A clear purpose seems to be one of the main reasons that keeps multi-award winning Christian pop rock group, Newsboys, going, in addition to being slightly unconventional. More than 20 years down the line, the group is still churning our hits like, ‘God’s Not Dead’, which was first released in November 2011, and ‘Restart’, released in September 2013. I joined thousands of Capetonians from a broad age spectrum at a Newsboys concert just over a week ago and it was apparent that fans needed no encouragement to get out of their seats from the moment the band struck its first chord.
One concertgoer stated that his spiritual life had been in a bit of a slump until he watched the movie version of the song, ‘God’s Not Dead’, which is also a title of the book written by a friend of the lead singer, Michael Tait, who also gained notoriety as the lead singer of the band, DC Talk, which produced a record called, “Jesus Freak”, several years ago. According to Tait: “The church has not been good at loving people where they’re at.” Using the example of a marriage, he encouraged the audience to “demonstrate their talk through their walk” and “love like you mean it”.
The evening was more than just entertainment. It was a mini sermon about reaching out to a world in darkness; about having the freedom to be who you are, loving what you do, having your own style, but knowing your purpose and reflecting Christ in how you behave and what you say. This is how the members of the band believe they can change the world. Tait revealed that their music is now being heard in many countries where Christianity is no longer popular and Christians are being persecuted, including Iraq and Afghanistan.
When questioned about reports that the band’s former lead singer is now a self-confessed atheist, the musicians – Jody Davis (guitarist), Jeff Frankenstein (keyboardist, bassist and Band Director), Duncan Phillips (drummer and percussionist) and Michael – responded that the former member had left the group more than 20 years ago. Aside from Tait who joined the band in 2009, the other existing members joined in the early 1990’s. They appeared to be quite surprised to know that concerns had been raised, albeit online, about their authenticity as true believers, describing themselves as a band of brothers who have a walk with God. Their advice to their fans, given during a press briefing, was to stay in the Word of God and in His power and wisdom, adding that the members of Newsboys are reluctant leaders who are “fragile without God”.