The Thing About Christian Music

Last weekend, I attended Help Portrait, which I’ll have to post about next week. While I was there, a few of the photographers and I were discussing music. A couple of them were surprised I didn’t know who someone in the Christian music world was, and I asked, “What kind of music is it?” They said, “A lot like this.”

And then it made sense. You see, they were playing over the speakers the kind of worship music that’s recorded with a bunch of people singing along to songs like… How Great Is Our God and Lord, I Lift Your Name On High.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with those songs, but I hope you’ll hear me out.

I responded, “I don’t really listen to this kind of Christian music.”

Then I was asked, “What kind of Christian music do you like?”

I thought about it. And I thought about it.

I got nothin’.

So I said, “Christian music doesn’t really do much for me.” And the look on the faces ranged from confusion and possibly just having been slapped in the face to what looked like pleasant surprise (by someone who, from their silence every time Christianity arose as a topic, probably felt a bit out of their comfort zone in a Christian church, with Christians, discussing Christian music).

Here’s the thing. I DO like some Christian music. But it’s kind of sad that the first band that came to mind that is actually out there and on the radio was one who’s frontman had to step down because of an affair. I just didn’t feel like throwing that band’s name out, because now when I hear them on the radio, I’m too distracted by what I know happened to really feel the truths about God being lifted from their songs.

Then I thought about some of the people who sing at my church. They’re awesome. When they lead worship, I genuinely love joining in and praising God. Some of them have CDs, and others don’t. I wasn’t sure their names would be recognized, so I didn’t mention them.

And occasionally, I find a song on a Christian radio station that I really like. While I know several bands and artists’ work, in that particular genre, none just screamed to me that I loved to just listen to them. And honestly, that radio station is usually the last one I check when I want to listen to music because of that.

So, when I got home, I felt kind of bothered. I am not anti-Christian music. But like I said, I wasn’t sure how well received or understood my “it doesn’t really do much for me” comment was.

And as I thought it over, I thought I might just throw this blog post out there. Because I know people who have said that Christian music shouldn’t have to “do” something for you because it’s not about you. It is praising God, so you should like it if you really are a Christian.

Umm…No. I have to disagree.

Let me ask you this, does everyone who is a Christian like rap? How about country music? Rock?

Well, then, you wouldn’t expect everyone to listen to the genres they don’t like, would you?

“Irrelevant,” you might say.

No, again. For there are plenty of songs that fall under Christian rap, country gospel, and Christian rock.

So, too bad if you don’t like those genres. They’re about God. So by the previous “logic” you have to like them if you’re a Christian.

I think it’s fairly clear how ludicrous that sounds, so I won’t keep pushing the point.

But I wish I had been a little more thorough in my explanation to the new friends I had made. It’s not that I don’t like any Christian music. It’s not that I don’t love to sing along at church and worship God. It’s not like a few songs or people don’t come to mind as people who sing Christian music that I like.

It’s that there are so few of them. So few artists, so few songs, that come to mind. The thing about Christian music is there is so little originality in the Christian genre in both the lyrics and the music itself. It makes it boring to listen to after a while.

So I hope people understand that, while I don’t hate Christian music, it’s never topped my list as a favorite genre. And unless there’s a total overhaul in what gets the most radio play, I’m not sure it ever will.


16 thoughts on “The Thing About Christian Music”

  1. Awesome read Meghan. I understand fully where you’re coming from and wish I was around when that conversation took place. The way I explain it is that every relationship with God is different. As I’ve gotten closer to God, I’ve realized that I don’t listen to the same type of music (Christian or otherwise) as I did when I was younger. The “Lord, I lift Your Name on High’s” and the like just don’t speak to me in my walk as they did when I was in youth group or college. Christian music has become more personal to me and I try to understand God and His grace and love for me. People like Kari Jobe or Kim Walker that you feel the passion, speak to me more nowadays. I was at Catalyst this year and it was crazy to see thy many people worshipping together and then during breaks some won’t make eye contact with you. It really bothered me. I just have to remember that what I like and listen to is based off my personal relationship with God, not anyone elses. Proud of you for posting your thoughts, even though they may not be popular with some. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Jo-el. haha In reading your response, I wish you had been there too. Maybe if someone else had chimed in, I would have opened up more about it. Who knows? I wish I had; it’s not like I mind telling people how I feel about it (obviously), but the conversation got re-routed.

