It is with great expectation, gratitude, and faith that we announce to you an upcoming change in our staffing picture at CTI Music Ministries. After serving for nine years as Executive Director, Chris Reed will be transitioning out of his current role and will be moving with his family to Raleigh, NC under God’s calling and direction.
For those who have been deeply impacted by the faithful commitment Chris has made to the ministry of CTI, this is a bittersweet adjustment. Those of us at the office are both saddened to say goodbye to the Reed family here in Willmar, but equally excited for what God will accomplish in our midst as CTI continues to carry out the mission of sharing the Gospel through the impact of music. Nothing is more fulfilling than walking in God’s will; as we release Chris to follow His leading, we will continue striving to do the same.
Below is a 20 minute video interview and audio transcription, where Chris shares lots of information about the upcoming transition and why he is excited about the positive impact this will have on both the direction of CTI and on his family. We invite you to join us as we pray for the Reed family and for God’s continued direction and provision as we look to the future.
Full Interview Transcript:
Kasey: I’m Kasey from CTI Music Ministries and this is Chris, the Executive Director at CTI, and we’re just going to sit down: Chris has got some exciting announcements and some big news that he wants to share with our CTI community, supporters, host homes, foreign partners, and all of our friends. I’m going to ask him some questions and he’s going to share a little bit about what is new with him.
Before we jump in, you guys have a pretty exciting development, hopefully that is coming in the next few weeks. Do you want to talk a little bit about that?
Chris: I do, the Reed family is growing from three to four! Our two year old daughter Clara is going to be a big sister. Our due date is November 28th, so right around Thanksgiving. Since Clara was born on the 4th of July we’re kind of pulling for thanksgiving just so we can keep the holiday theme going. But we’re having a little girl, so there’s going to be twice as many little fingers for daddy to be wrapped around.
Kasey: That’s so exciting! So you guys are expecting a daughter, but there’s another big transition happening in your family on the horizon. Do you want to share about that?
Chris: There is. It has long been our vision to raise a family, for Rebecca to come out of the workforce and be a stay-at-home mom, and for us to raise our family near their family. Clara and little baby sister will have, I think, 14 cousins by this count, and numerous aunts and uncles and grandparents, and none of them live in Willmar.
So, as our family expands, we’ve made the decision to pick up and move so that we’ll be closer to where that family is. Rebecca is going to come home and be with the kids, and we’re actually moving to North Carolina, where most of my family is based. Her family is pretty close there, too. They’re about eight hours away.
Kasey: So what does this mean for CTI?
Chris: Yeah, CTI’s not in North Carolina, CTI is based in the Midwest in Willmar, Minnesota, so in my official capacity as the Executive Director, I’ll be transitioning out of that as we move to North Carolina at the end of January 2018.
Kasey: So you’ll be here for the next couple of months and the baby will be born, and then you guys are headed along?
Chris: God willing, it will be a couple of months after delivery so that we have an opportunity for baby to go through her checkups with doctors. End of January is the intended move time.
Kasey: Who will be stepping into your role? What’s that going to look like (even in the interim)?
Chris: Well I think it’s important for our community to know that CTI is overseen by a board of directors: it’s not just me, it’s not just the staff. We have eight people who serve on our board of directors who are passionate about our mission–who are passionate about seeing it continue–and we’ve all been working together (myself and the board) on what this transition will look like. And we’re still working on that. (Jokes) Actually if you want to put an 800 number at the bottom that people watching can call and say, “Hey, I’d love to be a part of that…” I sort of kid.
We don’t know exactly what it’s going to look like yet, because part of the reality is, the way CTI works and what’s efficient for us has been shifting as well. My involvement as the Executive Director… I’ve had a lot of involvement in the programs, in developing and in developing curriculum and doing a lot of the training and kind of helping establish a lot of the values and why we do what we do. So much of that is so well in place right now and is really understood and embraced by the staff at large, by the entire CTI community–we have a really high volunteerism from Alumni and others who contribute to how the organization is run–that we don’t think that the Executive Director position needs to look the same going forward.
So, there may be parts of what I do now that become responsibilities of the board. There are a number of things that I do or have done that have already transitioned to other members of the staff. There will certainly be some ongoing leadership needs, so we’ll have someone who will be serving in that role, but it’s not going to look the same as it has with me in leadership: and it shouldn’t!
Kasey: Yeah. There will never be another Chris Reed… and that’s okay.
Chris: Some would even say that’s desirable (laughs).
Kasey: (Laughs) We’ll let the viewers decide.
Chris: Yeah, if we were Facebook live-ing, this would be like all the ‘hearts’ and ‘thumbs-up’ that would be floating across the screen.
Kasey: Angry reacts. But you seem very confident that CTI will continue on in the mission that we have. Where does that confidence come from for you?
