We catch up with Lucas and Evelyn Cortazio to hear about the church’s unique mission and journey as well as their individual journeys to faith.
Community Music, based out of Chicago, is comprised of church planters and artists who work together to equip local and global artists and leaders in the Jesus Mission.
Can you tell us who are you? Where are you from? And what God has called you to do?
Lucas: Community music is the worship arm of community Christian Church that was planted in the Chicagoland area about 30 years ago. The church is has also started something called the ‘New Thing Network’, which is a network of church planting; church planters and churches that plant churches. And we’re now with about 3100 churches and almost 40 different countries across the globe. We are in Australia. We have dear friends there, community, Christian Church here in Chicago and has 11 locations, 2 in the city, 8 in the burbs, and then 1 in a prison.
I feel like we’re called to create worship culture through. And we do it through music and songwriting. But we also feel that that’s just a start. It’s a tool to really get to a place where we can raise the next generation of leaders. Find people, encourage them, raise them up, send them out, empower people across our locations here in Chicagoland. But also we do that across New Thing. And God has allowed us, through relationships, to learn. And in part, we feel like He’s given to us with so many different people, even beyond our walls. And we’re excited for what’s next.
Can you tell us about how you stepped away from the church and that season in the ‘wilderness’ & then your journey of coming back into the church?
Lucas: I’ll go with my first because actually our stories are a bit different. I grew up in the Baptist Church, in Brazil. My parents were heavily involved in church, in music. My dad went to seminary and he was a preacher and taught at church & he was a deacon from time to time. My mum was always involved in music as well and led youth groups and young adult groups and all that stuff.
So my journey was always very similar, very familiar, but it was a very safe place. And maybe, when I was around 15 or 16 in high school, there were a couple of things happening at church. I remember vividly, actually, we were replacing our pastor, a pastor who had left who were looking for a new pastor and you know, how church can be sometimes. In that church, it kind of became political.
We’re celebrating at this time. I was 17 and we were at a party and a friend of mine almost died in that party, which was insane!
So there was one side of the church, that wanted one guy. The other side wanted another guy. And it was really my first experience, because I was old enough to understand the dynamics of what was going on. And because my family was very involved, I got to see the inside of that political happening that was going on in our church. And I was really jaded by that. I thought, here we are as Christians. We’re supposed to be united. We’re supposed to be fighting for one another. Instead, we’re fighting each other. And for what?
That kind of became a catalyst for me to leave to leave the church. And I did for about two or three years.
But essentially, I grew up as an athlete as well. So our volleyball team had made nationals here. We’re celebrating at this time. I was 17 and we were at a party and a friend of mine almost died in that party, which was insane! So I woke up the next morning and I knew there was a gut feeling that I needed a change. I needed something that was different than how I was behaving or making choices. And the only thing that I knew, and I’ll be honest, it wasn’t even Jesus. It was church. I’m like, I need better friends around me. I need people that care about something different, that make different choices.
So I asked my parents to bring me to their church. And actually, that’s where I met Evelyn that same day. I walked into the church and Evelyn was leading worship on stage, singing beautifully. She was like an angel on stage. I think I fell in love with Evelyn first before Jesus, on my way back.
But eventually again. I really did feel that the people that are around you, that they impact is so much. Making that choice, to me, changed my life completely. I’m very thankful that I was able to come back. I’m part of that journey, instead of another that continues to say no to the call of Jesus in our lives.
It is all about Jesus. At the end of the day, His way is exponentially better than anything that I could muster on my own
Can talk to us about the song ‘Make Room’, where you teamed up with Elyssa Smith from Upper Room and what you feel God was doing at that season for you guys as Community Music?
Lucas: We wrote it two years ago. We released the first version last year, 2019 in May. Then this year we released the version with the Elyssa. Writing that song was a very unique experience. From time to time, about five or six times a year, we’ll head down to Nashville. For sometimes a week, five straight days of writing. A few sessions each day with different people. So you’re there to write music and it’s at times can be mechanic.
We got together with our friends, Josh and Becca. The Holy Spirit just met us in that room. And I mean, there’s no way to explain what happened. I mean, there was healing happened in that room, like actual healing happened in that room. As we were writing the song. I mean, we laughed. We cried. We actually had a call right after that. You know how you have experiences with the Lord and sometimes it leaves you physically and mentally exhausted? I mean, it fills you up, but it’s a… I don’t know how to explain it, but that’s how we felt.
We prayed for like an hour and a half before we even started writing that day. And I think what the Lord was doing in that moment and then since then, really, to be honest with you, is really teaching us to go after Him. This is Christianity 101. But I think oftentimes we do allow life and the busyness or the distractions to really take us away from that focus. It is all about Jesus. At the end of the day, His way is exponentially better than anything that I could muster on my own. And yes, we had been on that journey, but I feel like that day was almost like an inflexion point. And I think it’s been a prophetic song for us, for our church.
And now God is using elsewhere and even for the season, if you think about it, to make room for God. I think almost the whole world has been forcefully put in a place where we’re having to make some sort of room. And I pray that people are using a season like this season of pandemic right now, to really make more room for what the Holy Spirit wants to do in their lives, in their homes and their churches.
A big thank you to Lucas & Evelyn for taking the time to chat with us. God bless you and all the work you’re doing!
Banner image source: Community Music Facebook