Finding Your Audience

by David Eagles @Yieldedman

The Bible tells us that there are a number of voices in the world, all with something to say (1 Cor.14:10). 

When you think about it, that seems like it would make the marketplace cluttered with too many options to choose from, but when you examine this premise more carefully, especially as it pertains to ministry/artistry, this understanding reveals where a lot of artists fail.

While it may be exciting enough to simply be a part of the marketplace as a whole (and surely none of us being used by GOD can say we "deserve" the opportunity), is it really enough to just be a part of what others are doing if your part in it is indistinguishable from everyone else's? We do ourselves and the audience at large a disservice by simply replicating what they receive in already heavy dosages.

It's up to the artist to discover their audience; YOU need to find YOUR audience.

For the Christian artist, we make a couple of mistakes here, the first of which being not shutting ourselves off from the world.

For the sake of popularity, and in an attempt to ultimately circumvent the process of taking the time to build relationship and carve out our space, having a sound that mimicks what's currently trending may seem effective, but when you can't evolve or switch gears, or the audience you've introduced yourself to under false pretense is unwilling to shift gears with you in their entirety, you've basically squandered your efforts and are left with something you may not have learned, up until this point, to appreciate.

We don't spend time seeking GOD for who we're called to. It's just like discovering purpose in general. 

If I know what GOD has said about me and where I'm headed, there's certain people, places, and things that I don't entertain; they're not a part of my purpose.

With my audience, once I understand what I'm making and who I'm making it for, then I can focus on growing and becoming everything I can be in that space (perhaps many of us don't want to do this for fear of what GOD actually wants not being as "big" as we think we need it or are ready for it to be. In this vernacular, size doesn't matter 😉).

Second, we mistake those who will hear a message as those who are our audience.

What do I mean?

There are some folks who will hear a song and that song will play a major part in their getting closer to GOD or will shift them to a particular place because of whatever season they may be in or whatever GOD may be trying to accomplish in a particular season, but they're not a part of OUR audience. The folks who have waited on the manifestation of our ministry, people GOD specifically designed our gifts and callings and anointings to feed. Marvin Sapp comes to mind.

"Never Would Have Made It" caught a wind and became a record-breaking record for both the Gospel artist, himself, as well as the Gospel music industry as a whole. The song spoke to people all over and introduced a whole other group of people to Sapp's voice and music. Awards and recognition followed. The problem? The moment erroneously became the expectation when it was just that: a moment that GOD used and did something special with. How do we know?

Sapp's very next album and lead single tried to replicate the same "formula" of Never's success. "The Best In Me" was pushed in the same vein as its predecessor, but did not come close to experiencing its reach or lasting impact. Why?

The artist left the audience GOD had given him to pursue what he believed was his newfound arena of support. 

Lured by the perceived grander opportunity to display what GOD had given him, only to see that misappropriated assessment met with stymied "success" (when it comes to everything we do for or in the name of the LORD, motive will always be GOD's measuring stick for us).

One of the other more egregious mistakes we make as Christian artists is erroneously believing that artistry for the Christian should not be (or doesn't have to be or can't be) completely covered through the lens of scripture.

We fall prey to the trappings of an industry not governed by a love of/for or any reverential fear of GOD when we willingly choose to depart from the blueprint (Bible) left us. Don't agree or believe me (as it pertains to this subject)?? Watch this!

JESUS knew who HIS audience was. 

Matthew 10:6 and 15:24 both reveal JESUS plainly stating what group of people HE was sent to...first. 

Now, watch this. Just because our audience is an intended or a specific group of people doesn't mean there won't ever be instances where the message or the expression of the message GOD has given us transcends that core demographic (ala "Woulda Made It").

We see on more than one instance that there were individuals that JESUS was able to minister to who was not an initial part of HIS audience base: the woman at the well, the mother imploring for healing for her daughter, the centurion requesting JESUS send the word to heal his servant. None of these a part of JESUS' home base, that group HE knew HIS message was tailored to, but (PLEASE catch this) that SAME message was allowed to transcend in those instances until there was a shift in seasons to the overall purpose (John 3:16).

You don't have to change your message to see your audience change. 

You remain faithful over a few things and grow what was invested in you and GOD will enlarge the territory HE's entrusted you with.

"So, what steps can I take to help find my audience", you ask? I got you.

First step: ask (seek, knock). The Bible tells us that if we're lacking in wisdom, we can ask GOD and HE'll give it freely, meaning HE won't be stingy with the insight you've requested (James 1:5). Do note, though, that in this instance, we should not only be asking GOD to uncover who our audience is, but also whether or not we've been called to steward an audience through this particular vehicle of ministry (just because you can, doesn't mean you can: be called then released).

The next step to take once GOD starts not only downloading info on who our audience is or includes, and starts pulling out the things HE's deposited in me for them, I need to embrace who they are, where they are, why they are. Many of us miss this in the throes of going through our trials and tribulations and whether or not we go through them the right way. Who (other than me) is waiting to be blessed once I go through this the right way? Who's waiting on the power I get after I've survived and thrived? Far too often, we see those with large platforms disregarding the audience they influence in their decision making or enduring of certain things, especially anything gone through publicly. Remember: it's no longer about "us" and we've got to own that as accepting responsibility for the influence we've been given in the name of our LORD. To whom much is given...

Ultimately, it's a waste of time to covet the audience others have when, if called, GOD has an audience waiting on your manifestation, your arrival, your acceptance of the commission set aside for you.

Shortcuts usually lead to short runs. Longevity and the respect it breeds is a process. 

If you're going to protect and grow the audience GOD has given you, you have to feed them; in order to feed them, GOD has to feed you. Pursue GOD and trust HIM on HIS blueprint for consistent success (Josh.1:8).

Find your audience. They're out there waiting on you.

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