There aren’t many people who are instantly recognisable simply by their first name; Barack, Brad and Angelina, Clint and possibly now, Donald. Christian children all over the world know another; “Colin”!
About a dozen years ago, Colin was visiting the UK. While in London, he borrowed a guitar and did a simple concert for a few hundred fans. Unsure of the response he’d get, Colin says that it was when he stopped singing his wildly popular, strangely surreal, classic, “We all like sheep have gone astray - Baa Baa Do Baa Baa”, and the crowd took over, that he realised the full extent of his popularity in the UK.
Since then, he’s been back to the UK every other year, accompanied by props; the jet blowing loo roll cannon, the implausibly long flag poles and the giant inflatable beach balls.
Faith in Kids recently caught up with Colin.
How did you become a Christian?
Aged 5, I remember watching my Dad praying in church and thinking, “Dad’s doing business with God.” I knew that God was a relational God, not just as an out-there something.
Soon after, someone told me that Jesus was knocking on the door of my heart. I’d now say that it’s not a great model of teaching children the Gospel, but it resonated with me. Is this a God who actually wants to know me? Well come on in!
When did you start writing Christian Children’s songs?
When I was a teenager, I started to help teach Sunday School with my friend Pete. Pete was a real thinker and helped me see that Sunday School is like Paediatric Medicine! The same medicine keeps big and little people alive. It shouldn’t be diminished. You might carry it out differently, with a gentler bedside manner, but it’s still the same life-saving medicine.
Believing that meant that both of us wanted to clearly communicate God’s truth to the children; we wanted to take our convictions about Scripture into a world of craft, laughter, role play, games and fun. And since we both played the guitar, we began to put memory verses to music. It was an obvious tool to integrate the substance of the faith into the dynamics of being around children.
So your music came from a desire to teach the Bible?
Absolutely. I still don’t think of myself as massively musical but music gave me an outcome. With kids, music can engage the heart in a special way. Music can deliver spiritual truth. But it doesn’t just deliver the truth. It allows you to smell the truth. To experience the truth. To marvel at the truth. There’s something in the joy of singing a song together about the Lord, that’s not just about the objective attributes of God. There is something more that’s inhabited in the music. There’s something quite marvellous about the breadth of music.
How do you think your music is used in families?
Family life is chaotic and imperfect. The music can seep into some of those gaps. Things become embedded in family memories. The things that form the museum of memories are really precious, especially the spiritual things. The relentless, chaotic, unpredictable, tiring nature of family life means that surprising things can become cemented into a family’s shared experience. Perhaps my music has become part of that shared experience.
We know we should have family devotions more regularly. We know we should pray with our kids more. It’s a real privilege if I’ve added a bit of momentum to that.
And in Churches?
My concerts tend to be a special event. The thought of week-in, week-out church children’s ministry …that has to be different to a Colin concert: That’s a lot more relational. There can’t be quite so many explosions! Don’t shy away from seeking to lay out the whole counsel of God in your ministry. Have a Biblically substantial aspiration for your Sunday School. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look entertaining. Children are very engaged if you’re engaged. Part of their fascination is if you’re fascinated. If you want to engage kids with their Saviour, you need to be engaged with your Saviour. If you find the fun in it, they will too. There’s a wave to ride. Get a sense of their appetite for knowledge, for understanding, for curiosity.
And finally, what would you want to say to other dads?
The new album that I’ve finished, Calvary Road, is not a kids album. I’ve been reflecting a bit more on life; it’s probably part of getting older!
And so I think I would want to remind dads that our lives are full of stupidity and ignorance and failure BUT grace gives us a trajectory, a God-ward trajectory and Jesus is who he says he is. He’s not going to sort out everything immediately, but let’s put the weight of our convictions in someone who can walk with us through our lives. Let’s get these truths shaping us and our relationships.
I wonder if we thought like that, then the Bible time with our family isn’t a duty; it’s like, “I need oxygen, my family needs oxygen, so let’s breathe together.” It’s not the stuff of pure duty or routine, it’s got a bit of desperation about it.
Thank you, Colin! Please keep doing what you do.
You might also be interested to read our blog about Colin’s amazing gig at Dundonald Church in June 2016.
To read our review of another Christian children’s cd click here.