Creative Christian Moments
“Reviews of up and coming Christians in the arts community.”
Blog Article 43: Email Interview with Courtney Stauffer and Death Defeated Music
“The light of Christ shines the brightest in the darkest of places” is a common phrase Christian use to illustrate the power of the Gospel message in a society engrossed in sin and immorality. It is often an encouraging word to Christians suffering for the their faith or trail blazing in unfamiliar missionary territory. But much like the torchbearers that have gone before her, Courtney Stauffer of Death Defeated Music from Portland, Oregon, continues this time honored tradition in Christianity by bringing the light of the Gospel message into the often dark realm of rock and heavy metal.
“To the Jews I became a like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like on under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak, I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessing.”
I have preached on this passage before and I will preach on it again when it comes to evangelistic callings such as Stauffer’s from 1st Corinthians 9:19-23. Much like Paul’s soapbox sermon in 1st Corinthians, Christians were never called to withdraw from society but rather to engross themselves into the lives of others to win them for the Gospel with the same love, compassion, and uncompromising Biblical principles illustrated by Jesus Christ. It is a process of living in the world but not conforming to the thought patterns of the world’s spheres of influence illustrated in Romans 12:2. We become light bearers in societies encased in darkness. Below is our email interview discussing how Stauffer will accomplish this task in her mission field.
Barry Irwin Brophy: Tell us a bit about yourself and some of the current ministry/music projects you are working on.
Courtney Stauffer: Currently I am working on building my independent record label, Death, Defeated and am serving pretty regularly as a volunteer for my church’s media ministry. I can do anything from stage set up to recording and running the board, lights, cameras, and U-stream. This is really where I cut my adult teeth, as I like to call them, in behind the stage work.
I was always involved in music growing up and was fortunate enough to sing in California, Oregon, and Washington with my High School choir but after graduation I hardly touched music until I was pregnant with my daughter and my husband was working actively with the same media ministry I am now. If you ever had to wait for your spouse (or anyone) who was serving in ministry then you know how bored you can get being the last one out, all the time. I can chalk it up to nesting or crazy pregnancy hormone fluxes but I felt the need to do something so I was shown how to wrap cables (and of course told to take it easy).
As a musician (I use that term loosely) I love to sing, play piano and am currently teaching myself guitar and drums.
Barry Irwin Brophy: How did you come to faith in Jesus Christ?
Courtney Stauffer: I fell in love with Christ Jesus my senior year of high school. I don’t remember ever discounting His existence before then but I was very resistant to going to church until my senior year of high school. For two years prior, two girls, who are two of my closest friends and are sisters to me, kept inviting me to church. Finally I relented and went to their high school youth group with them and the rest is history. I walked in to this bay that was converted into a hang out space and nearly was hit in the face with a stray ball from a game of bump. I sat through the message and first heard someone teach the Bible verse by verse. We were in 1st Corinthians 1 and one of my sweet friends made sure I brought a Bible (my super awesome camouflage print kids adventure Bible – coolest 18 year old around). The Lord did something in me that day. I wouldn’t confess Jesus is Lord until August that year but I knew that this was home and home it has been for the past five years.
I was forced to grow up very quickly in my walk. After marrying my best friend in 2012, we conceived our first and currently only child. Everything was going great with my pregnancy until our 20 week ultrasound. Our sweet little baby girl was created to spend a very short amount of time with us. Bilateral Renal Agensis was a whole new medical term I had never heard of. Basically what it is is the absence of one (lateral) or both (bilateral) kidneys and related structures. The bilateral presentation is almost always fatal because of the role that kidneys play in development of lungs and preparation for life outside the womb. I remember that after that appointment I felt someone or something say to me “you can either choose to follow Christ now or you can turn your back on Him.” To me that was the defining point in my walk.
Barry Irwin Brophy: How has God been using the your record label to spread His Gospel message? Any stories?
Courtney Stauffer: God has been showing me that my role in this industry and His plan for me are deeply connected and not exactly easy to label. Here you have this 20 something girl running around, teaching, playing, producing, and managing in one of the darkest areas of the industry and she has a cross hanging on her neck. What? I’ll meet people and start to work with them and usually I’m asked where I learned my trades or why I don’t meet Sunday morning and then its like a light goes off when they realize that I do things my way because of my faith and convictions. I like to believe that my presence in scene is shinning light in the darkness. It’s sad to see a lot of the girls at concerts and hanging around bands allow themselves to be taken advantage in sad ways.
