John Waller is Billboard's top Christian recording artist to watch for 2007 . . .
(Does Billboard do the same for Jainists? Wiccans? I was about to add Scientologists, but I figure that's probably represented by half the mainstream artists.)
. . . and in this interview he describes how his church has invested in his missionary venture:
SouthLink isn't a large church, so how did it come to raise $50,000 to help you record your independent project?
Waller: For the first year-and-a-half, I had a lot of According to John CDs. One of them was an album that never got released. When we moved to Colorado, we had all these CDs on hand, so we decided that every family that came to the church would get one, allowing the music to minister to them and hoping they would pass that on to someone else to draw them to the church. After about a year-and-a-half, I began writing songs just for the people at SouthLink, inspired by them and what God was doing in the church. Each week I'd teach my worship team a new song, and after a while the people began asking, "When are we going to get this music?"
We cast a vision to raise money for this project and raised a little over $50,000 in four weeks. I also cast the vision to some of my friends back in Georgia. Dan Cathy, the president of Chick-Fil-A, is a friend of mine that I've known for a long time—his dad (and company founder) Truett Cathy was my Sunday school teacher—so he contributed a lot to the project. The church owns 75 percent of the recording, so there is a business advantage for SouthLink, too. Beach Street ended up purchasing a lot of those master recordings from the church. About four or five of the songs carried over from the indie project [to The Blessing], and I've also signed for a large portion of my royalties to go back to SouthLink.