MICHAEL GUNGOR On The Problem With The Christian Music Industry

+++

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT !!!!

READ MICHAEL GUNGOR’S FOLLOW UP BLOG TO HIS POST ‘THE PROBLEM WITH THE CHRISTIAN MUSIC INDUSTRY !!!

 

Date: Monday, December 9, 2013

Hey Everyone,

As promised earlier, after the incredible buzz around his blog post below in the past week (there have been more than 360,000 views of this blog post in the past 7 days) Michael Gungor expressed to me a desire to write a follow-up blog post to this original post he wrote almost 2 years ago.

I am excited to announce that Michael emailed me his follow-up blog post that he just finished two days ago, and you can read it immediately, by clicking on the link below.

Michael Gungor: A Follow-Up To My Blog Post On The Problem With The Christian Music Industry

 

Regards,

Hervict

+++

When you are in a touring band, there is a lot of time that is spent waiting. Waiting to board a plane, waiting for the bus to arrive at the venue, waiting for sound check…etc One of the many games that people in our band have implemented now and then to fill the waiting time is a little game we might call the “Christian or secular” game. Basically the game is simply playing a very short clip of music and having someone guess whether it is “Christian” or “secular” music. The person who is most accurate with his or her guesses is the winner.

This is surprisingly easy to do.

Especially when you talk about radio stations. It is easy for me to spot a Christian music radio station within about 3 seconds. Far before any Christian lingo is uttered to make it clear.

It’s weird. I’m always trying to figure out what it is that makes something sound like Christian music, because there’s definitely something… I’d love to get some of your thoughts about it. But for me (and I’m actually one of the better players of the game if I must say so myself), I find something very disingenuous about most Christian music. This is something I can simply feel at a gut level. If I hear a song, and I hear any sort of pretending or false emotion, that’s a good first indicator. I’m really not trying to throw mud here, I’m being honest at how I am good at this game. Christian music often has a sheen to it that other music doesn’t have. Some pop and country music has a similar sheen, but the Christian sheen is like a blander sheen somehow.

The vocals are always really hot in the mix because for Christian music, the words are the most important part. That’s kind of similar to country though as well, so you have to be careful there. Country has some of the same Nashville tones, players, and compression styles that Christian music has most of the time, but the twang is just a little deeper with the country side of things. There’s also a little more “humanness” or “soul” in Country to my ears.

The false emotion that I’m talking about might be familiar to some of you. There’s just something more believable about the whispery sexy voice that is singing about sex on the mainstream radio station than the voice that copies that style of singing while putting lyrics in about being in the arms of Jesus. And it’s really not even the style or the lyric that is the problem to me, it’s the fact that I don’t believe that the singer is feeling the kind of emotions in singing that lyric that would lead to that style of singing. It’s that same kind of creep out that you feel when somebody gives a really loud fake laugh. It’s just weird and uncomfortable feeling.

An example of this would be a song that somebody sent us recently of an older song of mine called “Wrap Me In Your Arms.” The lyric is a very intimate and soft sort of lyric. “Take me to that place where I can be with you, you can make me like you…etc” This person did a hardcore/screamo version of this song. Not just like getting a little loud, I mean full out death metal sounding, demon-voiced screaming. It was so freaking weird mostly because it seemed so disingenuous. You would never speak such gentle words to someone you loved by screaming in their face like you were possessed by Beelzebub. That’s an extreme example, but it’s very typical of the basic premise of most Christian music to me, which is–use whatever musical style you wish as a medium to communicate your message. It’s not about the art, it’s about the message. So use whatever tools and mediums you have at your fingertips to do so. If you want to reach emo kids, then sing emo music but with Jesus language. The problem with this is that emo music is not simply reducible to certain sounding tones and chords. There are emotions and attitudes of different genres of music that are the soul of the music. You can’t remove the anger from screamo and have it still be screamo. It’s the soul of that music, whether that soul is good or evil is not the point, simply that it is the soul. So when you remove the soul from music and transplant the body parts (chord changes, instrumentation, dress, lights, and everything but the soul…) and parade it around with some more “positive” lyrics posing as Christian music, then what you have is a musical zombie.

It looks like a human.. It eats like a human… It still walks and makes noise and resembles a human, but it’s not. It’s a zombie. It has no soul. It just uses it’s human body for its own purposes.

This is what I initially feel when I play the “Christian or secular” game. I look into its eyes, and I perceive whether the thing has a soul or not. And 9 times out of ten, I can do it very quickly and efficiently.

Why is this like this? I don’t know, and it makes me very sad. I don’t hate all Christian music. There are a few artists that I know in the Christian industry that are really trying to transcend the inherent limitations and zombying effect of the industry. But the industry as a whole is broken, friends. We call it Christian, but it’s certainly not based in Christianity. It is based on marketing. That’s it. I wish I could tell you otherwise, but it wouldn’t be true.

Example:

We just were part of one of the biggest tours of the fall in the Christian music industry. To my knowledge, every night but one night was sold out, and that’s because they added a second show in the same city kind of last minute. The interesting thing about this tour was that it was pretty much in all mainstream venues. Clubs, theatres…etc It was awesome.

But you know what made me sad? That empty bar every night.

Even though these shows were all sold out, I would imagine that the bartenders at all those clubs were like “oh man, Christian night… that means no tips for me.”

Sometimes the promoters would just buy out the bar so there wouldn’t be any liquor sales at all.
I’m not saying that I wished that everybody was getting hammered at the show… But for crying out loud, buy one beer. Or heck, if you don’t drink beer, buy a Coke.

But here’s what is super weird about this situation. I bet you if you took all of those Christians that came to the shows and split them up and had them go to “secular” shows, A LOT of them would have bought a drink. It’s the fact that there is this assumption among all of the Christians there that having a drink at a Christian event is sort of a questionable thing to do.

Why is this?

It’s certainly not because of the Bible. Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine at a wedding. And not just any wine. The kind of wine that made people think they saved the very best wine until the end. And you preachers who pervert the scriptures with your own extremely biased interpretations, here’s a news flash, people at parties don’t think the best wine is non-alcoholic grape juice. Religious people didn’t call Jesus “a glutton and a drunkard” because he ate communion loafers and grape juice all of the time.

Sheesh. It’s just so ridiculous to me.

And here’s the thing. I don’t even drink very much. I’ve never really been drunk, and I’m not advocating that people should just be foolish with their drinking or eating habits. But for crying out loud, this whole spiritualizing of alcohol being an inherently bad thing is so annoying. It’s mostly just an American thing, by the way (as well as places where America has exported these ideas with our missionaries). If you go most other places in the world, or anywhere else in history for that matter, Christians drink alcohol. Ever heard of a little thing called Communion? You know, the bread and the wine? That’s a pretty big deal in Christianity. Jesus didn’t pour out a cup of grape juice.

Man alive.

You know what the alcohol thing is based on? You ready for this? You sure?

Money.

Old people are the people that give the most money to Christian organizations like religious media outlets. And old people grew up in a time where alcohol was seen as a taboo social reality. Just like dancing or playing cards or “mixed bathing” (swimming). It’s based in an era of prohibition. These are old American values that we’re dealing with, not Christian values. It’s the old American people that have money that the Christian organizations do not want to offend. So they create an environment where drinking is seen as evil. If you want to start a television ministry, you can’t have it known to your donors that your staff likes to go out for drinks after work. So you implement rules for them. Do you know how common this is? I have friends that have lost their jobs over crap like this.

Do you see the irony of this? If you had been a disciple of Jesus and drank some of the wine of his first recorded miracle with him, you would be fired from a lot of the churches in this country. Shame on us.

So the point? (I haven’t forgotten) The point is that the industry that labels things as Christian and sells them to you has far more to do with marketing then Christianity. They are marketing to the mixed bag of values that has created the Evangelical Christian subculture. It’s a mix of some historically Christian values, some American values, and a whole lot of cultural boundary markers that set “us” apart from “them.” This sort of system makes us feel safe and right, and it makes some of its gatekeepers very wealthy and powerful.

The effect is then the filtering down of this subculture to people that don’t necessarily want to think through the viability of every one of these boundary markers, but in their simple desire to belong to what they consider the good guys, they acquiesce to the rules handed to them. At least in public. As the joke goes, why do you take two Baptists with you when you go fishing? Because if you only bring one, he’ll drink all your beer.

Here are some of the actual effects of this subculture though.

1. It makes us dishonest

When the foundation of the market and music you are trying to make is pretense, it’s very hard to be honest and successful. There is an unspoken assumption from most of us that we really want the people on the stage or on the book or album cover or on the radio need to have it together more than we do. Because we are messed up, we need them to be a sort of savior and hope for us. The result of this is that it’s often the people who are really good at pretending that they have it all together that make it to the stage and the book or album cover and the radio stations.

So Christians that would normally buy a beer don’t because they are in the Christian concert. Christian bands that smoke (which a lot of them if not most of them do, including some of my players) have to duck into back alleys as to not offend anybody. I think smoking is stupid. But I think it’s stupid because it smells bad and it kills you. I don’t use my religion to judge other people about it.

Rather than just being honest about where we are at and what we all struggle with though, we look to our gatekeepers to believe and live morally vicariously for us. That way we feel better about being part of the system of good, and the moral brokenness in our own lives is repressed like the fear of a child with her security blanket.

This sort of dishonesty is at the heart of much of what I and so many others find so repulsive about much of modern American Christendom

2. It kills creativity

I had a conversation with John Mark McMillan last night about something that I think is very interesting. By the way, I consider John Mark to be one of the ones I consider to be making a valiant effort in transcending some of these imposed limitations in this industry. But he mentioned to me how strange it is that people keep calling his new album “creative.” That word is actually one of the most used words when people describe our music as well. In fact, I bet some of you reading this have described as such. Here’s the weird thing about this…
Why do you find it necessary to say that?

Do you notice that nobody really uses that word about other types of music? I just was perusing some Itunes user reviews to see if this holds up. I checked John Mark and mine, and “creativity” is very often found. But it’s not often found in reviews of bands like Sigur Ros, Bon Iver, Radiohead, Sufjan Stevens or other artists who are certainly very “creative.”

Nobody goes to an art gallery and says, “boy, that painting is so creative.” Why? Because it’s art! Of course it’s creative! Why else would it be there? It’s very nature is creativity. Or like Lisa pointed out to me today, “that would be like saying, I love your house, it’s so architectural.”

But when someone in the Christian industry actually takes their art seriously, everybody is like “holy crap, listen to how creative it is!”
It’s like a person that’s been living among zombies for years seeing an actual human being and exclaiming, “wow, look at how clean her face is! She doesn’t even have any blood on it or anything!”

I’m not slamming the people that describe our music as creative. I appreciate the kindness that’s behind the words, but it does make me sad that the idea of creativity is so foreign to our industry that we have to actually point it out when someone actually sees the art as art and not zombie propaganda. Ok, that might have been a little much. But I like the sentence so I’ll leave it.

So that’s why I’m good at the Christian or secular game. I’ve seen behind the curtain, and I know the little man that’s pulling the levers, and he’s not impressive. I recognize his voice at this point, and it’s all over religious media.

Why am I writing this blog?

Some of you have commented in the past when I’ve been critical of the Christian music industry that I’m being hypocritical by still being a part of it. I don’t see it that way. I actually love a lot of the individual people in the industry. There really are some amazing people in it, many of who share my weariness about the way things have been. And I also love you guys. I love our fans. I love the people that we get to meet and I love being able to get our music to them. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try our best to purify the systems that we are part of. I just want to be honest about what I see and call us to find better ways of doing things.

Two quick recommendations and I’ll stop this blog that has already gone on WAY too long:

Consumers: I would suggest that you actively support those artists that you love that the industry hasn’t necessarily bought into. The cards are stacked against people that actually want to do honest creative art in this industry, and the people that try really need your direct help and support to have any chance. For us, we’ve had one guy for instance that has been sending us a check every month for years because he appreciates what we are trying to do. Do you know how much that one family has helped us stay encouraged? Even if it’s not a huge amount of money or anything, just having people behind you in this sort of battle is really helpful.

