Lucas Hoge: My faith has helped me keep me going because I feel like in my heart, every day when I wake up, that this is where God wants me. So even if it’s like super hard right now, I feel like those trials, I’m going through those for some reason.
Moving the World for Jesus: Lucas Hoge & Brian Tome – Episode #250
Narrator: Welcome to the Jesus Calling Podcast. Many of us dream of making a difference in the world, even if it’s just a small one. But when it comes to action, it’s easy to get overwhelmed just trying to find a place to start. #1 Billboard-charting artist Lucas Hoge and pastor Brian Tome have each, in their own way, taken ministry into a new direction to reach people that might not have been reached before.
First up is musician Lucas Hoge. Growing up in a tiny country church, Lucas was integrated into both music and faith from a very young age, and he’s enjoyed a career traveling the world with a guitar as his passport. While on tour, Lucas was tired of not being able to get home to church, as were many of his bandmates. Thus, the idea for Sunday Sessions was born, and after deciding to post these songs on social media, Lucas has been able to inspire millions with his covers of old hymns that bring hope into our dark world.
Lucas: I’m Lucas Hoge, I’m a country artist here in Nashville, Tennessee, originally from a small town in Nebraska. Been here writing songs, recording, touring all over the world for quite a number of years now. And I still love it to this day.
Growing up in that super small town, I mean, there’s a population of forty-four, and it was a little farm town right on the Kansas-Nebraska line called Hubbell, Nebraska. My folks still live there on a small little farm, and it was just a fantastic place to grow up. Honestly, everybody was in your business and you were in everybody’s business. And, you know, I felt like all the families around helped raise us, you know, because we were always out running around and hanging out with friends, driving our bikes up and down the old dirt roads just to get to our neighbor’s house. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
You know, growing up in a super small church, the congregation at its peak was maybe fifteen, twenty people. My mom and dad were the majority of the choir, and when we got old enough, we all graduated into the choir as brothers and sisters. And that’s where I found my love for music, honestly, when I was about five or six years old. Mom and Dad were practicing at the parsonage with our preacher for choir practice, they’d take me over and kind of stick me in the corner. And the preacher had a little electronic drum set, and she’d sit me down with it to kind of keep me busy. And about halfway through the rehearsal, she’d look over and I was keeping, like, perfect beat with them. Right? And she came over afterward. She’s like, “You’ve got some really good internal rhythm.” And she took me into the high school the very next day and introduced me to the music teacher. And she’s like, “Keep your eye on this kid and maybe help cultivate [him].” And that’s where I started playing drums. And it’s kind of the rest is history. It all started there.
A Music Career Takes Off
When I first moved to town, you know, Nashville’s a small town, but it’s a big town as well. So trying to break into those circles of songwriters or record labels taking you seriously because you’re a new guy coming to town—I mean, it’s ups and downs, and you’ve got to have thick skin and take that rejection as . . . not criticism, but take it as constructive criticism and try and further yourself, not only as an artist and a writer, but as a person as well. So it’s just one of those things you try and take everything in stride.
When we can lean back on the fact that God is the center of my relationship with Him and with the world, I feel we can get through this if I know that He’s there guiding me.
“When we can lean back on the fact that God is the center of my relationship with Him and with the world, I feel we can get through this if I know that He’s there guiding me.” – Lucas Hoge
My songs are extremely personal, but a lot of the songs that I put on the Sunday Sessions album, like “I’ll Meet You There,” it was a prayer literally turned into a song. It’s just one of those things. I’m down on my knees begging, “Lord, please guide me through what I need to be. Help me be the man that I need to become not only for myself but for my wife and my family and everything.” And it’s just those kinds of experiences that are really—I wear my heart on my sleeve anyway, so when I put it into a song, it’s out there for everybody, honestly.
A Guitar as a Vessel
I’ve been very blessed, very fortunate. I say in my show quite a bit that my guitar has been my passport across this entire world, and I’ve been able to go play for the troops. I’ve been to Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Kosovo, I mean, you name it. I’ve been able to use that guitar as my vessel and bring songs to people and entertain.
