The relationship between TobyMac and interl'inc goes back a long way-almost twenty years, to be exact. In fact, you could call it a friendship, a partnership in using music to minister to high school kids. TobyMac has always been on the leading edge of Christian music. His life backs up the message of his music. He has a heart for youth leaders and a passion for young people. Here is an excerpt from a conversation that interl'inc President Allen Weed and TobyMac had.
AW: What do you wish a youth worker would do in the two weeks before taking his or her group to one of your concerts?
TM: I encourage them to look for something more than just the party. Of course we are going to have a party and we are going to drop the joy bomb, but there is something more there - if you look for it you will find it. There is something deeper, whether it's a deeper pursuit of happiness, or bringing a friend that has never heard about that hope they can have in Christ. I love when people bring their friends because they may fall in love with the music and that may create an opportunity for God to do something really cool.
AW: What do you hope kids will walk out the back door with at end of your concert?
TM: I hope that people walk out of the concert not with TobyMac's name on their lips but with Jesus' name on their lips. I hope that they decide to pursue Christ more passionately, to love people more intently, and to look for a vision in their life that they can pursue.
AW: What do you have in mind when you sing, "If you gotta start somewhere, why not here? If you gotta start sometime, why not now?"
TM: The reason I say, "If you gotta to start somewhere why not here?" and "Tonight's the night" is because (for me) it starts tonight. I have always believed there's no better time to change than right now. I know music can't change the world, but I do believe that God chooses to use music. A concert experience - that's where everything goes down for me. That's where everything happens. That's where I present what God is putting on my heart. That's also my moment to flex the creative gifts God has given me. I look at things in light of tonight. What's going to happen tonight at the concert?
How many times have I decided to do something, to walk more deeply and to be a better man? How many times have I slipped in that and let it go for a season and stopped trying? Then it's like that old school analogy: I had to get back on the horse. There's something powerful about saying, "I'm starting tonight. Everything is changing tonight." (In my concert I want to tell people), "You can choose to leave this night the same, or you can decide to leave this concert different." My hope is that people always leave different.
AW: When you guys get back on the bus after a concert, what makes you say, "That was AWESOME!"
TM: We look for connection, energy, the intensity of the crowd, and the crowd singing lyrics back to us. All of that means something, but at the end of the day all of us look for a connection. Diverse City is a band that is looking to connect with people's lives. Sometimes it is someone looking at you while you are playing. Sometimes they are weeping, sometimes they are full of joy, sometimes they are singing along with you. That connection is what moves us. That is when we know that our music is resonating with people's lives. It's more than just entertainment.
Sure we entertain - I want our concert to be bangin', and I want it to compete with any concert out there. I want it to be completely entertaining, but the connection with lives is what we are looking for. We all get it a little differently, sometimes we are looking for someone that we can see is hurting, and to lock eyes and to speak into their soul through the way we play an instrument. Other guys are focused on someone that is full of joy. We are the body of Christ, so we all do it a little differently. But, I can say the one word we are looking for is "connection."
AW: You have been at this for a while. What do you do to maintain your energy?
TM: Having physical energy comes from staying physically fit. I continue to play basketball, run marathons, and stay in the game as far as sports go. Also, the people around me dictate my energy level. Some people drain you, and some people build you up and energize you. I look for that kind of (energizing) people in my life. The ultimate thing that gives me vision is God's Word. When I open up God's Word, or a book that explains God's Word, when I hold my life up to those inspiring thoughts, I am energized.
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