Industry people: Stop being so afraid. I know you want things to be different than they are as well. I know you want creativity to be valued as much as “Becky” analysis, but we need some of you to have some balls and make some decisions based on that value system. Yes money matters. But so does beauty. Art actually makes a difference in the world. Have the courage to actually make decisions on values and not simply on past numbers and trends. And for crying out loud, if it really is good, the numbers will follow eventually anyway.

Artists: Take heart. I think the tides may be turning. The recent attention and success of our band speaks to it I think. People are growing weary of the status quo. The machine and its sheen have seen its strongest days. So I encourage you as well to not be afraid. Your art is worth making even if the industry around you isn’t quite ready for it yet. Make it and let them catch up with you. Your art is sacred. Be honest. Be brave. And don’t let the markets or the industry be the final filter on your art, let your heart do that. Ok that’s all from me tonight.

About these ads

736 Responses to “MICHAEL GUNGOR On The Problem With The Christian Music Industry”

    • Why don’t you just start a secular band then if your so tired of the “Christian Music Industry”? And if you’re so sick of how “disingenuous” the all of the music is why don’t you write some amazing music? I’m honestly VERY tired of people acting like Christian Music is sub par. Christian Music should glorify God, but if all you want is artistic expression be a secular artist then. Every one likes to bash Christian Music and try to ruin it for those of us who actually enjoy it. And if you’re not “bashing” people who say Christian Music is creative why did you bring it up? Did you just get into the Christian Music Industry because you couldn’t make it on a secular label since Christian Music is so much less create? I’m sorry if it seems like I’m ranting a bit here, but I’m getting fed up with “Christian” artists practically showing disdain for being considered Christian Artists. If you hate Christian Music so much then quit and let some one else take your place. You seem to enjoy it enough to take your fans money and not work a nine to five job.

      • Wait, what?

        Hold up.

        “Christian Music should glorify God, but if all you want is artistic expression be a secular artist then”

        Aren’t the artists supposed to use their “artistic expression” in the best way they know how to?
        Do you really believe that each artist has to choose between glorifying God and creating soulful music?

        I don’t understand why you want to settle for the same old garbage. God shouldn’t have to settle for these half-assed offerings.

      • Here’s the thing… the reason that Michael Gungor isn’t going to leave the “Christian Genre” is because he believes that the industry is important. What he’s saying is that there’s a lack of any real creativity in the Christian Industry and there doesn’t have to be!!! I’m a song-writer and musician in the “Christian Genre” and I believe that there needs to be a progression in Christian music that takes it to the next level. It needs to be sincere but it needs to move upward. When the first guy with a guitar wrote a Christian song, it was probably seen as blaspheme… but now it’s common place. We progress, we upgrade, we move forward. But right now the Christian Music Industry is stuck on cliche phrases sung over “G-D-Em-C” and it’s starting to become more about putting out more music as opposed to putting out good music.

      • yesssssss. agreed.

      • YESSSSSS. I agree with you. A lot.

      • Wouldn’t a higher level of artistic expression be in fact more glorifying to God as it is artists striving to be the best they can?

        I don’t think you can get from the article that Michael holds any disdain for being considered a Christian artist. His tone seems to me to say that he is part of it and is happy and proud to be. I think this article points towards his passion for the Christian music scene because he wants to see good music in it.

      • It is disingenuous and sub-par to what it should be. Much more glory would be given to God if more “creative” artists would join the popular christian music list.

      • Anonymous, I think you have missed the point. I think God is best glorified with our best work and our best art. So much of what passes for Christian music really is second rate. God deserves better. And I believe the musicians deserve better. They have the giftings to be better but the “gatekeepers” are in the way. For those of us who know people in the music industry-and it IS an industry-we know that what this blog post says is true.

      • Interesting that you chose to be anonymous in this reply.

        Sean

      • That was a little much.

      • I’ve typed two different responses to your rant, and deleted them both. You ARE entitled to your own opinion. However, I believe he is doing what he does to glorify God, and I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. I know you’re getting defensive because you love the way Christian music is, but you shouldn’t tell him to quit and you especially shouldn’t say that he doesn’t deserve the money he makes. Heck, most touring musicians work harder than anybody with an average nine-to-five job.

        Sincerely,
        A Touring Drummer for a Christian band

      • I’m trying I be nice here. I don’t want to immediately jump out and call you names for not understanding a whole entire article correctly. So I’ll explain it to you in a condensed version with easier words. Christian music sounds very similar. Maybe YOU like the sound. That’s not what the article was about though. The radio station by my house has not changed the music it plays for more than eighteen years now. They’re afraid to offend their listeners by changing the sound. It’s all about money. I’m not even going I go into the fact that you indirectly insulted all Christian artists by telling them they picked Christian music because no one else would buy their music. Do you even physically realize you just called all the Christian music artists you personally listen to “untalented?” Besides, people like Katy Perry purposely left because anyone who is actually good will never last in the world of Christian music. And THAT is the problem. That Christian music is an area he loves, because singing about God is important to him (duh, use some logic). He doesn’t want to be secular, because he sings Christian music. Not a hard concept to figure out. Maybe you like stereotypical Christian music. It’s just a music preference you have, congratulations. But there are a lot of us who are tired of artists wasting God-given talent because Christian music listeners expect all Christian music to have one particular sound. As an avid indie listener, I have been blown away by wonderful Christian artists who have deep life-changing lyrics, but no Christian radio station will play them because they’re simply different.

      • HAHAHAHAHA!!! posted by “anonymous”. That’s really funny!

      • Very well said. The amount of theological issues this blog raised in my mind are incredible. I truly appreciated some of Michael Gungor’s music before reading this article. This is disheartening that actual “famed musicians” in the Christian genre truly think this way.

      • Listen to Christian music then, yeah? He’s not saying it’s bad to glorify God. But he is fed up with the industry he is a part of. Christians can be just as original as non Christians, it’s about time we start proving it, in stead of trying to fit a mold… Unless you think art is about fitting a mold… but it is natural to be fed up with your line of profession– Christian businessmen get fed up with dishonest Christian businessmen, Politicians get fed up with corrupt politics, this does not mean they should stop being businessmen or politicians, but rather change the game from the inside.

      • Anonymous comments are lies.

      • So….did you read the article? ;-)

      • Sir, you have completely read this article the wrong way. Michael Gungor is sick and tired of the lack of emotion and soul in modern Christian music. And I believe he may know more about it than you. After all, he is involved in, well,…Christian Music.

      • I think he is definitely making a point that for some reason, people think that art and forms of art is secular just because it isnt worship or some kind of acoustic psalm, God wants us to be creative, to explore everything, experiment with sound and art that he created and be excited and crafty with it because its something our God made for us to enjoy and develop and utilize, God created within us an ability to create amazing music and glorify him by acknowledging what this form of art can do for us in inspiring us, bringing us piece, expressing love or pain… christian music for some reason doesnt practice this, or this is seen as secular if it is practiced.

      • Christian Music needs to be becoming all things to all men, in order that it might win some. I agree with him 100% on everything he has said, because in no way has anything he said contradicted the gospel, and in no way is anything he is saying going to hindered, limit, or mar the image of who Christ is. Jesus Christ was and is a game changer, he took care of the problem of sin, the no law or code could take care. And I think that if God the Father sent his Holy, Divine, Blameless, Righteous and Only Son to die for us, in hopes that we would follow him and imitate that same radical love for others. I don’t believe that the major if not all the “main stream” worship music, Christian music is do much more than comforting and making those people who are already Christians, who already know the love or God feel any besides warm and cozy. This Americanized view of (its good for me, and I know plenty of people who “like” it) so leave it alone and stop picking on it. God didn’t ordain a lukewarm Church!!! WAKE UP. Not only do God call us to do everything to the glory of God, which mean that yes there should be some *partial* comfort in the music we produce for God that strengthen already Christian’s faith in the Lord and their security in their future with Him. But it need to be doing far more than sustaining the ALREADY (Believers). We need to be breaking ground and cultural barriers with our music, It needs to draw eyes and attention to Christianity and make people ask whats going on over there? What are those people talking about? What are they singing about? Who is this radical God they speak of? Who is just and loving, and who is meek and bold. Watch out for when we find security in our music, and how much people are going to like, more so than if it is going to startle people, wake them up, clean them, equip them, teach them, and bring them to a place where there is a desire down so deep that the music is an Art form that God uses to make radical ambassadors for him.

      • Or MAYBE he’s trying to help an industry he loves change from the inside out. Why does he have to leave it if he doesn’t like every little part of it? Why can’t he try to reform it? The way you talk, it sounds like you don’t believe in the concept of reform at all–if something goes wrong, why should we drop the whole thing like a hot potato and find something else? I admire his drive to improve his industry.

      • The issue he is talking about is lack of transparency and vulnerability in most Christian music. None of what you just ranted about. A broken and contrite heart He has yet to deny – That’s what God wants, that’s what inspires people. Not fake, religious bs. It’s not just a problem in Christian music, it’s a problem in the entire church. Get real, get vulnerable, lay your crap on the table. It’s like some christian bands think if they sound like U2 that they’ve reached the pinnacle of what a sweet smelling incense is to God. Really, it’s brokenness, vulnerability and worshiping with our spirits and in truth.

      • Lolz. Is God not creative Himself?

      • He actually works at a church in Denver. And while I cannot verify the times he punches the clock, I can tell you with some certainty that he works a full day (ie 9-5).

      • Can’t you be artistic and glorify God with your music at the same time? He’s just saying he wants to hear good music that glorifies God and is also real music, not just words with nice sounds in the background. And he’s not showing disdain for being a christian artist, he’s calling christian artists to be better.

      • everything you just uttered is disregarded because you posted as anonymous. Grow a pair and stand up for something instead of hiding behind a screen while you scream your frustrations.

      • His point is that Christian artists (and those in the business aspect of the industry) are compromising expressions of worship for the sake of
        marketing in this “subculture” we’ve created. Yes the industry a business, but since God’s favor is on it I really don’t think we need to be so afraid of killing the compromise and putting out what the artist wants to put out for the Lord without tampering with it.

      • Pretty outspoken for someone who posts as “anonymous”. Very brave…

      • I think it’s funny how people are equating being anonymous to being a coward. As if saying your name is Sean or Tyler shows that you’re more a of a man.

        Thomas

      • I think the fact that you felt the need to capitalize “Christian Music” speaks for itself.

      • Anon: It seems like you read the title of this post and not much else. What Gungor is doing is pioneering a genuine and SOULFUL authentic movement within the Christian rock scene because it has been taken over by insincere “praise.” Granted, these insincere Christian rock artists are still worshipping, but they’re doing it within this safe zone that has not been growing, is stagnant and unappealing.
        READ.

        and then go listen to some Gungor next to Switchfoot so you can understand what he’s talking about.

      • Gotta love it when people write “anonymous” messages with a very “Christlike” tone.

        Great job Gungor. I love your music…keep leading the way

      • I think you’re missing his point here. Did you even read the last section after he said “Why am I writing this blog?” He clearly addresses your argument.

      • He doesn’t need to not do Christian music just because he doesn’t like the industry. You wouldn’t leave your family just because you didn’t like them. He’s speaking truth. He’s got a good perspective to be considered.