It introduces me to people that I normally wouldn’t get to maybe talk to. And they want to bring me into their life and give me their life experiences, too. And that’s when I was like, “I’m going to start bringing a camera guy with me because these experiences are amazing. And I want to share them with people who might not ever get to have those experiences.”
I sat down with the sportsmen/outdoor guys and they were like, “This would be a great show, let’s put it on.” I’m like, “Okay, let’s do it,” you know? And obviously, it costs a lot of money. So you have friends and investors that come and help you with that. But it’s taken off, so I’m really excited about it. And it’s not all about hunting and that kind of thing. So we do fishing as well and do adventures. Like, I went and skydived with the Golden Knights, which was just amazing. And I go scuba diving a lot. So we were just down in the Cayman Islands. I’ve been scuba diving for many years. And when you’re a hundred feet down in crystal clear blue waters, you’re in a different world that God has created that a lot of people don’t get to experience, it’s just something that’s hard to describe even as a songwriter, just the sheer peace and tranquility. And yeah, it’s just taking advantage of all the great things that this amazing world has to offer.
So three years ago, a little over three years ago now, I started this one Facebook post. You know, we’ve got a pretty good social media following, and we were touring nonstop. I’m like, Man, I’m never home to go to church. And a lot of my band mates were worship leaders and stuff, too, so they hadn’t gotten to do their thing for a while either. And their families are all going to church and stuff. I was like, “Guys, I’m going to start doing this. If anybody wants to join in, please join in.”
Me and my buddy Thomas Becker, if we were out on the road, we’d find a picnic table or a park bench or anything like that, and I’d prop up and do an old hymn and kind of, you know, make it my own because I grew up in that little church, and they weren’t singing contemporary Christian music. It was all the old hymns and the organ and, you know, that’s what I grew up on. It wasn’t until I came to Nashville that I got into the contemporary stuff.
I started posting this Sunday Session every single Sunday, and we haven’t missed a Sunday in over three years. And no matter where we were, no matter what we were doing, if we were in the van or the bus or wherever we were at, we were going to do a hymn and post it and they just started taking off. You know, the first few weeks were a few thousand. And then, you know, a year goes by and we’re at like a hundred thousand some, we’re getting a million. And now we’re probably 150,000–200,000 every Sunday, which is really cool.
It goes way back to growing up in that little church, you know? I can’t say it enough. But, you know, being part of the choir and seeing Mom and Dad being part of choir, and it was all those songs that really resonate with me and being able to hear “Old Rugged Cross” in those little churches like that. It’s like, Man, I really want to bring it back to life and give a new little spark.
I wanted to be a part of that tradition and just bring those songs that I grew up on back to life for me, as well as the people listening out there.
Narrator: Lucas wraps his time with us by reading from Jesus Calling dated March 21st, and talks about what it means to him.
Trust Me and don’t be afraid, for I am your Strength and Song. Think what it means to have Me as your Strength. I spoke the universe into existence; My Power is absolutely unlimited! Human weakness, consecrated to Me, is like a magnet, drawing My Power into your neediness. However, fear can block the flow of My Strength into you. Instead of trying to fight your fears, concentrate on trusting Me. When you relate to Me in confident trust, there is no limit to how much I can strengthen you.
Remember that I am also your Song. I want you to share My Joy, living in conscious awareness of My Presence. Rejoice as we journey together toward heaven; join Me in singing My Song.
That’s a great passage. And it’s so true. Everybody can relate to it, obviously, but me, as it says, “This is my song.” I feel like God put songs and ideas into my heart so that I can put them out there. And even if it’s one person who hears that song and it resonates for them and maybe helps them or gets them through a tough time or might even change their life, that’s what that means to me. And being able to go through those ups and downs in whatever industry we’re in, and the music industry is a super tough business to be in. And there’s lots of hems and haws and ups and downs and woes and knowing that you can rely on God to get you through, that’s the only thing that we can do.
