By Roxanne Wieman
July 7, 2010
Nick Greenwood is the founder of the RYFO network, a community established to care for the unique physical, emotional and spiritual needs of touring musicians. By partnering with individuals, churches, companies and organizations across the country, RYFO is able to offer musicians a diverse range of services as they are away from their ordinary systems of support—at no cost to the artist. Through RYFO.org—a social networking site—fans can adopt bands and pray for the band members’ posted prayer needs, they can apply to host touring bands for free in their homes and offer their professional services (mechanics, chiropractors, restaurant owners, etc.) for free to bands. RYFO also provides tour chaplains, or “road pastors,” per the request of a band. According to Greenwood, “RYFO is able to come alongside some of the most influential voices of our culture (musicians), and encourage them to be sold-out disciples of Jesus on and off the road.”
What gave you the idea to start RYFO?
I had a couple friends I’d gone to school with and led worship with who were signed to a million-dollar record deal after school. What came next was tragic, and in no way an isolated incident. I watched as my well-intentioned Christian friends entered an industry that cared nothing about where they had come from, who they were, their morality or their faith. They were instantly alone in their individual pursuits of God as they found themselves thrown on the road and told to sell millions for millions’ sake. What came next was sad. The once church-going, fruit-bearing trees quickly became visibly lifeless. Their quest for success had taken them away from their support systems, churches and Christian communities, and it had a terrible impact on their choices and faith. That began my pursuit. The question I began asking was, “What if the church collective had recognized this very external need? Could anything have been done?”
How do artists usually find out about, and get hooked up with, RYFO?
Word of mouth, completely. Artists telling other artists. It’s important for it to be this way because as soon as an artist suspects you are trying to sell them something, or use their status for personal gain, they tune you out. We do no convincing, and no marketing. When it’s something that their band friends point them to, validating it, they come excitedly, not suspiciously. As they find us, they then have to essentially “apply” for access to the site. RYFO.org is only for touring musicians. Artist applicants are given unique codekeys upon approval that they then enter in to the homepage on RYFO.org, and that gives them access.
What is your favorite RYFO story? When you felt like you were really fulfilling what God had called you to as an organization?
I believe the greatest success moment in RYFO’s history is an ongoing one. People are actually praying for bands! That has never happened before. Collectively. Consistently. Sure, band moms exist, and some bands have massive followings and diehard fans that pray, but not like what’s going on within RYFO.org. We have almost 500 fans on the site that have adopted bands through the site, and pray for the bands’ individual prayer requests. Amazing. I get emails all the time from bands saying how appreciative they are for the prayer! God is using it to encourage them in the long haul, when they have no money and feel ineffective. It is spurring them on to be Jesus-seeking-Gospel-giving-cultural-influencers!
How many pastors/chaplains work with RYFO now and are on tour with bands?
There are 10 of us at this time. RYFO’s Tour Chaplain program is still in development. There are many unique complications that make it difficult to create a system that funnels chaplains to bands. A few of us have been out on the road with bands in this capacity, however the system is still being formed.
With that, we are also developing a “regional” chaplain program. Many pastors and chaplains are not able to get on the road with a band for weeks, so we are working on ways to also provide bands with chaplains stationed around the country who are willing to show up to venues and pray with the bands. Church at a distance.