      • I feel like many people misinterpret this article. It is ABSOLUTELY good to glorify God with your music. Michael Gungor is saying he’s fed up with how many people mean what they say in their lyrics, and in the way the say them. I’m sorry, I’m more convinced by Close Your Eyes screaming “Who will be the hands and feet, who will go share this love with me…” than I am by almost all of the singers involved in mainstream Christian music. Granted, there are MANY who mean exactly what they say, and they’re not hard to miss (I’ve become quite good at the game myself),

      • I still love several Christian artists–Andrew Peterson, Andy Osenga, Sleeping at Last, Jars of Clay, etc. I loved CCM back in the 90s and early years of the 21st century, but I can no longer say that I like the industry as a whole–especially Christian radio. I unintentionally quit listening to our local Christian syndicates a few months ago (started listening more to my CDs in the car). When I went to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving, my sister decided to turn on one of our local syndicates.

        I was shocked. First, roughly 80% of the songs that they were playing were at least ten years old. Most of those were at least somewhat decent–nothing to write home about, but OK. They played Jars of Clay’s “Flood”, which has got to be at least 20 years old now. They played one newer song (that our church has used for worship a few times), but they played it twice–within the span of an hour. Of the handful of other new songs that they played, only one was moderately tolerable to me. The rest were horrifying in their overwhelming triteness and cliche-usage.

        When a radio station can’t find decent new songs to play (unless they’re an oldies or “decade” station), there’s a problem, regardless of whether it’s a Christian radio station or a secular station.

      • I believe you have completely missed his point and began to criticize his blog…. Open your eyes and ears and hear what it is he is saying… There is a lot of truth behind what he says.

      • Did you hear what you just said? I quote, “Christian music should glorify God, but if all you want is artistic expression be a secular artist.” You seem to think that God doesn’t care about art, as long as it praises Him. Well, when a child of His brings a piece of crappy art to Him it says, “I don’t love You enough to spend time and effort on my gift. I’ll just say ‘Praise God, I love you’ fifty times and that’ll be enough.” They stay in Christian Music to change it, they haven’t given up.

      • Dear Anonymous,

        I agree with you that Christian Music should glorify G*d However, I must Disagree with you on the rest of your sentence: “but if all you want is artistic expression be a secular artist then.” Many of the greatest Composers and Performers of the last 7 Centuries started performing under the banner of Christian music before it became Christian Rock, for example:

        Luciano Pavarotti “At around the age of nine he began singing with his father in a small local church choir.”
        Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a Genius composer who wrote some of the most artistic music for the church;
        Johann Sebastian Bach was required to instruct the students of the Thomasschule in singing and to provide church music for the main churches in Leipzig;
        If you need more modern examples look at this list: http://www.choralnet.org/view/306465.

        Artistic Expression should never be removed from music and every performer should have the ability to reproduce and create their own expressions every time they perform otherwise it would have been better to stay at home listening to their CDs. No emotion or expression= boring concert/ performance.

      • Did you even read the article? He kind of makes it pretty clear on why he doesn’t leave the industry. And he could very well make it as a secular artist as well, but he wants to glorify God with his music. The only difference is he isn’t about to conform to the marketable music scene.

      • He’s bashing the system not christian music and all he wants is christian music that actually glorifies God will real feeling and thought, not some well rehearsed carbon copy of what’s popular…

      • its not that he hates christian music its about how the Christian music industry sounds all the same and other christian bands that have a different sound or venture out with their creative sound do not get the same play. i’ve become more of a fan of christian indie music than the radio music because it reaches people in a different place than the music that is constantly played or regular christian stations.it’s just like secular radio stations. theres so many different types of secular music that gets played but all of the christian music that gets played is the stuff that you here every day no matter what station you are on.

      • Anonymous, I think what that what you said was rude.Not that any of us are perfect at it but where is the grace? Did you read what was written? I think he answered your question for you in the post. Did you listen? Jesus’s grace and love seemed to be very noticeably absent in your comment to me.

      • show a bit of love, He is sharing his idea. if you disagree, that’s okay. Gungor music is great, creative, God glorifying and I”m sure they work hard for their money the same as we do. Be Kind. Loving. If you like Christian music the way it is, enjoy it!

      • why don’t you post your name with your comment?

      • I believe that you have it backwards. Making it in Christian music is much more difficult than making it in secular music because there is more scrutiny in what you do. If you listen to the type of secular music out there and who is making it, you will realize that it is easy for someone with limited talents to make it big if they have the right look or connections. For Christian artists, it is harder because they do not have as many platforms or the available platforms are dominated by traditional Christian music.

      • I don’t think he’s bashing the industry at all. I am someone who buys their music and attends their concerts on a regular basis. I’ll be the first to tell you that when Gungor plays music … you can feel the emotion. I’m not just talking about lyrics that hit you- I’m also talking about dynamics. Dynamics between the acoustic guitar and cello; or the steel xylophone and vocals. These are things that they have purposely put in there as a gift to us listening. Of course their songs glorify God, but they show His majesty and exemplify the beauty of creation using instruments as the medium. And with some songs, show us the devastation of the fall. And with some songs, the longing in Michael’s soul for the Gospel to be real to his listeners. When he wrote this article, he was writing about how fear can drive the industry. Just look at the radio stations that will play an artist like Trip Lee on a regular basis – you basically have to go to a “hip-hop” specialized Christian station because anyone else is too afraid to play his music (which by the way, sometimes highlights uncomfortable issues). You want to know who keeps the “Christian Music” genre down? Bands like Hillsong – where they go around on tour and give young Christian musicians a “formula” to writing a song (yeah, they have conferences like that – I went to one). I’m not saying their songs are bad, or disingenuous – but as long as they believe there is a “formula” to writing songs, they will always be missing that “something”. So as of today, Hillsong’s hit song is “Oceans (where feet may fail)” – I love this song. But when I first heard it, I honestly thought that it wasn’t that much different from “Savior King”, or “All I need is You” – especially since I knew about their “formula”. But then there are songs from Gungor like “Crags and Clay”, where the beauty of playing outside a time measure (or one that is outside of 4/4, 3/4, or 6/8) shows the chaos and struggle that they sing about in the song. And honestly, it’s one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard (I’m even comparing to secular songs). Chances are, someone like you probably will never get to hear a song like that on the radio – it’s too far out of the comfort zone most Christian stations are willing to play. There’s also stations like the one I have here in Houston, TX where “Shackles” is the only song from Mary Mary they will play. And they still play that song today (end of 2013). Stations like that keep this industry down. Michael Gungor wasn’t bashing the industry, he was warning them. They’ve become too worried about what will work on the radio instead of discovering where God is going. I’m not calling him a prophet, or putting him on that kind of pedestal. This guy is speaking from the heart, he believes in it and is actually writing music that shows his genuine belief.

      • Wow. Anonymous. Hooray for hiding behind the internet. Go enjoy some Chris Tomlin and be careful not to get offended anywhere.

      • Disagree. God created beauty and art. He is the Master of it. Isn’t it godly and glorifying to try and emulate Him, to present the absolute best we can, when we worship him?

        And honestly have you even listened to Gungor’s music? They aren’t exactly some ‘young upstarts’ looking for attention. Nor do they say they dislike being Christian artists. It is clear that the man who wrote this article feels ‘called’ to his work, and is passionate about being a ‘Christian artist’ in the industry, and only wants others to reach for the standards that he also is holding himself to. Though perhaps the tone of the piece is heavy with frustration, it is not one that spoke of judgement. Please show some discernment and respect to your brother in Christ.

      • You missed the point. Actually read the article and let it sink in. Shame on you. If we as Christians are to change the world, we can’t do it by creating little fractious sects, or by being so different that others want nothing to do with us. We need to be the kind of different that attracts, not disperses.

      • Are you asking Michael Gungor to write some amazing music? He already has.

      • Everyone has strong opinions when they hide behind the veil of anonymity. If you feel so strongly about something – have the sand to put your name on it, otherwise you sir/madame are part of the problem and not the solution. This guy is trying to call people to make the main thing – God – the main thing. He is calling for support, for realism, for heart to be put back into an increasingly less genuine venue. Where is your sand? Oh, that’s right, you only have it online, anonymously, where no one can identify you with your words or call you to be responsible for what you have said. Cowardice is not a fruit of the spirit.

      • “then quit and let some one else take your place”

        Dude, you just proved his point. I have the same reservations about Christian Music as well. I have always thought MOST (NOT ALL) of the music just sounds hollow…

        I appreciate him speaking out, and he is in the industry and has a much more “hands on” experience than we do. Let the man blog….I still enjoy his music…

      • Glorifying God and wanting artistic expression are not meant to be separate. If you’re talents are music and you’re passionate about it then you would use those talents to Glorify God which is why he hasnt taken his band out of the Christian Genre. And rightfully so. This is a post of discouragement at how the Christian Genre as a whole tends to lack what it means to really be genuine. It currently holds a cookie cutter mold and the expression here is to move away from that or simply stated why it’s there and how it affects people who are REAL and strive to be that way.
        I also don’t know why you would say “take your fans money and not work a nine to five job” You can’t take a fans money, they’re you’re fan they give it because they like you and support what you are doing. Also, if that was a statement made out of distaste then keep it to yourself. Music is a job. Those who work 9-5 are not the only one’s working.

      • It’s like you didn’t read the blog.

        Hmm…

        Ears open, mouth shut. Do that.

      • Did you read through with the intent of understanding him? Because it seems like he answered most of your questions already. I understand that some of what he said was harsh, but he backed it up well, and made it clear that there were big exceptions. I’d recommend giving this article another thorough run-through.

        I think the point is, as an insider, he sees repression the industry, with wrong motives. And he wants to be part of improving it, for the glory of God, through more free and honest artistic expression.

      • My buddy woo 10 would agree with the gungor.

      • Your tone is very hateful. Not to mention the fact that you completely didn’t comprehend the authors words. Not all music that calls itself Christian IS Christian. There are a great deal of popular Christian songs whose theology is terrible. Too much of it focuses on “me” or what “I’m” gonna do, go, be, etc. True Christian music praises God for his magnificence and takes the focus off of self. It praise’s Him instead of singing about what I’m gonna do for Him (which if far to often empty promises). I personally won’t sing a song I don’t truly mean. “When thou shalt vow a vow unto Jehovah thy God, thou shalt not be slack to pay it: for Jehovah thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee.”
        Mr Gungor’s main point was that too much of what steers Christian music is “business smarts” instead of following God and using natural artistic expression to Glorify Him.

      • “Some of you have commented in the past when I’ve been critical of the Christian music industry that I’m being hypocritical by still being a part of it. I don’t see it that way. I actually love a lot of the individual people in the industry. There really are some amazing people in it, many of who share my weariness about the way things have been. And I also love you guys. I love our fans. I love the people that we get to meet and I love being able to get our music to them. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try our best to purify the systems that we are part of. I just want to be honest about what I see and call us to find better ways of doing things.”

      • Dude, seriously? Did you even READ the article or did you just jump down to the comment section to spew nonsense?

      • Well said! Really, well said!

      • I think you missed the point of the article…. he isn’t bashing Christian music, he’s pointing out that a lot of it is practically emotionless and very contrived. I would make the same points about modern pop and a lot of rap/hip hop these days. The era of true creativity seems to have been put on hold and in its place we have image over substance, light over depth as people look to produce music that may tickle the senses but at the end of the day has no real heart…. a lot of good stuff is being recorded, but a lot of very shallow music is also out there, regardless of genre.

      • This article is only explaining how there are truly no restrictions on the ways that you can give glory to God. Most Christian music sounds similar, but this simply states that it isn’t wrong to go “outside of the box” and still give glory to God.

