The smallest stage and what we learned

May 19, 2017 | 3 comments

C ramped church stages are grueling, but none of them compare to The Stage.

“Remember Rose City?” we’ve said to each other, maneuvering around immovable pulpits and narrow steps. As long as we compared tight spaces with the dreaded octagonal platform of Rose City Evangelical Free Church, we could survive.

It’s a tiny church in Minnesota. They hosted us twice: once in 2010, and then in 2011. We made a video of the last time we sang there. It’s still impressive that all eight of us crammed onto the small stage. (Of course, the youngest three were small themselves then.)

Six years. That was a long time ago. We have grown a good deal in six years. The Stage was a thing of the past, and not a stage after it equated the hassle in our books.

Or so we thought.

Last year a phone call came with an invitation to return to Rose City. We were beyond shocked. That night, the supper table turned into a debate forum: could we, or could we not sing at Rose City?

The majority said no. The minority said yes. Somehow the minority won.

Dad responded to the call with an affirmative—while others shook in their shoes with fear and trepidation: “Remember, this is THE STAGE we tell promotors that is teenier than their stages. Why are we doing this?”

The concert was set for April 30, 2017, the Sunday afternoon following the Twin Cities Quartet Convention. As the date drew near, we’d tell each other just for kicks: “Hey, Rose City is only ___ [months, weeks] away!”

Then the weekend came. The countdown ceased. No longer a bad joke, it was a bad dream come true.

Friday and Saturday at the Twin Cities Quartet Convention were fantastic. Ben says it was the best Twin Cities Quartet Convention he has experienced. We were on a high from the uplifting music and visits with an abundance of friends—that is, until Sunday morning rolled around.

Reality hit hard: We were singing at The Stage.

Minnesota’s Grumpiest Family of Southern Gospel Music pulled into the parking lot later than the projected arrival time. This made grumpy attitudes acidic. We smiled at those who greeted us, but when the church was all to ourselves, scowls and complaints abounded. (Shameful, but true.) One sibling tried to keep a bright outlook, singing a convention-style song I wrote called “Happy in Jesus”—but it didn’t have the positive effect they wanted.

But, as we set up our equipment, it didn’t seem as bad as it first looked. The tiny octagonal stage only held a couple of us, true: but the church had replaced the old tight seating with pews set further away from the platform. We also were able to remove and push aside the church’s sanctuary furnishings quite easily. This provided an open area to position Sam, Jayme, Caleb, and Dad comfortably, as well as the keyboard and drums.

Suddenly, a million other worse spaces flashed through our minds. (Like the places we have actually placed Dad inside the pulpit.) Maybe Rose City wasn’t half that bad after all…

Rose City Evangelical Free Church, Rose City, Minnesota, April 20, 2017 | Photo by Laura Fuchs

Conviction set in and apologies were eventually made for the bad attitudes. It is humbling to think that God decimated the children of Israel for their grumbling—was not our whining just as bad? Thank the Lord for His mercy and forgiveness!

Though the positions were admittedly awkward, the concert was full of joy and the sweet presence of God. That little church was packed too! Friends attended and made the day even more special.

When the Nautilus pulled out of the small parking lot, we all admitted: Rose City wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be.

And actually…we wouldn’t mind going back.