We Are The Ones We Are Waiting For!
 
 The internet is an amazing phenomena...it is helping to connect the human race in ways that we could never even have imagined! Being connected to a network like ours enables social networking to evolve as well as collaboration. In fact it has been said that this networking effect is expanding the collective intelligence of the entire human race!!!
 
 In 5 years the Christian Jazz Artists Network has grown from nada to a whole worldwide community of jazz artists who are Christians and who value the connection between God, jazz, and spirituality! Many of us find strength and encouragement by what other Christian jazzers are doing in churches and concert halls! Never before in history has there been an opportunity like we as Christians have today to connect with others who share a similar passion for jazz and God! It is such a great blessing to have a centralized location online where Christians who play jazz have their music located. It is also a great testimony as well.
 
 The World Wide Web has brought about a revolution regarding the way musicians market themselves and their music. It has truly opened the door for talented independent artists to get their music heard, marketed, and sold! But our times are complicated, chaotic, and individualistic. Unfortunately many artists just aren't interested in "hanging out".  Furthermore, our society works against connectedness, against developing and sustaining lasting relationships over time. The internet can even work against hooking up with others - individuals can become nothing more than islands e-mailing other isolated individuals without any real personal contact.

As artists we must fight the tendency and dangers of becoming so egotistical and self - absorbed with our own musical careers and CD sales, that we fail to celebrate our musical gifts with other artists and share them and the 'good news' of our faith with others. Sharing with others implies connectivity and community. Our network is a community that goes beyond music and unites us for a common cause - spreading the joyful news that the creator God has given us life, Jesus, salvation, and the gift of Jazz music to share and overflow to others. In addition, reaching out and connecting with others is the perfect antidote for our self-absorbed lives. We must learn to see ourselves as a part of a community to participate in, build friendships, and develop a mutual respect for each other's diversity.

So it saddens me when artists refuse to hook up with us thinking they can achieve success just by having a web site built and attempt to do a "solo gig" when it comes to marketing their music. Other Christian jazzers never join our group because they are waiting for someone to discover their CD and put their CD's in record stores. (The fact of the matter is that there arenít very many record stores left and eventually they will be virtually non-existent!)  Many times, accompanying this type of thinking is a helpless passivity while they wait to finally be discovered. Then they mistakenly believe that they will finally achieve the recognition and fortune they so earnestly desire.  Too many Christian artists are waiting for something magical to happen - a quick fix! There's an old Gospel song that states, "Everybody put your shoulder to the wheel" and that is definitely applicable here!

 
I came across a quote a couple of years back by a social worker that has really stuck with me! "We are the ones we are waiting for"!  And the message in this quote is that it we can't wait around waiting for someone or something magical to happen that will open the doors for us as Christian Jazz Artists!  There has never been a greater time for us than right now to celebrate our musical gifts to the glory of God!  We must open the doors. The Apostle Paul's ministry is an excellent example of this. He went from city to city aggressively preaching Christ and only when the doors shut in an area did he move on. Of course, there are times to wait upon the Lord, but the familiar verse in scripture, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength" is better translated as, "They that look unto the Lord shall renew their strength".  There is a tremendous difference between "waiting" and "looking"... waiting is passive - looking is active. The implication in this context is if we simply look to the Lord for strength we will receive it - no other requirements necessary! 
  
An important ingredient of our networks' vision and purpose is for Christian Jazz Artists to aggressively lead in the arena of the fine arts in our present day culture. No longer is the church the influential leader in our culture! The Churches influence was never greater in the area of fine arts than during the time of J.S. Bach! Bach wrote some of the most incredible music the world has ever heard in its entire history and performed it in the church every Sunday to the glory of God! 
 
 The problem with much of what is presently labeled, "Christian Music" today has been narrowed down to a couple of styles of music that don't provide enough variety, imagination, challenge, or pizzazz artistically or musically. People are tired of the repetitive nature of much of the music being labeled "Christian Music". I believe that Jazz music, in all of its varied forms, is the perfect vehicle and antidote for starting to reclaim our influence as Christian artists in the world! Jazz is returning home - to the church where it belongs!
 
 Recently, jazz pianist Danilo Perez was the keynote speaker at the IAJE Convention (International Association Of Jazz Musicians)  and he really had some really great things to say! He spoke on envisioning the future of jazz and one phrase Danilo would repeat over and over is this - "the future is now"!  Perez also spoke passionately about advocating more jazz in school curriculums, new venues for young jazzers, more government funding for jazz, and playing more jazz music for underprivileged children.
 
 Now is the time to make the most of our network and I encourage you to "get up offa' that thang" and reach out to others in our network by connecting and collaboration. If you are a fan of Inspirational jazz ask your local church to have a jazz service/concert in your area. Maybe you are a Christian musician who plays jazz who is discouraged with trying to make a living playing jazz. Or you just don't see anything related to jazz music happening at the church you attend. Get together with some other musicians and ask your pastor (or another church in your area) to have a jazz service at their church. Share with them your recordings or point them online to our network pages where they can see firsthand the huge pool of talented musicians who love jazz and the Lord!

To take our network to the next level requires getting busy thinking, praying, barnstorming, and putting wheels on our prayers. The old saying, "two heads are better than one" is profoundly true so don't forget to take this saying to heart, "We are the ones we are waiting for"!

Written by David Arivett - CJA Network Founder

© 2007 Songs Of David