Interview with Chad Jarnagin

In this post our friend Carole Hicks interviews Christian musician Chad Jarnagin.

Chad Jarnagin

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your heart with the readers here at Artists for Christ! We are honored to have you here. Would you start off by giving us a bit of info on your background, where did you grow up, what is your life like now, that sort of thing.
I am a songwriter, lead worshiper, pastor, & artist.. I’m passionate about mentoring young musicians, writing songs, and leading The Church in worship to their Creator. I grew up around Cincinnati, OH, and now live in Franklin, TN / Nashville where I am the Worship Arts Pastor of Rolling Hills Community Church (www.rollinghillscommunity.org)

I’ve toured over 1800 shows / events over 10 years including major sporting events with the NBA playoffs w/ the New York Knicks & Indiana Pacers, NFL w/ Tennessee Titans & Kansas City Chiefs, MLB w/ Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers, the NHL, AFL, and more. I’ve also led worship for conferences and conventions including Youth Specialties, State & National Evangelism conventions, as well as many worship & leadership conferences. Most of which happened while with my old band Among Thorns.

What kind of training or schooling do you have that has led to your current success or situation in life?
I went to Carson Newman College. Much of my education has come “on the job”, I have done some schools of music, conferences, & leadership training programs as well. I will truly be a student of life until I am done in the world.

What one thing do you do to find creative inspiration?
I have to find time to be in silence… while reading, writing, or whatever. When I make time for that, all the noise tends to fade so that I can sense the “still small voice”. The true translation of that really means in the “stone silence”. I believe God speaks through many things, but we have to stop ourselves to see and hear Him. With Facebook, Twitter, iPhones, and video gaming we all have our share of distractions / entertainment.

Would you mind sharing the story of how you came to know Christ and how he shows up in your day-to-day life as an artist?
When I was 15 I went through the motions of saying a prayer, doing the “right” things and trying not to do the “wrong” things, but came to find that by the age of 22 I hadn’t surrendered me to Him. I found freedom when I began a relationship at that point when I was 22. Funny thing is, I had already been in Christian music for 3 yrs at that point. I’m glad God is bigger than the religion we substitute for Him sometimes.

I create space in life to read the Scriptures, books, and meditate as much as I can. God is everywhere everyday. He shows up in conversations at coffee shops, pubs, school, and even Urban Outfitters if we pay attention. <smile>

Do you now or have you ever felt isolated as an artist in the world, or do you have a strong community of believers that you stay connected with throughout the day?
I do have some amazing friends. Most of which have their own artsy tweaks to them. The sense of community in my town of Franklin is pretty rad. There is a Godly synergy that is sometimes unexplainable.

As artists we will probably always feel a little different, which can lead to isolation. I have worked on staff at churches and have been made to feel alone. The bigger picture is to be aware of who God has made us to be. He wired you the way you are for a honkin’ reason! I am still wrapping my head/heart around that.

Do you ever use your art as a medium to help others and share the gospel?
I hope so! It’s my heart and strategy that my music, writings, and art relates to people where they are. I hope it engages Believers to respond in worship to their God. For others, I can usually begin to connect just b/c of my appearance. In other words, I probably don’t look like I just walked out of church. <wink> Music is something that everyone can relate to. When people hear that I’m a musician they are 95% willing to converse b/c they are genuinely interested in the music.

I have a few plans to use music to influence positive change in my community through my church I might add.

Do you have any nuggets of wisdom, any tips for young artists who are just starting out?
I started out in music when I was 15. Begin as young as you can, b/c you will be learning forever. Make time to read, listen, love, and create. Whatever you are dreaming, go for it. With the technical tools at our disposal today, you can do it all. If you are a song-writer, write and record it with your Mac (or a friends Mac). If you are an actor, act. Be it at school or wherever. Filmakers, shoot, film, and edit away. Designers, create, craft, and dream on.

The world is waiting for you to show up to the party. If you are a Believer, wear His name well. Don’t run from the world b/c it is different from you. Run TO it. Love it b/c it needs loving… and it needs inspiration with new beautiful, thought provoking art.

…If you are on Twitter you can follow both Carole and Chad – James

“Pre-evangelism” – Preparing people for the Gospel

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” – 2 Corinthians 10:5

Mars Hill

I have almost finished a song with a difference. It’s the first serious song I’ve written for probably several years that does not mention God, Jesus, sin or any other directly religious language. Yet I have written it with the need for people to come to Christ in mind. What’s going on here?

