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Why the Church Should Support Tori Kelly, Evangelist

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“I believe we all have a purpose. No one purpose is greater than another purpose.   You all have a purpose.” -Tori Kelly, last Friday night.

Friday night, Emily and I saw Tori Kelly’s Where I Belong Tour at The Fillmore in Silver Spring. It was exciting for us, because we had tickets to see her in 2013. But the day of her show was the day of Emily’s stem cell retrieval (and essentially the most traumatic day of the entire stem-cell transplant season). So the tickets just went to waste. So Friday, for us, was kind of a celebration of things coming full-circle.

So back to the show…Obviously, musically she was incredible. Rare vocal talent. We got to meet and chat with her for a second before the show and she couldn’t have been nicer and more welcoming. But some of the things she said during the show challenged my perspective.

Tori talked about her family. She spoke so highly of her bandmates. She talked about her song inspirations. During the Q&A, she talked about her logo being inspired by favorite Bible verse (Psalm 91:4). She displayed obvious humility throughout the night, even while the crowd was chanting her name. Her band was visibly praying on stage, if you paid attention. Emily and I had a conversation on the ride home that in many ways, we walked away feeling more like we were at a God-inspired show and heard God-inspired music than at some church events I’ve played at. But the thing is, it wasn’t at a church event. It was out in public. With thousands of people. And it was impactful.

I think many times, as Christians, as pastors, as leaders, we get competitive and closed minded. We have to get people to our church to build our thing. When we do that, we fail to support those people who use their gifts in other ways…in sometimes ways we wouldn’t consider. We fail to get out and meet people where they are. But Tori Kelly is not failing. We are on the same team, and we should act like it. Many other artists who are Christians write positive music. Some with Christ-centered lyrics. But because they aren’t a “Christian artist” we ignore them or write them off. Let’s not get it wrong this time.

Go buy Tori Kelly’s album, Unbreakable Smile, and tell your friends. No she isn’t a CCM artist. No she isn’t on a Christian label. No she isn’t writing the songs we sing in church (but she was videod singing Oceans in Central Park, for those of you that have Oceans as a deal breaker ). But she is making Jesus famous in places where many of us will never go. And, by the way, her music is incredible upbeat, positive and catchy.

Get it here: Unbreakable Smile (Bonus Track Version)

ps. She’s going to win a GRAMMY or two. Just remember that I said that.

 

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Cover video

A couple of days ago I made (and posted) a cover video of one of the new North Point songs, Love Come Down. It’s by no means perfect, but people seem to like it, so that’s cool. Almost 500 views in a couple days…not too bad. Check it out!

 

Non-Profit

For the last five or six years, I’ve been operating my band as a sole-proprietership. That essentially means everything we make when we play somewhere or I sell a t-shirt, etc., is personal income and I have to claim it every April 15. And every time I spend money, it’s legally my personal money, even though it’s separated as a business expense. I make sure everyone else gets paid before I do. My time is invested and spent. That’s just how I’ve operated and I’m fine with that mode of operation. I’ve basically been operating as a non-profit business.

But now I’m getting more and more opportunities and invitations. And wider ones. Recently I was in South Africa doing leadership training for kids and leading worship. Later this month, I’m speaking at a huge youth conference in Florida. Next year, we’re heading to Portland to play at the International UMC Conference. These types of things are in addition to the normal worship leading and playing at conferences we do throughout the year.

While these things have been going on, I’ve had other ideas to push things further. I had someone donate a guitar for me to take to South Africa, which I left with a new friend I made there. I did the same thing in Ecuador a few years ago. Gap Community, the organization we were with in South Africa, asked if I had any connections to provide a keyboard to a church in Zambia. The point is, somehow, I’ve become a point person for collecting and donating instruments to people that otherwise can’t get them. I’ve also started consulting/training other worship leaders and artists how to do what I do. And those are just two quick examples of things that could continue as is, or  grow in the future. But as it is now, I’m limited with what I can do.

SO: things are expanding and I want to do more. So I am currently in the process of starting a non-profit ministry. Through this, I’ll be able to empower others and reach people using primarily, but not limited to, music and other creative arts. Not only will our non-profit be a 501c3, tax exempt, organization, but it will allow me to get others involved to use their gifts to impact the world. Recently I had someone ask if my ministry was a non-profit. They wanted to make a tax deductible donation, but as I explained how things functioned, and described that they couldn’t donate as a write-off, I realized I have been aligned in this world to do something even bigger but I was limiting myself. There are people who want to make an impact in the world, but will never the opportunities that I have. So I want to bear that responsibility. We will start small and simply employ those I already work with, but has potential to expand to unknown possibilities. Only God knows where this will lead.

In the short term, it won’t change much in what you see from me or the band. This will just widen the scope of what we can do as things move forward. So don’t worry, we’ll still be around the same places you usually see us.

I believe this will be a game-changer for the band and provide more opportunities for Emily, the band, you, others and me to make a mark on the world. We are going worldwide wide wide wide.