Chris: One thing that I think is really cool about CTI is the community. CTI is bigger than just the staff. We have a huge community of alumni who are involved in the ministry of the organization as well. But I think of CTI as a movement, and the movement is galvanized around a vision and a mission. It’s not galvanized around a personality. So people can come and go, but the mission remains viable. I’m not at all worried about me as a person not being part of the staff. That’s not going to impact our ability to carry out our mission.
The other thing that gives me confidence is that God hasn’t removed his hand from what we’re doing. The thing that we’re doing–sharing the Gospel through music–is still as relevant as it was when we were founded in 1975. Back then, the draw was really to use music to share the Gospel abroad because there was an attraction value to coming and seeing an American band, and that has waned some since the world has flattened culturally, but it’s still relevant in certain places.
But it has grown in it’s relevance within our own community. Using music as a common affinity that brings people together gives us a community in which to understand the Gospel, to learn the Gospel, to respond to the Gospel together, and then to share it with others. Even as, perhaps, the relevance of one aspect of our mission is diminishing some, it’s growing here among the community that we mobilize. I see it going forward because of that.
Kasey: So a lot of that was you pouring into the program side of things, because that’s kind of where you started. Could you just share a little bit about what your journey through CTI looked like?
I mean, I know that’s 15-plus years of life for you, but maybe just share a little bit about some of the things that were the most impactful to you that you’ll take along. If you know now. I know you’ll probably continue to discover those things as you move on, just like our Fulltime team members do.
Chris: Probably. I think the most impacting things have been more recent though. My history with CTI goes back 17 years. I first participated in the Fulltime program in 2000. I did two back-to-back years, I Ied two Fulltime teams, and then did the two summers that were associated with that. Then in August of 2002, I ‘went away’ from CTI for 18 months, although I came back in there and led another summer team in 2003.
So we just finished Summer of 2017 and it was my 17th consecutive summer with CTI. I joined the full-time staff in 2004. It’ll be just about 13 years when I transition out at the end of January that I’ve been on staff. And yeah, I have learned a lot of stuff in that amount of time just by nature of experience and doing things. I didn’t start as CTI’s CEO or CFO and I’m serving in both of those roles right now, so I’ve learned a lot about what it means to manage an organization like this.
The most impacting thing, which is what you asked, has really been probably within the last five years. Like many of our participants, I share the story of being ‘raised in the church,’ which of course, we don’t say [in CTI] because of the literal translation, but I’ve grown up as a Christian, as a Christ follower. Because of that, some of the preciousness of the Gospel had just kind of gone over my head. It has been assumed.
Being in a like-minded community for so long… One thing I love about the community is that we all point each other towards the Gospel. It’s not a top-down organization or mission, it’s very much an everybody-pouring-into-eachother kind of mission, and I’ve been poured into by the community. The most impacting thing to me, I think, has been just within the last five years, coming to a new understanding of how big of a deal the Gospel is. Not just how big of a deal it is that Jesus came and lived a perfect and died and then rose again, but that I needed him to do that. That I am in need of redemption, and that God has provided a redeemer. The more I come to grips with the scale of those two differences (how big my need is and how significant God’s provision is), the more I understand worship, too.
Kasey: That’s a little bit about your history with CTI… do you have any thoughts about what your future with CTI is going to look like?
Chris: Oh, man, I’ve been envious of the alumni community at times. I just want to be one of the cool people on the road that teams visit, right? You get to spoil Fulltimers when they come to your town. I’m looking forward to being that person.
I’m going to be working in the AV industry, and I remember a story from years ago when a team visited a particular alum in a particular part of the country, and they came away from that interaction like, “Hey, we got new mic stands,” and I’m thinking, this is going to be cool if I get to bless CTI that way and continue to be a part of the community. Everything that our alums do: hosting teams, sponsoring team members, being part of recruiting, continuing to push people toward the organization as a participant, and continuing to contribute within my areas of gifting and strength and passion. Whether those are technical, or musical, or consulting from afar on various things. CTI… you can check out anytime you like but you can never leave (laughs).
Kasey: That’s very true.
Chris: I tried once.
Kasey: Yeah, me too. You mentioned some sound equipment. Is that kind of the direction you’re headed after this? Do you know what you’re going to do for a job?
Chris: Yeah, I’m going to work for an audio/visual integration company that was founded by a friend of mine. This is a company that works with ministries and churches to assess their audio, visual, lighting, and video needs, and to help them come up with solutions and design and install them. There’s an eye to the fact that every dollar spent towards AV is a dollar not spent elsewhere in the mission of the organization, so I’m really happy that it continues to be a ministry that I’m working for, and not just a business.
