Some congregations might be concerned if they heard their pastor was hanging out at clubs and bars on Saturday nights, but Pastor Chad Stoner’s church family at Stony Brook in Omaha, Nebraska, knows he is doing exactly what God has called him to—use his gift of playing the saxophone to bring a message of love and hope to the people in his community. The Chad Stoner Band plays a mix of rhythm and blues and jazz.
You were a musician before you became a believer. What drew you to Christ?
My wife, Elaine, and I discovered saxophonist Kirk Whalum. His saxophone “voice” moved us. We’d go hear him whenever we could. In the middle of a seemingly secular show he shared, “I’m unabashedly a follower of Jesus and I want to pour that love out on you tonight.” I was so taken by his natural, joyful, authentic, winsome testimony. I thought that if it could look like that, a relationship with God was possible for me.
Is that where you are now?
Yes. It started with me playing a lot of saxophone and talking a little bit about Jesus, then playing a little saxophone and talking a lot about Jesus, and now doing a lot of both.
What do you want your congregation to learn from your example as a musician?
God has blessed me with gifts that he wants to use to express himself in the world. Talent becomes ministry when it leads to the relationships that Jesus has prepared for us. There are so many people who are precious to God who haven’t realized Jesus for who he is. We go where he leads as light in the world.
What cautions would you have for someone who feels called to a ministry like yours?
Only do this if God has given you the right strengths. There are all kinds of temptations here—addictions, dishonesty, sexual temptation and even a numbness that can cool your passion for Christ. Spiritual preparedness, accountability and focus of purpose are essential.
What makes for a good evening of performing?
When the musical connection leads to a personal connection. Many times, at the end of an evening, I’ve listened to someone share their hurts and hopes because the music opened their hearts. Many times, I’ve prayed with someone in the middle of the club. You don’t always get to know the ways God is working, so each proof is a gift from him.
You can find Stoner’s music on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, etc. Watch for a new recording project in Fall 2019.
Kathy Heinrichs Wiest is a freelance writer who loves the smell of whole wheat bread in the oven, the feel of an orange being plucked from the tree and the view from her front porch in Kingsburg, California. On Sunday mornings you’ll find her in the fourth pew from the front on the left at Kingsburg MB Church, moved by the hymns and praise songs and inspired by the stories of God at work locally and around the world. She and her husband, Steve, own Dovetail Remodeling. They have two grown daughters, one son-in-law and a precious granddaughter.