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Relevant Church's Carl von dem Bussche Jr.: Making music for the masses

The Bible says heaven is filled with music.

Carl von dem Bussche Jr. certainly hopes so.

The music and arts pastor at Relevant Church coordinates music, video and graphics for this edgy Christian church off Ybor City's Seventh Avenue.

What results is a 25-minute rock concert during every Sunday service.

"We try real hard to make sure that what we do is as good as anything they would see at a show,'' he said.

He's got the chops to do it.

The 34-year-old from Palm Harbor and Belleair was the songwriter, lead singer and guitarist for the Christian rock band Inside the Outside, formed by four friends from Clearwater Christian College. The group signed with a record label in 2001 and opened with major Christian acts in the Southeast for several years.

Often compared to Verizon Horizon and Third Eye Blind, their hit, The Least That You Could Do, reached No. 1 on Christian radio. Von dem Bussche wrote it for anyone going through life empty.

It's 10 p.m., do you know where you are?

Turn on the light

Another TV dinner, dining alone, no end in sight

Von dem Bussche was living in Nashville, recruiting talent for EMI Music, when Relevant Church pastor Paul Wirth called in need of a creative arts director. He and his wife, Kristin, weren't looking to move but found the offer intriguing. They were new parents and missed family in Florida. Maybe it was time to help start a church.

"Paul caught me at an interesting time in my life,'' he said. "I was loving (Nashville), but I felt like I wasn't doing what I was destined to do.''

They returned to the Tampa area in 2005, just before Relevant's first service. The church met at the Italian Club for five years before moving to its own, larger space last December.

Many people come particularly for the music, which is more rock than most contemporary churches. Services include Christian hits and one secular song by the Foo Fighters or Jimmy Eat World, for example, which ties into the day's message.

Von dem Bussche knows not everyone listens to Christian radio. But everyone knows music. "It's a language that anyone can understand.''

Relevant Church

Services are at 10 and 11:15 a.m. Sundays at 1704 N 16th St., Ybor City. Call (813) 242-4800 or go to

Relevant Church's Carl von dem Bussche Jr.: Making music for the masses 04/21/11 [Last modified: Thursday, April 21, 2011 6:11pm]
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