Kasey: That’s kind of exciting, knowing that that’s what you’re walking into and that it’s a friend of yours. Are there other aspects of this transition that you’re excited about?
Chris: I’m excited about the prospect of going the next step in our vision for our family. It’s bittersweet leaving Willmar, leaving CTI, leaving all the people, and I could talk for a long time about all the reasons it’s bittersweet. But it’s for the joy set before us, right? It’s what we really believe God has called us to, so I’m excited about that part of the transition.
Kasey: Are there some challenges that you’re anticipating might come up as you guys transition? I’m sure that this whole community is going to want to be supporting you in prayer and walking with you.
Chris: You know, I was thinking about this earlier. When we debrief our summer teams who have been on the field with us for six weeks, we spend an intense day going through closure and debriefing, and we recognize that it’s not enough. Our Fulltimers who have been with us for nine or ten months, we spend an entire week going through closure and debriefing and acknowledge that it’s not enough… so I’m not sure what it’s going to take after 17 years to really process an exit transition.
I don’t want to be naive about the fact that there’s going to be challenges for me personally, moving away from working for a ministry and going back to the corporate world in some senses. Like I said, it’s still ministry, but I’m nervous about that and in particular, the CTI community is just something I’ve been a part of for so long. Laboring together with like-minded individuals who you’re not just pursuing a mission together, but you’re pouring into each other. Rebecca and I are going to concentrate a lot on plugging into that kind of a community in Raleigh where we go as well. That’s just something we’re really passionate about and have found to be life-giving and essential.
Kasey: For our alumni, I have to ask you, which restaurant or coffee shop or other establishment in Willmar do you think you’re going to really miss the most? So when you come back, where are you going to have to go when you come visit?
Chris: You know, it’s funny because the standing rule is anytime we’re not in Willmar, and people are like, “Where do you want to go to eat,” we just say, “Just as long as it’s not something we have in Willmar.” Which doesn’t narrow it down a lot, it just means, well, we can’t go to McDonald’s or, you know, we’ve got a Jimmy Johns and a Qdoba now, so…
The place I’ll miss: I grew up in the Southwest, so the people who know me know that I like Mexican or Southwestern cuisine, so all of the places that lean that way in town have a warm spot in my heart. El [Tapatio] has been one of my favorites for a long time, but certainly Rosita’s, Azteca, the taqueria in the mall… there’s a little taco truck now that parks out here. Have you been?
Kasey: I haven’t been to the taco truck. I’ve heard tales told of it.
Chris: Are they good tales? (K: Yeah.) Okay well then I’ll have to take that into consideration as well. And yeah, all the coffee. All the coffee spots have a warm spot in my heart as well. All the little nooks around town where you can hang out and chat with people and drink good coffee.
Kasey: Come to Willmar. We have tacos.
Chris: That’s right we do. We have tacos and coffee.
Kasey: Gotta stay warm. Well Chris, thanks so much for sharing what’s next for you. You are greatly appreciated and I know will be greatly missed and are greatly treasured. Is there anything else that you’d like to share with the community while we have you here?
Chris: That word community… the CTI community is so far-reaching. I don’t even know if people realize. It’s not just the alumni, the staff, the board. There are, I don’t even know how many host homes in the Willmar area that have been involved with our ministry, and some of them have really deep relationships with some of us. There are hosts who take road trips to go to alumni weddings. Where do you find that? That’s so cool, right?
For the sake of all of those people and our international partners, I just think it’s important when you look at an organization that’s going through a transition like this, there is kind of a knee-jerk reaction, “Oh, what’s going to happen? Are things going to be okay? The sky is falling,” and I’m so glad you asked that question about what gives me confidence that our mission can continue because I am confident that it will. The sky is not falling. I’ve been telling people, I’m not being pushed away from CTI, I”m being drawn to something else. That said, there are some real, positive things for CTI in this transition.
I’ve led the organization for nine years and we’ve done some great things, but even in that amount of time, anybody’s weaknesses are going to become pretty firmly entrenched in an organization. I think there are ways we can look at CTI and go, “Hey, there are areas where the organization needs to stretch and grow,” and after nine years, I think a transition is a good thing. To say, let’s have somebody else stretch and grow the organization in the areas where I’m not strong. There’s a growing evident relevance gap between me and the people that we seek to recruit and mobilize, and I don’t begrudge that, but I think it’s going to be great to have younger influence. People who are closer to our demographic who will have more relevant ideas about how to do what we do.
I really look forward to viewing that, I don’t want to say ‘from the sidelines,’ because I don’t feel like I’m going to be on the sidelines, but not from the corner office, in a sense. So, the sky’s not falling; in fact, I think that there’s a lot of bright spots ahead for CTI in this transition.