      • Lol someone missed…every point of this article

      • When you are passoinate about something, meaning that it is coupled with love, then you stay with that; whatever it may be, your spous, dreams, careers, natural gifts (ie music). Not only do you stay with it but you want to see it become the best that it can be, as pure as can be. Even when faults or impurities are found you dont toss it in the trash, you work together with, who or whatever it is, to restore or bring to it to a better state. Such as a relationship with husband and wife; when challenges arrive, because of love and passion, you stay with them and work out the best resolution possible, you want the best for that relationship. When one applies this to any area for any individual(s) you will get the same effect; a desire to bring, restore, or clean something to its greater potential. Nothing man touches is perfect, nothing compares to the greatness of our Creator, but it must be a god given desire to present an offering in the best state humanly possible. Not to boast in mans ability but demonstrate that one loves and cares, is passionate about what is dear to their heart. I believe that is what is being encapsulated in this blog, let us prevent religiosity from “owning” who we are, passionate lovers of Christ. This artist is passionate enough to step out and share their desire, their hearts longing and stay in it. They stay in it because they believe in this group (Christian music), they are passionate, they support it and are commited to the cause. If they were simply interested in music and dollars then I am sure that they would have gone straight into Secular music. They recognise that the Church is a body, the bride, and Christ will recieve His whole Bride. They also see the gifts given them by grace and passionate love by their King. These they wish to use to benifit the body and glorify Christ, to remove this from them, I dare say, would be worse than death.

      • Congratulations on missing the point of his ENTIRE blog post. What I heard Michael saying had nothing to do with bashing the Industry itself. He isn’t saying the Christian music isn’t good, he isn’t saying he isn’t proud to be a Christian, or a recording Christian artist. He said his issue is the disingenuousness of the industry, and of the artists. I went through a major phase in high school where I thought that I should ONLY listen to Christian music, because that is the only type of music that glorifies God – I couldn’t have been more wrong. THAT is one of the things I think Michael is pointing towards. It isn’t the Christian jargon and Christianese lyrics that make a difference, or suddenly make God suddenly be more glorified or honored. I don’t think for a second that Gungor is saying that there needs to be a schism between Christian music and art, or that secular music and art go hand in hand. What he said is, that you can’t take a deep, meaningful lyric song like “Wrap Me In Your Arms”, and transplant it into screamo, and expect it to have the same feel or heart. Changing the music to a song changes the heart of the song completely – listen to “Everytime We Touch” by Cascada – super dancy, upbeat song normally. There is a remix released called the “Candlelight Remix” – when the remix is applied, the song is stripped of it’s energy, and is VERY dialed down, and becomes an uber romantic type song. Same concept that Gungor is talking about – the heart of the song is changed, and it is no longer the same thing it was. The whole point of Michael’s blog is saying that NO – Christian music doesn’t suck, BUT; YES, it does have issues with it’s heart.
        You can’t say that Christian music is more pure than Secular music, because money still plays a massive role in the scene, and there’s not much that can change that. Take Falling Up for example. AWESOME Christian band. Their first couple albums were pretty much harder rock, but with each subsequent album, they got softer and softer, and an increasingly different style. Shortly after they released FANGS! They were more or less released by BEC because they were no longer accruing the numbers that they expected, and because Falling Up no longer fit into the style that BEC felt fit the current styles of the day.
        I have always liked Christian music, but I too have noticed a lack of heart in the lyrics. Stay in denial as long as you like. I’m not saying, nor is Gungor saying, you shouldn’t like Christian music. It really is awesome. The point of the entire post is to support artists who are actively pursuing God through their music, through using music as an art – not just a means of making money.

      • Since I read this a few days ago, it has really bothered me. If I could get past the self righteous comments to see what Gungor is really trying to convey, I might agree with some of it. Jesus told the adulterer’s judges to cast a stone….IF they were without sin. As best as I know how, Gungor and the “touring band”, maybe instead of mocking and/or making fun of the problem, start using that time to pray that God will continue to give listeners alternatives to the sexy whispering and perverse singers out there that you mention, AND that Jesus name will be magnified in spite of the mixed and engineered product, the marketing, AND yes even the lack of believability of the artists themselves. You will undoubtedly look back in 5-10 years and see that your ways, as evidenced by this article, clearly reflect your personal and even spiritual immaturity. I will pray that you and your peers will be a little more graceful as “performing” messengers of the King of Kings.

      • Anonymous comments should be ignored completely.

      • There’s no disdain for being a Christian Artist in his rant here…just an expression that he feels there isn’t enough “artist” in the Christian Artist sphere. I’d argue that between McMillan, the Brilliance, and Gungor, there is some genuinely amazing music that has strayed from the formulaic structures of the Christian Music Industry (which, really, should there be a whole industry) without straying from the truth of the gospel and expressing a love for Jesus , glorifying God, and enjoying His creation.
        It’s hard to deny that Christian radio plays songs that largely follow the same formula, musically. Often times, that seems disingenuous to me…and I often fear that many Christian music artists fail to make other labels, and pursue Christian labels. Michael Gungor is not one of those artists, look up his musical history.

      • Sadly, by you encouraging Michael to go secular is exactly what other artists have had to do and have hit it big, but because of the marketing in those genre’s and industries have had to cut out the direct lyrical expression of their beliefs and christianity. Forcing them to then get creative in how to slip their beliefs into implications within the songs vs being able to be outright with it, and in most cases eventually just abandoning that attempt all together. To be perfectly honest your reaction is a perfect example to the ignorance the the corporate church that “old money” has manipulated into becoming vs the church that Paul so delicately defines within scripture. Jesus did not allow people or governments to get in his way when trying to reach those without a personal relationship with Christ. So why should we now allow old money and stubborn beliefs that are opposed to change stop that?

        Further more, there is still good that is among Christian music, a lot actually. Coming from a Baptist background and having to stand like a plank of wood in worship, a lot of the music that Michael is most likely talking about, is exactly what got me out of my shell. But who is to say there is not room for further growth?

        The music that makes up the Christian industry today was once considered blasphemous. I truly believe all Michael is trying to do here, is encourage growth and expansion as to what we can do as Christians within the industry of music as a whole, and start to reach other people through this music with lyrics that are direct and accompany it with “creativity” that is, well, kind of the “norm” for all of the other genres that were mentioned.

        Also here is my final say: stop being ignorant, seriously. When was the last time you were thinking, “im going to write a song today that tells people outside the church about Gods love and the personal relationship that they can have with him.” Rather than just writing songs for service on Sunday mornings. Which by the way, I have a few friends within the industry, some well known and other extremely so. Both for strictly their song writing, which one is sung almost every sunday at my Church, and others as individual artists. And ALL OF THEM tell me that when they are recording or writing songs, “those behind the glass” tell them to, “write a song for sunday service” as their primary inspiration. How about writing one for God’s will and furthering his kingdom?

    • I love this article! I am a “Christian” singer/songwriter in the rock band Guy Franklin. Recently releasing my second album, I have always had to walk the fine line of what I define as “down the middle”. Careful not to be too secular for the churches and careful not to be to “churchy” for secular audiences. It’s a no win scenario as it has left us with a very narrow audience of fans, and not enough venues to perform. We are a great band with great music, a positive message, a great live show, a talented line-up, a purpose and desire to want to make a difference in this crazy world. As for Christian radio?…..if it is not Steven Curtis Chapman, MW Smith, T Mac, Third Day, Mandisa, etc, (I love them all), you don’t seem to have a chance. The emerging artist has their work cut out for them. Nothing new there. If some producer, promoter, rainmaker is out there and wants to help us out, call me please. http://www.guyfranklin.net. Love and peace. – Frankie

    • Very well said. You should listen to my daughter Kacie Williams. She goes by the band name Neighbour. She has a love for the Lord that is on fire. Her music is intelligent, comes from her faith. In short, it is not your typical Christian music.

    • Thank you so much! Seth shared this and I wanted to see if you really got it and you do :D

    • This article deals with Christian music and drinking of which I am very passionate about both being affected by each of them in my life so I will give another thought on both. I agree some music in the christian genre may not have some of the spiritual depth I guess he is looking for but it is also my entertainment and I choose not to generally listen to secular music because much of it promotes a non christian lifestyle and I would rather support the christian arts. Anytime you attack character of a whole group I have a real problem but enough people have addressed the music piece replying to this article so I will just say that I don’t think we should use Gungor for his take on christian music or his opinion on drinking as our moral compass. John MacArthur does an exhaustive study on the alcohol of Biblical times verses the alcohol of today. Christians should really research and weigh the truth about drinking alcohol from scripture not from someones opinion or especially from the world. I learned in drivers education that one drink diminishes my ability to make decisions and reactions because of the alcohol content in today’s beverages and that alone should say something, I have also watched alcohol destroy the lives of many people so if you are christian trying to decide weather you should cave into people like Gungor or the world to social drinking look at the truth from this link to John MacArthur’s teaching on Christians and drinking and pray before you make a decision based on an a “music guys” opionion. I am a music guy by the way that lived in the world that left me empty. Jesus Christ saved me from that Mr Gungor so I feel no need to go back to it to try to fit in, rather to be a light in it to impact it for Gods kingdom.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thXe-rtpl6U

      • Greg, you wrote, “Christians should really research and weigh the truth about drinking alcohol from scripture not from someones opinion or especially from the world.” I totally agree with you on that, brother. But why do you then mention John MacArthur’s name 2 times and provide a link to his 76-minute sermon? Why do you site a secular drivers education course? Are these not human opinions? While I have read and listened to MacArthur extensively on this subject, he fails to convince me precisely because he has to talk and write at length to make his case. Why not just quote the Bible verses that expressly, clearly forbid alcohol? The reason no one does this is because those verses do not exist. The Bible rightfully warns about alcohol in several places but never forbids. What the Bible actually says is, “Do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink…Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self- imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body” (Colossians 2:16,21). I am actually looking forward to the day when “the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine – the best of meats and the finest of wines” (Isaiah 25:6).

      • Thanks Greg

      • I couldn’t agree with you more Greg

    • I’ve been saying these things for years and been shot down for it every time simply because of the blunt manner I use to make my points. The sad thing is, that genre has a production “sound”, there is a lot of fakery involved in the making of that music. The smoking thing that was mentioned, I’ve seen that first hand at gigs and then of course there’s the undeniable fact that most Christians (at least the ones I’ve met) have such limited taste in music that their industry panders to that. It amazes me no end that when I’ve spoken to Christian musicians they’ve never heard of the music of say Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Hank Williams, The Stooges, Kraftwerk (maybe they know the names and that’s it) or any leading artist in their field like the ones I’ve mentioned so as a result you get a very generic sounding music coming out of the musicians in that industry. Lyrically, there’s such a demand nowadays for “positive lyrics” that it’s like a cotton wooled version of events rather than any truth. Many people like me have simply boycotted it seeing it as the least creative genre in music and very little to do with artistry or honesty. That’s my tuppence on it.

    • From an ex-christian:
      by beginning your artistic process by placing it in a box called ‘christianity’ you are implicitly impairing your creation. It’s dishonest. The depth of your religion is in the relation between christ and the human experience; that the immensity of your experiences: the breakups and deaths and joys and jubilations as well as the mundanity of life are overwhelming to you, but that they are all you have. Meanwhile your christ came and lived, experiencing those same things that you do, experiencing temptation and overcoming it. But you all forget that you’re not perfect, that your mission on earth isn’t to be perfect, but to be human, as human as you can be. So you create all of these cultural institutions that allow you to avoid the human experience, by attaching the word ‘christian’ to them, then you wonder why you can’t convince people of your truth, why they don’t see the power of your christ. Of course ‘christian music’ doesn’t sound genuine, it isn’t.
      There are a very few artists who ‘get this’, and none of them would identify their music as ‘christian music’, just as music.
      So, ditch christian music. Honor your god and live your life, which is truly the greatest gift you’ve ever received. Then, write about those overwhelming and underwhelming experiences you have, and honor the fact that you can only relate to your god because he had them too.
      Until you do I’m happy to say I have a good three-second ear for christian music too, and I’ll turn that dial as soon as I hear it.

    • the only good christian band is mewithoutYou – basically because you don’t even know they’re a christian band until you read the lyrics

    • Did u just call Jesus a drunk??? Isn’t this just typical, unfortunately typical. An eye catching title, with the hope of a balanced observation, but turns out to be written, once again, by an unfortunate clueless.