I know this seems very vague at the moment. I promise there are tons of ideas stirring in my head. Stay tuned for more info soon…

Thanks for supporting, as always. I truly want this to be something we do together.

 

The Wammies

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We are pretty pumped to invited to play at The 2015 Wammies. The Wammies are the Washington Area Music Awards, aka Washington Area GRAMMYS. I’ve been nominated, and even won one in the past. They don’t typically have Christian artists play live at the event, but in addition to being nominated for three awards (Gospel Vocalist of the Year, Gospel Group/Duo of the Year and Gospel Album of the Year), we are going to be rockin the Wammies stage for the first time.

Tickets are available to the public for $35. If you tickets, let me know and I can get get them for $15.

Thanks, as always, for supporting, reading, praying, etc.

Glory to God,

Keith

Africa

We have some exciting news to share! Emily​ and I are planning to travel to South Africa this April with Gap Community to work in the township of Kayamandi (pictured above). As part of this mission opportunity, we’ll be working in a primary school with 12-13 year olds and telling them about the vision God has for their life and the love of Jesus. One goal is to adopt the math classroom, upgrade the floors, windows, chairs, desks and paint an inspirational mural on the walls so the students are continually reminded of their value. Emily is especially excited about the opportunity to paint, and I’ll be able to play and lead worship. We’ll also be helping develop leaders amongst high school students and women (which is an abnormal opportunity for them) and teaching some basic self-defense in other areas.

I’ve already had a generous fellow worship leader donate a guitar, strings, picks and a capo for me to take, with the understanding that I’ll find a teenager there who can develop worship leading gifts and leave it for him!

As you might expect, these types of trips can be expensive, but we fully believe this is an opportunity God has given us for His purposes. It’s a little bit rare for us too, because we have to raise double the amount since we’re both going. Together we need $6000 to make this happen. We’re asking for you to prayerfully consider supporting us in this trip. If you’d like to, there are a few ways you can do so:

1. You can give online via gofundme.com (http://www.gofundme.com/m3w9ik)
2. You can donate money by sending either cash or check directly to us, with Africa in the memo line.
3. You can make a tax-deductible donation by making a check out to Gap Community, with “Keith and Emily” in the memo line.
4. Pray for our trip and our fundraising efforts.

 

If you’d like our address to donate, please message me.

Or you can mail to Gap Community at:

GAP Community (West Coast Headquarters)
1315 Pacific Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95404

 

We love you,
Keith

 

Jammin Java

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Thanks to everyone who bought tickets and came out to Jammin Java last week. I can’t explain to you how amazing it is to shine the hope and light of Jesus in a place that doesn’t typically host Christian artists/worship bands.

Our vision for the night was to impact the community and build a relationship with this premier venue, which happens to be 3 miles from where we live and 2 miles from our church campus. Jammin Java was unbelievably supportive and thankful for the friendliness and respect their bartenders and servers had from the band, other musicians and all those who were there. The manager could hardly believe that we nearly sold it out and said he’d love to have us back.

Stay tuned…

Know Your Why

Yesterday I preached at my church, Vine Church. The sermon was called, “Know Your Why” and we discussed how to align what we do with our why. You can check it out below.

Relational Leadership Principles

RELATIONAL PRINCIPLES FOR CHURCH LEADERS

For the past 15 years I’ve been on church staffs in one form or another. I’ve led worship. I’ve led students. I’ve consulted with churches and trained worship teams. I’ve analyzed church systems and worship services with lead pastors. I’ve been around the world and seen a lot. At the same time, I have my own band that travels to play music or lead worship at conferences and venues all over the U.S. As time has passed, my understanding of church has evolved; My worship teams have expanded and disbanded; My community involvement has increased and decreased; I’ve received more notoriety as a musician; We’ve played on bigger stages and smaller stages; And so on. But I’m constantly asking myself how true success is measured or attained.

I keep coming back to vision and relationships.

I’m not sure if there is an official term such as “relational leadership” as it relates to this, but that’s the type of leader I want to be. And that’s the type of leader Jesus was and is (and is to come?)

Over the past few years, I’ve been keeping notes of things I’ve learned as a leader. Not all of them will apply to everyone in everyway. But the ideas and concepts are important, whether you’re a church leader, CEO, quarterback, lead singer, office manager, doctor, etc.

 

1 – KEEP THE VISION IN FRONT.

Know who you’re called to be (both as a leader and as a church community) and it will make decisions and actions easier. I don’t think anyone is called or sets out to be a big jerk. And I don’t think anyone sets out to get off line from where they’re headed. But it can happen easily if you aren’t constantly recalling the vision to yourself and your team.

[You may have to pass up on good opportunities or ideas.]

 

2 – KEEP PEOPLE FIRST.