A concept I recently heard spoken about (I think by John Piper) is that of “pre-evangelism”. This is basically the idea that there are certain truths that are helpful to prepare people to hear the Good News of Jesus, even if they themselves are not the Gospel. A good illustration of this is in the life of Paul. At one point, he is able to say to the Philippian jailer “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved” and see him come to faith. However, as he stood before the philosophers at Athens he did not mention Jesus’ name at all. Why? Because he saw that those at Athens were at a level of understanding so distant from the truth, that to tell them of Jesus would have sounded like nonsense to them. So instead, he starts to tell them of the personal God who created all things, who “even some of your poets” have spoken of (Check out Acts 17:22-34). If this type of thinking interests you, try checking out the work of Francis Schaeffer.

Many people around us may have an even more distant understanding than those listening to Paul in Athens. Some may not even believe that there exists truth, or goodness, let alone a creator and sustainer God who can be known personally through the work of Jesus. So how do we respond to this? I think it is important for us to recognise that whilst some people around us are ready to respond to art and music that directly explains the gospel (and praise God for how many people’s lives have been radically changed by this sort of creativity – so KEEP MAKING IT!), but that for others we need to adopt a different approach.

The song I spoke of at the beginning is about my wish for someone who would go beyond their fears, their self-interest and simply seek out the truth, “to see infinity and not to turn away”. The song talks of what it would cost such a person, and closes by asking whether such a person ever existed. I know the answer is yes. The listeners may not. But by the power of the Holy Spirit, the song could trigger a glimmer of hope in their heart, which might lead them to search – and perhaps a prodigal might return from the pigsty back to the arms of their Father….

– Stephen

Friday’s FYI – Christopher Doherty

Christopher Doherty is a graphic designer based in the US. He runs a Christian music and media website called lightvox.com and is one of our friends on twitter.

lightvox

Age? 37

Where do you live? Cleveland, Ohio USA

What is your favorite colour? #FFF – I love the use of whitespace as a creative element.

What is your favorite website at the moment? Oh so many, Smashing Magazine, PSDTUTS, ChurchCrunch (it’s like having my own personal beta tester)

What are the 3 things that you most like doing with your time? Spending time with my wife, design and being inspired by God’s work in others.

lifechurch.tv

Lightvox Website

When did you first start using your creativity for God, and how did that come about? Well I suppose any creativity I have, has always been used for God since he gave it to me. When did I start being purposeful about it? Within the last few years, I decided to launch Lightvox to share my love of music as ministry and after that everything just fell into place.

What inspires you? Music, It has a very visual element to it.

Who are some of your favorite artists? I enjoy anyone who creates art, as long as you put your heart into it, you can find beauty in all works.

What is the most amazing thing that you have seen God do? God fixed me. He knew I needed to fall before He picked me up. I love how God puts people together at the right place and the right time.

Do you have any particular projects going on at the moment? Just finished the redesign of Lightvox.com, a few client websites and a number of graphic design projects.

What can we expect to see from you in future? I am all over the place. I hope to help others get creative with their ministry. I enjoy sharing what I have learned with others to help them achieve their goals.

What would you most like to see come out of the Christian Creative scene in the next few years? Collaboration.

Where can we find more of your work? Aside from lightvox.com, If you live in the US you can find my work in a number of magazines and newspaper advertisments.

Anything else you would like to say? Hi Mom? Human3rror is my friend? Nah, I would just say thank you James for creating Artists for Christ. Keep up the good work.

Friday’s FYI – Dustin La Mont

Dustin La Mont is a graphic designer and musician based in the USA.

Seedvibe Cards

Age? 24

Where do you live? Meridian, Idaho

W
hat is your favorite colour? Green

What is your favorite website at the moment? My favorite currently would have to be Twitter.com. Not really a “design” site, but I’m ok with that. 🙂

What are the 3 things that you most like doing with your time?
1. Recording new drums tracks for our band’s songs 2. Playing drums for worship at church 3. New design projects

Red Light District Ministry

Leeland Poster

Kid Check Logo

When did you first start using your creativity for God, and how did that come about? I basically just started designing at age 13 with a buddy of mine, and have been self taught ever since, using inspiration from well known sites.

What inspires you? Designers, and sites such as: FaveUp.com, and LogoPond.com

Who are some of your favorite artists? Chuck Anderson, Logoholik, and Dache

What is the most amazing thing that you have seen God do? I’ve been faithfully tithing off of everything I make. I used to not do this. I would consider it as just “extra” money. But as I’ve been faithful with God has given me on every project, I have seen an incredible amount of blessing, and for that I have not had to do any marketing whatsoever. I also have had to turn down projects. I don’t like doing this, but when you don’t have time to work on the project, and they need it ASAP, that’s really the only thing you can do. God has truly blessed my business exceedingly abundantly above whatever I could’ve asked for. It’s great. God is faithful.

Do you have any particular projects going on at the moment? Yes! I am working on:

1. Website design for a local company called Pavement Specialties
2. 2 business card designs for 2 separate companies
3. A full page & quarter page magazine ad for a company called Extreme Nazarene. We are hoping to publish them in Collide Magazine, Relevant Magazine, as well as a few others.

