Preview by Joshua Maloni
Teens and young adults crammed shoulder to shoulder, screaming and waving their arms, is something you'd expect to see at a place like Comic-Con or maybe a Buffalo sporting event. It's not necessarily the picture one envisions when hearing of a worship group. And yet, this scene is the norm each week in the Greater Atlanta area, as North Point InsideOut ministers to high school and college-age youth.
Just exactly why - or how - is this happening?
Vocalist Seth Condrey - one of eight members in the band - said it's all about keeping things real.
"I think authenticity - real authenticity - is very key for them to want to keep listening," he said in a recent phone interview. "I mean, I've noticed that, in my own life, they just want to know that there's real hope; there's real joy; it's not fake. That you're not fake. That you're not just doing it for the "Likes" or the money or the attention. And I just found that, the more all of us, the more honest that we lead, and the more honest we are with each other, it seems to be the more effective we are with high school students in general. And college-age students, for that matter."
Authenticity is important, Condrey explained, because, "I think they can smell a fake, you know? And they know how to recognize when a worship leader, or a Christian band, when they really love God, and when they really love each other, and they're telling the truth about their lives. I think they kind of know."
Fortunately, church youth leaders won't have to travel to Georgia to catch North Point InsideOut in action. The band is set to perform on the Kingdom Bound Darien Lake PAC stage
at 9:30 p.m. Sunday, July 29.
Condrey spoke more of North Point InsideOut in the Q&A below.
Q: Have you been up to Kingdom Bound before, or is this the first time?
Seth Condrey: Yeah, we actually haven't played a ton or led outside of our church. Just a handful of times. We're really excited to have this opportunity.
Q: You guys are the headline act on the big stage on Sunday night. What does that mean to you?
Seth Condrey: (Laughs) We're thrilled. We love to lead worship. We love to have fun. And the fact that we get to lead that off, we're super humbled and really excited and looking forward to just having a great time worshiping Jesus. We love it.
Q: And the fact that it's at an amusement park and there are rollercoasters and a water park, that probably doesn't hurt either, right?
Seth Condrey: (Laughs) Right; totally. Yeah, we're stoked. We're really excited. I can't believe it. We're going to have a good time.
Q: For those who are going to see you for the first time, what can you tell me about your sound, and what can we expect to see from you guys up on stage?
Seth Condrey: Sure. Well, you know, we lead every week for our high school students. InsideOut is the name of our student ministry, and the vision at our church is really to be a church that unchurched people love to attend. And so, I think that that vision kind of crafted our music, as well. We have a lot of vertical songs directed at God and just his greatness, his goodness. But we also just love to have a lot of fun with the people that we're leading with, because we think God is - he's a happy father. That's who he is; and he delights in us, and we're his kids.
So, we view the stage, although it's sacred and the God that we're singing to is holy and he's set apart, we also see it as a playground: A place that we get to explore and enjoy his presence. And so, man, there's moments to pause. I think anytime we lead, we love to just kind of let our hair down ... put it in fifth gear and just have a blast. But we also enjoy moments of contemplation or selection, and we love to just tell stories about our family, how God is teaching us through our marriages and relationships with our kids.
A few of us have kids - and a few of us are kids. So, we're also a mix. I've been doing this music for 10 years or so. You've got some guys that have been leading for, you know, two or three years. We lead with an outsider in mind, meaning a person who doesn't necessarily get all of our biblical language, our church jargon - we definitely lead with those people in mind. Always recognizing that there may be somebody that's out there that doesn't have a relationship with Jesus. As we're leading in worship, we also keep that person in our minds and hearts, as well.
Q: So, like you said, I mean you've got people in the group that have, you know, different ages and different life experiences. You've got a large group, and yet, from what I've seen and heard online, it seems like you guys mesh really well together. I'm wondering: Was that challenging or was it a natural fit right from the get-go?
Seth Condrey: Well, I think it takes intention. I think any culture, you know, anytime you throw a family together or a church together, there's obviously barriers to creating unity. But we decided that we want to be characterized by our love for one another. So that's really, really important to us. And just embracing each other, where we are, as we are.
I think just a real intentional love and kind of a decision as a group that we want to be unified - that we're not gonna try to outdo each other or compare ourselves to each other, but just really embrace our differences and even our ages, our life stages, and let God use all of that. Like, all of our stories. So, I really believe that he's put us together and given us that heart to really experience the kingdom through a mutual love and respect. And it's been awesome, man.
I mean, you know, I have an 11-year-old son. He's about to go into middle school. And one of our leaders, Clay Finnesand, is one of his favorite worship leaders. So, it's really cool for me to lead alongside guys who are also influencing my kids. It's been amazing to watch.
And, obviously, man, you know, human beings, there's pride and insecurity and fear. So, we navigate that just like anybody, and we have to talk about it ... and make sure that our focus, in leading worship and even playing events, at the end of the day it's about leading people to Jesus and honoring him. So, that's what we want - the impression that we want to leave is that Jesus has changed our lives. He's worthy of our lives and our songs and everything. And we really, really want people to know it. So, that's why we're doing what we're doing,
Q: When you come to town and when people catch your show, you're going to have new fans in Western New York. So, for the people that are interested in keeping up with your band, and keeping up with subsequent appearances we might have in Western New York, what's the best way to keep in touch with your band?
Seth Condrey: Sure. Well we've got our Instagram account and we're keeping our story going and pictures there. So, @npinsideoutband. You can follow us there. And our music is on Spotify and iTunes and all that, as well. We're releasing, right now, a few singles. We're just kind of letting some songs go and seeing how they test - and just songs that are working in our youth group. The ones that have really impacted our church, we're just recording those songs and releasing them right now. About one a month.
Q: I'm curious as to where the name InsideOut came from.
Seth Condrey: The guy who started our high school ministry, his name is Kevin Ragsdale. He runs our music and stuff at North Point. And the InsideOut was just the name of the high school ministry. So, it's been that way for 20 years. And, you know, North Point is kind of the name of our church organization. You know, that's the name of our church at large. So, North Point is kind of the brand of our church, and InsideOut is our student ministry. And we couldn't really get rid of either name, so we got North Point InsideOut.