“I feel like God put songs and ideas into my heart so that I can put them out there. And even if it’s one person who hears that song and it resonates for them and maybe helps them or gets them through a tough time or might even change their life, that’s what that means to me.” – Lucas Hoge
Stay tuned to Brian Tome’s story after a brief message.
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Our next guest is Brian Tome, the pastor of Crossroads Church, who has experienced firsthand how left behind men often feel in church culture. Brian theorizes that part of the problem with men getting “churched out” comes from sitting and listening, rather than getting up and doing, connecting, and making a tangible difference, which he details in his new devotional geared toward men called Move.
Brian: Hey, my name is Brian Tome. I work with men, I have also started a church by the name of Crossroads, and I am about getting normal people to an abnormal place with Jesus.
Getting Churched Out
I was adopted, and I had a kind of standard suburban upbringing in the Pittsburgh area, was forced to go to church every week. Many of our friends did as well back in the seventies and early eighties. My mom played the organ. My dad sang in the choir.
And I just got really, really churched out. I found myself sitting by myself, going further and further back in the sanctuary, less and less interested in what I was experiencing. One day I looked over and this guy who was an older guy was falling asleep during the sermon. And I was about in ninth, tenth grade. I remember thinking, Dude, why are you here? You obviously don’t want to be here, and I don’t either. The only difference is I have to be here and you don’t have to. As soon as I don’t have to be here, I’m not going to be here. And that was when I started to—I don’t even know if I was astute enough to say I had doubts in the faith, just incredible uninterest in anything faith-oriented or Jesus-oriented.
Then someone told me about Jesus in the language I can understand. And I came into a relationship with Jesus, and I found a relationship with Him is different than a relationship with religion. That changed everything. That started a whole adventure for me to get closer to understanding what life is about and understanding the God who created us.
“I came into a relationship with Jesus, and I found a relationship with Him is different than a relationship with religion. And that changed everything.” – Brian Tome
Ministry for Those Who’ve Given Up
So in 1995, I answered an ad in the back of a magazine to come help start a church with eleven people who were all in their thirties who said, “We will guarantee your salary for a year and we have $15,000 in the bank. And if you will come and help us start a church for people who’ve given up on church—but not necessarily given up on God—we’ll join you in that endeavor.” So my wife and I said, “Great, yeah, we’ll do it.” We let our lifetime home in the city of Pittsburgh, a place that has a winning professional sports team, and came to Cincinnati. And we started in 1996, our first day of weekend services. And it’s been growing up and to the right ever since.
I couldn’t have predicted that God would do those things in and through us. But we found, what I found, is if you take just one faithful step every day, if you actually do the thing, whatever the thing is that God is putting before you, that thing will snowball. If you make the apology that you know He wants you to make, if you ask a person out in an honorable way, if you give a certain amount of money, if you start something, whatever it is, if you just will do the thing that you think would cause Jesus to smile, your life will snowball and have a huge, huge impact.
“What I found is if you take just one faithful step every day, if you actually do the thing, whatever the thing is that God is putting before you, that thing will snowball.” – Brian Tome
So that’s been the story of Crossroads and then a number of years ago, I was on a motorcycle trip with a bunch of my friends, guy friends, and we found out on these trips that we always would be vulnerable with one another. Yeah, we would laugh around the campfire, but we would be vulnerable with one another and we would have a sense of adventure as we were riding on motorcycles. And one morning I said to everybody, “What would it look like for us to give normal, average guys this kind of experience? And they didn’t have to buy a motorcycle? What if we did something like that?” And around that fire with my closest friends, Man Camp was born. And that’s been an experience now where 17,000 men have had a primal camp experience where God’s reached them deeply and they’ve gone home to be better sons, better husbands, better boyfriends. And I’ve just found that’s been a core calling in my life at this point.
The Disconnect of Men in the Church
It’s pretty well documented that the most ardent followers of Christ in America are women, not men. The average church would have seventy percent women attending, thirty percent male. Most men feel very disconnected from their church. Most men, if they go to church, they feel like they are in an environment that is foreign to them.