What can we expect to see from you in future? Honesty, Integrity, and Quality design.

What would you most like to see come out of the Christian Creative scene in the next few years? I would really like to see the Christian scene step it up in the area of design. That means, more designers, and higher quality of work. I think sometimes we tend to lack in the quality aspect. We can always go higher. And we can always improve. I would like to see this continue!

Where can we find more of your work? www.seedvibe.com, and some of my featured work is on FaveUp.com.

Anything else you would like to say? Thank you for the opportunity to communicate some of my thoughts, as well as share things about me personally. I am incredibly honored!

Note: Dustin is also part of a band called “The Waiting Kind”, you can listen to their stuff on MySpace. Hopefully we will be hearing about their new album soon!

CompassionArt

When I first heard about this project a week or so ago, I got excited….and then when I saw this video I got EVEN MORE excited! I think that this is going to be a great album, it’s got some great names on it, and it’s all about serving those in need. So praise God for this project, I for one am definitely going to support it and as well as grabbing a copy for myself, maybe an extra one or two for Christmas presents.

If you would like to know more about CompassionArt and find out where you can get a copy of the album and book in your country please visit the CompassionArt Website.

– James

What are we aiming for, anyway?

This is not so much a follow up to my own last post, but a continuation on the themes that James brought up on his “Cutting edge creativity” post ( http://www.artistsforchrist.net/2008/11/cutting-edge-creativity/).

I’d like to pose this suggestion – perhaps people exist who are managing to bridge the secular-spiritual divide. I’m going to throw two names out there to get us thinking about this: Bob Dylan and Lauryn Hill. Having briefly looked at where their music fits into this discussion, I will then turn to asking what form of witness we are looking for from musicians in particular (although this could easily be applied to artists too).

Bob Dylan

A youthful Bob Dylan

A youthful Bob Dylan

I didn’t know a great deal about Bob Dylan until the last couple of years when friends at university started singing his praises, in particular one of my housemates who loved to sing “Blowing in the wind”, a Dylan classic. Dylan is an interesting man to consider in terms of his relationship with Christianity: he was raised up in a Jewish family, and underwent a high-profile conversion to Christianity in the late 70’s. For a few years following his conversion, he performed only Christian material, and was vocal in speaking about his new found faith. The Christian community loved it.

However, it was not to last long: Dylan’s music became more subtle in its material, he became far more cryptic in expressing his beliefs, and many suggested he may have turned away from Christianity. But it is interesting to note that a huge amount of Jesus-inspired imagery and sentiment still comes through Dylan’s music, take for example “”You saw my picture in the Corpus Christi Tribune/ Underneath it, it said, ‘A man with no alibi’/ You went out on a limb to testify for me, you said I was with you/ Then when I saw you break down in front of the judge and cry real tears/ It was the best acting I saw anybody do.”, and think on its significance in terms of justification from sin.

For a more in depth look at Bob Dylan’s faith, check out this article at crossrhythms –http://www.crossrhythms.co.uk/articles/music/Bob_Dylan/7795/p1/

Lauryn Hill

I’ve loved Lauryn’s music from the Fugees, through The Miseducation, and have been very excited from the small amount that has been heard from her more recently. The main reason I refer to her here is because of her “MTV Unplugged 2” appearance, in which she clearly spoke of her love for Jesus, although again much of it was wrapped up in picture langauge. Check out an example below:

This is not a lady who “has it together”. You’re not going to find her leading worship at Soul Survivor any time soon. In fact, if most recent reports from her gigs are anything to go by, then she seems to be going through something of a breakdown. But we must ask ourselves whether or not this writes her off from being used by God in the public sphere to make powerful music that takes people “out of themselves”, and gets them thinking about spiritual things.

Thoughts

So what is it about these three that we would change to fit into our expectations of what a follower of Jesus should say or sing? Would we prefer that Dylan only sang the material of his outright preaching days? Do we want Lauryn Hill to be all “together” before she starts singing songs about God?

I think a core issue here is that often we are looking for a “creedal” affirmation of faith – for musicians to sign a doctrinal basis, or spell out clearly what they do and don’t believe. This may be because it then makes us more confident in our own beliefs – the idea of “if that famous person believes what I believe, I feel more confident in it too”. I don’t propose that this is entirely wrong (although is not a very good foundation for belief), but it is more selfish – the real purpose we have to address is what will help those who are not yet in a relationship with God to come closer to Him. Remember that there are many people who really would like to believe in many ways, but often have misconceptions about God that are holding them back. Are Tim Hughes/Delirious/Kirk Franklin/Da Truth/Shai Linne-esque vessels the only ones that God can use?