      I agree that this kind of music, especially, will most likely change with you as your faith changes. That was a really good point. Thanks for your comment!

  2. For me, Christian music is a lot like hide-and-seek. It seems the songs that get the most radio play on most of the Christian music stations falls into the same bucket of “something my mom would enjoy”. And she doesn’t seem to be bothered by the fact that the same 15 songs are on rotation all day.

    I have, however, had great luck in taking an artist on Christian radio (who’s one song is waaaay overplayed), listened to other songs of theirs that do not make it on radio – and those are the ones I love. Not sure why once it hits mainstream and is overplayed that I have a harder time worshipping with it — seems to be a common phenomenon though.

    I love my Christian music like I love all music – variety! A little praise and worship, a little punk rock, a little country, a little rock-n-roll, a little pop, a little bluegrass…etc.

    1. I actually find that to be true for most genres. Usually if I really like a song getting radio play, the other songs on that artist’s album are way better. =)

      As for why you seem to have a harder time worshipping with a song you’ve heard a million times on the radio…well, I’m not surprised. Tom and I were remarking to each other the other day that a song we really loved the first few months they played it at church is starting to get so old to us that we have a harder time “feeling” the worship when we sing it. We don’t have to think about the words; they aren’t fresh. I think songs should be put on rotation if they’re going to be sung throughout the year at church so they don’t get to be so commonplace that they lose their significance.

  3. I, like Kristen, have had a lot of luck finding good music by taking songs I do like and songs I hear at church and finding those artists other songs. I like listening to Christian music because I prefer the lyrics and message. Some secular music, even most on some stations, has messages and words that are really not what, I feel, we as Christians should be listening to. Personally, if I hear a song on the way to school it will be stuck in my head and I am singing it all day, so I do not want to have the wrong messages playing in my head all day.

    1. I definitely think you are wise to listen to uplifting music-especially if a song will be stuck in your head the rest of day. I always have a cd in my player as well as a different station on each preset. That way, I can switch if it’s a song I don’t like for any reason, no matter the genre.

  4. I completely understand what you are saying. Being a Christain does not mean that your radio set to the Christian station and your TV to the Christain channel. These days I enjoy some country music as well as some Christian songs. I like the songs that speak to God’s attributes and character, not the songs that are “me” and “I” focused. I used to like the popular music and rock. It wasn’t until we had kids that I even considered listening to Christian music. I was studying Philippians and one morning read 4:8. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is oure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if the is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Then I got in my car to go to the store and turned on the radio to the popular station and one of my favorite songs came on. Halfway through this thought entered my head, “How does this song help you to accomplish Phil. 4:8?”. Another disturbing thought was, “Do you want your two little boys in the backseat to repeat these words and have these things in their heads?”. WOW! That made me listen and pay attention to the lyrics of most of the songs I liked. Through prayer God convicted us to make changes more beneficial for our kids. That was God’s plan for our family. I would never tell anyone that they are evil or wrong for liking other kinds of music. Each person must follow God’s plan for their lives and He will let you know that plan from the Big decisions all the way down to what you listen to. And I confess, that sometimes I feel out of touch with the world because I don’t have a clue about latest song release or artist.
    On a side note…we were watching The Sing Off (I had never heard a single song they performed) and Billy noted as how Nick Lachey reminded him of your Tom!

    1. Yeah, I think about it more now that I have little boys I nanny in the car with me than I ever did before. Little sponges. But I still manage to find songs I like and think are acceptable in a variety of genres. =) I agree that God will make it clear if something isn’t right for us, especially if we’re seeking His will in all areas of our lives.

