By JASON REYNOLDS
Tennessee Christian News
Faith, music and movies are coming together in a powerful way to reach a demographic that has seemed elusive to many evangelicals: The Millennial generation.
In 2014, the movie “God’s Not Dead” drew headlines for its evangelistic outreach and smashed box office records. The film was headlined by stars like Kevin Sorbo (the “Hercules” series) and Dean Cain (“Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman”).
The producers of that film are working on a sequel, set for sometime around Easter next spring, and are currently hosting a nationwide concert outreach series targeted to Millennials that ties in to the movies.
I’ll write more about the sequel and one of the producers, Troy Duhon, in a later column. Today, I want to talk about the music outreach.
Duhon and others from the movie launched The Millennial Tour 2015 this summer. The national tour is visiting 14 cities across the country during the summer. The summer tour dates include several major festival performances, including such major Christian venues as all five Creation Festivals, Lifest and AliveFest. Duhon will announce a fall tour at a later date. None of the summer dates are in Middle Tennessee; I’m hoping one of the fall dates will happen in the Nashville area, because the tour is stacked with musical talent.
The tour features Christian artists from the Millennial generation, including: Billboard-charting Pop-Dance artist and actress Abigail Duhon; winner of 2015 We Love Christian Music Awards Spencer Kane; 2015 Stellar Award nominee Jor’Dan Armstrong; CCM/worship artist, Jamison Strain; Grammy-nominated Hip Hop artist Tru Serva and more.
The tour also features Dr. Rice Broocks, author of the book “God’s Not Dead,” who will share four key foundational teachings about apologetics.
For today’s column, I am interviewing one talented young musician.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Jor’Dan Armstrong recently. During the interview, I made the observation that he “really had no chance but to go into gospel music.” His mother’s side was full of gospel singers and musicians who “played all instruments.” On his father’s side, “everybody, and I mean everybody is a pastor or a minister,” he told me. Those religious ties also ensured he would become a strong man of God, he said.
“Growing up, at the time, I didn’t know how strict they were on me with everything, about knowing Christ, going to church, having a relationship with God,” he said of his parents. “As a teenager, I realized, ‘Man, these people are really strict.’ As a teen, I wanted to do my own thing.” But he said that his upbringing has helped him to develop a solid faith.
Armstrong’s music is a mix of all types of Christian styles, he said. “I would not call myself a rapper, but some days I may go to the studio and rap a song,” he said. “The next day I might record a worship record. It’s a well-rounded sound. I think God gave me the ability to do that. I’m able to reach more people with a diverse sound. I also do pop records and the gospel sound. I put little things that sound familiar in and get your attention and you get the message. I grab people’s attention with the sound and then hit them with a positive message, the message of Jesus Christ.”
Armstrong is a member of the Millennial generation. At age 29, he said he has been “dreading 30” (his birthday is in October). “I was thinking 30 is old and I’m not getting old,” he joked. Then, he was cast in the sequel to “God’s Not Dead,” which finished shooting last week in Arkansas. He was cast as a 15-year-old. “Maybe I don’t look so old,” he said.
“I am super excited to be part of this film,” he said. “It’s about defending your faith. Being a young person … defending your faith is something important. We have to teach young people how to do it and why they should do it.”
And so Armstrong brought the interview back around to The Millennial Tour. The musicians may stop in the middle of the song at a venue and talk about defending the faith and having a relationship with Jesus, he said.
“Reaching and touching people … who believe the same thing you believe in is really encouraging,” he said.
Be looking for a future column on “God’s Not Dead 2.”