These are important questions as we consider what cutting edge Christian creativity should look like. If you want more food for thought, think on people like Johnny Cash or Bono (from U2). Now I throw it open to your reading this: what is it that God wants to do through us? Is He glorified simply through us mentioning His name? If not, how do we distinguish what is to His glory?

Peace

-Stephen

Cutting Edge Creativity

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”

1 Peter 4:10

It is said that Charles Wesley, a big hymn-writer from back in the day, used to take pub songs that people used to sing, and would make his own worshipful lyrics to the tunes of these songs. Genius.

I’m no historian, I dropped history when I chose my high school subjects at the age of 14, so i’m no expert, but, I had to have a little look back, because, from discussions with various people recently I feel like there has been a change. I mean, don’t get me wrong, times do change, cultures have been changing and evolving for thousands of years, but why do I feel as if Christian creativity just hasn’t got the same place in general society as it used to?

I hope that i’m not wrong in saying that the likes of Caravaggio, Da Vinci and Michelangelo were mainstream artists who were pushing the boundaries of art in their time, with their most famous works being centred around the Christian faith. These guys were out there, and the people were, and still are, LOVING IT!

As a side, something that really got me thinking this weekend was the fact that my sister, a nominal Christian, on Saturday night went to a huge event in Croydon called Witchfest, a witch convention. Now, she only went in the evening for the music event, and putting all the other issues aside, what I am trying to pull out of that situation is this: If NON witches are being attracted to events such a witchfest purely for the music, then why is this not happening in the Christian community? Now, please don’t think that I am naive because I know that plenty of non-Christians go along to events such as Soul Survivor each year and end up commiting their lives to God, but i’m talking about the mainstream here.

Please bare with me here, because, I am not writing this article to tell you all the answers, I REALLY have not got them! But what I am aiming to do is to ask some questions which, as Christian creatives, both individually and as a community, we really do need to think about.

I know that there are a lot of Christians who are using their skills and really getting out there, whether in the Music, Art, Entertainment, or Sport industries, but why does it seem that to find this stuff we need to search so hard, shouldn’t the Gospel message be there, easily accessible, slapping us in the face! I feel like in the times we are in, there is always a struggle for the church to keep up with the latest things, and more often than not just creating a cheesier version than the mainstream version, and far too late anyway!

This is not me “having a go” at the church, or you! This is an encouragement, this is me saying that we are the sons and daughters of a creative God, who, I believe wants us to be SETTING the trends, paving the creative way, rather than constantly playing catch-up. Tom and Cindy Bauer, founders of Surfing the Nations whom I spent 3 months with at the beginning of the year love this quote: “The gospel message never changes, but the ways to present it do.” I love that quote, and it is so true!

In the last few years, I have been a lonely artist, I’ve not felt as if I have been able to connect with anyone who is on the same wavelength as me, both artistically and spiritually, and that is a tough place to be, it has meant that a lot of the time I have compromised, especially in my art, because I haven’t really had accountability in my art. But, this is what Artists for Christ is about (no, not me making some arty friends), it’s about God raising up a new generation of creatives who are not willing to compromise, who are willing to get right into the thick of the mainstream, but to stand strong in their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, to radiate Jesus, to be radical, to truly be Salt and Light.

– James

Jon Foreman – Fall & Winter.

A couple of months ago I read a review of Jon Foreman’s first solo album, ‘Fall & Winter,’ in Christianity Magazine. The album received a 5-star review so I though I’d check out a few of the tracks on YouTube. Now you have to understand something about me – I often struggle with ‘Christian’ music. I find it can sometimes be unimaginative , both musically and lyrically, and this frustrates me. However, after hearing just a few of Foreman’s songs, I promptly bought both this album and its follow up ‘Spring & Summer,’and have been listening to them almost constantly since.

Foreman, the lead singer from American rock band ‘Switchfoot,’ has created two albums that are intimate, vulnerable, honest and imaginative. His songs are refreshingly free of Christian cliché and unimaginative chord sequences. Musically these albums are on the level of artists such as Josh Ritter, Ryan Adams and Sufjan Stevens. But the thing that impressed me the most were Foreman’s lyrics. Often drawn straight from the Bible, Foreman combines his poetic skill with the beauty of the Word of God. For example, the words of  ‘The House of God forever’ on Spring & Summer are taken directly from Psalm 23, the words of ‘Your Love is Strong’  are those spoken by Jesus (see video below).

As a music lover, ‘Fall & Winter’ and ‘Spring & Summer’ are a joy to listen to. As Christian, these albums speak of the Glory of our God in a fresh and exciting, yet familiar and simple way. It’s exciting to find another artist who bridges the unfortunate gap between these two, often separated passions of mine.

-Leon