Southern Gospel Times Feature Article
From the Artist's Website: "Jim Sheldon and Putting God First Ministry is a Christ centered ministry of God. It seeks to encourage all people to put God first in every aspect of their lives. How God will forgive their sin and give healing & new purpose to their life, through the blood of Jesus Christ. Jim Sheldon stands as a living testimony to God's promises! How God will richly bless the lives of those who choose to be faithful servants of Jesus Christ, God's Son!
God has established this ministry; so that Jim Sheldon can share how God brought him out of a long wilderness period of sin, shame and disgrace to where Jim is today!"
What is the history of your ministry? Where did you begin? Why did you choose this path of ministry?
I graduated from New Orleans Baptist Seminary in 1981, with a degree in Church Music Ministries. I served many churches in Louisiana & Mississippi as part time Music Minister. Then did 2 full time staff positions, in Missouri as Minister of Youth & Music and in Virginia as Associate Pastor (Music & Youth).
When my first marriage ended in divorce, I was advised to get out of the ministry. They told me no church, trying to keep problems out, would hire me due to divorce. So, I left the ministry, not knowing what to do with myself.
After a while, I missed singing. I thought since I couldn’t sing in God’s House, I’ll find other places to sing. I started singing Country Music. I bought every track I could find of all the Country Singers I could sing along with. I spent all my spare time working the songs. Then I went to country bars & clubs that had open mic nights. There were 8 places that did this. Soon, I was able to empress many club bands that would call me up to sing whenever they saw me in the crowd. One band let me join them in performing wherever they were booked. I won a few contests.
One night, a pretty red head (Jeanette) asked me to dance. We will be married 20 years now, this August. God used her love and encouragement to return me to His fellowship and service in Gospel Music. All the time I was singing Country Music, God was making me a better communicator and performer on stage, as He led me back to Him.
Now, after 20 years of training, working with various groups, God has brought me full circle. During that time God used a paraphrase of Proverbs 3:6 to reconfirm His Call of Serving Jesus Christ in Gospel Music.
“In everything you do put God first; He will direct and crown your efforts with success.”
That’s where Jim Sheldon/Putting God First Ministry began. I didn’t chose this Path of Ministry, God did!
Who are some of your major musical influences? Why do they affect you the way they do?
While singing Country Music, Ricky Van Shelton, was my greatest influence. He has the same range as I. Most of his songs were positive and upbeat. I won a contest singing his hit song “From a Jack to a King”. Some of the house/club bands a got to sing with nicknamed me “Jimmy Van Shelton”. That’s where my style developed from.
In Gospel Music the first major influence came from Glen Payne of “The Cathedrals”. After singing at my church in Virginia, Glen was gracious enough to sit and talk with me on the front pew. Glen shared two big tips I’ve never forgotten and continue to use. Vocally, He said:” vocal exercise every day and never sing out of your range”. The Greatest tip was Spiritual. He said: “Remember, God gave you the talent and the desire to use it; now honor God with a servants heart.”
Since 1998, I attended Charles Novell’s Christian Music Conference six different summers. There major influences came from Danny Funderburk, Bill Base, Ann Downing and Charles Novell.
2008, God lead Dan Keeton to hire me as baritone singer. I will always treasure those years singing with Dan & Nancy Keeton. The best and most enjoyable group I’ve ever sung with! Dan took me under his wings, brought the fine tuning I needed to all my prior training & experiences. That brought me to where I am today!
Who has been your biggest spiritual influence?
Without question, Rev. Bob Melvin (now with Jesus), pastor of Spotswood Baptist Church in Fredericksburg, Virginia, was the biggest spiritual influence. On the first Sunday I attended with Jeanette, I felt at “Home”. Soon as the invitation was given, I ran to the alter. I heard Jesus say; “It’s time to come Home! You are loved and welcome here!”
Pastor Bob, during our years there, counseled me like a “Grandfather”. The success with my marriage and ministry over these 20+ years, God made possible through Brother Bob’s counsel and guidance!
How many dates you do per year? What kind of venues do you sing at?
I was still singing with The Keetons until March 2011. That month Dan disbanded The Keetons to sing tenor for Gold City Quartet. So, my current ministry began in March. I spent most of that year developing, equipping, and organizing the ministry.
The official beginning of ministry was December 5, 2011.
Dates: 2011 – 32
2012 – 54 (so far)
2013 – 9 (so far)
I’m marketed as Inspirational/Christian Country Gospel. I will sing anywhere, anytime and any type of venue. This year I’m booked in churches, cowboy churches, RV resort parks, a restaurant, a cruise.
2012 Major Events: Winter Sing Fest (IN), Gulf Coast Gospel Convention (AL), Jubilee in the Breaks (VA), Agape Fest (TX), Singing in the Park (Ada, OH), Absolutely Gospel Festival (TN), Northern Gospel Singing Convention (IN), National Quartet Convention (KY), Christmas in the Smokies (TN)
Are you involved in other areas of ministry besides music?
Still in music, but I have made myself available, in Danville Church association, for music supply.
Where do you see your ministry in the next 10 years?
The next 10 years, I see “Jim Sheldon/Putting God First Ministry” traveling and ministering in every U S state. I eventually see hiring backup singers & 5 a piece band to travel with. Then expand into hosting singings in Kentucky & Big Concert Series with other Artists around the country.
Tell us about your current project and/or single.
My current CD is “I Belong to Jesus” on Homeland Inspiration Group’s Mont Eagle label. The title song was the first single and did fairly well. The video of this song has now over 107,200 views!
We just shot a new video for “Extreme Makeover” the next single. This song & video will be released end of May or first of June!
How can people reach you for a concert or ministry service?
Putting God First Ministry
234 W. Lexington Avenue
Danville, KY 40422
(859) 319-0691 / email@example.com
Booking Information: Godsey & Associates
Contact: Joy McCloud
(720)343-2369 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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