Brian Welch knows that with their raunchy lyrics, heavy metal makeup, tattoos and dreadlocks, and concerts that are designed for getting drunk, hooking up and getting high, Korn isn’t the first band that comes to mind when thinking of a living example of Christianity. Because it’s not.
But as lead guitarist Brian ‘Head’ Welch points out, it’s not ministering to those who have hope but rather ministering among the broken that leads people to Christ.
In 2005, Welch shocked fans and bandmates alike when he left the nu-metal band Korn—which he co-founded—in pursuit of something that most people would consider a lot less glamorous.
The guitarist had found Jesus, and he quit the band to dedicate his life to his newfound faith. God knew what He was doing, even when it seemed like Brian didn’t. At the time, he was battling an addiction to methamphetamine, Xanax, sleeping pills and alcohol. He desperately needed a change.
Since finding Jesus and leaving the band, Welch has overcome his addictions to drugs and alcohol, made it on his own as a solo artist and successfully raised his (now teenage) daughter, Jennea.
But when he returned to the band in 2013, sharp-fingered “Christians” were perplexed as to how he could love Jesus, call himself a Christian and still perform in a band that exemplifies just the opposite.
Despite the backlash, Welch says that the fans are his “tribe.” When Jesus walked the earth, he didn’t hang out with the righteous, but instead he walked with the sinners—adulterers, prostitutes, thieves and liars—those who needed hope, and needed a savior.
“These are our people. It’s our tribe.” Welch says. “Jesus…he didn’t tell people to go into tribes and say ‘hey, don’t use your tribal language anymore, because we’ve gotta do it this way…’”
He met people where they were at, and He did mighty things on a personal level.
Because those are God’s people, too.
If Welch had left the band and gone on to make a gospel album, or a Christian rock album, the people who would buy that music are most likely going to be people who already know Jesus.
But re-joining Korn meant that Welch could minister to those who don’t have hope. They don’t have a savior, and they’re completely lost.
He has something that most of his audience doesn’t—that most of his band doesn’t. He has Jesus. And he’s speaking the “tribal language” of the people he’s been given to minister to—meeting them wherever they are at, and loving on them as Christ would.