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1. Deliver the mail 2. Read the mail
Cam Huxford IV writes about leading his Ghost Ship band members in not just getting Jesus’ gospel out, but in knowing it for themselves.
We’ve always said in Ghost Ship that we are mailmen and mailwomen and that our job is very simple and clear: deliver the mail.
We have one message to deliver and it’s something that we did not write ourselves. The message is this: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3–4). That’s it.
When we’re writing songs, making records, and leading worship, we feel like we are simply packing this message into envelopes and sending it to as many addresses as we can.
#1. Deliver the right message. The world needs Jesus.
And this is the same way discipleship works in Ghost Ship. We remind each other to read the mail we are sending out.
I’ve been serving in ministry as a vocation for a decade and it’s always been a temptation to not buy what I’m selling, to be the professional pastor guy behind the desk who prescribes medicine as he dies of disease. As I’ve led Ghost Ship for the past five years, by God’s grace I’ve walked out repentance in this and it’s been cool to see how it’s played out.
In the band, we don’t just sing songs about Jesus to everybody else—we sing them to ourselves. We spend a lot of time together talking, reading, and praying about the gospel of Jesus that we’re preaching and how it influences our own lives. There was a really cool story of this played out a few weeks ago.
The choir needs preaching to, too
We were leading worship on a Sunday and having a band meeting during one of the services. Our new record had not released yet, but the CDs had come in the mail and we had all been listening to it.
Our guitarist/percussionist Jamison shared what his past week had been like. Since the pre-release of the album a few days before, he’d been under spiritual attack and was suffering from debilitating physical anxiety. He said that the night before, he’d only had two hours of sleep and spent most of the night awake in the fetal position with his wife praying over him and reading Scripture to him. He felt so sick that day that he was considering not playing at the next service because of his stomach pain. But he told us something amazing.
He said that for the past week, when the attacks would get really bad, he’d listen to the record, and the Scripture in the lyrics would calm him down. He was hearing a song about the gospel that he had recorded, and hearing about the work Jesus had accomplished on his behalf took his anxiety away.
We prayed over Jamison in that meeting and his stomach pain went away miraculously and he was able to lead worship at the next service.
#2. Read the message you’re delivering.
Next, keyboardist/vocalist Shay shared a similar story of being tempted, but being able to flee temptation when he started singing the lyrics of “The Gospel,” which is based upon the passage I shared earlier.
When leading a band
So I have two pieces of advice for worship leaders and musicians in bands.
First, deliver the right message.
The world needs to hear the gospel of the man Jesus Christ. They don’t need music that’s positive, uplifting, family-friendly, or therapeutic—they need Jesus. Make sure that’s what you’re singing about.
Second, read the message you’re delivering.
I have heard it said before that when you sing songs in worship you’re preaching to yourself. You need Jesus too. Your band needs Jesus. You need to hear the gospel everyday. Be sure you and your band stop and listen to the words you’re singing.