A Christian Band?
This weekend I was asked for the thousandth time if my band is a “Christian band”.
It’s a tricky question - with many ramifications on either side.
If I say, “Yes, we are a Christian band”, then I pigeon-hole us in a way I don’t want to be pigeon-holed. In many people’s minds, at least, this would mean that we only play songs that directly talk about a spiritual or religious subject. To most people, it would mean we were playing “Contemporary Christian Music”, a genre that has less to do with Christian subject matter than with a particular sound that has broad appeal among the Christian market.
Neither of those things are true about us. We do not play CCM (Contemporary Christian Music), nor do I limit my songs to ones that have religious themes.
My approach to music is from a different direction altogether. Rather than set out a genre that I want my music to fall into, I set out from the start to write music about things I cared about. The things I think about and immerse myself in become the subjects and the inspiration for the songs I write.
Rather than set out to write a song about the theological notion of God’s grace, I write a song that arises suddenly and spontaneously from my experience of the utter depth of my faithlessness - and the recognition of God’s presence even there.
How could I say we’re a Christian band? But how could I say we’re not?
The issue is that we’ve divided the world up into the “Christian market” and the “secular market”, into “the Christian subculture” and everything else. We have Christian movies, Christian music, Christian comedians, Christian television, Christian books, Christian bookstores, Christian colleges, etc, etc, etc.
I don’t think Jesus intended things to be done this way. Jesus didn’t intend to set up a subculture - an insular group creating content only for themselves. Instead, he intended to create a group that would go out into the world and draw from his example to create, to transform the situations they found themselves in.
Rather than Christian movies, we should have Christians embedded in Hollywood, involved in the making of movies, influencing them to be deeper, more artistic, more authentic. Rather than Christian musicians, we should have Christians involved in the creation of music at all levels, embedded in the music culture, authentically expressing the human spirit.
If we shift from the idea of a Christian subculture to this idea of embedded Christianity, we will see something far more productive than simply an alternate version of whatever’s popular in secular culture. Instead, we will see the rise of an entirely new level of cultural and creative development, as Christians everywhere begin to use their God-given creativity to transform all of their lives.
If we shift to this idea of embedded Christianity, we won’t just see more songs written to be sung on Sunday mornings, we’ll see songs written to cruise to, to climb mountains with, to sing to your friends and neighbors. We’ll see music that addresses all of our God-given human emotions, that honors the depths of humanity created in the image of God.
And bearing the image of God in all that you do is definitely not a narrow genre.