      • I didn’t see where he called Jesus a drunk. I think what he was saying was that Jesus and his disciples didn’t run away from alcohol, and he associated with sinners, so pharisees could take what he was doing moderately, and promptly blow it out of proportion.

        Also, it’s really condescending to call someone an “unfortunate clueless”. Remember that you’re talking to a brother in Christ.

    • Pretty judgmental. I felt the same disingenuousness the first time I listened to Gungor. Doesn’t make it true. What’s meaningful for some people may not be meaningful to you.

    • Christian music seems empty well… because it is. Most of what I have heard ( not all, there are some talented musicians song/writers) is just a repeat of how awesome jesus is. There is not difference between verse and chorus or any aspect of the song for that matter. Its just a hollow echo that plays on for the majority of the genre. What about grief with God? the feeling of questioning, or doubting God? Loss and how God plays a role with those emotions? Coming back to God after having those experiences? Its just the same rabble that Christians play all the time, that I am the best christian, I have the deepest relationship with God. That is why it is terrible, I have heard more spiritual messages from underground secular music then I have ever heard from Christian, and that is because it is real, its not trying to appease some deity, its raw emotion that comes from dealing with life.

      • Stephan, Check out Tim Be Told’s album “Humanity.” The song “Lament” addresses those questions powerfully and so it would never be played on most Christian radio.

    • Hey Gungor guy…..I understand your recent success has afforded you a platform where your songs, words, and thoughts can be be spread and influence others on a greater stage than ever before. I know little of your background outside of your time at University of North Texas and you have been linked to the emerging church movement. Just two comments in response:

      1. I for one am relieved when I take my tweener kids or teenage nieces to a “Christian” concert and I don’t have to worry about the influence of ETOH on the other concert goers and how their consumption might spill over into affecting those I am with. You see,on a cellular level ETOH hits on GABA receptors. Interestingly, these are the same receptors Benzodiazepines and Barbiturates act on. This causes disinhibition, or in other words you are more free and apt to do things you normally would not (whatever that may be for you). There is a time and a place for ETOH consumption, for me it is not at “Christian” concerts. The only thing I want to cause disinhibition in this setting is powerful worship and the presence of the Holy Spirit. If both of those are present, alcohol is not needed.

      2. I can’t believe how much good Christian music there is out there. I am not sure what you are listening to, but have you ever heard All Together Separate, 21 Pilots, Ever Stays Red, Daniel Bashta, Charlie Peacock? The list goes on and on. Sure there is some Christian music with weak lyrics and same old 4 chords, but that is not unique to Christian music.

      Please continue to let the Holy Spirit work through you in making music that directly brings glory to Jesus and not to anyone else.

    • You wrote: “You know what the alcohol thing is based on? You ready for this? You sure? Money.”

      Nope.

      You want to know the REAL truth? Straight from the heart and no bull?

      It’s because alcohol and it’s abuse is THE biggest drug problem in the WORLD. That’s why so many Christians oppose it. Almost all of the Christians I know who oppose drinking have friends and family whose lives have been wrecked by it’s demonic influence. And very few of those who drink it are willing to face it and own it. Alcohol has destroyed more marriages, hurt more children, and cut short more teenage lives than any drug on this planet BAR NONE. More than crack or crank or smack or wack all put together. It IS America’s drug of choice.

      So every single time I read another “Christian artist” trying to create some elaborate justification for why they have the liberty to drink alcoholic beverages, I cringe. I cringe because I see the faces of the countless men and women I have pastored/counseled who look at me with eyes old beyond their years say in so many words: “help me…please free me from this addiction which I cannot seem to shake”. Am I saying Jesus cannot free them? No. But I am saying that it will mean a long and bitter struggle to be free, with many heartaches along the way. And guess what? Any one of them would gladly trade their heartache for the joy of never having never gone there in the first place. Better never to taste it than to develop a hunger for it. I also cringe because I see the faces of young people in the prime of life who were lowered into the ground because they partied just a little too hard or because they got behind that wheel buzzed.

      And as far a Jesus drinking/making wine is concerned, do you have any idea at all how much alcohol content there was in wine in Biblical times? It was FAR less than the 8-14% by volume of fortified wine sold today. To get drunk on it, you had to drink to excess. Please, “Christian” party animals. Stop hiding behind Jesus to justify your actions. Just own it and say “I want to party and get my buzz on so get out of my face all you legalistic Christians”. At least that’s an honest answer. I can respect that far more than hauling out ‘Buddy Jesus’ so you can get your drink on.

      Sadly, the whole thing is symptomatic of the sickness of today’s pop culture “church”. We want to drink, we want to accept “alternative sexual lifestyles”, we want to be able to swear and curse, we want to engage in any kind of behavior we wish. And we want to whitewash it all with a thin veneer of empty Jesus talk. Our words are hollow, because the Jesus we serve does not have the power to deliver us from the domination of selfishness and sin. Then we wonder why church is a dead vacuum with a silent God who doesn’t answer prayer. Where is holiness? Where is the fear of the Lord? Where is the zeal which says “avoid the very appearance of evil doing”? Hello? Get a clue. God has standards and He “commands all men everywhere to repent” and live by them.

      Don’t forget, these words are also in your Bible: “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. Your eyes will gaze on strange women and your heart will utter perverse things. You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast. “They struck me,” you will say, “but I was not hurt; they beat me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake? I must have another drink.”

    • Hey Gungor, love thy enemy too, didnt Jesus teach you that? Maybe be quiet and just “create” your “music” without ranting about others, let your actions speak, not your words. And if your music would come out to be good without you ranting, maybe you would spark a interest in others to change. Shouldn’t you know already no ONE ever LISTENS? Thats what Im sick of; PEOPLE talking but not WALKING. And if they do walk the walk they rub it in others faces. Honestly, you sound like the secular bands I listen to, your NO DIFFERENT than them in style, just because you add a sound or two(synths, rhythms, color, etc.) doesnt mean your much different. You use a base of rock for alot of your music, why not something else? Why not get out of the simple 4/4 or balad 3/6? AND thats why there are other genres for christian music(gospel, rnb, reggae, salsa, jazz, soul, rap, blues, etc), BUT Most of todays “hits” have a base in rock or comtemporary rock or alternative rock that is used in church because thats what SOMEONE made it out to be. MAN, what have we come to…why can’t we just be real and make the sacrifice to t focus on the most important thing to reach out to others about our savior, LOVE.

  1. Great blog.
    Lots of interesting things there Michael.
    Personally I’ve long wondered WHY we have created a ‘Christian Music’ industry / ‘Christian Music’ – Wouldn’t it be better to call it ‘music’ by Christian artists. ‘Christian Music’ makes it exclusive and Jesus’ ministry was inclusive. Eg-If I’m not a Christian can I listen to ‘Christian music’?
    Country, Pop, Metal, Indie, Hip-Hop, it is music, the artist is a Christian.
    Take Adam Young (Owl City) as an example, love his stuff or not, his music for the most part has no massive ‘Christian message’ and thus is not known as ‘Christian Music’ BUT visit his blogs and you’ll see people from all walks of life commenting about his openess about his faith in Jesus. His music may not change a life, but he does.
    Christian radio obviously can’t play the latest song about sex in the club or whatnot but to say positive music is Christian makes no sense to me. If my vacume cleaner was designed by a Christian engineer would it be a ‘Christian vacume cleaner’? No. We should play music that has real meaning, by artists that live out what they sing out.

    • If I’m not country can I listen to Country music? Or what about books? If I’m not Christian can I read a Christian book? Or should the genre be called “books” by Christian authors?
      It’s just the name of the genre, then you can have sub-genres like Christian Rap, and the name of the genre has to do with being exclusive or inclusive.

      • Nick: Well, C.S. Lewis did say that the world doesn’t need more Christian writers, but more good writers who are Christians. And a great deal of the greatest fiction written from a Christian worldview (e.g. The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings) have not been known as Christian fiction but was simply fiction written by Christian authors. One could easily argue that the Christian literary world is in need of similar changes to what Michael argues for the music industry. And, truth be told there is a stigma around anything with a specific religious label. One of the biggest faults of making “Christian” a genre as opposed is that it not only inhibits the art by pressuring artists who write from a Christian worldview to follow a given set of artistic conventions, is that the stigma surrounding specific religious labels inhibits the ability of the message to reach those who need it most.

    • I wish i could give you a hug. I’ve said literally every word you just said to people before. It’s so refreshing to find someone else that hates the descriptor “christian music”.

      • literally every word? that was like 5000 words. idiot

      • That’s strange. To most of the people reading this, seeing you freak out at someone using the word “literally” incorrectly didn’t make you look smart. More like Dwight Schrute.

    • Love your stand here, Rich. (Feb.8,2012 post)
      We’ve been “arguing” this very thing for a number of years…I remember (I know, I’m old…) this very thought being brought out in the late 80′s when our local ‘Christian’ radio station refused to play anything other than the top 40 ‘Christian’ hits… Not that Michael W. Smith or Myron LeFever or Margaret Becker were bad…but people like Mark Heard and Randy Scott Taylor and the like were putting out things that reached into the soul of a person, but couldn’t get air play to save their lives. And when one would talk to the powers that ran (still run) that station, the reason was because that ‘stuff’ doesn’t sell well. Yet here was a station that still tells its listeners that ‘we are a listener supported station’ and needed our support to continue to operate…but many of us didn’t want them to operate the way they did, mostly because they continued to push the division of “Christian” and secular…rather than going with the obvious and saying ‘we’ll play music that glorifies God, regardless of who wrote or sang it’…
      If I install a tile floor, or build a stereo cabinet, or put in a new alternator in your car, those things do not become “Christian” because I am a Christian. The workmanship speaks for itself if I have any decent level of skill. If I have little skill, I won’t get hired again.
      I ran live audio for many years in the 80′s and 90′s, working with Country bands, Jazz bands, Rock bands, Heavy Metal bands…and a number of “Christian” bands. Interestingly, most of the members of all of those bands were Christians and lived a true life of a Christian. Far more interesting was the quality of musicianship that came across with theses bands, and the integrity of the band as an entire. As a rule- although not a 100% rule- the “Christian” band was the one that had the hardest time remembering to pay me for my work. And the hardest time getting repeat work. The metal band I worked with most was the most responsible group of guys I’d been around over those years, and the most respectful, not to mention that they were some of the best musicians I’d ever worked with during those years. They never identified themselves as “Christian”, yet their original music reflected more Godly concepts and understanding than the Christian band.
      That division of “Christian” and ‘Secular’ is one of the most deadly of all divisions we have….because our Creator Himself is Creative, and having made us in His image, we are also Creative, reflecting that Glory that has been revealed to us. We need to do and be the best we can be in this field, and lay aside all that which divides us into labels that we use to make one thing holy and another unholy…

    • @Rich, You are so right! I always wonder what are the requirements for an artist to be a christian artist. To me there are Christians that play christian music and musicians that are saved by the blood of Jesus. To me christian music is the one you play at church. There are people that doesn’t see you as a christian artist if your lyrics doesn’t talk about the cross, the blood or Jesus, I totally disagree! What about if you are a christian film maker, are all your movies going to be about the crucifixion? Come on! You can sing about loving your neighbor, helping each other, been a good father, etc. There many christian artist that that loose there identity when they are expose to the secular world. To give you an example, I met Katy Perry at church before getting the record deal. That girl and the one we know now are two different persons. Don’t be subdue by the blender (secular). Try to be you. Be authentic. Be bold. Love Jesus.
      Jeremiah 15:19b
      If you utter what is worthwhile, not what is worthless, you will be my spokesman.They will turn to you, not you to them!

