‘The Message Has Never Changed’

‘I’ve got a joy that the world didn’t give me … And the world can’t take it away.’ Triumphant’s Scotty Inman sings at Sand Spring Baptist Church on June 9.

Triumphant’s Scotty Inman continues his acclaimed quartet work, loves his new church plant challenge

By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com

It was more than a bit ironic to see one of the Facebook memories that popped up on my timeline just before typing out this entry for KentuckySings.com.

There they were, almost jumping out of my computer screen, Triumphant Quartet all decked out in matching dark suits – they had displayed some individuality in their shirt and tie selections – during a concert at Sand Spring Baptist Church on June 19, 2014. 

On that Facebook post, I had commented “These guys can sing gospel music!” and that the house had been packed.

It was Southern Gospel music at its absolute best.

Some things change and some don’t. 

Scotty Inman (left) dodges the white handkerchief whipped by his father, Clayton Inman, as Triumphant Quartet sings “White Flag of Surrender” at Sand Spring Baptist on June 9. Others in the photo are Triumphant’s David Sutton and Eric Bennett. (All photos by John Herndon.)

That was obvious as I sat down to talk with Triumphant’s Scotty Inman back on June 9. It was about 30 minutes after Triumphant had electrified another packed house in what has become an annual visit to Sand Spring. With Triumphant standards like “Thankful,” “I’m Going There” and the crowd favorite “White Flag,” it was still Southern Gospel at its absolute best. 

But there’s plenty of room for covers of powerful contemporary hits such as “Chain Breaker” and “The Goodness of God.” The transition is so seamless that many might have missed it.

Scotty reflected on the obvious question concerning the progression of Triumphant’s musical umbrella. It’s simply a strategy to reach more people with the message of Jesus Christ.

“Oh, absolutely,” Inman says. “I am not saying we have conformed to anything. You don’t need to be of the world but we are in it. We are in this world so we have got to find ways to reach people, but not at the expense of the message.”

Scotty’s explanation is not only true of Triumphant’s music but could be a description of his own spiritual journey. He’s had some changes in his life, but his passion for the gospel never wavers. If anything, that passion might be growing even deeper.

A little over three years ago, Scotty, his wife Kasey, and their two children, relocated from the Pigeon Forge, Tenn., area to Kasey’s hometown of Morgantown, Ky. A year later, they found themselves becoming part of a new church plant in the town of 2,500 residents.

Scotty’s family, along with the other members of Triumphant, had already been involved in a new church, Connect Church of Sevierville, Tenn., but Scotty says, “Honestly, that wasn’t something that was a catalyst for the new church.”

Scotty Inman takes the lead as Triumphant Quartet sings “Chain Breaker” at Sand Spring Baptist Church on June 9. From left are David Sutton, Scotty Inman, Clayton Inman and Eric Bennett.

Instead, “a pastor friend of ours one day came to us and said ‘I have felt like God is telling me, leading me, to plant a church.’”

Little did the pastor friend know that Scotty and Kasey had a conviction they needed to plant deeper congregational roots. It wasn’t long until one of gospel music’s most acclaimed singer-songwriters and his wife had accepted the challenge to work as worship pastors in the fledgling church.

“We started a church called Christ Covenant Church,” Scotty says. “It was just a small group of people, three or four couples. We moved to a cabin for a while, then we rented out a city building that became our main church (building). And now, we are in a building phase, where we are starting a building for our church, our first one, a legitimate building. It will be ours, hopefully, by the end of this year or early next year. 

“The church started during the pandemic, which is crazy. That’s even more remarkable and that’s God. It was April of the pandemic, we got the call from the pastor friend and he said, ‘Are we crazy for starting a church in the middle of a pandemic?”

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 

I Corinthians 1:18 (NIV)

Scotty says Christ Covenant Church learned the power of God works in mighty ways.

“It was like, ‘Well, if God’s in it, it can’t be stopped. We will find out quick,” he recalls. “If God’s not in it, it won’t work. So by May (of 2020) we were having services.”

Inman says the church considers the second Sunday in June as its anniversary and celebrated two years of ministry on June 12. 

Scotty Inman of Triumphant Quartet.

And Scotty had never really considered undertaking the challenges of birthing and growing a new congregation. “Oh, absolutely not. I thought it was a God thing. I thought the smart, really rich people did that,” he laughs. “I never dreamed of being a part of planting something that would grow like it has. I never dreamed of this.”

There can be little doubt of the correlation between Scotty’s work as a singer-songwriter and that as a worship pastor. Known for a commitment to sound theology, Triumphant has long taken an approach that combines rock solid biblical concepts with music not confined to a narrow musical presentation. 

Regardless of how the gospel is presented, the goal should be the same: Reach those who are thirsting for good news in any way possible without compromising truth. It should be the goal whether one is a Grammy-winning recording artist or serving in the leadership of a church.

“The way I look at it is that the methods may change, but the message never does,” Scotty says. “So the church is changing stylistically at times. It is like, you know what, things around me may change to reach people, but the message will always be the message. We are not going to water it down or sugar coat it. Our church is all about preaching the truth, preaching the Bible, a lot of Scripture being read and a lot of opinions from Scripture.”

Scotty believes that is the simple message that can change a complex world.

“We serve a just God who wants us to live as the Word says live. I believe that people today, especially with all that is going on around us, they are looking for something to have hope in. They are looking for truth to lean on,” he says. “People, more than ever, people want to know what the Word says, and are digging into the Word themselves to find out.”

Inman’s passion is obvious in many of the songs he has written.

“Like the song, ‘Don’t Miss Jesus’ that we sang tonight. People want to argue about the little things but let’s get down to what matters. What does the Bible say?,” he asks. “We do a song, ‘Bigger Than Sunday. A lot of people make God a one-day God, but God is with us everywhere we go. I try to write songs that make people think, make people say, ‘Why do you believe what you believe? Does the Bible say it or is that what you have been told?”

It’s a hard challenge that Scotty keeps in front of himself, his church and his Triumphant fans. And it’s a challenge that never changes even though the trappings around the message might evolve. 

“I think God is doing an incredible work through us through the progression,” he says of Triumphant’s growth. “As a matter of fact, I think our message is stronger now that it was back when we were more traditional.”

Triumphant Quartet sings at Sand Spring Baptist Church on June 19, 2014. The group has made some changes in appearance and sound, but the message remains rock-solid truth from the Word of God. From left are David Sutton, Clayton Inman, Scotty Inman and Eric Bennett.

The subtle irony of that progress was readily apparent in the same venue where I’d attended my  first Triumphant concert eight years before. The appearance was different, sometimes the sound was different but the foundational message of life through Jesus Christ was exactly the same.

“I remember there was a time if you didn’t wear a suit and tie, it offended people,” Scotty smiles. “We are in a day and time now where if you wear a suit and tie, you could offend somebody. It’s like, ‘Who do you think you are? I can’t be as good as you.’ It’s kind of flipped. It’s weird.

“So we just try to be as welcoming as we can, again, but not at the expense of the message. The message has never changed.”

And it never will. 

Scotty Inman releases solo album

Scotty Inman recently released his first solo project, “Anywhere Jesus Is.” The album contains 10 songs Inman wrote with several prolific Christian songwriters and even contains a cut, “Good Enough for Me,” that features country music star John Anderson.

“Anywhere Jesus Is” is available at ScottyInman.com.

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