Barry Irwin Brophy: There is such resistance I’ve encountered from Christians at entering the rock or heavy metal community for ministry. I interviewed a Christian metal band last year doing this with so much success and their was quite a backlash from even some ministers. What would you say to those individuals holding the opinion that you cannot reach this subculture with the Gospel message through a medium they understand?
Courtney Stauffer: If this subculture cannot be reached then I cannot exist because I am the teenage girl in the mosh pit grinding against whatever guy would let me. I am the girl behind the MySpace profile with heavy metal on my profile and provocative pictures chatting with the older band guys. Thankfully I belong to a church that has always supported me and understands that not every person can go out into the world and be a light (even if I don’t shine it into others eyes) but some are called to less than typical ministries that may not even look like a ministry. While it was my sweet friends who convinced me to come back to church I had been hearing the Gospel through bands like Flyleaf. The songs I thought were love songs about two people were really love songs about Christ and His bride.
Barry Irwin Brophy: What do you think are the biggest obstacles within the American Christian Church institution? How can they change to be more effective in preaching the Gospel?
Courtney Stauffer: Remove the plank from you eye before you pick the speck out of mine. I don’t dress like a stereotypical married Christian woman. My clothing learns towards neo-goth hispter-esque, I have visible tattoos, multiple facial piercings, and usually some freestyle hair tattoo. Making the sermons less about ones outward appearance and more about how the Lord sees you through His eyes makes all the difference and I am blessed to belong in a church that teaches this.
Barry Irwin Brophy: In Washington state, our area is experiencing quite a Christian renaissance revival in the arts. How do you think your music label will influence the coming revival?
Courtney Stauffer: I hope I can be a part of it. I don’t plan on working solely within the Christian music scene but branching out and being a light in places where I don’t see a lot of kindness towards bands and individuals who are outspoken about wanting to evangelize. I want to be someone that people can look at and see that not every Christian is the kind that makes the 6 o’clock news for protesting something.
Barry Irwin Brophy: What advice would you like to give to future Christian writers, authors, and poets just getting started? Please provide any helpful tips or painful lessons of what not to do.
Courtney Stauffer: If God is with you, no one can stand against you. It may not be what you think should be happening but God’s plan is greater than our own. Have a group of knowledgeable people to hold yourself accountable to, listen to what they have to say and pray about it, stay in the Word, and work your butt off. My artists will talk to me from as early as 5 A.M. my time to as late as 1 A.M. and I am no stranger to the 3 A.M. email reply. I currently work a forty hour week in a totally unrelated industry and have my personal life to devote time to. It’s doable but its hard. Just shoot.
Barry Irwin Brophy: I’ve also encounter many struggling Christian writer’s who’ve just giving up on their calling either through circumstance, unmet expectations, or just downright hardships that prevent them for continuing in their callings. These guys and girls are really in the fire right now and have been severely burned. If you were speaking with them one on one what encouraging words would you say to them?
Courtney Stauffer: The Lord’s timeline is different than ours. If you are struggling He is probably trying to show you something and will use this time to make your ministry stronger. You have to pay bills, its not easy, but it can be done and the Lord is using you for something.
Barry Irwin Brophy: Any helpful tips or practical disciplines that you have learned in your walk with Christ that other followers could benefit from?
Courtney Stauffer: Just because one person has this calling on their life doesn’t mean you have to as well. A lot of the girls who helped me in my walk are married, mommies or about to be and they are called to be stay-at-home moms and wives. I tried that. I tried hard at it. It took me to a dark place. While thats what is usually expected of a married Christian woman, I am not designed for this and it took me a long time to understand that. What I am saying is to trust the Lord and what His plans are for you despite what others might think.
Barry Irwin Brophy’s Closing Thoughts
Stauffer said it best when she discussed the importance of Christian rock “While it was my sweet friends who convinced me to come back to church I had been hearing the Gospel through bands like Flyleaf. The songs I thought were love songs about two people were really love songs about Christ and His bride.” And that is the discussion that is constantly taking place between the fans of these bands.
