where i belong

Why the Church Should Support Tori Kelly, Evangelist


“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.