Charlie Peacock

The Failure Interview.

As an award-winning producer, composer, performer, writer and speaker, Charlie Peacock has a reputation in Nashville music circles of being a Renaissance man—a musician’s musician. Equally comfortable in front of a keyboard or a mixing board, Peacock possesses that rare blend of business acumen and creative drive that his friend, Bob Briner, would admire.

But what makes Peacock a more than appropriate spokesman for the Roaring Lambs album is his musical history. After all, he came from the clubs of the San Francisco Bay area in the early ’80s, surrendering to alcohol before becoming a Christian. When Peacock resurfaced it was within the safe confines of the Warehouse Fellowship, an experimental mix of church and music. In those early days of alternative Christian rock, he rubbed shoulders with some of the genre’s most significant players—Steve Scott and Vector’s Steve Griffith and Jimmy Abegg, to name a few—before breaking out and joining the industry's exodus to Nashville.

After settling in Tennessee, Peacock delved into the commercially rewarding waters of pop music. He would go on to produce several well-known Christian artists, open his own studio, author a book (“At the Crossroads”), co-pen the Amy Grant hit “Every Heartbeat,” and release more than a dozen albums. Today, Peacock splits his time between speaking, teaching and creating music. I met up with him in Nashville to discuss Bob Briner and the concept of “Roaring Lambs."

Tell me about reading “Roaring Lambs” for the first time.
Reading the book was exciting. It re-introduced the idea of Christians in culture. That wasn’t a new idea because I had read Francis Schaeffer’s work. But it was new in that it addressed the evangelical subculture, and it was presented by a fellow who knew what he was talking about and practiced what he preached.

Why did you lend your name to the project as a spokesman?
First of all, Bob Briner was a good friend of mine. I counted him as a mentor, fishing buddy and friend, so I would do anything to perpetuate his work. But it was also the idea that the book was being put out again with the same cover as the recording. The fact that it was a concerted effort on a lot of people’s parts to make it work—that was exciting. And then just the music itself.

Why do you think the message of the book is timely?
I think it’s always timely. Christians are often guilty of abandoning culture. When they enter into it they tend to do so in terms of what they’re against rather than what they’re for. Through this work we can encourage the church to take an active, proactive, positive place in culture.

Do you agree with Bob’s view of how to become a roaring lamb?
I think we agree on the basics, but Bob would also say that a big part of the concept is searching out your own individual calling and being faithful in that arena. Bob spent a good deal of time in the book talking about content providers. He saw writers as people who need to be encouraged, and he felt we need people to encourage others to write beyond the stereotypical inspirational level of Christian writing.

Obviously, the book indicates that people are failing as Christians. Do you have to be evangelical to be a Christian?
No, absolutely not. I think that was Bob’s community, so that sometimes became a focus, but it shouldn’t necessarily.

How do you feel Christianity has fallen short of permeating mainstream culture?
One of the most significant ways is neighbor love, which Jesus called his disciples to—just in terms of caring for others, in the workplace and with neighbors. I think there’s a real theological division between those Christians that see this as our Father’s world and those who see it as a stopping off place while you wait to get to heaven. Bob was about the former not the latter.

What does Christianity have to do to succeed in the mainstream? Is that possible?
Yeah, I think it can succeed, but it has to succeed on its own terms. In other words, there’s all kinds of things that you can do in living out a Christ-centered life as a disciple of Jesus that may look like absolute failures to the world. One of the things that was significant about Bob is that after having a tremendously successful career, he spent the last seven or eight years of his life giving himself away, both personally and in terms of his resources. I think that’s counter-cultural. We’re taught to protect ourselves and in the latter part of his life Bob felt that it was a wiser move to give up some protection to give himself away. He was a huge advocate of kindness and manners, really caring for people and finding a person’s significance. That’s the thing that he would want people to get out of “Roaring Lambs” more than anything. If it’s just this utilitarian function of, ‘Christians, get off your duffs and get out there in the world and roar,’ it’s to really miss what he was about. That’s far too simplistic. It’s about loving, caring for people, and caring for God’s creations.

You mentioned before about things looking like failures to the outside world. Do you have any examples?
Jesus was the best example. They wanted him to be king; instead he was a failure by the world’s standards. He hung on a cross. Three days later the world was changed forever. That’s the upside-down economy of God that Christians profess to believe in, but don’t always live by. The “Roaring Lambs” concept is about making those hard choices in terms of giving yourself away.

Who do you think “Roaring Lambs” is speaking to? Do you think it appeals to non-Christians?
I think the music does. Certainly the book is directed at the Church. What you have is a professional person who came from the world of sports television and wrote a book to the church to encourage them not to live compartmentalized lives. The recording, while it works in conjunction with the book, shows that there are some artists who are about loving the church through music as well as loving the world through music. The artists don’t see it as secular and sacred. They just see the music as an integral part of their lives.

What do you think the chief cause of failing to roar is?
Fear. All of us, whether we're Christian or not, find comfort in groups and cliques and people that we have things in common with. Christians are no different. It’s more comfortable to hang out with your Christian friends or to attend church services than it is to get out into the nitty-gritty of life.

Do you think the Christian music scene has been guilty of what Briner was saying?
Most definitely. In my estimation, that's one of the reasons why God designed it for Bob to speak to that community. They saw him as a man of wisdom and authority, and incremental changes have occurred as a result of Bob’s integration into the community. People are different. Lives have been changed. There are people who have said, “because of Bob Briner or because I read ‘Roaring Lambs’ I can’t continue on with life as I knew it. I’m responsible for what I know and I need to make changes.” I think that’s powerful.

What’s the best example of someone who has succeeded in roaring?
I think in the Christian community the most recent example is probably Sixpence None The Richer. Sixpence was a young band that got involved with Christians in the music business and quickly found out that they didn’t fit there, but didn’t know where to go or how to proceed. They probably shouldn’t have signed with a Christian record company to begin with, and fortunately Squint came along and had the vision to promote them to the general market.

Are you guilty of not roaring?
Yeah, I think so. I think that’s why I’ve tried to take the same tact as Bob did. Writing my book was a way for me to work within the existing system.

What books, other than “Roaring Lambs,” would you recommend?
The complete works of Francis Schaeffer. In the 1960s, Schaeffer first mapped out this territory, largely for the evangelical community.

Do you have to learn how to roar?
Yeah, I think so. I think that people learn to do that by example. That’s one of the great things about the way that Bob ministered to the Christian music community—they could see it. He’d tell stories about his life. He told them what it was like to go to Saudi Arabia for a tennis tournament. People used him as a sounding board all the time. He took some of the fear out of it for people.

It sounds like more mentors are needed.
Definitely. Hopefully, out of this project, some of the people who are standing in the wings will move forward.