on the road with touring artists, while meeting their practical needs. Jonathan believed this could not only impact the lives of the artists themselves, but also the lives of other artists they shared the road with. He drafted surveys and e-mailed varied artists, reaching out, and somewhere along the line was connected with RYFO.
“I was really drawn to the comprehensive aim of RYFO to meet all needs of touring musicians,” Jonathan shared. “I started to reach out to musicians and set up times at concerts to speak to them about their spiritual, practical, psychological, and emotional needs. When setting up these times, I usually tried to see if I could bring to them something to help them out like care packages and what not. I often had people I was acquainted with contribute items such as baked goods and gift cards.”
Eventually, Jonathan started to dream big and think outside the proverbial box. He was inspired by the amazing gatherings his church put on, and the potlucks that took place before concerts. Jonathan started wondering what it would look like if a tour came through town, and had a giant picnic of sorts before the show, for all artists on the tour. Someone he met at one of the concerts took notice of what Jonathan was up to, and called him one year later to see if he could do a similar outreach for a tour she was booking.
“The tour ended up being Abandon Kansas’s first Canadian tour,” Jonathan shared. “I was excited that the act of service got some steam and others were excited about it. I once again gathered many friends. This time there were more people who came by to hangout and attend the show. They brought TONS of food. The overall night was bittersweet because I discovered the band was having a pretty rough time in Canada; low capacity shows, unaware venues and being robbed the night before the show they played in Toronto. The band was in somewhat low spirits. It was very difficult having such high expectations for the event knowing what the band was navigating. However, it was awesome to form a camaraderie with them and hear that the food, support and love they experienced in Toronto was the best part of the tour. We were also able to send them off with food.”
Music is a beacon in the lives of many. It’s a form of communication that is often taken for granted, but rarely tuned out. Music carries us through our workdays, and serves as the back drop for many monumental experiences. Music has intrinsic value which is exemplified through the profound effect it has on our daily lives.
Have you ever stopped to ask yourself, “What’s going on behind the music?” Musicians are on the front lines of our culture, walking in the authority that we’ve given them by lending an ear to their voice. These individuals speak into the hearts and minds of our generation, and we choose to listen because they allow their passions and beliefs and convictions to spill out of them. As believers and a group of people that are passionate about music, we are called to do more than merely listen to the voices of these cultural warriors. We are called to serve these voices.
So how do you serve? I can think of an excellent way that you can begin this very moment, Prayer!
Prayer is our strongest ammunition against the chaos in this world. Our prayers work in ways that we are unable to. Through prayer we are able to ask God for His insight and intervention in the lives of the musicians that we serve. We are able to submit the things that we desperately want to care for into the hands of a God whose heart for the music community is so much bigger than ours.
Show how would you go about praying for musicians? Here are 10 prayers that you can praying…
Pray first and foremost that these artists would encounter the Lord and be drawn to Him. Pray that the love of Christ would be unavoidable to them as they navigate through the struggles that come with life on the road. Pray that they would embrace the roles they’ve stepped into as “culture-shapers” and role models and that their impact would have positive repercussions. Pray for their physical well-being, that they would have everything they stand in need of, and that in God’s provision He reminds them each of His goodness and faithfulness. Pray that they would have the strength to withstand the temptations that they face both at home and on the road. Pray that they would have the courage to say, “no,” when it would be all too easy to say, “yes.” Pray that they would be constantly aware that their integrity has a value that’s not worth trading for temporary pleasures. Pray that they would be able to combat their loneliness and find genuine, loyal friendships that point them to the Lord. Faithful friendships that transcend state lines are difficult to find! Pray for their families back home, that God would comfort them and bring them peace and understanding as their loved one faces battles that they often can’t explain in a phone call. Pray that God would bring wise individuals to speak truth into their lives at every turn, for their encouragement and sustenance.