In ancient Greece, the Olympics began with a lampadedromia, meaning “torch race”. The tradition was re-instituted and adapted in 1936 during the Berlin Olympics, with the institution of the Torch Relay. The relay is a long distance run, spanning multiple countries, and even continents, that signals the beginning of the games. Many runners work together, one runner at a time, passing a torch on to the next, until it reaches its destination. The tradition has continued at every Olympic games since then.
Here at CTI, we have a similar tradition. At the end of every CTI team’s tour together, they hold a final concert that the subsequent team attends. However, instead of passing a torch onto the next team, they pass on the mission of CTI.
Last night, that happened. CTI Colombia and Honduras, surely tired from a long day of flying the day before, spent the day debriefing their tour together. They shared stories about times they failed, and times they succeeded, and how they had to rely on God daily. This was all in preparation for transition from their CTI experience, back into every day life.
After debriefing, they sat down for a Q/A with Team Hong Kong and others, and then came back on stage later that night for an awesome concert! They were a great example for Team Hong Kong, showing how much they might grow in their short time overseas. They shared the Gospel through their own experiences in ministry together, and encouraged the new team on their upcoming mission.
And just like that, with CTI Colombia and Honduras’ final concerts complete, they cease to be the face of CTI. From this point forward, Team Hong Kong will bear that name, and with it, the mission of CTI. Though the round one teams have finished their individual mission, the overarching mission of CTI continues on. Each team is just a small part of a much greater mission. We at CTI all have a much larger goal (Furthering the kingdom of God), and each team furthers that mission a little more. Just as the torch is passed in the Olympics, so the mission of CTI is passed onto team Hong Kong.
Congratulations to the Honduras and Colombia teams! And a thank you to them for being willing to use their time and their gifts to serve the Lord. Thank you for responding to God’s call to serve him, saying “Here I am Lord, send me!”
After speaking with the Colombia team, we’ve received word that all is going smoothly and the team is at their gate waiting to board their final flight to Minneapolis, MN! A team of staff has already left Willmar with van and trailer in tow to pick up the team and their gear.
After having a quick conversation with Lena from the Honduras team, they have been delayed in their last flight from Miami to Minneapolis. The team is safely on the ground in the U.S. All is well and the team is doing great considering their slight delay. They have been rebooked and are scheduled to be landing later this evening in Minneapolis. Paul will be happy to greet them upon their return! We will keep you updated once both teams have landed on the ground at MSP! Stay tuned for team arrival pics!
As we get closer! Get pumped! Tomorrow is going to be an awesome day to reflect on all that God has done and is continuing to do!
Today, teams participated in a cultural simulation, as well as drama training! In this post, we’ll try to to explain what those two things are, and what purpose they serve in training.
The Four Cultures Game is an exercise where the team is split into four groups (cultures) with distinct characteristics. After each group develops a few key values, they have to interact with the other groups. Throughout this process, we tell them to hold to their own values, but also to be respectful of the other group’s. That is until the last round, when the visiting teams are told to copy the characteristics of the other group. Afterwards, groups debrief their experience of the others.
Through this exercise, teams learn that, often times, our initial observations of a new culture are negative. We notice the things that are different from our culture, and that don’t align with our culture’s values. When we are asked to describe another culture, we are quick to use negative terms and phrases, or even portray something that could be positive as though it were a negative. It’s then our job to realize that different cultures just have differing answers to the same human problems. One culture’s answer is not necessarily more or less correct than another’s. We need to put aside our own opinions for effective sharing of the Gospel.
Dramas are a really unique tool that we have. Each summer, in addition to training our teams to use music as a tool to spread the Gospel, we also train them to utilize dramas for the same purpose. Like music, dramas have a unique way of telling a story. Actions and emotions are a universal language that anybody can understand. It doesn’t need translation, so it breaks through that obvious language barrier, and help tell the Gospel to an audience that otherwise might not hear it.
Needless to say, it’s been an eventful day at training, and it also marks a turning point. Up until this point, there’s been a higher focus on the musical aspect of tour. Now we’re turning our focus a little more culture; specifically, how to share the Gospel effectively in such a foreign culture. Sure, the music is still important, but as we like to say around here: We aren’t just musicians who have a message, we are messengers who use music to share that message.
CTI Hong Kong did an incredible job last night! They made it through their first concert as a team last night and there was a ton of energy on stage! Such a blessing for the training staff to see all of this take place! All of the verbal transitions were Gospel heavy and everyone was there to support and cheer the team on! The team is completely finished in their learning of new music and now it’s all just in the fine tuning stages of music! As music learning is now more or less done we are swinging full force into the second half of training: cultural simulations, dramas and mock concerts! You’ll want to be on the watch for some more stories and pictures from those parts of training! Here are a few pics from last night!