“Most men feel very disconnected from their church. Most men, if they go to church, they feel like they are in an environment that is foreign to them.” – Brian Tome
But what about the men of our culture? What about the men of our churches? I’ve camped a lot and talked with guys in all kinds of settings. And I find again and again and again there’s several teachings that I keep coming to over and over that lights guys up. One is one of identity. Most men don’t know to say this. If you’re in church and you understand church language, you would understand it. But most men don’t understand the whole idea of identity. Most men are struggling or they’re floundering because they don’t really understand who they are and they don’t understand who God says they are.
The greatest day in Jesus’ life, I believe the greatest day, is when He’s getting baptized and He hears His Father say, “This is my Son in whom I am well pleased.” In fact, there are two times that Jesus [was] told that. And by the way, they’re the only times He’s ever told something from God. Now, maybe Jesus heard from God in other situations. I would assume that He did. But the only two that are ever recorded in the Bible is when God speaks to His identity and He tells them the exact same thing. “You’re my Son in whom I’m well pleased.” Until a guy feels that he is a son in whom his Father is well pleased, he keeps trying to prove something. He feels much more fragile than he would let on to be. Some of the most manly man guys I know are incredibly spiritually and emotionally fragile because they’re not secure in their identity.
Moving Men for Christ
Guys are not excited about coming to a room and sitting in a circle with the Bible on your lap and talking. There are some guys who will do that. And I enjoy that to one degree or another. But most guys, they want to do something. If they’re going to connect with other people, it has to be in an environment where they’re doing something. And out of that, something comes together that actually makes them engage with one another. Jesus had His disciples. They were doing things together. They were going on an expedition together. They’re walking together. They’re doing healings together. And so a guy has got to feel like, if he’s going to spiritually grow, he’s got to be moving. He has to be doing things.
Jesus Calling has been one of the most important moves that God has done, I think, in the last couple of decades. I mean, you’re getting people who are reading the Bible and who are having applications from God’s timeless truth to actually impact their life, that’s utterly important and amazing.
Jesus Calling, February 29th.
YOU ARE ON THE RIGHT PATH. Listen more to Me and less to your doubts. I am leading you along the way I designed just for you. Therefore, it is a lonely way, humanly speaking. But I go before you as well as alongside you, so you are never alone. Do not expect anyone to understand fully My ways with you, any more than you can comprehend My dealings with others. I am revealing to you the path of Life, day by day and moment by moment. As I said to My disciple Peter, so I repeat to you: Follow Me.
The most important spiritual discipline for a man is friendships, finding the right men to be friends with and actually spending time with them. If we’re doing things on our own, we’re not going to be spiritually strong. So I hit guys with that all the time. You’ve got to find a place to find the right guys to be friends with and prioritize that with your calendar and with your money.
You know, Jesus didn’t come to hold class. He came to change the world. He came to move you and me out of the place of apathy and into a place of challenge. This is huge. We don’t even understand what discipleship is anymore. The Great Commission is people getting into boats and going places in the world that they had never been to in their life and they didn’t know anybody who had ever been to in their life. It was an adventure fraught with shipwreck and all kinds of things that were tough. And so guys need to be called into that sort of adventure. We need to be pushed to do something different, not just learn about something, but actually work about something.
“Jesus didn’t come to hold class. He came to change the world. He came to move you and me out of the place of apathy and into a place of challenge.” – Brian Tome
If you’d like to hear more stories about moving the world for Jesus, check out our interview with Angus Buchan.
Narrator: Next time on the Jesus Calling Podcast, positive music artist Lathan Warlick opens up about his rough childhood and a near-death experience that motivated him to pursue a deeper relationship with Jesus.
Lathan Warlick: Reality didn’t hit me until he pointed the .45 at me. When he pointed the .45 in my face, that’s when I was like, “Oh snaps, this is real.” So I’m standing there and I can remember my grandmom always saying if I was ever in a time of need, to just call on God, you know, that was like one of the one things that I can remember with my back against this wall.