Ephesians 6:18 says this: “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” We’re called to pray in accordance with the Holy Spirit’s leading, but pray nonetheless! Let’s not miss this call to intercede on behalf of these musicians. We have the opportunity to call upon the God we serve to provide for and shape those that shape our culture. Let’s serve these voices in a way that will never cease to be effective and LET’S START NOW!
I volunteered to work at a well-known Christian artist’s merchandise table two years ago. I had moved to California a mere four weeks prior and viewed volunteering at this event as a unique way for me to meet and network with others. The tour was a rather large one, each gig lasting up to a solid three hours with all the performers combined doing 10-20 minutes worth of material.
The artist I volunteered for not only had their spouse with them on tour, but also their children and their in-laws. After the show, the artist interacted with the long line of fans/supporters at their meet and greet table. Myself and a very small amount of others knew how exhausted this artist truly was. Despite the exhaustion the artist gave out a countless number of autographs, handshakes, hugs, and photos. Much later, after the artist was done for the night, a few more people came up to see the artist. One of them surprised me by making some negative remarks about the artist not staying around long enough to meet with people.
Since that experience and my recent involvement with RYFO, I’ve found myself wondering why these fans were so negative towards this artist. Were they expecting the artist to stay around and meet people all night long? Through RYFO, I was introduced to the idea of being a Different Brand of Fan, one who takes a sincere and genuine interest in the artist as a human being, not just as an artist. A Rebranded Fan looks for ways to love and serve an artist, and cares very little about what they get out of the interaction. It’s all about being an authentic source of encouragement, and pointing the artist towards the love that Christ has for them. Interested in learning more about being a Rebranded Fan?
Have you ever struggled to hear God’s voice amidst the noise of life? If you’ve ever felt this way you are not alone. Our circumstances and even our surroundings can cause God’s voice to feel distant. (more…)
It’s a rare occasion when one of your all-time favorite musicians reaches out to you and offers you helpful advice. It’s even more of a rare occasion if they share a personal story about their lives that they’ve only shared with their family members and very close friends. So personal in fact, that they never shared it during thousands of interviews with various press all over the world. They entrust you with their story, without your asking, hoping that you will only share it with others who might benefit from it.
That’s exactly what happened to me.
In the not-so-distant past, I found myself in the midst of some very unfortunate circumstances. Absolutely none of my relatives or friends had ever been through what I was attempting to navigate on a daily basis. There were no books, magazines, or websites that served as a “how to.” I humbled myself, and on a whim, I made the decision to open a line of communication with one of my all-time favorite musicians. To my complete and utter disbelief this artist became genuinely interested in my life, and wanted to keep in touch so they could check in on me and offer me some pointers. I gladly exchanged contact info with them and four days later I learned from this artist that when they were my age they too had been navigating the same situations I was navigating. This artist shared with me their personal heartache and their daily fears. One example they shared was how they’d survived living in an old abandoned building. Since sleeping at night wasn’t an option, this person stayed awake throughout the night and read their Bible until day break. Later on those times served as the foundation upon which their catalogues of albums were built.
I never would have imagined this person went through so much. They seemed so incredibly together. Not just their outer appearance, but their overall presence on stage, how they interacted with others, and during interviews on radio, television, and magazines. I never imagined the pain, anger, confusion, depression, anxiety and doubt they’d endured. In light of my experience I’ve found myself reflecting on the interactions between musicians and fans. I wonder what the music community would look like if musicians and fans started interacting on a more personal level. What kind of change would that introduce in their lives?
As a contributing writer for RYFO I’ve begun to realize that my interaction can and should be the norm rather than the exception. I invite you to learn, as I have, about becoming A Different Brand of Fan. With a new perspective and approach on being a music fan, you may end up making a personal connection with one of your favorite musicians.
