Friday, May 5, 2017

#MakeRoom: How Jonathan McReynolds is Bringing 'Life Music' to a Living Room Near You

Since Fall 2016, Gospel artist Jonathan McReynolds has been traveling across the country on a tour aptly called the #LifeRoomTour. This is not a run-of-the-mill production. No big stage, flashing lights, or costume changes, just authentic, intimate worship with Jonathan, a select group of fans, and a few of his musically-inclined friends gathered together in a living room.

Jonathan McReynolds / South Florida Times

Yes, you read that right. Each venue is an actual living room. The tour kicked off in October at Jonathan's Nashville, TN residence and has since made stops in Fort Lauderdale, FL, Houston, TX, and his hometown, Chicago, IL. Each session is invitation only, with about 40-50 of the most loyal members of #TeamLifeMusic — Jonathan's fanbase — attending in each city. The select few are in for a treat, because Jonathan's list of musically-inclined friends is a long one. #LifeRoom guests have included familiar names like Brian Courtney Wilson, Jonathan Nelson, Darrel and Paco Walls (of The Walls Group) Latice Crawford, and Gene Moore, Jr., as well as newer artists like Charity Gayle and Sharon Ann. I've never actually been to a #LifeRoomTour stop, but I've attended each one vicariously through Facebook Live, and I've been blessed every time.

Live @ The Living Room flyer / Ticketleap

Each session is a little different in terms of song selection. They mostly feature songs from Jonathan's most recent album, Life Music: Stage Two, a few from his debut CD, Life Music, and sometimes, he'll throw in a couple of unfinished pieces of songs from his forthcoming project, a live recording (happening tonight in Chicago!) that I've been waiting for since the release of his Sessions EP in June 2016, which featured acoustic versions of a few tracks from Stage Two. There's one thing that stays constant in every Life Room, though. He begins each session singing:

          We've been turnin' living rooms into life rooms

          We've been givin' God room with these life tunes

          We just get too busy livin'

          And watchin' others live,

          That we forget the One who gave us life

          So we've been turnin' living rooms into life rooms

This really got me thinking. The first time I heard it, I was like, This dude can write a song in 2.5 seconds! But when I stopped to analyze the lyrics, I was even more impressed that he could create something so short with so much depth.

We've been turnin' living rooms into life rooms... defines a living room as, "a room in a home used, especially by a family, for leisure activities, entertaining guests, etc." When guests come into Jonathan's living room, it becomes a life room as they gather together to relax and allow the guest of honor, God, to move. The atmosphere is laid back and welcoming, and creates an opportunity to just pause and give God room.

Nowadays, Christians get so caught up in the building that is the church that sometimes we forget to make room for God to actually dwell there. The purpose of the Church goes beyond the four walls of a material building. Its focus should be on the God it serves and the people who serve Him. Its mission should be building people up, both inside and outside of the sanctuary. God is not confined to a structure. He can dwell anywhere from a mega church that seats 10,000 to a living room that seats 45. All that matters is that they are gathered together in His name.

We should never get too busy living, too busy chasing after the wrong things, too focused on accomplishments, accolades, awards, jobs, degrees, and everything else that doesn't really matter in the long run, that we forget the One who gave us life in the first place. The life we live on earth prepares us for everlasting life with the Father. We need to be able to hear Him speak to us in order to know what His purpose is for our lives. In order to hear Him, we have to give Him space to move. Are you making room?