“Dub, you just got to do it man. It’s time to step off the boat.”
“Your wife is on board, no kids, and you’re good at making music. What you waiting on?”
“You only have a small window in which your music is relevant. Don’t miss that. The church has always struggled with fully embracing artists and their gifts – don’t let that get in the way.”
These are all wise words I soaked up as I talked with my long time friend and mentor, Pastor Jon Brooks. He spent a good hour challenging me as I sat in Green Line Coffee, conflicted about stepping away from my comfortable job in youth ministry to chart the unknown seas of full-time artistry.
When I left Cleveland to attend Moody Bible Institute, I did so knowing that I could study the bible and communications. Studying communications allowed me to grow in various concentrations surrounding music. Biblical studies trained me to rightly divide God’s word. It was an amazing
experience, but during my first summer in the Chi, God threw me a curveball called Sunshine Gospel Ministries. At Sunshine, I learned how to articulate my experiences as a young black man living in the inner city and deepened my understanding of the Gospel message. It was there I learned practical theology that went so much deeper than simply monitoring my morality. I was married by one of my heroes, Sunshine’s director Joel Hamernick, and given the opportunity to begin Young Life and high school ministries. What a privilege that they would entrust me with so much opportunity!
Over the last two years I have had a strong tension, between doing full-time high school ministry and my music ministry. I’ve passed up touring opportunities and frustrated my wife as I let my side of the bed grow cold staying up late to write music and sermons (I’m still working on that one). Along with that, I’ve been really struggling to do my job in an undivided way. I’m still
working and giving my all, but I’ve been lacking that over-the-top ambition and dedication. If you’ve ever had an enthusiastic youth leader, you know what I’m talking about – that little bit extra that made them rush to the local school and fill out stacks of volunteer paperwork to become a coach. Or willed them to spend sleepless nights dreaming of the next youth outing. I’ve wanted to spend extra hours raising more support, but If I’m totally honest, I’ve felt guilty asking for more support when I’m not totally sure I want to keep doing youth ministry, so I’ve shyed away from it.
I asked myself what it would look like to carve out a living doing the things I’m most passionate about. What if I were able to create jobs or scholarship dollars for others through my music? How great would it be to build God’s kingdom by writing well-polished albums, books, and
curriculums for inner city ministries! How amazing would it be for kids growing up like I did to encounter God through Jesus-loving Hip Hop artists like I did? But these are just pipe dreams if I’m too divided to capitalize on them.
I’m sharing this with you because God is beginning to alter my plans and direction at this point in my life. God has shown me through others, opened doors, and experiences that He has gifted me in:
(1) Leading others in spiritual growth
(2) Creating art
There are real fears and attachment issues associated with the words above. Will people really support me switching my ministry focus? Will they see the need for Christian artists the way I do? What about your friends and Sunshine family – will they be upset? Am I just being selfish or the idealist dreamer, as I typically am?
I’ve sat on this for some time now, hoping it would pass, but it hasn’t. So I’m asking for your wise words, prayers, and even financial support as I step off the boat into a new season of life. I have found a unique ministry that helps support, advocate for, and develop Christian artists. This ministry is called Artists in Christian Testimony Intl. A.C.T. Intl will provide my ministry oversight and counsel, non-profit status, a home office to assist us with our administrative needs, and financial integrity. As of January 2017 I will be fully transitioning from my role as a high director at Sunshine and joining A.C.T. Intl. I will also continue to serve at our local church. Would you be willing to support Jac and I on this new journey? We need committed monthly partners to financially support us before I can begin working, and to support our cost of living.
If you would please go to: https://actintl.givingfuel.com/cw-allen or text “give” to 312.647.2046. If you would like more info about A.C.T. Intl you can check them out at actinternational.org