For the skeptical Christian reader I would challenge you to check out a music video or two from a well known Christian rock band. If you scroll down to the comments section, just smile at the amount of Biblical discussion occurring. On the Christian metal music videos, the debates and discussion are even more intense and abundant. THE GOSPEL MESSAGE IS TRULY REACHING OUT TO EVERY CORNER OF SOCIETY within the eleventh hour generational time period. Praise God!!!
Christian rock is a powerful medium by which the Lord is raising up as a method of evangelism. Just converse with the artists themselves and you will hear of stories during concerts or on social media sites where fans of the music have given their life to Christ through this form of evangelism. It is truly amazing and adds one more beautiful section to the Christian Church. But it takes individuals like Stauffer to be the bridges by which the Gospel message travels by her boldness to step out into unchartered ministry territories and say “Hear I am Lord, us me.”
One of the most powerful videos of evangelism I have ever witnessed was watching Korn members Brian “Head” Welch, Reginald “Fieldy” Arizu, and evangelist Todd White minister the Gospel message through prayer at a heavy metal concert. When I was a young Christian in the early mid 2000s, I would day dream about evangelistic events like this, praying, fasting, and hoping, that God would raise up men and women with this type of compassionate love to walk the dark areas of society with the Gospel message. In 2015, others and myself are now witnessing our prayers being answered in this regard and many of us have even had the privilege of being our own answers to these prayers.
As I watched this video clip preview from Holy Ghost movie, I wept because like Stauffer and myself it is the overwhelming compassion from individuals like White that convince us of the reality of the Gospel message. Stauffer shares a similar unique calling as expressed in her own words above and when I even attempt to discuss these types of evangelistic opportunities I experience such heavy resistance from Christians: including pastors who are unwilling to even try and reach this subculture of our society. If the Christian Church is to see revival within the United States of America, it is going to take bold measures of evangelism as illustrated by revivalists of the past like John Wesley, Charles Finney, and Billy Graham just to name a few. More importantly, Stauffer’s interview also depicts the most common concept of spreading the Gospel that you and I will ever experience: the mission field of the workplace.
Christians always hype overseas missions, which is good because they are needed, but often equal emphasis is not placed on using this same passion, energy, and resources to reach the local community. Ask the question, what can I do to present the Gospel message in my profession? If you are a construction worker, build houses and buildings as though Jesus Himself would be using them. Are you a janitor at a school? Clean the halls and classrooms as if Jesus Himself would be using them next. Are you an artist? Contribute your artistic medium to glorifying the Gospel message whether it be through music, painting, photography, writing, or cooking. Do you work in sales? Honor Jesus Christ by selling products to customers that they need to meet their goals at fair prices. Would Jesus purchase the product you are pitching to them? The list goes on and on but what is most important is that the characteristics of Christ are seen by your professional colleagues regardless of occupation because the workplace is where most of us Christians will make the most impact in sharing the Gospel message.
Support Stauffer and Death Defeated Music through prayer. They will need a ton of it and I am calling upon my fellow intercessors to accomplish this task. If you are a musician, reach out to Stauffer and Death Defeated Music if you are looking for local label to help promote your music. As I close with this blog post I look forward to watching Death Defeated Music blossom and rapidly grow as Stauffer continues to honor the Lord by demonstrating this same Christ like compassion and professionalism with the musicians she serves in her business: both Christian and secular.
Courtney Stauffer’s Pages/Contact Info
Death Defeated Music: http://www.facebook.com/DeathDefeatedMusic
Phone: (503) 867-1124
Death Defeated Music. Logo Picture. Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/DeathDefeatedMusic/photos/a.501187143260557.111907.501184843260787/591538680892069/?type=1&theater (accessed June 1, 2015)
Stauffer, Courtney, email message to author, May, 18, 2015.
Stauffer, Courtney. Profile Picture. Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=821100731313876&set=a.109595512464405.18995.100002418717606&type=1&theater (accessed June 2, 2015)
Holy Ghost Deluxe – Brian “Head” Welch from Korn and Todd White, YouTube, 1:33, posted by WP Films, September 7, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QY9wBUnbgnM (accessed June 1, 2015).