Zoo Station

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What’s wrong with Christian music?

Posted by Chance on May 29, 2018

I feel that creatively, most of mainstream Christian music lags behind what is considered secular. It’s bothered me for a long time. I have a few theories rolling around in my head. I’m not completely sold on all of them but wanted to share my theories. First of all, I’m just making generalizations here; I’m not saying all Christian music is like this. Also, I don’t know anyone’s heart or artistic motivations. I do feel that something is missing in Christian art and it’s something I’ve been wanting to understand for a while, and I wanted to share my thoughts.

1) Because CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) has a smaller audience, artists can’t afford to take the artistic risks that a mainstream artist can. As a result, they go for the safe approach, resulting in music that is more bland.

2) More focus is placed on the lyrics of the song. As a result, the melody and instrumentation are afterthoughts. I think the mistake that may be made here is that the artist assumes only their words can be used to glorify God, and not the music itself. This reminds me of the Martin Luther quote

“The Christian shoemaker does his duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.”

3) The state of CCM may be a reflection of American Christian Culture and theology in general. I’ve grown up in the American church, so I know that an approach to Christianity that is easy to get trapped in is that of sin avoidance. Instead of focusing on God or doing good things, we focus on avoiding bad things. It could be the same with music. It could be that the focus is avoiding controversial lyrics or even attitudes in the music. So instead of focusing on making a certain type of song there is a focus on not making certain types of songs. Such an approach could be constraining. The artist may feel pressure to make a happy song and not one based on fear or doubt or anger that one may struggle with.

4) As with Christian life, where we get this idea of what a Christian should look or be like, maybe Christian artists feel a pressure to make a song according to what a Christian song should sound like. I feel that it is interesting to note many of my favorite artists out there are ones that happen to be Christian, rather than those that are part of the Christian music industry. U2 (3 out of 4 members are professing Christians), and many other sort of on the line between secular and Christian like Switchfoot, Mat Kearney, MuteMath, and NeedToBreathe come to mind.

Whatever the cause, I hope something changes soon. I feel that music that focuses on God should be the most exciting music out there.

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