Just Do It . . . You Really Can!
Starting A Chapter of Drummers For Jesus
by Bill Sargent
May 5, 2005
Over the past several years, I have had the honor of being part of a group of drummers that gathered as “War Drums” for 24-48 hour prayer, intercession and worship sessions, so, drummers gathering in the name of Jesus was not a new thing to me. I’ve served in the music ministry consistently for 15 years. Attending drum clinics and fests also is not a new concept, as I’ve been doing that for over 35 years.
However, early last year, when I was reviewing my copy of “Modern Drummer”, I came across an article that really caught my attention because it was new, unique and frankly, a bold statement of faith, purpose and gifts. It was an article about a “Drummers For Jesus” Celebration gathering.
After reading the article, I went to the internet to check it out. Drummers have a tendency to commune anyway . . . more so than any other musical animal I can think of, but to gather in the name of Jesus and to pull together Christian drummers . . . now there was a concept. Very cool.
I read the page about starting a chapter and the seed was planted. I thought, “I could do that!”, I even thought I might like to do that, but then Satan tugged at me and reminded me I was busy as it was, and he used his greatest tool against me, his secret weapon – PROCRASTINATION. I have come to discover that the single root cause of ALL failure is, in fact, procrastination. Every single type of failure in life that I can identify, I can trace back to procrastination, with NO exceptions. I am about as good a procrastinator as I am at doing anything else in life.
So I let the idea rest. But, God wouldn’t let it go away. I toyed with the idea and it kept coming back to me. Then I started using the procrastination ploy of telling a few close friends that I was going to be starting a chapter of Drummers For Jesus, but I wouldn’t be specific about the date.
After several discussions with Carlos, he had convinced me that it was no big deal, time-wise, to start and run a chapter. He was right, and he was wrong . . . but only wrong because he really didn’t know my personality type. I tend to be production and idea oriented, so I have the ability to take a simple concept and build on that. I want you, the reader to bear this in mind with what I am about to share with you.
The idea of Drummers For Jesus is an idea with an enormous amount of flexibility. I am a full time musician and I work out of my home, so my time is mine and I have the luxury of doing what I wish with it. It is of my personal choosing that I make something more of this than just a simple gathering of drummers for a couple of hours a month. I have ideas and a vision that I must fulfill as part of my understanding of God’s purpose and direction in my life. This may not necessarily be the case with you. If you only have a very small amount of time and simply wish to fellowship with a few brother drummers, then by all means, use what you have. It makes your contribution no less significant.
What I will lay out for you is what we have done and how we do it. Treat it as a smorgasbord, take what you want and leave the rest.
We began in February, so we have just had our 4th get-together. In starting the Wisconsin Chapter of Drummers For Jesus, I first read through the DrummersForJesus.com website thoroughly and had a couple of phone conversations with Carlos so I could get a grip on what was being done and how it was being done. Everything seemed pretty simple.
The first step was to define, in my mind, and visualize our get-togethers and the purpose of this chapter. It all came down to this: To create an atmosphere of fellowship and community conducive to networking amongst fellow Christian drummers and percussionists. To motivate, to educate and to encourage fellow drummers. To help them to gain a vision and purpose for their gifts and their life in Christ and ministry. To mentor the young drummers. To glorify God. To communicate the message of Jesus Christ.
I had decided that Monday night would be the best night of the week for getting together as other nights involved activities for most people. Monday nights are also very conducive for our events as it is the day after Sunday, the day in which most Christians gather and communicate. It would make it easier for people to be notified and reminded of the event at church without the time lag to forget about the invite or reminder. The first Monday of the month was my choice because it is the easiest one for everyone to remember. 7 pm – 9:30 pm works out very well giving people time to get their act together and travel after work and yet be home at a decent hour. This is especially important for the kids.
