Ken Medema on music,travel,life.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


A reflection on my work. . .

I have been working in churches now for about 36 years and rarely have I seen it where people come to church and speak their deepest life concerns and issues. Sure there are many churches with small groups where people can "Get Real" but in the gathering time or worship service it is rare, in my experience, that people's anger, depression, fear, sense of inadequacy is truly met. Oh, the preacher may preach about those things, but the rest of the service goes on almost removed from the human dramas that are happening in the room. What I know about my work is that I am called to do something else in the churches. I am called to tell the stories of people and their real lives, to bring a group of folks together in an experience of mutual discovery. I hear it over and over again from people who tell me what happened in a concert or service where I have sung.

Please know that I don't take this gift and calling for granted nor do I have any sense that I deserve to be given this gift, but it is there. It has become a real concern to me that many churches truly need hope and encouragement these days. People are weary, worried, angry, and wondering what their faith has to do with their present circumstances. I really believe that when we tell our stories to each other and when those stories are sung in the common gathering, there is comfort and some kind of renewal that can happen.

Does it sound self-serving for me to say that I want to have the chance to be in more and more churches to do this work? I know that money is incredibly tight for churches as it is for everybody and that is a great part of the frustration here. I know that I have something to offer and I want to offer it. I also know that I have to try to survive in the process and that many churches who would like to have this kind of special experience feel that it is impossible now.

For all these reasons, I am asking my friends and supporters to help me dream, to pray, to share any ideas you may have that would help me and Brier Patch Music think and move outside the box, as it were, to do what I know we are called and gifted to do.

Let there be music ringing in the air, through the tears, in our hearts, on our lips, all the day and night long.


  1. On October 3, 1982, Ken came to McKinney, Texas, and sang and ministered and prophesied to our church. We were small then: about 350 people on a good Sunday morning. We were meeting in "Phase 1" of a new location. We were about to embark on Phase 2, but with much fear and uncertainty.

    Then Ken came. He composed a song, walking from the offices to the auditorium: "What If It All Started in McKinney, Texas?"

    We now run about 3,000, with more than 30 outreach opportunities for 2009 from the "other side of town" to the other side of the world. The starving, the extreme poor, AIDS and other horrific diseases [yet, polio still exists], a loving engagement with Muslims, and continuous stream of the Gospel: Good news! compose the 5 areas of our emphasis. The agenda is no less than to change the world.

    25 years ago, Ken ventured where no sane man would go: he dreamed a really big dream, “What if it all started in McKinney, Texas!”

    He lit a fire that burns to this day. He is transformational. Any church on shaky ground should invite this dear prophet of God to come.

    And it could be that it the fire of God could start in your community too.

    Jerry Byrd

  2. Back in the mid 1970's, Ken came to Perryton, TX for the first time. During Sunday Service I watched an entire church, that was often split and divided on church related issues, come together through the power of Ken's songs. I had never understood what people meant when they said "I'm filled with the Holy Spirit" but that Sunday I understood exactly what the expression meant. As I went to the front for Communion I couldn't help but notice that I along with most members of the church were crying, as Ken sang throughout Communion. The entire Sanctuary was filled with a special peace and love. I have never experienced that completeness again. I have never forgotten Ken's music. Not long after that visit my mother had to have surgery in Amarillo. Bob Daniels the minister of our church came to sit with us 4 kids during the surgery. Knowing we were all worried, Bob brought in a BIG projector and set it up in the hall by the surgical wing. It had Ken singing, skiing, just living a normal life. At first the nurses got a little upset but before it was over, we had to move the projector to a waiting room so that other family members who were worried about their loved ones in surgery, could also watch the film with us. You know before we knew it Ken had once again eased the fear in all of us with his touching life story and his music.