If a church is truly experiencing community as intended, it’s no surprise to hear members claim the church as their true family. Indeed, when Jesus spoke of His people, He often did so in familial terms. This metaphorical language, found throughout the New Testament, runs through church history to the present as well.
For Skillet’s John and Korey Cooper, married 11 years in March, the idea of church as family extends far beyond metaphor. Korey and John are part of Living Light Christian Church in Kenosha, Wis. (as are bandmates Lori Peters and Ben Kasica), where Korey’s dad, Timothy Pingitore, is a teaching elder (the equivalent of a senior pastor), and her brother-in-law, John Lalgee, serves in an apostolic role.
“A lot of the leaders in our church are family,” says John, who came to Living Light about five years ago. “They’re kinda my closest friends as well as my family. Korey’s mom and dad started the church 20 years ago. They’re some of my favorite people to be around; they’re really Godly people. They’re always involved in what’s going on with Skillet and praying for the group.”
In addition to their relationships with her father and brother-in-law, Korey, who has grown up in the church, says she and John maintain contact with the other elders at Living Light as well. “They’ve known us for years — they love us and support us. We go to them a lot for counsel. If they would say to us, ‘You guys are getting off track; you need to get off the road,’ we would do it in a second. All we want to do is honor God and serve Him and be where He’s called us to be. They know that, so we’re accountable to them in that. We talk to them two or three times a week; when we’re home, we always see one of them.”
In spite of their rigorous touring schedule (about 200 days on the road per year), Korey and John have somehow found the time to immerse themselves in various ministries at Living Light over the years — from leading the youth, to worship, to teaching occasional classes at the church’s School of Worship, an intensive nine-month program designed to equip Christians to glorify God in all aspects of their lives. “It was actually started by my sister and a former bass player I used to play with,” explains Korey. “We come in as guest speakers, mainly for songwriting. We’re in probably twice a year.”
Korey and John also invest themselves informally in the lives of several 20- somethings at the church. “A lot of that has come about naturally just from us hanging around,” John says. “We get involved in their lives in maybe a way that [is] a little bit pastoral. [It’s] been really great to feel that you have a voice. Korey is incredibly influential, especially with the young women.”
Their informal role in the lives of others is not lost on church leadership. “They are integral to the church as far as inspiration to the younger people,” says John Lalgee. “They keep us connected to the generation coming through. That’s been a real blessing.”
Both Coopers agree where their efforts would be focused if they had more time to invest: “If we got off the road now, I think we would be involved in children’s ministry,” Korey says. “Maybe because once you have kids [They’re the proud parents of 5-year-old Alexandria and 2-and-a-half-year-old Xavier.], you realize that you want to pour yourself into the next generation.”
In addition, John adds, “I could see [us] being home group leaders…care for a certain small amount of people. I think we could be good at that.”
For now, Skillet will continue to share God’s love and good news to audiences on the road, comforted and encouraged by the support of their church family back home. “It sure is nice to go home, when people are like, ‘We’re praying for you,’” Korey says. “It feels good to know that.”