A few weeks back the Ragtown Gospel Band appeared at a Gaither Vocal Band Concert in Lubbock. Okay…we “appeared” on row nine, row two, and row sixteen in the audience. It was wonderful, and inspirational to all of us, as the Gaithers always are. It is great to just soak up the goodness of that amazing group.
I just wanted to stand up and shout!
No…not like that. I wanted to stand up and shout to all those hundreds of unfamiliar faces…people who had never been to a Ragtown production, “Hey y’all! If you love this, you would so love Ragtown Gospel Theater! Just come one time and you’ll leave wanting to tell everyone you know about it!”
Now, I get that no one is in the same league as the Gaither Vocal Band, but people are always telling us that they already have their money’s worth by the intermission. Which we joyfully take to mean the Ragtown Gospel Band ain’t chopped liver. But then, on top of that, we have a great company of actors who present an extraordinarily original Scripture-based drama production that we’ve been told time and again would rival anything you’ll see in Branson. Except for the price of the ticket. Ours have been $20 for eight years now.
If you build it they will come.
When we first envisioned Ragtown Gospel Theater, the question of how we would advertise and promote the shows seemed almost beside the point. We were so certain that once the word got out, people would flock to this gorgeous place. After all, where else is anyone going to find such great quality, uplifting entertainment presented specifically for a Christian audience? Church groups would come, and tell others, and so on. Our challenge would just be to make every concert and play greater than the last one.
It hasn’t quite worked out that way.
People have come. Wonderful people. Thousands of them. Some see every production multiple times. It has become their personal ministry to bring people to see the love of Jesus conveyed in such a special and unique way. So anytime I pray, I have a hard time asking for more, because we literally have been blessed by the busload. People routinely travel hundreds of miles just to see our shows, and I don’t think they leave disappointed.
But here’s the thing…
These concerts and plays don’t just entertain. They touch and console, and encourage, and make people think. They minister to the hearts of the people who attend. Everyone needs that. Everyone.
It isn’t that we are trying to change anyone’s theology, or supplant a pastor or teacher. We are merely doing what the Lord has called us to do, and we don’t want anyone to miss it. We simply want everyone who might receive a blessing to come and savor being in the presence of a building full of other children of God, knowing that the Lord is with us there, because we are gathered in His name. And to be fed by the message in the music and the play.
Jesus asked, “Simon Peter, do you love me?”
Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.”
Two years ago, standing with our wives on the shore of the Galilee in the very place where Jesus uttered those words, my brother and I each experienced a private moment of renewal to our commitment to feed the children of God who travel to Ragtown. It is a nourishing meal of love and acceptance in Jesus that is served up with hope that all who come in will find sanctuary, and leave filled, and encouraged.
It makes me want to stand up and shout!