The annual Winter Jam tour, hosted by the Christian recording group NewSong, has been a huge success with tens of thousands of people coming to Christ every year.
Fifteen years after Winter Jam began, it's become one of the top grossing tours in the nation. Hundreds of thousands attend the concert each year to watch a diverse group of Christian artists perform.
This year's tour features musical acts like Fireflight, Tenth Avenue North, Newsboys, Third Day, and of course, NewSong.
"I think the Winter Jam Tour is going really good this year," NewSong's lead vocalist Russ Lee said. "We've been surprised even though we've been fighting weather in lot of locations. The crowds have been fantastic, and the response has been overwhelming."
"We've had a lot of decisions, and everyone seems to be having a good time, not just us," he said. "So I think it's been a really good year so far, and I'm excited about the rest of the tour."
Winning Disciples - not Converts
So far, more than 50,000 people have made decisions to follow Christ.
"Fantastic, I think we're having the time of our lives and to get to play Winter Jam is a huge show: 10- 15- 20,000 people everyday so it's a great opportunity to showcase or present new Newsboys," the group's drummer Duncan Phillips said. "It's about half a million people by the time we finish the tour so we're just having the time of our lives."
"Our goal as a band is never to get converts, but to get disciples because that's what Jesus calls us to," Mike Donehey, Tenth Avenue North, said. "We write songs and people make decisions, but our hope is we can write songs that people listen to and how applies to life."
Dawn Michele, lead singer of Fireflight, said she was thrilled having the opportunity to reach new people.
"Winter Jam has been cool because we're a rock band," she said. "For us, we're getting new people who've never heard us before, and they bring kids with them. It helps us make new fans."
Fellow band member Wendy Drennen agreed, saying, "One of our hearts is to reach out to people, and Winter Jam allows us to spread that message."
'Giving it Away'
In the meantime, NewSong has started a brand new project called "Give Yourself Away." True to the name, the group is "giving away" their new CD free of charge at the Winter Jam concert each night.
"If you get one, you get two copies and prayerfully give it to someone in your circle of influence," Lee said. "At first, it (Winter Jam) felt like risk, but God has really surprised us.
"It's been exciting to see how God is taking this and letting us ride along with what He's doing, and to see this great thing He is doing, and changing a lot of things for people, and how we can approach ministry and concerts," NewSong member Eddie Carswell said.
The group says they'll keep hosting the tour as long as God calls them to. At the end of the day, they say their goal has always been to share the Gospel and to make sure everyone knows that Christianity is a relationship about hope.
The tour is scheduled to wrap up in March.
*Originally published March 25, 2010.