It’s not every day that a country music star leaves music production to spend more time at their local church, but that’s exactly what Granger Smith announced he’s doing.

Smith, born in Dallas, Texas, has been singing country music since he was 19 years old. Some of his most famous songs are “Backroad Song,” “If the Boot Fits” and “Happens Like That.” With a clear voice and a classic country style, Smith’s music has themes of faith, family and the good, slow life running throughout it.

On Tuesday, Smith announced his decision on social media. He started by reading a Bible verse from Mark 8, which he said changed his life: “Jesus says if anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” Smith said he and his family decided that, after a lengthy music career, it was time for him to enter ministry.

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He said he has no plans to start a church or a revival. He added that he feels he has more to learn before he could think about that step. “We’re going to pour into that church as members, and have my pastors and elders pour into me and disciple me and teach me, as I sit under their wise teaching,” he said. “Hopefully one day they can affirm me into the next steps of what that might look like, to glorify God best from my platform.”

Even though he’s a country music star, Smith has talked openly about his faith for a long time. “Sinner saved by Grace” appears in his social media bios and it’s not uncommon for him to share Bible verses on social media.

Since 2017, the star has also had a podcast, “The Granger Smith Podcast.” Broadly speaking, it’s something of a lifestyle podcast, but he frequently brings up his faith and family. For Smith, both faith and family are important.

His wife, Amber Smith, is active on social media, with a following of 279,000 on Instagram. She also has a podcast called “Arise with Amber,” where she discusses her faith, marriage, healing and other related topics.

On Instagram, Granger Smith said his whole family will spend more time giving to their local church and that he and Amber came to this decision together.

While he’s been preparing for his now final summer tour, Smith has been hitting the books. In his video posted on Instagram, he revealed he’s been working toward earning a master’s degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary — a seminary which prepares Baptist church members to become pastors and active in ministry.

Granger Smith arrives at the 53rd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, April 15, 2018, in Las Vegas. 
Granger Smith arrives at the 53rd annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Sunday, April 15, 2018, in Las Vegas.  | Jordan Strauss/Invision/Associated Press

Behind the decision to pursue ministry was him feeling like he was exalting himself through music, per “Good Morning America.” He said, “I can’t go to seminary and pursue ministry and be poured in by my pastors and elders and then go out on weekends and try to be exalting myself. I think that’s a contradiction and it’s nothing against anyone else that can do music and succeed in denying themselves, I just — I’m not very good at it.”

Smith also said in an interview with People he’s releasing his memoir “Like a River: Finding the Faith and Strength to Move Forward After Loss and Heartache” on Aug. 1. River Smith was Granger Smith’s 3-year-old son who died in a drowning accident.

River’s death was the darkest time of Smith’s life. In a 2020 interview with People, he said he still struggles with guilt over his child’s death — which was ruled an accident. He said his only source of strength during this time was his faith. “For me, that’s pretty much all I’ve had. My brain is not capable of calculating that magnitude of a loss, and then I have to realize that I don’t have to. I can lean on a higher power for that and know that my little boy is in a better place.”

In his soon to be released memoir, Smith discusses the impact of River’s death on him. After River died, Smith said he struggled to perform on stage and replayed the event over and over again in his mind. He said a spiritual experience changed him and was formative in his testimony, which is included in the memoir.

“There’s things in here that are extremely vulnerable. It’s very personal. But the overwhelming feeling was that if my story could help others, then it’s worth it, then it matters,” he said to People. His last tour is also named after his memoir — a move he said that was purposeful.

Smith’s plan going forward is to finish the tour and then spend his days at his local church. When he was announcing his decision, he said, “I just want to glorify God the best way that I can.”