Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Matching ministry to metal

November 15, 2011 03:37 PM

By Pastor John Flack


There’s a common refrain among Lutherans: how do we get young people in church? We may try listening to our young people—and then hosting a metal showcase.


What’s that? It’s not a closet full of iron and steel, but a night of music—really hard rock music. And there are Christian metal bands out there. One of them was Angels With Dirty Faces, led by Adam Turner, a member of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church of Floral Park.


After confirmation class one day, he asked me, “Pastor, can we use the stage for a battle of the bands or something?” I said I’d bring it up with our Congregation Council, and they said go for it—so we did. Adam used his music world connections to invite several bands to play—mostly metal, but also a guitar-and-voice duo featuring another young member of our congregation, Kelli Leprohon.


Why metal at church? Adam began reading the Bible at the end of eighth grade, and continued his study into Confirmation. “The Scriptures completely ruined my life,” he says. “It completely turned my life upside down. Before I started reading them, I was content. But then I saw what Jesus was doing, doing his work with so little. And I just thought, ‘People who are content with their life as it is when they read the Gospel aren’t getting it.”


While learning about the Holy Spirit, he read a passage from Acts that really resonated with him: “All who believed were together and had all things in common.” Adam says one of the reasons he wanted to play music at church was to witness to that spirit of Acts: “I want the world to be that way. Everybody could be living.” One of his favorite bands, Me Without You, has a lyric, “I’ve come with nothing so I come with all I need.” He says “One of the reasons I wanted to play at church is that my instruments can cost thousands of dollars and people don’t have shoes.” Like lots of punk and metal musicians, Adam wants his music to bear witness to a better life. “Writing Christian music is very important to me. I don’t want to put so much time and energy into something that isn’t for the glory of God.”


The showcase was a great success and raised $450 for Lutheran World Relief. Fans of different bands came to the church, as well as parents and grandparents of some of the band members. The prize was a $50 Guitar Center gift card for the best band—which went to Days Till Dawn. But many of the bands just loved playing on the fellowship hall stage. “At a lot of places, the stage is barely off the floor. You don’t get a chance to really play like that very often,” Adam said.


Christ Lutheran is planning another showcase in June. By listening to its members, young and old, and matching ministry to the gifts of its people, our congregation has provided a place for kids to make music. It’s one way where the church’s gifts meet the world’s needs.




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