The Metal Monks pt 1: A Cautionary Tale

In early 1988 in the west coast Canadian city of Vancouver, the Metal Monks were formed, or rather, forged, from a five-month School of Evangelism as part of an outreach ministry with Youth With A Mission (YWAM), an international community of missions. Part of our training was to spend three days and nights living on the mean streets of Vancouver with no money, the purpose of which was to experience something of what street folk live through every day and night, all day and night.

We further spent a month on the north side of Chicago, living with Jesus People USA, a Christian community and ministry founded in the early 70s, and a prototype of what we were trying to establish back in Vancouver. While staying with JPUSA, the Metal Monks were mentored by the Rez Band’s Glenn Kaiser, and we recorded four songs, engineered by Rez bassist Stu Heiss. “When the Son Comes Down,” (released on cassette) became a minor hit among our street friends in Vancouver.

(Link to the Metal Monks webpage):

For my part, I had very mixed feelings about the whole business. I joined YWAM primarily to lay aside music (essentially my religion many long years before I met Jesus) in order to focus on Christ and press into His Word and His service. While at JPUSA, my arm was finally twisted to join the Monks, which soon led to our recording sessions. My voice was never really suited to our hard rock style of music, the criticism was discouraging, and it had become increasingly hard for me to take us seriously (a fatal flaw in my then-thinking, since the Lord can use even a donkey to do His bidding).

The Metal Monks v.2

Throughout the remainder of 1988 the band played several gigs, basically serving as house band at Final Notice, our YWAM base and drop-in centre on Granville St. downtown. However, the reason I speak of the Metal Monks — and Final Notice in general — as a “cautionary tale” concerns mainly with the “zeal without knowledge” that defined our brief history. For we were dealing with intense spiritual warfare, and weren’t the first YWAM ministry that attempted the plant the flag of Christ in Vancouver. For all of our (sometimes cavalier) passion and vision, we were for the most part spiritually immature, had little to no accountability, and were completely out of our depth. The above poster depicts the “Clash of the Kingdoms” mentality of our troops; after a few early victories we began to be decimated emotionally and relationally from within and without.

By the Spring of ’89 things had become dire; the Monks were history, as was the Final Notice Band which had risen from the ashes of the band’s demise. Regarding the closing down of the base and the various struggles of its team members, the details are bleak and depressive; for many, much woundedness and trauma has endured. Before more damaged could be incurred the Lord dismantled the project, mercifully and none too soon, thereafter scattering the sheep (some returning home, one group ending up in Oregon while another group stayed in Vancouver, hoping to salvage something of worth and rebuild).

Youth With A Mission as an “organization” was at that time dealing with other rogue bases. In truth, each YWAM base is autonomous, its star rising or falling according to its leadership and especially spiritual covering and accountability. Seeing as Victor and Nathan and the team were more or less given a ‘ten-foot pole’ (as one YWAM BC leader averred) meaning, no-one really wanted to touch downtown Vancouver, perhaps any kind of stability and solid foundation was doomed from the outset. In the end, few gave little mind to our plight. In a later YWAM newsletter addressed to the survivors of Final Notice, the message was clear: “Get over it.”

For all its dark moments and painful memories, there were in fact many redeeming aspects to the Metal Monks-Final Notice complex. As staffer Doug Peterson quips, “Overall, my time with the Monks and Final Notice was a fun time mostly, mixed with confusion, frustration and dismay.” With this in mind (and believing that God does indeed work all things together for good to those who love Him), Randy Lacey — among the first street kids to engage the nascent YWAM ministry in the year before our school started — returns to Incidental Musings to share some of his observations and reflections in part two of the saga of the Metal Monks.

The Metal Monks v.1