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A Pastor for the Music Industry

July 9, 2024
Phil Covert (front and center) with artists.
Phil Covert (front and center) with artists.
Photo: Phil Covert

“Going after lost sheep.”

That’s how Resonate Global Mission partner Phil Covert describes his ministry amid the music industry in Nashville, Tenn. After the COVID-19 pandemic, Covert said, he noticed that multitudes of people were either questioning their faith or had walked away from the church. It broke his heart. 

As he discussed this reality with a friend in the music industry one day, that friend said, “You’re describing everybody I know.”

Known also as Music City, Nashville is a hub for the music industry. Musicians flock to Nashville attempting to launch their careers. Some make it. Some don’t. Either way, as Covert connected with people in the industry, he learned more and more that life as a musician can be challenging spiritually, emotionally, and financially.

“There were artists who were questioning [their faith] but had nowhere safe to go, no one who understood what they were going through” and who could help them navigate that with theological understanding, said Covert, who has 20 years of experience as a pastor, is working on his third theology degree, and has his own journey to share about wrestling with faith.

“I started to become the guy to whom they would send artists who were questioning their faith,” he said.

Covert said he also soon realized that the need was bigger and more complex than any one person could try to meet. So with support from Resonate and other partners, he launched Reality Co.—a ministry that serves the artistic community. 

A lot of ministry leaders like Covert are seeing unique needs in their communities that don’t quite fit with traditional church outreach or church planting. That’s why Resonate started the Mission Network Developer program. Through this program, Resonate brings together a group of people like Covert and provides them with resources and funding to help meet their unique needs.

Reality Co. offers not only spiritual guidance but also emotional support, vocational coaching, and addiction treatment. Covert said he essentially “reverse engineered” what led many artists to walk away from their faith in Jesus and found a few key factors: a lack of pastoral care and discipleship, trauma from past experiences with Christians, and disappointment by not being able to make it professionally as a musician.

“A lot of them didn’t have any pastoral care, any spiritual support, anyone to be able to ask questions of. There’s a huge spiritual component here that needs to happen,” he said. 

Covert meets with artists one-on-one over coffee to get to know them. He either mentors or coaches them himself, or he connects them to someone who can help them with what they need, whether that’s discipleship, budgeting help, vocational guidance, or something else. 

Through it all, he said, he’s there for the toughest conversations about faith and life. On any given day, he’ll send someone information about a job they could apply for, a budgeting tool, something to help with their mental health, or a quick devotional aid.

Covert also connects artists with the larger Reality Co. community. He and his team host retreats, worship gatherings, and other events such as brunches and backyard house shows that bring together musicians from diverse backgrounds and belief systems. 

For many of the musicians connected with Reality Co., Covert has become their pastor, and the Reality Co. community has become their church.

“Reality Co. has been an amazing and safe space for me,” shared one artist. “It has allowed me a place to deconstruct—and reconstruct—my faith, while working through past trauma. Phil has gone above and beyond to do life with me. He’s invited me into his home and has been patient with unanswered texts and missed phone calls. I would recommend Reality Co. to any artist.”

Covert and Resonate ministry leaders see God at work through Reality Co. every day.

“What encourages me about Reality Co. is the ministry posture,” shared Brad Meinders, Resonate’s regional leader for the Central United States region. “Reality Co. is about intentionally creating safe places for community and connection where people can be real about their life and faith wrestlings while receiving the grace, love, and truth of the gospel.” 

“My heartbeat as an evangelist is [for people to know Jesus], but I’m here to help them in any way I can, in Jesus’ name,” added Covert. “For those who don’t know him, I really pray that they will. But at the end of the day, I’m here to give them a cup of cold water. They really are my friends. I want what’s best for them.”