Connection = Opportunity
by Shannon Wagers
As a kid I was highly active in band in school and choir at church. I gained appreciation for music and it’s never left me. Recently, Christ’s Church’s lead pastor, Trevor DeVage, made reference to a band he witnessed as a youth. They sang a song called, “Church of Do What You Want To.” At the time, Trevor couldn’t remember the band’s name—but instantly I knew it was Jacob’s Trouble! They’re a band from Georgia that toured the Christian Music Festival scene for several years in the 1990s, and one that I followed closely. Instantly, I felt a connection when Trevor recalled this, a shared experience to which I could relate.
Connections like this give us common ground, which is a great place to start conversation with others. Another band hailed from Georgia that included young artists named Mac Powell and Mark Lee who shared musical influences from the southern rock sounds of Lynyrd Skynyrd. They formed a band called Nuclear Hoedown. As they discovered more shared experiences, they decided to transform their musical expression to share their faith in God. Over the span of a few years the band grew and was signed to an independent label; ultimately they signed with a major Christian label. This band was known as Third Day.
Both bands I’ve mentioned are from the peach state, Georgia. They share a connection, one that bore fruit as well. Third Day went on to cover a Jacob’s Trouble song called “These Thousand Hills” on its Grammy-nominated “Offerings: A Worship Album” release. Over the span of a few decades, Third Day garnered an American Music Award, multiple nominations and four Grammys, and twenty-four Gospel Music Association Dove Awards.
Finding common ground is incredibly powerful and can lead to amazing things. This is also true for each of us in our personal relationships. I remember a fraternity brother of mine that I wanted to get to know better. He loved hockey. I mean, he ate and slept and loved hockey! I was a causal fan of the minor league hockey team, Cincinnati Cyclones, but once my friend knew that, every conversation we had started with hockey. I built a great friendship with him that led to other connections and friendships, some of which are now almost into three decades. All because of our common ground with hockey.
Because of my background in music, when I approached my middle teen years my church asked me to cover the sound board for Sunday night services. I was thrilled! It was a way for my church to get me further plugged in to serving as a youth. There was a gap that I could fill. I quickly learned a lot about running a sound board. It turned into a future opportunity. Because of that experience, I was able to serve the Campus Crusade for Christ group on my college campus. At the time I was literally the only student involved with the ministry who was familiar with a sound board. I was then able to train up others to serve in this way in the community. Connection offers us the ability to help others grow in serving and in building up God’s kingdom.
Music is a powerful tool. Every Sunday we join in worship together to bring praise to our God. It’s just one way that we can connect and respond to God. The beautiful thing is that the Bible tells us if we don’t praise God the rocks will cry out.
“When he [Jesus] reached the place where the road started down the Mount of Olives, all of his followers began to shout and sing as they walked along, praising God for all the wonderful miracles they had seen. ‘Blessings on the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in highest heaven!’ But some of the Pharisees among the crowd said, ‘Teacher, rebuke your followers for saying things like that!’ He replied, ‘If they kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!’” (Luke 19:37-40, NLT).
Another Opportunity Knocks
The other opportunity that opened for me from learning how to run sound was to be a DJ. Since I loved music, I jumped at the chance. I played music for parties, grab-a-dates, and college formals. What fun! And even through this I was learning more about connection through music. I made tons of connections just by playing music to make people want to dance. In the DJ industry there’s a song type called a “floor filler.” Quite literally, this indicates a track that is meant to “fill the floor” with people. There are always some classic party tracks like “YMCA” or line dances like the “Casper Slide” that instantly cause the dance floor to fill. In the 90s there was a floor filler by Stereo MC’s called “Connected.” Its lyrics included these:
“If you make sure you’re connected
The writing’s on the wall.
But if your mind’s neglected
Stumble you might fall,
Stumble you might fall.”
How do we overcome when we stumble and fall? Last Sunday pastor Trevor spoke about checking our connection, sharing from John 15:1-8 about the vital importance of three things: connection to Jesus, connection to each other, and disconnection from the world. In our connection to Jesus, our personal relationship with him, we overcome sin as Jesus has paid our sin debt. Connection to other believers can help us from stumbling. Jesus said in John 15:12, 13, “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (NLT).
That may sound intense, but it starts with a simple connection. We strengthen each other by finding connection through common ground. Wise King Solomon tells us, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” (Proverbs 27:17, NLT).
This happens through intentional relationships by connecting with friends and sharing what Christ has done for you. There is opportunity for you today to build relationships at Christ’s Church. Simply pray and ask God to lead you to where he might have you connect. Jesus challenges us in Luke 10:2, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields” (NLT).
Be prepared—God has a plan and he is still writing your story. It could start as a band called Nuclear Hoedown, but it could transform by following him into something more like Third Day.
Shannon Wagers is a Corporate Trainer and Master Facilitator for P&G’s Innovation Lab called “The GYM.” Shannon resides in Liberty Township with his wife Ruth, daughter Katherine, and dog Bear.