      Tell Billy that Tom has actually gotten that comparison a lot! haha He also hears John Travolta and David Duchovny. But when people see his dad, that’s where the buck stops. Everyone sees that resemblance!

  5. I get dirty looks when I say I’m not big fan of the same jingly Christmas music year after year. Actually pretty much the only holiday song I enjoy listening to is Adam Sandler’s crazy Hanukkah song.

    It’s like people worship Rudolph, Frosty and Santa and are upset that you could possibly not want to listen to the same songs over and over and over every year. :]

    Oh well. Bah humbug. :p

    1. I love Christmas music…or most of it, but I don’t care so much anymore that others don’t. I think my eyes would have bugged out of my head a few years ago if you’d told me that. haha

      We had the Christmas station playing on tv while we decorated, and I kept making fun of the songs. I’m sorry, but there are some dumb ones. I told Tom it was like anyone could write anything, slap in something about Christmas, and it would count as a Christmas song and make it on that station. A new disliked song for me is “Marshmallow World.” My all-time least favorite Christmas song is “The Christmas Shoes.” I hate it.

      Tom told me I was a grinch. haha

  6. I’m so glad you posted this. Some of my friends are very very into Christian music, and with the exception of a small select few songs, I’ve just never been that enamored by it. When I’m with these people and we’re in the car listening to the music, I feel like a bad person because I want to change the station. I feel even worse when they are singing along to it and recommending Christian music I should listen to. Glad to know you don’t think it makes me any less of a Christian for it not being set to every (or any) station in my car 🙂

    1. Yeah, I think it’s very easy for us, as Christians, to look down on others (or even unintentionally make them feel looked down on, which might be the case with your friends) who don’t feel exactly how we do about something that is kind of unimportant in the grand scheme of things. You don’t have to LOVE praise and worship music to love the Lord. I hope it’s evident in how I live my life, in my testimony, and in my speech that I love God. It’s okay if I don’t listen exclusively to Christian music.

  7. I’m not a big fan of most Christian music for two reasons. First, the church that I grew up in considered just about any instrument other than a piano or organ irreverent and not suitable for worship. When I went off to college I opened up to the possibility that other instruments could also be uplifting, but I still have a hard time finding most electric instruments spiritually uplifting.

    Second, something Wes pointed out in the above discussion, about the guys that said they got into Christian music because it was easier. It has always seemed to me that most of the music that falls into any “Christian-” sub genres like Christian-rock, is really just rock that’s hoping to capitalize on their fellow Christians sticking together. It just seems to me that if their music were any good it would succeed on it’s own without the Christian- designation, and if it’s not that good, then it’s disrespectful to use the name of the lord to help sell it.

    1. Well, I have to agree that if they’re using God to slap a label on selling their music, that is wrong. The band Wes was referring to has Christian members and maybe a few songs that are considered Christian, but overall they are actually a punk-rock band. Their name is Relient K, and they’ve played at Warped Tour several times. Wes was rubbed the wrong way by the lead singer (Matt Thiessen) of that band in an interview, which honestly doesn’t surprise me because he can come across in ways that are less than flattering at times (Matt, not Wes). And Matt is responsible for giving Wes the opinion that they just got into it for the immediate fan base, but again, I find that confusing because A) as I said, they aren’t really known for being a Christian music band, and B) I didn’t hear that any of the other band members agreed with that. He said it was really just Matt Thiessen. Check out some of their music. For the most part you’ll find it’s just punk rock that’s cleaner than most music in that genre.

  8. You’re a terrible person.

    Just kidding! Ha, ha, ha!

    I actually do like some of the Christian music out there, but I HATE lots of it. The same goes for Christmas music. I tend to prefer hymns, and those aren’t usually played on the radio very often. I often play the Christian music that I do like in the car for myself and for Ella, since I don’t like much else that’s out there in the music world. You can’t get good country in St. Louis…

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