A Message to the Media
by Rich Mullins, given to assembled media at Creation '96 festival
Copyright 1996 by Polarized Publications and NetCentral, Inc.
Having been covered by Christian media a few times, one of the things that I hope you all understand is that people really read the stuff you write. Sometimes I think as a musician, it's good for me to have people challenge me to really think about what I'm trying to say. The thing that is sometimes alarming to me about Christian media is, reading some of the magazines that have articles about me, it's like reading People Magazine. It's like reading any other kind of garbage -it just has a Christian name on it.
I hope that you have the opportunity to write something that people are going to read. I hope that you can start thinking about writing more stuff that has something to do with something. That's always a challenge, because it's always a little bit scary. If you say something meaningful you're very likely to turn people off. Let's face it - we all have to sell product. But I would just like to encourage you to realize, also, that at some point, there isn't going to be any more product to sell. Someday we're all going to be dead and the amount of product we sold is not going to be all that important.
But what may be important is the idea that you might be able to challenge someone to think outside the lines of conventional, evangelical Christianity. You might be able to challenge someone and encourage them to realize that maybe God is bigger than the conventions of middle-class American "Churchianity." And I'd really like to encourage you to do that and to not be afraid of it. I think that a lot of people are maybe just a little afraid and I'd just like to say what angels say to people when they meet them - they say, "Don't be afraid." What you have to say - you need to say it, not because it's right, but because it's in you to say. Let people read it and figure out for themselves where they're at. And the more free you are to think and the more brave you are in your communication of that, the more you're going to encourage other people to begin to think and to be able to be brave. Not so that we create yet another generation of people who are totally sold on themselves, but so that maybe we can break out of the ideas that we've got ourselves stuck into by following the masses - following the group.
And beyond that, I would also like to encourage you to stop thinking of what you're doing as ministry. Start realizing that your ministry is how much of a tip you leave when you eat in a restaurant; when you leave a hotel room whether you leave it all messed up or not; whether you flush your own toilet or not. Your ministry is the way that you love people. And you love people when you write something that is encouraging to them, something challenging - those kinds of things. You love people when you call your wife and say, "I'm going to be late for dinner," instead of letting her burn the meal. You love people when maybe you cook a meal for your wife sometime, because you know she's really tired. Loving people - being respectful toward them - is much more important than writing or doing music.
I don't know if you've ever heard, there's this Chinese guy that used to work at a deli, or at a little bakery shop, pastry shop, across the street from where Billy Sunday used to preach in Boston. And people by the thousands were going to hear Billy Sunday preach. Between services this little coffee shop would be jam-packed with people who had just been to church, and the people were so cruel to this kid. He was a college student, he was trying to get along. He didn't speak really good English and people were very angry at him because of that. People didn't leave good tips and people would leave chunks of trash on the floor after they'd eaten. He was so sickened by Christians and Christianity that when he went back to China and became Chairman Mao, he was determined to wipe the church out of China.
What I'm wondering is what would have happened if people who were going to church, people who were discussing sermons would have been generous to him, would have been kind to him, would have in their dealings with him reflected the love of Christ? Sometimes we think that our writing and our music is so important that we have the right to run over people. Just please remember that we don't.
Remember what St. Francis said:
"Preach always. If necessary, use words."