    • oh my gosh ,i agree exactly,well said – micky

  2. Fantastic. I think the christian subculture’s demand for ‘bleached’ music is also to blame. How many times do we look for a Christian Selena Gomez for our daughters, and a holy Jay-z for our boys. Christian artists’ then try be emulators. Resulting in the discussed fakeness.

    It would be cool to hear about artists that are christian, and yet excellent in what they do. Where are the music versions of Tebow, Jeremy Lin, etc – who stand out for their ‘output’ and their ‘faith’.

    I can think of one “Take 6″ – widely respected as a leading vocal group – not even a debate in Grammy/secular circles – and all their music is mostly overtly christian. It may be easier for African Americans… but the cool thing about all this fakeness, is that there is room for the brave to stand out, and present something honest, true and beautiful. Take this ground.

    Also check out Andrew Erhenzeller, and Bethel’s latest worship album “Loft Sessions”, Israel Houghton’s christmas album. All is not lost…

  3. thanks for this blog.
    I’ve been trying hard to love the people making the music even if their tunes make me want to be violently ill from sicklysweetness.
    It’s hard though. I frequently describe myself as a musical nazi and usually anything in the secular top 30 or anything on a christian station is enough to get me foaming at the mouth and braying like a mule!
    Authenticity. that is the key.
    there is the mistaken idea that christians are happy all the time, so therefore the music must reflect a sort of glowing fuzzy joy. So when artists have the courage to talk about how crap they feel, (gasp) on a christian record, and not in a schmaltzy i-felt-bad-but-then-jesus-picked-me-up sort of way, but a way that makes me think, wow, this person has been through it and have the guts to share it with the world, it has much more of an impact.
    Agents of future are a case in point. i’ve never met them or seen them live (we are seperated by a pond called the atlantic) but an album like ‘sneak peeks’ has a freshness and a rawness to it that i just don;t find in most christian music.
    ian, ireland

  4. I agree. Way FM here in Nashville plays mostly “elevator” music. Albuquerque’s M8 is killer Christian rock station, although. Could be M6, I was just there one day.

  5. I agree and share your sense of weariness in regard to a lot of Christian music. Check out my worship album… based on the Psalms and true to my art. http://www.louderthanthemusic.com/document.php?id=2892

  6. You put into words many things i’ve thought. Thanks for the honesty!

  7. i get the whole insincere or “not really” authentic and genuine thing about Christian music…. but I also have a problem with bands that never name the name of Jesus. When I’m writing this, its not an indictment – I actually wouldn’t mind your input.
    Jesus’ ministry was inclusive but He offended many – so how does that pan out in the music industry ? One of my very favourite bands ( who are also Christians ) never names the name of Jesus… they have a brilliant message, brilliant lyrics, music , concert etc… but I have to admit… this kind of bothers me. Paul said to “Preach Christ” – and I get that our actions and talents can do that – but why never say the Name?

    • Yes, I agree. It’s like they’re AFRAID to speak the name of Jesus Christ, but if that’s so, God’s Word says there’s a price to pay for it…one that says ‘no’ to the Great Price Jesus paid for us.

      Mark 8:38
      If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

      2 Timothy 1:8
      So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.

      2 Timothy 1:16
      May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains.

      • On the other hand, many artists who are Christians (yet don’t produce music for the “Christian music industry) may look to verses like 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, and they wish to become all things to all people, that by all means they might save some. Is Christian industry music palatable to non-Christians? I believe the above article to be true — the zombie analogy isn’t far off. What turns non-Christians off from music is often true of our churches, too — a glossed-up, everything-is-fine-and-dandy, hypocritical atmosphere… And isn’t our main purpose, as Christians, to reach non-Christians with the Good News? Yet we make it unpalatable for them. People should know us by how we live, by our love, NOT by how many feel-good stereotypes of Christian life we can squeeze into cookie-cutter-sounding songs.

    • Because, in modern culture, there’s a disconnect between the power behind the name and the cultural attitude towards the actual word ‘Jesus’. The redemptive, life-giving nature of the person behind the name is, more often than not, immediately ignored on technicality when ‘the name’ is spoken. Not that I want to live a deceptive life. I will readily use the name of jesus in the appropriate situation, especially in a personal conversation. But to use it solely because it’s ‘the right thing to do’ is undermining and furthers the unfortunate circumstances that caused its dismissal within our culture in the first place.

    • While Jesus was all inclusive there is really only one group of people that Jesus offended. Was it the Romans? Nope. The Centurian saught Jesus out for healing for his servant. Was it the thieves, prostitutes, and adulterers? Nope. Most ran to Jesus for the healing of thier souls. Read the Gospels again and analize just who was offended. More often than not it was the religeous leaders of the day. The pharisees, sadducees, and the teachers of the mosaic law. Pretty much the Rick Warrens and Billy Grahams of our day.
      There is great power in the name of Jesus. But for the music artist, who is a believer, it doesn’t mean every single song has to be dripping with Jesus’ name in order for them to share the message of the Gospel. It’s in their life and the way they speak to the fans between songs and between sets. The message of salvation and the Gospel of Jesus Christ must be shared from our own heart from our own words through conversation. I have never heard of anyone getting saved from a song. It is most often from the words conveyed through direct dialogue with a believer.

      • Except that Howie, it is not the “Rick Warrens and Billy Grahams of our day”, it is the old people who are Spritually immature and have no Scriptural basis to their complaints. Those are the people who are offended by the true Jesus.

      • Sorry but, while I understand your heart’s in the right place for saying that, I personally think it’s kinda unfair to say someone like Gungor can’t have a beer in public once in a while without worrying about being a stumbling block for another person. If that was the case, wouldn’t Jesus turning water into wine be a stumbling block for those people as well? After all, by using your logic, someone will have a reason to compromise just from reading that verse since, “Hey, Jesus did it- why can’t I?”. My point being, that person is going to find any excuse to drink, regardless of the people in their lives who make the choice to drink or not to drink.

        Here’s what I say: if you feel convicted not to drink in front of some people (such as alcoholic family members) because they are accountable to you, go for it, but don’t try to hold others to the same standard since they may not feel the same way as you or have the same people accountable to them. If he feels it’s right to drink at a christian show, he should go for it. It’s an unfair standard to hold leaders and force them to lie about what types of drinks they imbibe because of the potential of being a “stumbling block”. That sounds like we’re babying alcoholics. They’re adults and can make their own decisions. Instead we should be encouraging those in our lives who struggle with alcoholism to seek help. It doesn’t mean we have to quit drinking as well unless we feel it’s absolutely necessary to do so.

    • “People expect Christian musicians to take the place of Pastors and instructing kids on how to live and all that.. I don’t think the responsibility of doing church work should be on the shoulder of the Christian music industry. The Christian music industry is a capitalistic endeavor period. If anyone is interested in spiritual vitality, they need to invest in the church, not in an industry…. That’s why you have a bunch of Christian musicians saying a bunch of religious stuff that they don’t really mean because you demand it of them, and they’re dumb enough to play along … ”

      - Rich Mullins

      • Ahhh, Rich was an amazing man. Actually, as I was reading this article, and this post, I was listening to 78 Eatonwood Green. Rich told it like it was and Gungor’s doing the same thing.

      • Knowing that Rich Mullins was “sold out” for Christ, and that he even “offended” friends and family with his pre-occupation with his craft, tells me that he may not have realized, that music would become the culture and influence that it is today! Jesus taught,”by beholding you become changed”. Whatever you listen to, watch and place your attention, on a regular basis, changes your life! Those of us that “grew up” on Charistian Radio, can think of times when the music was the “minister” and spoke to our hearts just as much as it did for King Saul when David sang and played the harp ! Good thing there was no one there to tell us if David felt completely sincere everytime he sang about the glory of God to Saul! Certainly, if no one sings HIS praises, even the rocks will cry out! Jesus can use even the most pitiful rendition of a song, to move a heart toward HOME!! Soli Deo Gloria!

    • You don’t have to say Jesus’s name in order to preach Him.

      • Why not? Jesus, the Name above all names? The King of kings and Lord of lords and we don’t have to say His name? Why wouldn’t you want to shout his name? Are you afraid you might offend someone by saying the name of Jesus? Not sure I understand why you said that. Hmmm…

  8. I totally agree with your thoughts on the industry and I have often in one way or another, guessed if the station I was listening to was Christian or secular, and you’re so right! And I love your music and ministry!

    But…

    Wow, Gungor it’s sad that you can post this and potentially be a huge stumbling block for Christian folks who actually struggle with alcoholism. I understand what your conveying that having a drink once in a while is ok….and it is…. but do it in the privacy of your home. Especially in being a leader in Gods Kingdom, we shouldn’t give people any reason to compromise. “Man, I just had a beer with Gungor, so I guess if HE’S doing it, its alright”. People in the world already perceive Christians this way, like you said, in regards to “If I have a drink they’ll think I’m not a Christian.” It has been this way for years and most likely will not change in our society. To me it seems your mindset is more concerned with the guys at the bars not pulling tips, rather than other things that should be of a concern.

    • Its hard to convey tone via blogs so please know that my tone is soft. You know, It would seem to me that if you or I were the bar tender you would not like it of you didn’t get paid either over religious rules of non drinking Christians. For me, that would be more of a stumbling block than seeing someone belly up to my bar. I hope that made sense.

      And for what it’s worth, i come from an alcoholic family. No one I know thinks that they can be a drunk cause I drink. They obstain. They know their limits.

      Matt Wade
      http://www.humanlikeyou.org

      • Anonymous, I think the bartenders would/could honestly expect there wouldn’t be much drinking at a Christian event. So, I don’t think it takes them by surprised.

        However, whether at restaurant or buying a soda at a ‘bar’, Christians should leave a GOOD tip as a witness for Christ.

    • Yes, one time our youth fellowship group had The Lord’s Supper at the home of a new Christian, who was asked to bring in necessary items. He brought a glass of wine to be shared. None of us showed surprised, but truly some of us were, but we understood the situation.

      However, there was one young lady there who quietly expressed to me her hurt that they would serve this, as she was a recovering alcoholic…. This is what makes me sad…. God’s Word teaches us that we have a RESPONSIBILITY to make sure we’re not a stumblingblock for others.

      It was that night that I also was INTRODUCED to white wine. Though it encouraged me to try it a couple of other times at work, I realized the step I had taken was setting the wrong example for others and a weak example as a follower of Christ. Yes, I get was Gungor is saying on this issue, but we must take the whole message of God’s Word–during the First Lord’s Supper, Jesus said to “Eat all of it.” Also, Christ said that His disciples would stop celebrating after He left, but that we would again celebrate at His return…I can only imagine what that’ll be like…like nothing this earth can afford!

      • so have both available, wine and juice. or while at church just have grape juice. but don’t get down on others for drinking! You’re right–the Table is set for ALL and as Christians we should help set an inclusive table, but no one is saying everyone has to drink at a Gungor concert–just not to pretend like they don’t drink at other places. And, I very much appreciate your nod for Christians to tip, but Christians shouldn’t tip to be a witness for Christ, they should tip because someone has served them and when we use services, we are supposed to pay for them. Now, Christians should def NOT not tip because they don’t think someone is a Christian–that will never help anyone see the light of Christ. Loved this article and appreciate all of your comments! For such a time as this to be open and talk about the pains, joys, and needs of the Church. theagorareport.org

      • The thing about being a stumbling block and trying not to be one is that you never know what other people are struggling with. I worked at an athletic camp where we had dress codes. Certain tops and shorts couldn’t be worn, but any T-shirts and basketball shorts were acceptable. I usually dressed this way on days off from camp as well. I found out one day that I had caused one of my brothers in Christ at camp to stumble when I was wearing those clothes. Basketball shorts and a T Shirt. The difference was, my hair was down and the natural curl was going on- that’s what had caused the whole ordeal. So should I have kept my hair back in a ponytail the rest of the summer because it made me ‘uglier’ and didn’t cause the guy to stumble?

