Kim - As I look at your upcoming schedule, what jumps out at me is the varied types of venues. It's like, "Jimmie is everywhere!"
Jimmie - Not quite but that is the name of our magazine.
Kim - I didn't know that but it doesn't surprise me because you are everywhere. One show is in a church, then you're at a BBQ event, a blues festival, a biker rally, a prison, a bar ... There is no door that you won't walk through to spread the Gospel.
Jimmie - You know, I have found that people are people regardless of the venue and the Gospel is the Gospel regardless of the venue. It's good news and when we love and respect people, their hearts are opened. I love people everywhere - not just in church. I'm not saying that that's wrong, but for me, I want to be where people are at. We've found that the path we've been on for the last 13 years lets us do what we do everywhere and it's a lot of fun.
Kim - I agree 100%. Jesus didn't just hang out with the well people. He came for the sick and you're not going to find those who are sick in the same places that all of the well people are. It always saddens me to hear artists talk about wishing they could do more outreach in places like bars and clubs, but they feel like they can't because some people would assume that they were there to do "bad" instead of doing "good."
Jimmie - I came into this in 2000. Sherri and I were Associate Pastors at a large church in northwest Missouri. We were listed in the Top 20 Fastest Growing Churches in America in the 90s and we were very successful. When we knew that the Lord was moving us out of that, we assumed we would pastor a church so we started to look for that but it didn't happen. We started traveling and I was speaking. The progression was this ... When I got saved in December of '76 the pastor of the church that I got saved at came to me and said, "You have to quit doing what you're doing - playing music like that. You can't play that stuff - period. That's devil music." So for 20 years, I didn't do that. I figured it was more important for me to follow Jesus and raise my family than it was for me to fulfill my musical aspirations. Then we went to the other church as Associate Pastors and we were so busy taking care of people that there was really no place for my music. So we started traveling and I would take an acoustic guitar and play a couple of songs and speak. Then I had an opportunity to do a record with Larry Howard, my first one, Honey In the Rock. When I was getting ready for my second album I had put together some guys here in town that I was playing with and they were going to be on the album. The bass player was a guy named Jeff Wollenberg. Jeff was an ex-con who had gotten saved in prison. He was a meth manufacturer, so it was federal prison. When he got out, he started going to church and that was where I met him - at a local church in Kansas City. He was still playing clubs and working two or three jobs to support his family of five kids. Anyway, I had been in the studio all day and I called him on the way from Georgia to Jackson, Mississippi and played him some of the tracks on the phone. In the middle of the night that night, I got a call from Jeff's pastor. He told me that Jeff was lying in bed with his wife, reading his Bible. He circled a passage of Scripture, had a massive heart attack and died. All of his club buddies that he played with did a benefit for him at the Blue Moon Lounge in Blue Springs, Missouri. It was on a Sunday at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. I had preached at our church that morning. That was back when I had short hair, the suit and tie, the whole bit. They wanted me to come so I had gone straight from church. I walked in and they wanted me to play. I said I would sit it on some of the songs that they were playing and they said, "No, no! We want you to play something that Jeff played with you." So we played one of my songs. That was the opening. The place went crazy. I was screaming the name of Jesus at the top of my lungs and they loved it. One of the guys on stage actually came to faith in Jesus the next week at my house. That opened my eyes to the fact that I could do this in church but I could do it outside of church as well. We were doing a lot of prison fellowship with something called Operation Starting Line. I was in Louisiana at Angola - Louisiana State Penitentiary - and we were doing cell to cell walk throughs in segregation. The guard just all of a sudden opened this one wing as I was walking through the door and says, "This is death row. There are 90 people here that are sentenced to die." As I walked up to the first cell, I all of a sudden realized that I didn't have anything to say to that person that they were going to understand. All I knew how to do was communicate to the church culture. So that started me on a path to tear that all apart. One of my life verses is Mark 12:37. It's a commentary of Jesus' ministry and it just says this ... "And the common people heard Him gladly." That became my goal, to be able to tear down what I do to such a place that everybody that I'm in contact with not only hears what I have to say, but they hear it in such a way that they connect to it and they're happy to hear it. I speak in churches pretty much every Sunday all over the place. But I am outside of the church too. We recently played at the H Street Festival in Washington, D.C. where there was an estimated crowd of 150,000. Then we played a couple of songs and I spoke at Capital City Church which in on Capital Hill. That's a typical weekend. It's about trust. I have learned that God trusts the seed of the word a whole lot more than we do. A lot of times, we are looking at our outreach by means of how many people prayed the sinner's prayer. First of all, that's not a Biblical thing. You'll not find it in the Bible. I'm not saying you shouldn't have it; that's how I came to Christ. I'm just saying that our means of trying to count success by it is very limited and devaluing to people because then we're saying, "The only thing that I have value in is 'Did you pray this prayer with me?'" Where there is a whole process of people coming to faith in Jesus by understanding the truth and it doesn't happen all at once. It happens as seeds are planted and watered and tended. That could be over a period of time. It was with me.
Kim - There is so much more to you than just your music. You plant seeds everywhere, just doing your part to help open hearts.
Jimmie - The way that I look at it is that we are in people's lives so we can influence them. And that may not happen over night. You can't start off by trying to convince people of something they really don't believe. We have to demonstrate what the love of God looks like in real flesh and blood. People need to see us love them.