There is a sense of urgency. The interview with Audio Adrenaline’s Mark Stuart and Will McGinniss must be done today. There is no more room in the schedule. In 72 hours, Stuart, McGinniss and their Audio Adrenaline compatriots Ben Cissell and Tyler Burkum will step aboard an aircraft that will whisk them a half-world away to a continent of koalas, kangaroos and outback.
“While we’re in Australia, we’ll scuba dive for three days,” says Stuart, “and while we’re there, we’ll hit the Great Barrier Reef, because we never know when we’ll get to come back.”
Stuart is talking about the Reef, but he might just as easily be talking about the urgency of Audio Adrenaline — paraphrasing the words of Christ — “to go ye therefore worldwide.” And they better go now, because they don’t know what tomorrow holds.
“Back when we started (12 years ago), I had no idea of where God would take us,” says Stuart. “Now, I look at every record and tour with the perspective, ‘If I had one message to give a generation, what would it be?'”
Hence, the band’s seventh studio release Worldwide is born.
Those who love the band’s exhilarating high-energy rock and pop (“Big House,” “Get Down,” “Ocean Floor”) won’t be disappointed. But what colors this project unique is its call to arms, its plea for Christians to serve and sacrifice. And, like charity, service and sacrifice begin at home.
“God wants us to produce actions and fruit that bear witness for Him in an everyday setting,” says McGinniss. “We’re calling all people to go mow their neighbor’s yard or rake their leaves or wash their car. To do random acts that will cause them to ask ‘Why?’ and have their lives spill over into someone else’s in a positive way.”
Or, to simplify matters, “Going worldwide starts with your community,” says Stuart.
In the beginning
To understand the “worldwide” mission of Audio Adrenaline today, all one needs to do is look back to the origins of Stuart’s passion to reach the world.
“When I was growing up, I used to pray for two things: For wisdom and to be able to do something big for God,” says Stuart. “Well, I’m not exactly wise all the time, but I know God gave me this platform because of the prayers when I was young.”
It is a platform balanced by a variety of personalities. There is missionary kid Stuart, the energetic, in-your-face, commit-your-life-to-God frontman for the band since its inception, and guitarist Tyler Burkum, whom Stuart describes as “fiery and loyal.” Combine those two with drummer Ben Cissell (“the epitome of a youth leader”) and bassist McGinniss, whom Stuart depicts as “Mr. Compassionate.” McGinniss wants to reach the person who is hopeless and give them hope.
“Christ loved people who were unlovable,” says McGinniss. “We’re calling a youth culture to that end. To really stretch outside of themselves, to partner with Christ and go to the places where He went and touch the people He touched.”
This is where Audio Adrenaline stands today. Their call moves from exhortation and encouragement, to engaging our neighbor — putting faith into action.
Turning worship into motion
Not so subtly buried in the title song of Worldwide are six simple words that pose both a question and a directive statement to the listener: “You wanna go for a ride?”
For Mark Stuart and Audio Adrenaline, there is only one answer to that question, and “no” is not an option.
“For us, it’s all about motivating a generation to get out of a comfort zone,” says Stuart. “The ride of your life isn’t sitting in a church pew, waiting until you die. The ride of your life is saying, ‘God, I’m ready to go wherever you send me. I’m ready to do whatever you have me to do.'”
As you may surmise, this is a project rife with a mission calling. This is quite a departure from the “worship-focused” themes on which many artists stood in the last few years. Audio A has done that on purpose.
“We’ve seen kids wound up in this musical revolution called ‘worship,” explains McGinniss, “but it wouldn’t really translate into anything except feeling good. And we’re thinking, ‘Man, you’re going deeper with God, but you’re still missing it.'”
Therefore, Audio A is forgoing the worship song route and taking worship to its next level — from the sanctuary to the street. Or, as Stuart so aptly says it, “putting worship into motion.”
“Worship is beyond singing praise songs. It’s serving, it’s washing feet,” describes Stuart. “What we want to communicate to a generation of young people is that worship means getting up every day, and saying, ‘God, where do you want me to go? Show me who you want me to be today to the people around me.'”
There are those who may wonder from where these seeds of mission-passion originated. To explain, enter Charlie Peacock, respected producer, artist and writer, who co-produced Worldwide with Audio A’s Burkum. According to Peacock, the band’s go-ye-therefore mentality is nothing new. It has simply come full circle.
“The heart of Audio Adrenaline has always been taking the gospel to youth through music,” explains Peacock. “They’ve just expanded the width of their heart and message … and hope to show through music and deed that God calls all of us, young and old, to a Word and work mission. Not with just a lot of talk, but a lot of visible love for God and neighbor.”
Get up and go
To that end, this Word-and-work mission hits the road with “The Go Show.” Audio A teams up with MercyMe on this tour-with a ministry twist.
“We’re going to participate in different ministries every Saturday on the tour with youth groups,” says McGinniss. “We’ll go to food shelters, build houses. We’re just trying to be accountable to what we’re saying by our actions.”
The concert experience itself will also have a different agenda.
“We’ll have a time of corporate worship, a call to salvation and a call to missions,” says Stuart. “At the end of this tour we want to look back and see how many kids we’ve motivated to go on short-term mission trips — to experience what it’s like to put your life on the line.”
For the “Great Commission-ites” who have committed, who are willing, but not quite sure what they’re able to do, Audio Adrenaline and MercyMe have formed The Go Foundation, a full-time organization to match skills and desires of volunteers to mission needs around the world. After that process, the volunteers will be placed into one of 12 hard working, and “under-the-radar” missions that Audio Adrenaline has lined up. Some concerts call you to the altar, while others call you to worship. The Go Show embraces those pleas and adds a caveat: This is a call to serve with your life.
“We want to challenge people to go deeper with God and really lean on Him, to know that His promises are for real. He owns up to every one of them,” says McGinnis. “He’ll enable them to do so much more than they ever thought they could.”
Or, in the not-so-subtle words of Stuart, let’s begin fulfilling the Great Commission — now.
“This life in the scheme of eternity is a blink of the eye,” says Stuart. “Look at your time here on earth as a huge daredevil attempt to do whatever you can — as fast as you can and as hard as you can — for God.”
Copyright © 2004 Christian Music Planet, used with permission.
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