Rejection. It just might be one of the most emotionally catastrophic life experiences we all face. As children, our peers reject us when they won’t let us sit with them at the lunch table. We go home and cry into the arms of our parents as they do their best to patch us back up. As teenagers, rejection rears its ugly head when our crush goes with someone else to the school dance or when we don’t get chosen for the team we spent years dreaming of being on. Unfortunately, even adults can’t outrun the occasional rejection. We don’t get the job we interviewed for or the promotion we’ve spent years working towards. Rejection hurts. Badly.
Now, imagine facing rejection anywhere from 1-4 times a week for years on end. Imagine working 80 plus hours a week with zero to little pay and having to live off ramen and dollar menu items. Imagine having to hear that you’re not good enough and that you’re wasting your life away from friends and even family members. If you imagined all those things, you might just have a taste of what it feels like to be a musician.
Chasing your dreams is hard. So much so, that the majority of Americans stop pursuing their dreams and settle for a typical office job by the age of 23. The daily grind of actually actively pursuing a dream takes an emotional toll on a person, particularly for artists. Musicians spend hours of their time creating music. They sacrifice sleep, time with family, and nights out with friends just to give life to a song that they carry within them. They sing at open mic nights to an audience of maybe 10, while dreaming of singing at a stadium. They get denied by agents and managers who tell them that their songs aren’t good enough. Their appearance isn’t marketable. Their voice needs more work. They are faced daily with the chance that all this work may quite possibly lead to nothing. Yet, they keep going. They sleep and travel in that stereotypical “band-van” that might not make it to their next destination. They give their all at every singing event despite the terrible sound system or audience turn out. They pour their hearts out into every song knowing that the general public will have the opportunity to tell them that they aren’t good enough.
One of the many reasons I love RYFO is because it was started by two guys who experienced what it was like to chase a dream. They realized that musicians don’t have to walk this path alone, if they can help it. They understood the power of offering an aspiring band a hot meal and a warm bed to sleep in even if it’s just for one night. They decided that a “fan” can be so much more than just a consumer. A fan can actually stand beside them and actually give back.
So, the next time you go to see your favorite local band play or if you meet an aspiring musician, encourage them. Tell them why you love their music. If you can, offer to buy them dinner. Offer them a place to stay. Tell them that you believe in them. Tell them that they are good enough.
Have you ever wondered what a radio spot for RYFO might sound like?
Nick Lubs, son of Dave and Beverly, a RYFO Host Home in Indiana, made a RYFO commercial for one of his class projects. The commercial serves as an advertisement to bands about the care and support available to them through the RYFO Network.
At the beginning of our day, in the middle of our day, and especially at the end of our day, there’s nothing quite like listening to your favorite songs. An invisible reset button is pressed and we begin to rebuild our sense of self.
Three years ago, I had the opportunity to compose my first soundtrack for a short film. I had new recording software I was teaching myself to use and decided this would be a prime opportunity to break it in. I viewed the short film multiple times before diving in to the composition. As I prayed under my breath for the Lord to grant me supernatural tenacity, I painstakingly matched the changing themes of the film with my music. When it was all said and done I felt an enormous sense of accomplishment.
As I reflected on the finished work I began to think about the musicians who had aided my creative process. Every sound on my recording software, every MIDI track, the mic I used, and quite possibly even those who assisted in the software’s development, were probably all musicians. I wondered who they all were. I wondered about their personal lives. Did they have spouses? Children? An elderly mother and father living their final days in a rest home? Were their bills past due in spite of their best efforts? Did they have health concerns? What was their spiritual life about? Did they believe in Jesus as their Savior? If they did, how were they growing in their personal walk with Him? Do they have an accountability partner in their lives?
As a musician, I appreciate RYFO’s desire to bring musicians from all walks of life, one step closer to their Creator, and to care for all aspects of their well being. In a day and age where technology advances can often leave people with a deep sense of detachment, RYFO understands the importance of maintaining real life relationships and communication. If you have an embedded sense of compassion for musicians, please consider becoming a Rebranded Fan. It’s a vital part of RYFO’s efforts to spread the love of Christ within the music community.