Today we continue with our Vocation series, and interview three is with Chad Johnson from Come&Live!, a ministry for musicians that has a unique vision and way of working. I first became aware of them through Steve Williams of Blindin Design, who was featured a couple of weeks ago.
So Chad, how did you find yourself leading the charge with Come & Live!?
It was one of those really weird things where I felt such a prompting (or a pulling) away from where I was in the music industry into something that more accurately matched my true passions for the Gospel. I had loved my time in the industry but I had grown extremely unfulfilled. The kind of unfulfilled that causes you to really question everything and wonder whether you are truly following God’s heart. I chose to follow my heart and trust God’s leading. What I found was the dream behind Come&Live! I had found an invitation that the world needed to see and I had a hunger to help express the Gospel to people through radical generosity. It just began clicking in my heart and in my mind.
What’s the biggest difference between working in the industry and working as a missionary in the same scene?
Without a doubt in my mind, the greatest difference between the two is not having to care or worry about making a profit. I no longer exist to generate a profit for myself or someone else. It’s not even that profit-generating is necessarily wrong or inherently evil, I had just found it to be extremely distracting from the pursuit of Christ as everything and over everything. I had turned my sights towards earthly gain and not nearly enough towards eternal treasure. Working as a missionary means that I don’t have to care whether a band profits, sells records, plays to huge crowds, etc. I can focus all of my time on their hearts and direct my energies towards ensuring they (the artist) are laying the proper spiritual foundation before they go out trying to do anything else.
Has your view of vocation changed through this transition?
Absolutely. I won’t go back. I love all my friends in the industry and pray blessings upon them. For me, though, I can’t return to where I was. I had become way too distracted by it all. I question somedays whether it’s all just a huge distraction from what Christ is requiring of us. Maybe I’m just biased but I can’t help but wonder, if Jesus were in our midst, what He would say about the things we spend our time on. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not better than anyone and I certainly don’t have it all figured out. I just believe that we are called to “seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness, knowing that all these things will be added to us.” That’s my heart. Kingdom pursuit above anything else. Helping others do the same. I believe God’s heart is to renew, restore, and refresh the Christian music industry so that it more closely resembles heaven.
You work with super-creative people who are using their gifts as a gift, giving music away and living as missionaries in the music scene – what has been the reaction to that?
It’s been mixed depending on who you talk to. I think some people assume, because it’s a gift, that the quality and value must not be up to par. Others seem absolutely inspired and astounded by the idea. Our heart is to encourage God’s kids. To remind them that they are loved, that God has a wonderful plan for their lives. It is worth it to us to live simply so that we can give generously. God has taken good care of all of us, even in the difficult moments. He is faithful and He is provider. He is trustworthy. This is a message on our hearts and we can’t think of a better way to express it than by just sharing our art/gifting as a pure gift. It’s been a thrilling and scary endeavor. Faith is spelled RISK – anyone willing to give up the idea of worldly success to chase after the heart of a generation desperate for Jesus is going to be on a wild ride – both in the thrill and the fear departments.
Do you think it has something to say to all Christians when it comes to our work/calling?
Sure thing. We each are called to a specific task that God calls us to. My gifts have been in the music world, yours might be in journalism. Someone else may be a wonderful painter, carpenter, builder, school-teacher, etc. What we all have in common with our calling is to GO and make disciples. No matter where we land, the calling remains the same. GO (i.e. forward motion) and the commitment to show people who Jesus is and to teach them why He is worth following. I am so liberated man! I make very very little money compared to what I used to but I literally have never felt so free. Come&Live! may die out tomorrow and I could still say it’s been a huge success in the way that we’ve heard from so many people who have grown closer to Jesus through it. Wherever you are, pursue the call of GOing and making disciples of all men, women, children, nations.
What’s the next awesome thing on the horizon with Come & Live!?
One of the most exciting things for us is our first-ever international Come&Live! tour to New Zealand. We’re going to be joining our bands The Ember Days (from New Zealand) and Ascend The Hill on a 3 week tour – just ministering to kids, loving on them where they are, preaching and demonstrating the Gospel. Gonna be unreal. Beyond that, I am so thrilled for all the new releases this fall. God continues to bring us amazing artists and I am humbled. The plans and the hope and the future God has for us are good. I’m confident in that, even on the bad days. He will deliver.
To hear the bands in the Come&Live! roster, download free music, read killer posts and support the mission in prayer and giving, make your way to www.ComeAndLive.com – these guys and gals are for real. Many thanks to Chad.