Ministry + Artistry = Profitability? God's Growth Strategy
Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series from Scott A. Shuford's new column for Creator Worship in Worship Musician Magazine! Focusing on a balance between the business of music and ministry, Scott will take your questions and share successful strategies from his experiences working with Integrity Music, Worship Together, Vineyard Music, Rick Muchow (Saddleback Church,) and others in the areas of social media, public relations, advertising and promotion. Email questions on this topic for future consideration to Scott@CreatorLeadershipNetwork.com.
So…. I’m going to layout God’s growth strategy based on 20+ years of observing artists, ministries, the music industry, churches, and life. Take it for what it is worth. Nothing that we say about God is always true, except when we re-say what God says about Himself. This is a Paul moment where I say this is not what God says, but here’s what I think.
God can do things any way He wants to do them. Who are we to argue with how He decides to rollout our lifework? I guess we are Job or maybe worse Jonah… two guys that I have more in common with than I had hoped.
For many years, most artists thought “If I could just get signed by a label, then I would be ‘famous’ or successful . I’d be on the radio and touring the world, impacting many, many people.” This was just as true in worship as it was in pop music.
That CAN happen, but are you really ready for that TO happen? Are you ready to tour the world, most likely leaving your family behind at home? Are your songs truly good enough to be on the radio? Do you realize that you don’t have to do any of that to fulfill God’s mission for you?
To go from “zero to hero” can easily destroy just about anyone. Look at how the biggest secular pop sensations implode time after time with drug addictions, mental breakdowns, and suicides. That is often what happens when your world changes overnight from success. Even in the Christian world, it’s very tough. I think most people could not hold to the schedule Paul Baloche lives on.
God knows that most of us need to grow into what He has for us. God’s growth strategy is a set of concentric circles. The red dot in the middle is you. The circles are your expanding reach of influence and impact.
The first area of influence and impact is your local church. If you are called to worship ministry, is your local church, the church to which you belong as an active member, using you in worship ministry? BTW - if you are not plugged in at a local church, you are not ready for worship ministry. If your own church is not using you, why in the world would someone in Peoria want to bring you into their church? Start at home: volunteer and serve. When you’ve grown in a season there, get a letter of endorsement from your pastor, then move to the next circle: your city. Be sure you do data capture of your fan base in your church! Get emails and tell people how to find you on Twitter and Facebook. The experience you gain with the very understanding people at your church in terms of stage time, technological issues, rapport with audiences, coordinating with teams, and more, will be invaluable as you move further out in the circle rings.
So you are consistently serving in your home church, now let’s move into your city. Are you playing at city events like Independence Day or Concerts in the Park? Are you playing at other local churches? Tim Timmons from Mariners Church plays at least a few times a year at Saddleback Church. Good idea! It’s easy to move into your city, particularly if your church body and your pastor are behind you. It’s also close to home! With a couple of cars, you can probably load up all your gear and be there in 10-20 minutes. No van or trailer rental. No massive gas expense. No hotel stays. That sure beats trying to figure out the logistics of flying or driving two states away for a gig. It takes less time out of your life. As you move to your city, you also get to expand your fan base with more data capture. These new fans are easy for you to stay in contact with. They may even end up coming to your church! All the while, you are gaining that personal experience and letting God mold you and your team, band, family, etc.
So your church and your city are using you, now let’s move to the two surrounding cities or the county. Nailed the county, then move wider into the state. Nailed the state, then what about the 3 state region? As you spend the time to gain the experience of going through all this growth, all the benefits continue to build in you. Everything you are learning and everyone with whom you are connecting can lead to an increasingly deeper impact and influence, and set you up for deeper impact in the future.
In contrast, you could be doing a gig three states over with great success, but what if you get invited to another church there? What does that mean to your family time, your logistics and your peace of mind? Well, if it’s Joel Osteen’s church, then GO! I’m not saying to avoid great opportunities. What I am saying is to plan a growth strategy that is not based on faraway places or that runs ahead of your experience. If God decides He wants to, He can scatter you among the nations at any time.
Scott has led classes for us at NAMM and the Christian Musician Summit. He has been featured in Adweek and is the CEO of FrontGate Media, the #1 culture-engage media group reaching the Christian audience (www.FrontGateMedia.com) and is the co-founder of Creator Worship: online radio for worship leaders (www.CreatorWorship.com). Email your comments or questions to Scott@CreatorLeadershipNetwork.com.