The next step was to determine a location for our monthly get-togethers. My home church was a logical choice. We have a large youth room with media set-ups and staging along with eating area and kitchen. I contracted with the church for all the first Mondays of the month for a year, with the exception of the 4th of July and Labor Day. On those two dates, I have arranged for use of the local Christian high school band room and cafeteria. All use of facilities were donated.
Organizing the program was next up. I and my family arrive at the event location by 5:30 to take care of set-up. At 5:30, I order pizza. Then I place signs on the doors directing people to the appropriate location in the church. We set up pizza tables. Drummers are asked to begin set-up at 6 pm and be completed by 7 pm.
We set up a sign-in table. Everyone who attends must sign in. Our sign-in sheets contain name, email and phone. Each new attendee is asked to fill out a simple questionnaire that provides us with complete contact information, their home church and other basic information about their drumming and ministry.
I place two flyers for the next get-together along with our attendee information sheet on each chair in the youth room where the drumming will take place. The attendee sheet contains all of the dates and locations for the Get-Togethers for the remainder of the year as well as news and information about the Wisconsin chapter. On the reverse side of the attendee sheet is complete information about becoming a member of Drummers For Jesus International.
We begin at 7 pm with pizza, desserts, beverages and fellowship. People have been running all day and many come right after work or school. Give them a chance to be fed and unwind. Provide an atmosphere to fellowship and make new friends.
At 7:30 pm, we gather in the youth room. We open with prayer, followed by announcements.
Then I invite a special guest speaker to give us a talk about what they look for in a drummer or percussionist, our role as drummers in God’s army, and anything else the Holy Spirit lays on their hearts to share with us. I give them 15 minutes. So far we have had a well-known worship leader, a fine arts pastor, a drummer, and a musician/pastor.
After the guest speaker, we pass around the collection bags, giving people who wish to do so an opportunity to contribute to help defray our expenses. I make it a point to make this a no-pressure situation.
Then we have our first of two “young up & coming” drummers. They perform with CD tracks. I ask them to keep this short. It may be a short thing to us, but to them it is a really big thing. This single thing can be a deciding point, a turning point in their life. We’ve had them as young as 7 years old.
After the first “young up & coming” drummer, I take a couple of minutes to give the “equipment tip” of the month. I have discovered that the technology changes in the drumming industry can play a big part in improving a person’s drumming life. I pick one specific item each month and spotlight it for everyone.
After the “equipment tip” comes the second “young up & coming” drummer of the evening.
Then, it’s on to the main event - our “clinician” of the month. I select a capable drummer or percussionist from our area to give a 45 minute clinic to the gathering. So far, we’ve had a rock drummer, a jazz drummer, a gospel drummer and a professional tabla player from Pakistan. One brought his keyboardist with him and another brought his whole praise band. I try to do something different each month so we get exposed to different perspectives and ideas. All of our “presenters” must be Christians.
To close the evening, we have a big jam session. No guitars or keys, just drums & percussion. Many people bring their drum sets and percussion stuff. I ask the “clinician” of the evening to lead it. It is wild! We have a HUGE age range of participants, from 7 years old to over 50!
We close with prayer at 9:30 pm.
Now, to publicize the new chapter and get-togethers and invite the drummers. I first gathered emails of all the drummers and Christian musicians I knew in the area. I then spent time on the internet gathering the email addresses of churches, Christian schools, worship leaders and fine arts pastors.
I composed an invitation to our first get-together and sent it our to my email list asking that they pass this on to all the drummers and percussionists they knew. It asked that people who planned on attending do two things. First, RSVP via email or phone that they were coming and second, bring a dessert and beverage. The invitation and flyer does not provide any information as to who the featured artists or speakers will be. I do not want people to be tempted to pick and choose which events they come to. All I know is that if they show up, chances are they will be very blessed and if they don’t they may miss something they really wanted to see.
The invitation also doubled as a flyer. I distributed those at the main local Christian schools and the main local music stores.
