More Than Meets the Eye: Grace Videographer Shares Christ Through Art

Even as I’m preparing my phone to record my interview with Grace videographer and online content editor Brian Lawler, he is wondering which app I use and suggesting how we might utilize both of our devices to capture the best quality. 

I tell him the audio recording is merely for the purpose of catching what I may miss taking notes. I think how very old-fashioned that must sound to the techy 31-year-old who brings our weekly 9:00 a.m. Gathering worship and major worship events to life online.  

Yet, very quickly, I see that he is an “old soul,” wise beyond his years and many layers deep. It is when he shares the story of his life and coming to Christ that I realize how much more there is to this young man than his long, dark beard, ear gauges, body piercings and multiple tattoos. 

“Character and heart will always shine through any outward appearance,” said Brian. “When I tell people how I met Jesus, I get to change the hearts and minds of those who may have preconceptions about who I might be.”

Born and raised in southern California, Brian attended a Christian boot camp for at-risk youth when he was 13 years old. It was there that he learned what it meant to serve Christ by serving others. 

Despite a troubled upbringing and a family tree he describes as “duct-taped and stapled together,” Brian does not look back at what could have been. “I look at the good that came out of it. I went through the lowest of lows and found my salvation.”

At the age of 18, Brian moved to Denver, then Illinois eight years later to be near his girlfriend, Rachel Kahle. “I left friends and family in Colorado, but I asked God what I should do and got a slap on the back of the head. 

‘You know what to do,’ God said. So, I moved. Any time I’ve stopped and listened, I’ve trusted and followed, and it’s always been to my benefit.” 

Grace Church crossed Brian’s radar when Rachel’s father, Khris, told him there was a need for someone to operate the projector at Grace’s 9:00 a.m. contemporary worship service. Concerned he might become bored with the task (“I can be more handy than that”), Brian did not initially jump at the opportunity. 

“Khris doesn’t pester or badger, but when he mentioned it again, it stood out,” recalls Brian. “Maybe it was a calling.” When he finally stepped into the role, the curious looks and questions he received motivated him to stay. 

“’You need me here,’” I thought. Here’s an opportunity for me to be myself in this space, and that’s enough. That’s how this alternative looking person with piercings and tattoos ended up in a traditional Methodist church.”

But the story doesn’t end there. 

The singularity of operating a projector has long since been eclipsed by a marathon Sunday that begins at 9:00 a.m. and ends at 10:00 p.m., resulting in the filmed, edited and artfully crafted online production of the 9G contemporary worship, premiering on Facebook and YouTube at 9:00 p.m. on Sundays. 

“Music videos speak to everything I love,” said the would-be cinematographer and natural artist. “Storytelling, beauty, creating emotions in others…it’s all there.”

At Christmas and Easter, his online video creations have brought full worship experiences to the entire world at home during this time of pandemic. Such productions require endless hours weaving the pieces of multiple people recording from various individual devices into one synchronized whole. “I’ve lost sleep and weight in the process,” remarked Brian. 

“But I literally get to bring Christmas to church. How cool is that?”