Snowjam 2006: Christian artists will rock The Shed during outreach event
LAKEFIELD -- The Shed -- a commercial building on Minnesota 86 in Lakefield that once housed various businesses and agricultural implements -- now serves as a base of Christian fellowship for area teens. From 40 to 50 youths gather there each Sunday evening for the "NiteLife," program, sponsored by The Narrow Path (TNP) youth ministry.
The Shed will greatly expand its audience and its impact during Snowjam 2006 on Saturday. Snowjam, in its third year, is a full night of concerts by Christian music artists.
"The purpose is to glorify God through Christ-centered musicians and to reveal the Gospel of Jesus Christ," emphasized Jeff Frodermann, founder of TNP and Snowjam organizer.
Frodermann grew up in Heron Lake and graduated in 1999 from Southwest Star Concept High School. He attended college -- two years at St. Olaf in Northfield and two years at Northwestern in St. Paul, earning a non-ministry related degree -- but it was his summer work experience that urged him toward a career in youth ministry. He worked as a counselor for a Lutheran Bible camp ministry in northern Minnesota.
"I was just amazed at how hungry students can be to grow in their faith," he said.
After college, Frodermann returned home and developed the concept of TNP -- a non-denominational, community based ministry that is funded by a cooperative of churches from the Heron Lake, Okabena and Lakefield area. Through his experience, Frodermann had observed that students don't interact based on denominational lines. Additionally, he knew that the smaller, rural congregations didn't have the resources -- financial or otherwise -- to employ a full-time youth minister.
"So they were primed to pool their resources," he said.
The congregations that back TNP are Lutheran, Methodist and Catholic. Frodermann bases his ministry in the Gospel, while at the same time encouraging the students to explore what they each believe -- the basis of their individual faith.
"I don't believe in watering down the Gospel in any way, shape or form," he said about his approach to the non-denominational ministry. "I told them I wasn't going to step over anything the students have questions about."
TNP has been in existence for 3½ years. At the beginning of the ministry, the TNP meetings were rotated among that various churches that are involved. During a concert TNP hosted at Lakefield's Summerfest, Frodermann was approached by Steve and Nancy Cook, who owned an underutilized building in Lakefield. The Cooks had been praying about using the facility for some sort of ministry purpose and thought TNP might need a home. Appropriately named, The Shed was born.
Frodermann describes The Shed as "constantly evolving," and said the building underwent some recent changes in anticipation of the large crowd he expects for this year's Snowjam. The first year, the event attracted an audience of 100 people; the second year, there were 200 in attendance. This year, Frodermann is hoping about 400 people will crowd into The Shed, and that next year he will need to seek out a larger venue.
Many Christian music festivals take place during the warm weather months, so Snowjam was planned during a time when Frodermann saw some "down time" in the school calendar.
"Another niche of Snowjam is that we bring in artists who are on the precipice of national touring and recording," he said. "We spend the entire year after each Snowjam looking for artists, praying about the artists we're going to get. We bring in artists who truly get up on the stage to glorify God, but at the same time, we look for artists who take their music seriously.
Frodermann said Snowjam organizers try to fulfill the event's purpose in a threefold manner: First, through the musicians; secondly, through a speaker; and lastly, with on-site Christian mentors who reach out to the youths.
TNP recently was involved in a Super Bowl party for youths in Worthington, a cooperative venture of several ministry programs that utilized mentors wearing bright yellow shirts with question marks emblazoned on them. The same concept will be employed during Snowjam, guiding youths toward asking questions of the mentors.
The doors of The Shed will open at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, with local talent taking the stage at 5 p.m. The local performers include Bithynia, a band composed of high school students from Windom. According to Frodermann, the members of Bithynia just started performing and touring last year and have already developed a strong local following. Next will be GGC -- God's Ghetto Child -- the stage name for Nathaniel Kuhnau, an eighth-grade student from Windom who's developing a talent as a rap artist.
"He grew up in our youth ministry ... and he chose to give his life to Christ," Frodermann said. "He makes up his own raps. His lyrics just shine."
The first of the featured bands is To Be Like My Father, a regional band with a local connection -- member Kyle Galle is a native of Heron Lake.
Then there's Noah, a rap artist from Minneapolis who has appeared at events such as LifeLight in Sioux Falls, S.D.
"My students encountered him at LifeLight, and they loved him," Frodermann. "I'm not real into rap, but on our way home, they popped in his CD and had to listen to him, and by the time we got home, I was hooked, too.
Snowjam's featured speaker will be Jordan Thomas, who hails from Arkadelphia, Ark., but is currently the church planter in residence at Bethlehem Baptist Church in the Twin Cities.
"He has spoken at more than 300 events," Frodermann said. "I've had good conversations with him and many strong recommendations. He's definitely not a speaker who will present smoke and mirrors. ... He believes the Gospel is best presented truthfully and with love."
Headliner -- and Frodermann's personal favorite on the Snowjam lineup -- will be Megan Isaacson, an emerging Christian artist. Frodermann encountered her music while browsing through iTunes on the Internet and was immediately attracted by her "genuineness."
"I believe there is nothing more valuable than people," said Isaacson, who is based in Colorado, on her Web site, "not because of their worth in and of themselves, but because of the extraordinary value God has placed on them."
Isaacson has toured extensively with the Continental Singers and Dare 2 Share Ministries International. In 2005, she released her first full-length solo recording, "Close." It includes an original song, "My Worship," which was named Song of 2005 at the Gospel Music Association's Music in the Rockies seminar.
The final group on Snowjam's docket is Re: born, a group from Moorhead.
Frodermann recently added a concert promoter, Ezra Hinton from Alpha, to TNP's ministry.
"He's been in several bands and has inroads to the Minnesota Christian music scene," Frodermann explained. "He had a vision to expand our concert ministry, so we're hoping to do two concerts a month at The Shed from now on, probably on Saturday evenings."
Frodermann is encouraged by the success of Snowjam and hopes the event continues to grow and reach out to the area's youths.
"I feel really excited that Snowjam has become a safe site to hear the Gospel," he said. "I would encourage Christians to bring their non-Christian friends so they can hear about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I think there are really going to be lives changed this year, as there have been other years. In the end, it's the Lord who brings the benefit of ministry to this event. He's the reason we're gathering."
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