December 30, 2011
A review by Lee Younger

Mark Wagner is about to do something that almost no one else is doing. He’s making a record that is much more than just a record you listen to. You see, most songwriters and recording artists simply write, play, record, promote and tour their music because of the music itself. The music is the end of the thing. They want you to hear it, buy it, support it and love it because of what it is, and that’s that. Now, there’s nothing wrong with this philosophy. Being simply an artist is a good, honest living and the world needs folks like that. Every iPod is populated with artists and records and songs that are just about the work itself, and that’s great, but that’s not what Mark Wagner is doing.

Mark is making a record that isn’t just a collection of songs. This record is actually a box of tools. It’s a collection of medicines and antidotes. For most artists, the question they ask themselves when they are writing or recording is something along the lines of, “What do I want this song to sound like?” or maybe even, “What do I want this song to say?” But Mark is taking things a step further and asking the question, “What can this song do?”

Music is powerful stuff. Music has the ability to get into a person’s head and heart in a way that no other artistic medium can. Mark is trying to harness the staying power of music as a way to do ministry. The record ‘Need+Love’ is a ministry tool. The lyrics are not just poetic, they are powerful. You see, the goal of ministry is to help someone move closer to the Lord. In other words, God is always drawing people to Himself all the time; but people get stuck because things get in the way. Maybe the obstacle that’s keeping them from the Lord is a feeling of guilt or shame over a past failure. The job of a minister is to come in, bring the truth of God’s forgiveness and acceptance, back it up with Scripture, which removes the lie of guilt. Now that the obstacle is out of the way, that person just gets drawn closer in.

The job of a well planned sermon is to do just that: Remove obstacles, undo lies and tear down strongholds so that people can get closer to the Lord. But, a sermon takes 40 minutes, whereas, a well written song takes 3 minutes and is way more fun. Mark sees himself as more than an artist. He is a minister… a missionary. His songs are tools that tear down strongholds. The truth is catchy and has a groove. It gets in your head and heart and before you know it, you’re set free from the thing that was holding you back. If a spiritual lie is a poison, this record is an antidote. Mark Wagner’s ‘Need+Love’ is lush and beautiful art, but it’s not art for the sake of art alone. No, it’s a carefully planned, strategic tool for ministry. And not only will it set you free, but pretty soon, you’ll be repeating the lyrics in your own conversations – using those tools to set others free as well.


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