Selling Tickets to Awaited Makes Jesus Happy

CULTURE | Brian Tome | 5 mins

Awaited, a Christmas production birthed out of Crossroads, has been one of the most effective things we (or anyone else) has ever done to illustrate the meaning of Christmas.

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There is a savior who has come to set us free from all that has us in bondage. That is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the point of a show that has run for 11 years with 255 shows to an audience of over 500,000 people. A couple years ago we ended it for reasons previously communicated.

You may be wondering why Awaited closed, only to come back two years later at a new venue that charges for tickets. After Awaited ended we were encouraged by the Aronoff—the premier theatre venue in the tristate—to resurrect the show. Staging it in a professional public theatre of this caliber opens it up to reach a wider audience than keeping it inside the walls of a church. We started a separate organization to tell the story of God at Christmas through this unique expression in order to reach as many people as possible. If a show that preaches the transcendent meaning of Christmas can succeed in the secular market place, the Kingdom will have a massive and unheard of win. Imagine the impact if Awaited was as well known as The Lion King. The only way to have that large of a national reach is for Awaited to get into the marketplace and succeed.

What we want to see is a movement across our country that reignites our wonder and passion surrounding the birth of the Christ child and all the details surrounding the Biblical story. There isn’t a single Christmas show that accomplishes that—and many of them cause a guy like me actual pain to sit through. For a show to stand on its own two feet and reach the masses, it must be where the masses experience a show, it must be artistically great, and it must (at minimum) pay for itself. For those of us who bought tickets, the price reminds us of the value this production brings. Paying musicians, performers, stage hands, and all sorts of production staff a fair market rate is why ticket prices for Awaited rival those of any other high quality Christmas production. As a normal audience member, I bought nine tickets and I can’t wait to see what the next iteration looks like.

Jesus says, “Freely you have received, freely give.” He does this with his grace for us; his forgiveness; his truth and patience. That verse doesn’t mean that it is wrong to charge people for an unparalleled Christmas experience. Jesus was most likely a builder…and I guarantee he didn’t construct homes and buildings for free. If charging and potentially making money was wrong then all of us should repent for whatever our company does that affords us a paycheck. We should also call Christian publishers to repent, along with all the worship leaders who monetize YouTube, Spotify, and charge for concerts. None of this is wrong. In fact, it is necessary to reach a wider audience. This is how we are looking at Awaited and praying for success.

A profitable business can be just as holy and biblical as a church that runs on people’s tithes. The cost of Awaited has always been high. Many people saw it for free while the minority of people who tithe to Crossroads paid the bill. In our church, or at the Aronoff, it takes massive effort and massive money to tell the story in a way that captures our modern imaginations. Jesus wants us to penetrate every corner of the earth and that includes theater and business.

Last time I checked, there wasn’t an active Broadway production about Jesus outside Jesus Christ Superstar that would be considered a success. So yes, we are selling tickets to a story about Christ’s birth AND we are paying people to perform it. God bless America! What a privilege. If we could start 100 businesses that did this viably, we would do it in a heartbeat. We launched what we hope will be a self-contained enterprise that runs on its own budget and money.

Bringing your family to experience Awaited at Crossroads may have been an important part of your holiday traditions. I hope you will rekindle that tradition while many others start a new tradition, first at the Aronoff and maybe, by God’s grace, on Broadway. In the end, Christmas isn’t about our traditions. It is about God coming to a war-torn planet to bring peace. We will do anything short of sin to take that message into every corner of culture.

Written by Brian Tome on Dec 13, 2019