by Phil Joel
It all began one Sunday morning as I was walking my little girl to her Sunday school class. A man stopped me in the hall with the words ” Hey, you with the long hair, you look like a musician…we need someone to help with the 5 year olds class. Can I get your name so I can put you on the roster to lead worship?” His recruiting technique, although guerilla warfare like in approach was effective. I responded with a quick and squeaky “Ok.”
Apparently the roster of volunteers now consisted of me and only me, so the following Sunday I was scheduled to sing. And, thus began our (Heather & myself) adventure into the world of kids worship and ministry. It wasn’t long after we’d begun that we were asked to not only lead the worship but to also teach the lesson. (I have since learned that when it comes to kids ministry that once you say you’re in, you’re really in). So, as we prepared for the class, the natural thing for us to do was to write corresponding songs that would reinforce the lesson and would also be fun and memorable.
It didn’t take long before we had a collection of songs that we thought we should record for the kids so they could listen to them during the week and solidify the teachings from the Sunday lesson. So I started working on them in the studio in my back yard – a neat old carriage house where I now do all my recordings – kids, dogs, bird noises and friends provide far better inspiration than padded Nashville studio walls.
Anyway, the project grew from there to become ‘DELIBERATEKIDS –A Boom Chaka Laka Rockin Good Time!‘ And, as it turned out, people way beyond our Sunday school have seemed to enjoy it. The response to dKids1 has been really great and seems to fill a need. So at the beginning of this year we decided it was time for us to get moving on the next one. We recently released a second CD titled ‘DELIBERATEKIDS 2 – The Adventure You Were Born For!’ After all the emails requesting an Old Testament song we had to do another CD!
Actually, if I’m going to be completely honest with you, I kinda selfishly wanted to write kids songs that contained strong Biblical content and wrap them up in musical production that both my kids and I could enjoy (not endure). It may seem an impure motive but I’ve noticed over the past 16 years through traveling both as a part of Newsboys and as a solo artist that there is a great need to focus on things that bring us together as families and not divide us. It’s an on-going vigil to stay connected with our kids and to keep those things out of our homes that will bring about distance and division.
I’ve also come to see through being a part of thousands of teen conferences and concerts that so many “teenage issues” are actually family issues that manifest themselves in teenage ways. It’s not merely young people who are under siege by the onslaught of junk media and new communication systems delivering distorted messages; it’s families that are being targeted. The enemy is doing all he can to divide, conquer, distract and destroy the family unit because he knows that it’s where kids form their ideas about virtually everything. All this to say, there is only one truly lasting and fruitful way to “do” family and that’s with God at the center!
So, with all this in mind I see an exciting opportunity for good ole’ Rock N’ Roll, which has historically been such a source of division and contention is now becoming a vehicle for unity amongst family members and churches alike. After all, R N’ Roll is getting older. What used to bring great distance and isolation between parents and kids can now serve to bring us together as we rally around a mutually enjoyed melody and message. This is what we see happening with the deliberateKids music.
A while ago I was ordering a cup of coffee and the barista leaned over from behind the espresso machine and said “Hey, I grew up on your music.” To which I replied “Me too!” As it turned out he was nearly the same age as me and also had a family and they all listened to (and I think enjoyed) the deliberateKids cd’s and also my regular solo music. Weird, it’s a strange full circle type thing.
With this realization came the vision for Family Fight Night – A fun concert event for the whole family. The concert is designed with both parents and kids in mind and will celebrate the importance of family and the relationships involved, starting with a healthy relationship with our Heavenly Father.
The concert starts early and finishes early and involves performances from ‘The Lads’- The high-energy band from New Zealand whose target audience is the 12 and under crew. These guys are like real life cartoon characters that actually have their own T.V. show and comic books based around their adventures as a band with the most big time ‘Manager’ ever. (God!)
Emceeing the evening and bringing his hysterically funny brand of family friendly stand up comedy is Bob Smiley. (Yes, that’s his real name) I’ve known Bob for over ten years and his talent and heart are huge.
Next is a message from none other than Jim Daly, the head honcho of Focus On The Family. I’ve had the privilege over the past two years of becoming friends with Jim and let me tell you, he’s is the real deal. His personal story and insight is inspiring and contagious.
Following Jim, it’s my turn. I mix it up with variety of solo music, Newsboys tunes, deliberateKids songs and also some corporate worship. Amidst my set I’ll be sharing a word of encouragement to parents to be pursuing God on a daily basis, not just for themselves but also for the future of their families. I get really excited about seeing people’s lives revolutionized by a real – deal, everyday relationship with the Lord. Because, as we grow in our relationship with Him, every other relationship is effected…Marriage, parenting, friendships, etc. This basic truth and message is essentially the core of ‘deliberatePeople’ – the ministry banner under which we carry out all of our endeavors.
Over the years I’ve had the privilege to have been involved in some pretty amazing tours and have been a part of some great concert moments. But, I’ve learned that unless the great moments turn into great movements then the moment is wasted! And that is why we have partnered in this endeavor with Focus on the Family. When it comes to family and marriage these people are the “go to” crew and they have incredible tools and resources to fuel the movement. They are equipped and ready to help families thrive, and as a practical example of this every family attending FFN will receive a gift bag containing FOTF resources. They will also be providing $500 worth of family prizes throughout the evening such as bikes and skateboards and camping equipment etc… These guys are serious about loving-on and supporting families.
So in conclusion, the music and events are the offerings we bring, and we really hope that they can be the backdrops and the soundtracks to a fresh move of God in people’s lives and throughout families across the nation. Oh yeah, and last but not least, we hope we’ll all continue to laugh a whole lot and have a bunch of fun along the way.
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Phil Joel was the charismatic bass player and support vocalist for Newsboys for 12 years. In early 2005 he sensed a call to begin a ministry called deliberatePeople. His departure from the Newsboys in early 2007 marked a new chapter filled with renewed vision and a recharged musical direction.
The latest project, “The New Normal” is an album whose songs will show the heart of the Father to those who listen to it. It also reflects what this generation can accomplish in its own day, through the understanding of the Father’s heart and through the power He has bestowed to raise the bar and establish a “NEW NORMAL” that is defined by the Wordand not by going along with that today’s society establishes as acceptable.
Phil and Heather live in Tennessee and have two children, Phynley and Eden.
For more info on Phil’s ministry and his new record, The New Normal, go to
www.philjoel.com & www.deliberatepeople.com.