I already had a web presence with my two websites, so it was very easy to develop pages and devote space for a Drummers For Jesus – Wisconsin Chapter. I started with the main page containing basic information, a map & directions page and a photos page. I have since added pages for “News”, “Christian Drum Instructors”, “Equipment Tips”, our “Attic Drums” mission, “Our Purpose”, “Membership”, and “Contact” information. This website has been referred to in all emails and flyers.
We have been blessed by a professional photographer who has taken a liking to us and our cause. He has shown up at every event and provided me with 100 to 150 pictures of each event, free of charge. I have placed those photos as well as those I’ve taken myself on our website. It has helped tremendously so people can get a feel of what we do and the fact that it is a real happening. It helps create interest and increase attendance.
The youth tech crew donates their time to do our sound. I video tape all the events.
I ask people to RSVP that they will be attending. I keep a list o names. I need this to order pizza. I order pizza to be delivered at EXACTLY 7 pm so it is hot and fresh. I order 1 large pizza for every 3 attendees. This has proven to be quite accurate. I split the order with half sausage and half pepperoni. This works out well too. I place a big bowl by the pizza with signs stating it is for pizza donations. I bring one good sized dessert and two gallons of fruit punch that I purchased at the local warehouse store for those who neglected to bring their own.
God has blessed us with donations that have helped us to be at the break even point each get-together for pizza, paper products for food & drink and printing/advertising costs.
About a week after the event, I’ll have the new photos on the website and the newsletter/next get-together invite prepared and I’ll send those out to my email list. I’ll also place them in the stores and school. I’ll have extras available to give to those God places in my path. On the Thursday before the event, I will send out a reminder invitation via email.
To keep track of everything and recognize trends and patterns, I record the following information: Number who told me they would attend, number who actually attended, number of pizzas ordered, number of pizzas left over, amount of pizza donations and amount of actual donations.
We had the following attendance numbers: February 25, March 50, April 40, May 50.
All in all, it sounds like a lot of work, and maybe I made more work of it than necessary. But really, once I got started and developed a pattern to follow, it has not been very time consuming at all. Everything is pretty much cookie cutter and technology. The only thing I change on the flyers are the dates and the color of paper stock. The email list is ready to go. I spend less than an hour with records and entering new email addresses. All of the paper products for the pizza meal is in a box ready to go.
The thing that takes me the most time is putting the photos on the website. And really, that is optional. In fact, MANY of the things I told you are optional.
It would be every bit as valid of you advertised by word of mouth and only a couple of drummers gathered in someone’s basement once a month. Not all churches are big churches and not all ministries are large. Size and production values are not the point. Ministry is. Encouragement and mentoring is. Fellowship is.
What works for me, may not work for you. The point is to do what you can the best you know how. God honors your heart, your sacrifice, your worship and your efforts to serve Him. It is better to give 2 ½ hours a month than not to give at all. God will take that 2 ½ hours and turn it into something truly wonderful.
I know one thing that God will not honor or bless – procrastination. I procrastinated in starting this chapter for a year. I’m so sorry I wasted the time. I have seen this project be a MAJOR blessing to so very many people in such a wonderful and profound way . . . in ways I never imagined.
We have just gotten started. There are things in the works that I cannot share here now, but God has a vision and a purpose for this thing called Drummers For Jesus. It blows my mind when I think of the things we are currently working on . . . things I would never have dreamt of, had I continued to procrastinate.
Finally, I must confess, that although I had intended for this to be a blessing for others, I am finding it’s really me that is being hugely blessed. I can’t begin to tell you how blessed and humbled I feel when I see the faces . . . the joy . . . the anointing God is providing. People driving 3 hours to attend. The kids having an outlet. People telling me that they couldn’t sleep for days after . . . that they were just so motivated and excited.
I could go on, but the point is simple. Music is mentioned 1,028 times in the Bible. It must be really, really important to God. God needs people like you to be a part of His musical army. Drummers and percussionists you know are waiting for someone like you to take the lead. Stop procrastinating and JUST DO IT! You WILL be blessed.