American bands don’t usually name themselves after events surrounding the twentieth century Romanian revolution, but how BEC Recordings’ newest signing would come to be known as The Museum is indicative of what’s on display in this compelling foursome.
The group took shape when singer Ben Richter and guitarist Geoffrey Ashcraft moved from Texas to Georgia and plugged into a church where drummer/programmer Josh Kirk was the janitor. Soon they were leading local worship services together and then traveling on musical mission trips overseas. In Romania, Josh was deeply moved to be part of a large Christian gathering in the same town square where communism had been overthrown in 1989. A nearby museum containing humble evidence of that revolution also left an indelible impression.
“We decided the band would be called The Museum,” Josh says, “because we hope our music and those we share it with can be the evidence that Christ has done a revolution in our hearts.”
Joined by bassist Chris Brink in 2009, The Museum is continuing its commitment to global outreach while also developing an important bond with churches across the United States. Ben’s passion for staying rooted in a spiritual community brought the group to Briarlake Church near Atlanta where it still leads worship most Sundays. Additionally, the guys have helped out at neighboring North Point Community Church’s partner Atlanta locations and around the country as well as Ben leads at the multi-site Elevation Church in North Carolina on a recurring basis.
“I believe the local church is the hope of the world, therefore it has to be at the center of our ministry,” explains Ben, whose servant heart for the body of Christ beats strongly throughout The Museum’s debut album hitting stores everywhere in summer 2010.
Recorded in Nashville, Seattle, and Atlanta with producers Jason Ingram and Rusty Varenkamp (Tenth Avenue North, Brandon Heath, Sanctus Real), Aaron Sprinkle (Jeremy Camp, Kutless, Hawk Nelson), and Jason Hoard (Shane & Shane, FEE), the uplifting set reflects a clearly talented band that came of age as modern worshipers like Chris Tomlin first broke through. Instantly contagious melodies carrying a scriptural message are supported by layers of guitars that are both sparkling and scruffy as on first single, “My Help Comes from the Lord.”
Maker of heaven, Giver of life / You are my strength, my song in the night
My refuge, my shelter now and forevermore / My help comes from the Lord
“While reading Psalm 121, I connected with the words, ‘The Lord will protect your life. He will watch over your coming and going both now and forever,’” Ben recalls. “It is a great reminder that when we lift our eyes out of the darkness and focus on Him, our faith will be strengthened!”
Another foundational song for The Museum is “The Call” which is a stirring rock anthem, symbolizing the hope this band has to shine brighter and love bigger. . . We embrace our rescue mission to live out your heart in the depths of dark for the lost and broken.
“Ephesians 4:1 urges us ‘to live a life worthy of the calling you have received,’” says Ben. “This was a wake up call to me that God has a great purpose for each of us . . . that the time is now to shine like stars in the universe, holding out His truth over all the earth.”
For The Museum, reaching out to the world in need was a priority long before it had the platform that a record deal provides. Geoffrey lived in Belize for many years with his missionary family, and Ben imagines Josh—who recently earned a commercial pilot’s license—will someday fly mission workers and supplies into remote areas. Together, the band partners with Overlooked, a company that donates proceeds from t-shirt sales to provide clean water to children in Africa, help free young girls from sexual slavery, which is a global issue, and feed victims of the earthquake in Haiti.
“When we think of our mission as The Museum, we always come back to that Hillsong lyric: ‘Let justice and praise become my embrace,’” offers Ben. “As a band and as individuals we want to see justice come to the overlooked . . . and to see God’s kingdom come in our lives.”
But as it is for many, there was a time when being so bold was a struggle for Ben, an issue he sings about on “The Anchor,” where the inventive rhythmic interplay between Josh and Chris, warm piano, and splashes of mandolin really set The Museum apart from its contemporaries.
All I’ve held on here is the anchor of my fear / All I’m looking for is the strength to let this go
“I wrote that when I knew it was time to quit my job and focus everything on music and the ministry God had in front of us as a band,” he says. “It’s my story of God releasing me from the fears I had of stepping out in faith and is based on 1 John 4:18—‘perfect love drives out fear.’”
The lilting ballad ends with a twist of grace: You’re the anchor of my soul / By Your perfect love I know . . . I’m free.
“We are realizing it’s the things we leave behind that make a difference,” concludes Ben, “the evidence that Jesus has changed us from the inside out and given us the rescue mission to go and change the world.”