Artist Interview: Chad Johnson

If God asked you to quit what you were doing and follow Him in a different direction, would you? That is exactly what Chad Johnson did nine years ago when he began Come&Live! Chad shares about the steps of obedience he took, and how God has been transforming his life ever since, in this month’s artist interview.

Katie Schaumann

Katie is a staff writer and part of Come&Live!’s Artist Relations and Development team.​

So, for those in the Come&Live! Community who may not know who you are, would you introduce yourself?
My name is Chad, and I guess the short of it is that, once upon a time, I was a Christian music professional and I felt Jesus calling me into deeper waters to really follow Him in ways I had not been doing up until that point. It is really wild to think that it has been nine years since I left the conventional music world and started Come&Live! I began with a dream and a hope to see God use artists and creatives to further His Kingdom everywhere. I was always really blown away by how much authority artists carry, and what kind of platforms they were able to grow. It has been really wild to watch what God has been doing through Come&Live! and through all of the different artists that have been part of it.

Where did the idea for Come&Live! come from?
I think it actually came, very directly, from the Holy Spirit at a John Piper Conference in Minneapolis. I felt like the Holy Spirit gave me four instructions to really lock in my focus for life: 1) Make my life all about Jesus, 2) Stop worrying about finances, 3) Make disciples of artists and others 4) Give my life away. I think those four principles really did serve as the starting point for Come&Live!, as I began to consider, “What if I actually did this? What might happen?” Come&Live! is a direct response to what I sensed the Holy Spirit putting on my heart.

How did you “jump”  or how did you go about starting Come&Live! and living this lifestyle of completely trusting God and surrendering to Him?
Thankfully, Jesus had been preparing my heart and my head for the transition, so it wasn’t maybe as - well, it was severe, but maybe not as radical as it sounds. I believe that if God calls us to something really significant in a directional way, He also gives us grace to step into that, and a ton of supernatural aid to fulfill the call that He has placed on us. Certainly, for me, that was the case. Maybe part of that was Him helping me see that, after about twelve years, I no longer had a heart or passion for where I was in the music business.

Now here I am, nine years in full-time music ministry, and I still find myself struggling with contentment, or some days, just to have as much passion as I did when I started. A prayer of mine has been that Jesus would help me to keep that childlike passion for people and for Him throughout this journey. One of the cool things about being part of Steiger is that I am always around people who are even more excited and passionate about Jesus and the Kingdom than I am. I think that has been a huge gift in the way that God has brought Come&Live! together with Steiger.

How has the vision of Come&Live! evolved over the past nine years, not only through the partnership with Steiger, but from what you had envisioned from day one?

I think the biggest transition for Come&Live! was when I felt Jesus asking me to give it to Steiger. Up until that point, it was largely an Indie worship community, operating on a lot of generosity from the areas of giving music away, doing events, traveling, and filming documentaries. We were trying to find every way possible to make Jesus relatable to the culture, and to help people understand how much He loves them. This was not so much from an evangelistic perspective, even though we wanted to see people coming to Jesus.

I think the intentionality is what has changed most. Now, if someone asks me, “What does Come&Live! do?” I would tell them that Come&Live! exists to challenge Christian artists to share the Gospel of Jesus outside of the Church, and everything we do is aimed at creatively communicating that message to artists. Come&Live! started as this fringe, Christian-hipster kind of nichey worship thing, which was really cool, and I’m so thankful for what the Lord did. I think it was really special, and so important for that season. But I think that was actually the starting point to bring us to a place of asking, “What might it look like to live life on a mission? And how can we embrace what Jesus has for us and who He calls us to be wherever we go, but especially outside of Christian circles?”

There is no doubt that Come&Live! has transitioned massively. Even though it’s now about nine years old, in many ways, Come&Live! is only two or three years old, because we essentially started over when I gave it to Steiger. The Provoke & Inspire podcast is a great example of that. In the pre-Steiger Come&Live!, there was no podcast, there was no weekly communication to the community where they could tune in and be like, “OK, what are these guys up to? What’s happening, and what are they talking about?” You know? I think that’s an area where God has obviously challenged us and given us a new platform and opportunity to speak into the lives of artists. 


Since handing Come&Live! over to Steiger, you’ve had the time to work on writing a book called One Thousand Risks. Can you tell us about this project and how it was inspired?
One Thousand Risks was a very organic process that essentially started with and through Come&Live!, even though my personal journey with Jesus in the area of risk-taking, wasn’t necessarily ever directly a ministry of Come&Live! Basically, I was already trusting Jesus for my finances, my family and my ministry, so why would I not also trust Him for daily interactions with normal, everyday people in my normal, everyday life?

A lot of my life is lived in Nashville, Tennessee, in a little suburban neighborhood, and that was where God began to give me the vision for One Thousand Risks. Essentially it was this: What would it look like if every day I asked, “Jesus, would you give me one opportunity today to love somebody the way that you love them?” and then I would commit to stepping out of my way and asking people how I could pray for them? The book came after a 740-day period of my life, where I documented one thousand personal risks. I share the highs and lows of that experience, the miracles and the “non miracles.” I share the challenge in overcoming fear, and how much fear tends to derail me from obedience and from following Jesus more consistently.

What has been the response from people who have read the book? Do you see a lot of people going out and taking risks?
Man, that is a really good question. For sure, there are quite a few who have written to me or told me that they started taking risks. I guess the general response has been that people are encouraged. Most of the time, it’s not people saying they are taking their own risks - though sometimes it is. And the people who have said they feel God calling them to the exact same thing is just mind blowing for me! I think the response has been super encouraging because it's come from people like a Catholic priest who just thanked me for the way he is now able to experience the Holy Spirit, or a former pastor who walked away from faith and has been coming back to Jesus after reading the book. It’s been an incredible tool for me to leave behind when I speak somewhere; to actually have a book and say, “If you want to know more, read more, hear more - here is a book.”

What are some ways that we as a community can be praying for you, as you move forward in taking more risks?
You could be praying that the Lord would continue to give me His heart in whatever I do, because if I don’t have His heart, then it really doesn’t matter anyway. I am a husband, and a dad to a 17-year-old and a 12-year-old, so pray that I can be the best husband and father that I can be. That my focus, my ministry, my investment would be primarily to my wife and kids as the starting point, and that whatever blessing the Lord brings to me outside of that would be above and beyond what I am already experiencing Him doing. It would be awesome if you could pray for those areas - thank you for asking.

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Is there anything you can encourage or challenge us with - maybe a risk you could challenge us to take this week after reading this interview?

The challenge would be to take a risk and pray a prayer like, “Jesus, can you bring one person into my life this week that I can pray for, and that I can have a conversation with about you?” Often times, that is where the risk starts and ends. You ask, “How can I pray for you?” and they say, “I have this thing, or that thing.” But sometimes, it does provide an opportunity for us to share the Gospel, or to really engage with someone beyond a simple prayer. That would be a huge risk that initially comes to my heart. It might be a great starting point for someone who has already read the book, and for the person who hasn’t read it yet, it’s a taste of what might happen if you pick up One Thousand Risks.

Want to be further challenged? You can order your copy of One Thousand Risks  here!

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