Fleeting – Part 1

I guess the #1 question I get from folks is about why I quit being a Christian comedian.  It really has more to do with quality over quantity…a thought process I’d like to think I brought with me to the church planting world.  I think it also has to do with the realization that success by the world’s standard is always fleeting.

I remember sitting in a hotel room in Kansas City, Missouri having just opened for a legendary Christian band.  At one time they had been packing out stadiums…10,000 people a night.  This night they managed to only get about 800 people to come out to the show.  Their bassist told me that this had been a good night on the tour…the actually broke even.  Two years before you couldn’t get to them because of the fans crowding around their dressing rooms…now they were trying to figure out how to mortgage their houses to pay for the tour losses.  The most crazy thing…I had packed out a 1500-seat theater the night before in St. Louis on my own.  Sitting in the stillness of the hotel room I began to reflect on the reality of the profession…the “ministry”…I had chosen.

For three years I had fought, clawed, smoozed and did whatever it took to gain success in the Christian music industry.  Here I was finally opening for top music artists, bringing in hundreds to my own shows, a record deal was in the works and I was constantly on radio or television…yet I wasn’t very happy.  Sitting on the couch in the hotel room that night I realized that I had been chasing the quantity…not the quality.  It wasn’t the attendance numbers at the concerts that meant the most to me…it was the kid at a youth conference that just needed someone to talk.  It wasn’t the amount of product I sold that got me jazzed…it was the burned out youth pastor that just needed a word of encouragement before I went on stage.  It wasn’t the number of radio interviews I did each week that made me feel like I counted in God’s plan…it was playing softball in the Memphis heat with a bunch of other goofy CCM artists so bald-headed kids at St. Jude’s could have a laugh.  It wasn’t the amount of people I came in contact with…it was the ones I actually made an impact in their lives that made me feel like I was where God wanted me to be.

It took a while…and the help of several lawyers…but I finally was able to break away…to move on…before I simply just faded away.  These days I have very little contact with the folks I use to tour with…it’s like another lifetime for me.  I watched some CCM friends never really make it by the world’s definition of success.  Others made it…and learned that Sir Isaac Newton was correct.  Still others moved into other…not so glamorous…areas of ministry.  What I took from those days is that quantity is never a substitute for quality…just because thousands come through the door…doesn’t mean that thousands are being ministered to.  I also came to understand that success…according to any definition…besides that found in God’s Word…is fleeting.  I wanted something more than to sell a compact disc…or make an audience laugh.  I wanted to know that Heaven was a little more crowded because I existed.

Fleeting – Part 1

7 thoughts on “Fleeting – Part 1

  1. Greg says:

    Chris…so well put. I have no experience in this area but I commend you for your thoughtful insights and decision to make the shift.

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  2. Chris, you challenge me every time I read your blog. Thanks for helping me stay focused on why I planted Journey… not for the massive crowds (we may never have them) but for the stories of life change from the marginalized people in our world.

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  3. And look at you now…still making people laugh, leading people, and encouraging others to live their God-given dreams. You are the man!

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  4. Awesome. You also highlight something for those of us looking for the “Next Big Thing”. Maybe we need to focus on the important things, not the things that draw the crowd.

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  5. Chirs,

    This is without a doubt one of the best posts I have ever read on this whole quality/quantity thing. As a pastor, you know what it is like to struggle sometimes with significance. Thanks for reminding me what is important.

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  6. I love the last line, “I wanted to know heaven was a little more crowded because I existed.” I believe that even as someone who is not in the “ministry” of working for the church, that other feels this way as well. My “ministry” is working in some interesting places in society, but light needs to be taken everywhere, even if that means 3rd shift weekend cooking at Waffle House as my 2nd job. People are already starting to hear the buzz about NewSpring (where I go) and they are coming, not only co-workers but customers as well. It’s awesome to try to do my best in being a part of reaching out to others for Christ in the most innocent seeming of ways. That’s what I love about God! He uses us in the simplest of ways at times to make the biggest impacts when we think what we do doesn’t even matter. By posting blogs like this and putting your messages online you are affecting my life in South Carolina (and others all over the world) as well as your own congregation. Keep on keeping on!

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