Of course when you’re the leader there are times where you have to lead/make tough decisions/hold people accountable. But if they are important to you they will feel important to you. If you set out to make them feel important so that they will work harder, they will sniff that out and know that they are just cogs in your church machine. That is not only offensive, but counterproductive to the vision. Instead – actually care about them and what’s going on in their life and they’ll likely want to be on your team. Then together you can pursue the vision.

 

3 – MAKE OTHER PEOPLE’s PURPOSE YOUR PURPOSE.

If you are solely interested in how people can serve your purpose, you and they will be frustrated. If you help them figure out their purpose (both personally and as part of the team), they will be loyal and you’ll both end up fulfilled. And this unity will propel the vision forward and draw other people in.

 

4 – LEADERS ARE ONLY AS GOOD AS THEIR TEAM.

It might sound a little cliche, but we have to constantly remember that leaders are only as good as the team around them. Nobody can do things completely alone. Everything is a team effort. Make sure you continually remember that and state it to everyone. Look at someone successful and 100% chance they have a team around them.

[Think of famous athletes we know by a single nickname: Brady or Lebron. Or think of an athlete that even competes alone – like Tiger Woods. Or a solo musician – like Johnny Cash. They are mentioned by name, usually by themselves and many times are in front of people by themselves. But as talented as Tom Brady is, he wouldn’t have as many rings as he has without coaches, offensive line, solid defense year after year, etc. Lebron didn’t win a ring until he teamed up with Wade and Bosh. Tiger has coaches, doctors, more doctors, caddies, doctors, etc. Johnny had a band, producer and  promoters.]

 

5a- RECEIVE CRITICISM.

5b- DEFLECT PRAISE

Take the criticism and deflect the praise. That is part of leadership responsibility. Give criticism to your team privately but give them praise publicly. When someone tells you a song or event missed the mark, take responsibility. Whether you planned it or not is irrelevant. When someone comes up after the worship service to talk about how great you sounded, be thankful, but give a simple reminder that it has a lot to do with the guitar riff and bass groove.

[This was never more apparent to me than during Kevin Durant’s MVP speech a few years back. He reached the individual pinnacle of his sport, yet he spent the entire 27 minute speech deflecting the praise onto everyone but himself. See it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxVAOoQeNJ8 ]

 

6 – IT’S BETTER TO DISCUSS THAN TO DISCOVER.

My friend Brandon said this to me one time and it was revolutionary to my relationship to my leadership style. If you have discussions up front about things, people won’t have different expectations. The responsibility is on you to be honest, as the leader. If you are not, and somebody has unmet expectations, and therefore is hurt/angry/upset, you can blame yourself. When you set expectations up front and make sure people are on the same page from the beginning, it will set you up for success in the long run.

[It will also make #7 and #8 easier]

 

7 – BE OPENMINDED.

People are different, have different experiences, etc. Have an open mind as a leader. Or you’ll only attract people like yourself. You might like it, but it’s not what the world needs and will not breed success. Life is a continual journey. We will never stop being refined. People are dynamic so leadership will be dynamic. So staying openminded is the only option.

 

8 – BE PATIENT.

Waiting is key. Quick reactions to solve problems are sometimes necessary, but making the right decision outweighs making the fast one. It might not be fun or feel good to have something hanging over you, but experiencing that over a short period of time is far better than making a decision that temporarily lifts the weight, but causes more trouble in the future.

 

9 – BE PRESENT.

The future is now. Yes God holds the world in His hands. Yes Alpha and Omega, but the Kingdom is here. The Kingdom is present. We cannot control everything external going on around us, but we do have control over our present attitude and therefore reality. We always look forward to where we see the vision taking us, where the strategy will work, reaching the next goal, etc. But if we aren’t present, none of that will matter. How does the now relate to the future? How am I being shaped today in this moment?

 

10 – KEEP IT SIMPLE.

Many times we make leadership too complicated and overthink it. This list might even confuse you. Keeping it simple (#1 – knowing who you’re called to be and #2 – prioritize people) will not diminish importance, just confusion.

 

 

Are there some I’ve missed? What have you learned that you can share?

KingsFest

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Beginning today @ 10am, through next Tuesday May 13th, we need your help! You can help us win a spot on the main stage at KingsFest on June 26th. We’d play that night with TobyMac, Rend Collective and more. If you visit kingsfestival.com, you can vote once a day, per device, for the next week. That will help the KingsFest peeps narrow the 50 semi-finalists to the 5 finalists, from which they’ll select the winner.

Here is a pre-made image you can post on instagram/twitter/facebook etc. to invite people to vote along with us.

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right click to “Save Image As”

 

Please help us spread the word!

Thanks friends,
Keith

Angel 95 FM

Hello amigos,

In February I got an email from Angel95fm in Manhattan, KS asking if I’d be interviewed for a feature on unsigned artists called “Off the Grid.” So a couple of weeks ago, we recorded the interview (before I found out about the recentl KCCM Song of the Year Award) and the show aired this past weekend. You can listen to it here.

 

 

Let me know what you think by commenting below!

Thanks,
Keith

 

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