Matt Maher plays so listeners will hear God

| Susan Klemond for The Catholic Spirit | August 2, 2012 | 0 Comments

Singer will perform at ‘Elegate’ event for young adults at U of M

Popular Catholic recording artist Matt Maher is bringing his music to the University of Minnesota’s Coffman Memorial Union Aug. 9. But he’s not planning to have a single faith message at his performance for the hundreds of youth and young adults who will attend.

Instead he’s “elegating” or passing that task up to God (as opposed to “delegating” the job to event planners.) In other words,  Maher is trusting the Lord to deliver a personalized message to each individual.

“I kind of see the music and the worship functioning as a bridge to help all these young people have an encounter with God that’s transformative,” said Maher, who will perform and lead worship at St. Paul’s Outreach’s second annual Elegate event, an evangelistic evening of music, worship and testimony centered around the Gospel.

If you go

  • What: Elegate 2012
  • Who: Youth and young adults ages 17-27, but all are welcome
  • When: Aug. 9, 7:30 p.m.
  • Where: Great Hall, Coffman Memorial Union, 300 Washington Ave., SE., Minneapolis
  • Cost: $18 in advance, $22 at door

Singing to God

Inviting the audience to move from listening to participating in worship “creates this space where people start thinking about God and singing about God and at some point there’s a shift where they’re singing to God,” Maher said. “It’s such a small but profound shift that happens. Good music reveals beauty and beauty points to the truth of who God is. But I think there’s something even more beautiful or more profound when that leads to prayer of a corporate nature.”

The Elegate event (see box at left) will be more than a concert, said Ryan O’Hara, SPO Minnesota branch director and an Elegate organizer.

Aimed at youth and young adults ages 17 to 27 but open to anyone, the event will include a Gospel sharing by Father Craig Vasek and the chance to pray and respond to the message.

“I think a lot of times as Catholics it’s hard for us to give people tangible ways to participate and say yes to Jesus Christ,” O’Hara said. “It’s one thing to watch a performer. It’s another thing to begin to sing the songs and make some decisions, and even give voice to those decisions. Through praying with somebody or praying as a group, we think the Gospel requires us to make some kind of tangible response.”

SPO is a West St. Paul-based Catholic ministry seeking to evangelize college students, bring them to maturity and train them to be leaders.

Young people’s need to encounter and respond to the Gospel is great because they know the world doesn’t fulfill them, said Father Vasek, parochial vicar at St. Philip in Bemidji who frequently works with youth and young adults.

Because young adults are making major decisions about their lives while facing many financial and life pressures, they question how they’re supposed to navigate, O’Hara said.

“I see a lot of young adults that are sort of frozen, paralyzed by fear about the future,” he said. “That’s why I think this sort of message and night really hits on those very things.”

Christ is the answer to every question that humanity poses, Father Vasek said. “This is going to be a very pure and safe place to receive that answer,” he said. “Jesus Christ will be proclaimed simply, truthfully and purely.”

Invite a friend

Elegate has a unique evangelistic focus, said Andrea Prisby, SPO administrator and an Elegate organizer. Two hundred students, mission leaders and others from around the country participating in SPO’s School of the New Evangelization at the University of St. Thomas will attend Elegate. Young adults are encouraged to invite friends who may or may not know Christ, she said.

“It’s a challenge to people to say we don’t just want you to come, we want you to bring a friend in your life that doesn’t know Jesus or is on the fence,” Prisby said. “It’s very hard for us sometimes as Catholics to bring a friend like that to Mass depending on where they’re at in their walk with the Lord. This event serves as someplace to bring them to that’s going to be ‘non-Christian friendly.’.”

Nate Verschaetse is inviting five to 10 friends to Elegate, including one who is searching in his faith. Verschaetse, a parishioner at St. Mark in St. Paul, didn’t attend Elegate last year but is serving on the event’s planning team. He hopes his friends — and everyone attending — will experience renewal and the Holy Spirit.

“I think the great thing about Elegate is that it’s going to help people who are on that path who are seeking God and desire to find truth in their life,” he said. “I think it’s a natural next step to say, ‘Here is truth in the person of Jesus Christ.’”
Elegate organizers and Maher hope this Gospel message touches young people’s hearts so they will “trust One greater.”

“I think that music and songs and more so the ministry that can come from it will meet youth and young adults where they currently find themselves culturally and hopefully just kind of pull them forward a little bit,” Maher said.

Music plays an important role in that, he said. “It opens up and reveals beauty — trying to draw the edges around a silhouette, the mystery of God.”

Read more about Matt Maher on his website

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Category: Arts and Culture