        I get what you’re trying to say, but that becomes a slippery slope very quickly on both sides of the argument. You don’t want to just throw caution to the wind and do whatever you want, but to bind your whole life for fear of hurting others isn’t right either. Everyone just needs to keep their focus on God, live the way He’s calling.

    • But, some Christians have an addiction to spending. They drive their families into debt with unnecessary purchases. Should Christian leaders be sure not to shop in public? Others have real, deep problems with envy. Should we be careful never to share good news, lest it lead them to sin? Alcoholism is real, but so is all sin. Drinking alone at home isn’t the answer. Drinking with moderation in public is, I think, a far better way to model healthy behavior. True alcoholics will always struggle with alcohol, and they obviously shouldn’t drink at all, but they are a small minority.

    • That’s like saying it would be a shame to post anything about sex being a gift from God, because some people struggle with sexual addictions.

    • You sound like an idiot. Sorry. Your fear of alcohol is simply an American fallacy. Go to Europe and have a beer and get over yourself.

  9. I think you have some valid points as it relates to the CMI.

    I agree with you on your point that American Christians (churches) have a problem with alcohol, but I disagree with your reasons. I live as a missionary in Greece and would say that of the world wide cultures, America and England treat alcohol very similarly, in that they do not know when to call it quits. Here in Greece and all of europe communion is done with wine, which is obviously what Jesus institued. But the difference is in cultures. Here in Greece Christians as well as non-Christians drink alcohol (i.e. ouzo or wine or beer) with meals, but very rarely get drunk… there are of course people who get drunk, but it is not even noticable. In America however, alcohol is a different culture, it does not revolve around meals in which people socialize while keeping themselves in control. I have witnessed this first hand as a Police Officer in the US. I say this because the reason I would not encourage American Christians to drink alcohol at a Christian concert due to the main fact that Alcoholism is a serious problem among college aged students and obviously adults.

    I understand your reasoning behind it, to support the venues and bring in money, but to be competely honest, I try not to buy water at those places either, because I cannot afford a 3-4$ bottle of tiny water. I think the main principle here is to not stumble your brother in Christ. Also, the smoking thing, hey they can smoke, I don’t care, but that would not be the best example to children and such.

    Let’s keep the main thing, the main thing, Christ!

    “The only music minister to whom the Lord will say, “Well done, thy good and faithful servant,” is the one whose life proves what their lyrics are saying, and to whom music is the least important part of their life. Glorifying the only worthy One has to be a minister’s most important goal!” — Keith Green

    PS- Thanks for having a heart to speak truth and I appreciate your music… oh and I hope you understand my seeking to bring clarification, I’m not trying to argue, just thought a perspective from a different point of view and background could be helpful to others.
    -Travis

  10. Oh, that is obviously not my picture, that would be my wife!

  11. Good stuff man. And I had a beer at Stubbs when you guys were in Austin. So take that industry.

  12. I couldn’t agree more! Having been involved in worship music for over 20 years, (organ, keyboard) I have nearly lost interest because there is almost nothing out there that has a strong memorable melody line that effectively carries the lyrics into the soul. If song writers can do it for the secular world, why can’t those who love our Lord do that and even more. Tired of flavorless Christian music!!!

  13. Wow, having a bad day? I hope you got it all off your chest and feel better now. I know you are a youngster and have it all together but wow. ” I have never really been drunk”…. Really, really, stumble the believer much? How many people can’t get by without having just 1 beer. It looks ok just one. Takes the edge off I bet. Just takes the edge off. Now we know what you are against how about what you are for. Be known as a man for not against.

  14. Ya’ll need to be checking out theBREAX! http://youtu.be/_YhbWAG9Ev4 #positivehiphop

  15. Thanks Michael. The “sheen” is what caused me to loathe the word “contemporary,” which isn’t actually a bad word. Love you guys. As an artist and worship facilitator I appreciate fresh lyrics and music to age old truths. Blessings on your heads!
    Josh Nordgren

    • Well, it may not be of much worth to reply to something this dated, but my take is that the bit about alcohol did little to give weight to the main argument of the post. It is a hard sell to make the connection between hypocritical old-fashioned fuddy duddies as being the kind of people who are the gate-keepers of an industry and the point being made about artistic freedom. It simply weighs down the entire post and throws darts at caricatures of folks whose humanness may also be seen in the mirror. May we be careful about how we cast stones…

  16. To the people replying to the “drinking” aspect of this post (looking at you, guy-who-posted-2-posts-above-me). Really? You realize that your focusing on that aspect of this honest and superb blog post strengthens and acts as an example of the Christians that have become so fearful of that “devilish” alcohol? If I were Micheal, I’d say “thanks for the thesis support.”

    • We must be careful to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29) and to not become so caught up in the doctrines of men that we turn our backs on God (Matthew 15:8-9, Mark 7:7-9, Titus 1:14).

      There are some of us who believe God has called us to abstain from drinking alcohol. This can be for various reasons: health, addiction, righteous caution (prudence), and testimony for Christ

      There are medicinal purposes for wine:
      “No longer drink only water, but use a little WINE for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities.” (1Timothy 5:23)

      However, if not used TRULY in moderately, wine can lead to disaster:
      “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” (Proverbs 20:1)

      Dr. Henry A. Rowe, M.D., has stated that a moderate amount of wine taken with a meal improves digestion and helps build up the blood. The Pasadena Medical Society says,
      “Taken intelligently and with discretion, alcohol (in wine and other drinks) can prolong life expectancy . . . . However, even temporary excess or prolonged over-drinking can lead to disaster.”

      Conclusion:

      Please read Romans chapter 14; and 1Corinthians chapter 8. These whole chapters apply to this beautiful concept in Christ of denying self in order not to be a stumblingblock to others.

      As for Christ, He would not drink wine again until He drinks it ‘New’ after His return (see Matthew 14:25).
      As for us, we have the whole of the Scriptures on this matter, which I believe is pretty much summed up in these sriptures found in Romans 14:

      The Law of Love

      14 I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. 15 Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 For he who serves Christ in these things[e] is acceptable to God and approved by men.

      19 Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. 21 It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.[f] 22 Do you have faith?[g] Have it to yourself before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. 23 But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not from faith is sin.

    • Well, it may not be of much worth to reply to something this dated, but my take is that the bit about alcohol did little to give weight to the main argument of the post. It is a hard sell to make the connection between hypocritical old-fashioned fuddy duddies as being the kind of people who are the gate-keepers of an industry and the point being made about artistic freedom. It simply weighs down the entire post and throws darts at caricatures of folks whose humanness may also be seen in the mirror. May we be careful about how we cast stones…

    • Well, it may not be of much worth to reply to something this dated, but my take is that the bit about alcohol did little to give weight to the main argument of the post. It is a hard sell to make the connection between hypocritical old-fashioned fuddy duddies as being the kind of people who are the gate-keepers of an industry and the point being made about artistic freedom. It simply weighs down the entire post and throws darts at caricatures of folks whose humanness may also be seen in the mirror. May we be careful about how we cast stones…

  17. I agree with a ton of stuff in this article, but i think there is one thing that we need to be weary of. Not everything that is mainstream is bad. Too often “indy” artists think that “indy” music is the only thing thats art, and that if chord progressions make sense, they are too mainstream, and thus aren’t art.

    I do agree that when Christian music is missing something. Heck, I won’t listen to it on the radio for many of the exact reasons that he brought up, but he gets dangerously close to implying that he and the other “transcendent” artists, (aka indy artists) are the judges of what is and what isn’t art.

    The musicians and fans of the “indy” scene, both secular and Christian, needs to be very weary of becoming smug, and also discrediting anything that isn’t super abstract (not saying that Michael has done this here, but many of his Indy peers have). For example, I’ve seen Coldplay’s new song “Paradise” described as, “The song is cool but I wish they didn’t use so many pop chords [and were a little more creative].” This is when we start getting ridiculous and we start making music that is weird for the same of being weird, which quite frankly, is what half of the indy music scene does (again, not saying that Gungor does this).

    There are a TON of issues in Christian music. When “Light Up the Sky” and “We Are” are released within a year or so of each other, and nobody even notices that “We Are” is completely ripped off from that song (seriously listen to the bridges, its terrible and the lady should owe the other band some serious cash for that), something is seriously messed up with the musicians and with the listening public. However, we still have to be careful not to discredit everything that is mainstream, because then we fall into the “it’s only good if its indy” trap.

  18. Reblogged this on A Peek Into My Noggin and commented:
    Michael Gungor’s thoughts are my thoughts. However, his words are much better than what mine would have been. A bit of a lengthy read, but worth. every. word.

  19. All I want to know is, who the heck is Michael Gungor and why does he sound so arrogant? After reading his sophomoric rant all I can think is he really needs to do some serious one on one time with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

    • The heart of the matter: It’s easier to see faults in others than to see them in ourselves. Each of us should be vigilant to search our own hearts.

      I’ve also found that Christian’s biggest critics are other Christians. The enemy of our souls rejoices in that…the destruction of God’s Body…before it’s perfected in Christ. The Bible also speaks of the Great Falling Away (of some believers) that will happen in the last days (possibly due to people being taught that Christ will come before we see tribulation…contrary to Matthew 24). However, I look forward to the Great Harvest!

      Open rebukes are sometimes necessary, but only with great care, being led by the Holy Spirit in the LOVE of Christ. Daily, we should pray for each other in the Body of Christ. Surely, the Bible teaches us that this pleases the Lord. :)

    • Pot…meet Kettle. :)

    • It’s called superfluous theology from a 30 something year old….

    • Dude has been in the christian music industry for 10+ years. Hardly sophomoric, have you ever spent time with “Christian Music Artist”? I have. Most sing lyrics written by other people so that the label can sell their look to the hip christian kids who eat the garbage up. I’ve been around “christian artist” who have no morality and show no example of Christ in their life. I’ve actually spent a lot of time with Michael when he was a mainstream christian artist, he was always loving and lived his faith. It’s obvious that he is tired of defending a marketing strategy. You should wake up to this and quit defending a something you don’t even really know about

    • are you serious? Tim–you are the one who appears arrogant. This is no sophomoric rant, but a thoughtful look into not only Christian music but into the Church and how fake and without care for the world around us we have become. I’d say Michael has spent some time with Christ and it is that time that propelled an honest conversation about new life in the Church and the work we do together. Tim, you and I are in this together. Let’s not spread hate against one another.

    • The judging sword cuts both ways…you judge him for what you suppose is “judging”? We are to be wise.

    • Better to sound sophmoric than reject the last several thousand years of aesthetic philosophy as you seem to suggest should be done.

    • Oh, he has the credentials. He has been quite successful, and his work is truly mind-blowing. He also understands that our Lord and Savior does not ask for mediocrity, but that’s all the Christian music machine has been giving us lately. If you were a musician, you would know. Michael speaks from love, and sometimes love needs to give a swift kick. I for one, despise the modern Christian sound, and I have played the Christian/Secular game myself. It barely takes me a whole second to figure it out, honestly. It’s that bad.

    • I can say the same about you Tim. Stop being judgmental.

    • How was he arrogant? He seemed to be coming from an honest perspective,, and I agree with him.

  20. The things that we just heard written by this supposed man of God sadden me, no I’m not part of “the market”, i don’t buy hardly any christian music anymore (and defiantly no secular music) because on one side you have those “Zombies” but on the other side “Lucifers” i would say artist who only care about being “honest” when really what they are saying is “i want to be lifted up for being cutting edge.” there is no holiness or power of the Holy Spirit in them, because that’s not even what they want, they want “art”, they don’t want Jesus. Jesus is ready to heal the blind man at the gate, but they are too busy telling the blind man how horrible the christan music is. How misguided they are with their “ministry”, the christian artist they are alluding to (zombies) are probably no better than them even though they may pretend, but you see, what they are doing still isn’t what Jesus has called us to do as believers. What Gunger and many other so weak or fleshly christians (if you can still call them a true christian), that want to hold on to pet sins like drinking, and obviously are looking to the fleshly man and aren’t living to please God, but are living to be seen as relevant and acceptable to the world and other weak christians don’t realize is that this faith that we have received we have received through Christ blood, and we are His, bought with a precious price.

    Also Jesus didn’t send out the disciples out with instruments and “relevant” art, but the power of the Holy Spirit, that’s whats missing today from the church, and we don’t have it, we have big church buildings, so much equipment, technology, and classrooms, preachers, muscians, and resources, but we have no Power (of the Holy Spirit), we have turned aside to idols, art, music, entertainment, drinking, overall worldliness, and there is nothing of Jesus left in todays church almost, it grieves me to see my generation (i’m in my early 20′s) totally ensnared with lies of Satan at every turn. You can make fun and ridicule the “old way” and Christians that came before, but that is VERY FOOLISH to think that they all got it wrong and you got it right, but let me tell you they didn’t care what the world said “holy roller, bible thumpper..” they were going on with Jesus! They were living to be holy before God, Christ was their all, and millions were saved in those days, touched by the power of God delivered from bondage, healed physically of cancer and you name it, by the Power of God they were born again! They had music to sing to the Lord but it was TRUE not trying to be marketable, or honest, but it was true and powerful because they had nothing but Jesus. They didn’t care if their culture had any place for them, they didn’t fit in, because they wouldn’t SIN! You see the church had power, read about the D.L .Moody’s, they Raymond T Richie’s,and you tell me one TV preacher or any preacher where the power of God is evident, we’ve lost the power because we have rejected God, and as it says in 2 Tim.4:3 “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” I want you to search through the history books of time and look up great missionaries like Brainerd, Preachers such as Wesley, and songwriters such as P.P. Bliss, and Ira Stanphill. You see the church has lost somthing along the way, its something these men and women of faith from the past held dearly to, the Holy Presence of God, we don’t have it today in the Church, and your so CAUGHT UP in your culture you fail to realize that we serve a God that “is the same yesterday today and forever.” God’s opinion of us never changed you see, we are all sinners in need salvation in Christ, not one person will make to heaven based upon their own abilities can i tell you that, and the things you sound so concerned about, are they what Jesus is concerned with? Do you think Jesus is grieved because the bar-tender doesn’t get tipped, or do you think he is more grieved that you are singing about Him, more worried about a bar tender being offended, because CHRISTIANS AREN’T DRINKING AT A SUPPOSED CHRISTIAN MEETING. You don’t even know what you are speaking of, you have musical talent, Satan had the most and he became Satan, a lot of worldly artists have it because its God given, you have it, but don’t be fooled, it will all be required back from you, your works will be tried by fire before Gods judgment. Listen to this.

    “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. 14If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” 1 Cor. 3:10-15

    Concerning those who are Christians who are drinking and doing so with no knowlege of Gods word. Consider this.

    16″ Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 17If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.” 1 Cor. 3:16

    Concerning those take the position of Gungor, and many of our modern apostate church, which says “you shouldn’t judge anyone.” You are wrong. The bible tells us not to judge those that aren’t saved because…they don’t know any better, they haven’t been made new by the power of Christ! but His word also tells us to judge those IN the body of Christ, who have accepted Him as Savior and then are sinning with these gross sins. This passage actually specifically lists drunkenness, and says “not to associate” with anyone “who calls himself a brother” who is doing this. Its Gods Word not mine, this is truth, not the opinion of any man, no matter how well they try and make a point sound good, or how popular they are to the world.

    9 “I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.
    12What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”’
    1 Cor. 5:9-12

    Concerning the church of today who needs to come back to seeking God with fervency, and longing to live holy lives before Him, foraske the things of the world and live for Jesus totally, this is the place it all comes to a head. WHO DO YOU BELIEVE? Gods word, or teachers, musicians, preachers, supposed fellow christians that “itch your ears” and tell you what you want to hear. But Jesus says “You must be born again Nicodemus.” They say, you can still keep the old man and live in Christ, but Christ also says “Deny yourself, and take up your cross and follow me.” “Deny yourself.” There’s only 2 ways, Gods way in Christ, which is narrow and difficult but it leads to salvation and eternity in Christ, or the worlds way of self, and sin, which is broad smooth and many go down it thinking they are happy and blessed, but it leads straight to hell. You need to come to Christ and really come to Him, and leave all of your sins behind, there is no fooling Him, He knows if you are truly His or not. Who do you believe?

    2 Tim.4:3 “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”

    • u r so drunk

    • Anonymous…..you realize that attempting to speak the word of God in such a condescending, judgmental, arrogant, using scripture to YOUR convenience is something that you will have to give account to before the very throne of the living God whether you are a “real Christian” or not….it sickens me to see what man does with the Holy and Righteous Word of God. Your very spirit is the one 2 timothy talks about, and Paul so fervently warns us about. As your possible sister in Christ I plead that you reconsider your motives and in the name of Jesus Christ stop adding and/or removing your personal opinions and interpretations to the PERFECT GOSPEL that does not need your two cents, and is not meant to be interpreted by man, but by God Himself. Be weary for our heart is a tricky one and remember Proverbs 16:2. Dont forget Romans 2:1, there is a right way to judge and it is not done in our flesh such as this essay rant to someone whose heart you don’t even CARE to take a moment to get to know before jumping on a train of insults and assumptions.

    • I can do that, too.

      Proverbs 31:6-7
      Let beer be for those who are perishing, wine for those who are in anguish!
      Let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.

      1 Timothy 3:8
      In the same way, deacons are to be worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain.

      1 Timothy 5:23
      Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.

      1 Corinthians 13:1
      If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

      Luke 5:39
      And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, “The old is better.”

  21. I’ve read the comments, and the ones that stick out the most are the ones who dog Gungor about the drinking. I have asked many of my non-christian friends what it is about the Christian faith that turns them away, and I would say that 9 out of 10 have answered “HYPOCRISY”. The reason people in the world have perceived “Christians” as hypocrites, is that we are. The debate about drinking the “is it okay” or “not okay” has been going on for nearly a century (if not longer). This is what created Prohibition. By saying that drinking should be done in private you are “double facing” the situation. You are saying that it is okay to do this in your home, but in secret. Don’t you realize its our secretive actions that make us Hypocrites and that it’s those actions that make Christians appear hypocritical in the perceivers eyes? I would say that Jesus is pretty much a big, large, humungous leader in “God’s Kingdom”, and as pointed out in this blog (and in the Bible) he drank in public…out there for the world to see.

    One of the greatest moments in my “Christian” life was spent standing around a bride-to-be with other Christian women, most of who had a beer in one hand and their other hand on the bride praying for her coming marriage and, knowing that Jesus heard every single word spoken in the same manner as if we had all hidden our beers from sight as if we were ashamed. And do you know something, two of her friends who were not Christians began to come to our church and both have a relationship with Jesus now, and both say that it was that moment that made them try church again. Some may say this is sacrilegious, and that’s fine with me…I like to think I’m anti-religeous. I’m pro-Jesus and most of the time the concept of religion and the reality of Jesus can not coincide.

    Blogs and Comments are a venting place. A place to say what you feel. Gungor wrote what he felt, and this is what I feel. Not all will agree, and that also fine with me.

    • first of all its not just christians who are hypocrites; everyone has commited a hypocritical act at least once in their lives, so those who are without hypocrisy can cast the first stone.

      second of all the bible states that allowing yourself to become drunk is a sin, so that’s obviously wrong, but if you just have a drink and don’t get drunk it’s not technically wrong. the problem lies within self control, which most of the american population lacks when it comes to alcohol. first of all many can’t tell when they are getting drunk and they end up sinning unconsciously. yes, it’s ok to take communion with wine, but thats communion; they dont drink a glass or more; its more of a thimble full. when it comes to drinking during dinner, most people dont just do that in america; many drink for fun, and many cant control themselves when they do so. the bible even warns us that wine can be wicked and can lure you into sin and that we should all be weary of it. so, alcohol isnt this innocent drink that you guys are making it out to be.

      many christians have suffered from alcoholism and many have overcome it. for the christian community to not be weary of the dangers of alcohol and to either accept or support it without bother would be hindering those christians, and we would become a stumbling block for them; waving the temptations in their face all over again. the bible warns us of this too. another thing, why would you want to be involved or in indifference of something that could eventually lead you to sin? you wouldnt have a porn magazine laying around the house and say ” it’s not a sin if i don’t look at it”, so why would you drink alcohol frivolously and say “its not a sin if i dont get drunk”.

      it was a completely different situation in biblical times when they drank alcohol; they drank it religiously, and when they didn’t they had self control (talking about jesus and disciples). Never once did jesus become drunk.

      So basically my point is that we should be supportive of our brothers and sisters in christ by not acting as a stumbling block by ignoring the dangers of alcohol because the bible doesnt say in plain ink that drinking is bad.

    • “Some may say this is sacrilegious, and that’s fine with me… I like to think I’m anti-religeous. I’m pro-Jesus and most of the time the concept of religion and the reality of Jesus can not coincide.”

      Nailed it. I love that quote.

    • His commentary on drinking was about the hypocrisy of the matter. People drink everywhere but at a church even or concert because they do not want to be criticized. Personally I don’t drink and I believe a good Christian should not drink of because of the dangerous involved with alcohol especially in America’s supersize me now culture. I would not criticize someone for having a drink here and there.

  22. The church that the world doesn’t change will be the church that changes the world…(Ron Luce) We try so hard to be relevant we become like the world instead of changing it.. Jesus, John the Baptist, ect.. They had nothing in common with the world at all! The set out to change the world That is why there is no power in the church to heal the sick, raise the dead!! The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but of POWER! Can’t wait to see that CHURCH! The world nor the church will recognize it because it won’t look like either one..

  23. The problem began when the word “Christian” changed from a noun (describing a human being) to an adjective (describing stores, sounds, meeting places, and other inanimate objects).
    \

  24. The heart of the matter: It’s easier to see faults in others than to see them in ourselves. Each of us should be vigilant to search our own hearts.

    I’ve also found that Christian’s biggest critics are other Christians. The enemy of our souls rejoices in that…the destruction of God’s Body…before it’s perfected in Christ. The Bible also speaks of the Great Falling Away (of some believers) that will happen in the last days (possibly due to people being taught that Christ will come before we see tribulation…contrary to Matthew 24). However, I look forward to the Great Harvest!

    Open rebukes are sometimes necessary, but should only be done with great care, being led by the Holy Spirit in the LOVE of Christ. Being careful to be a tool of God to lovingly exhort and build the Body of Christ; rather than a tool of the enemy to destroy the Body.

    Daily, we should pray for each other in the Body of Christ. Surely, the Bible teaches us that this pleases the Lord. :)

  25. Michael, without a doubt, from this post you sound like an ignorant, stuck up oaf, attempting to veil your attempts at bashing someone who violates a pet peeve of yours by titling it “The Problem with the Christian Music Industry”. I’m not saying you ARE all of those things, or any of them, but if I read this and that’s what I knew about you, you would be labeled as thus in my mind. That’s a problem. Represent yourself the way you want to be perceived.

    On a different point. Here’s the problem; the Christian Music Industry is an Industry. You failing to view it as an Industry has caused you to think that making an Industry about money is a “problem”. No, the problem with the Christian Music Industry is that it’s an industry at all, not that it’s about money. It has nothing to do with alcohol so it was honestly pointless to include that. Yes, it’s a very weak point to support your main point, that there are problems with the Christian Music Industry, but it really serves no other real purpose than to vent about a pet peeve nearly completely unrelated to your actual point. This is the main problem with this blog post. This is what has branded you as a man standing on a soap-box (above other people in your moral wisdom) throwing some heavy accusations at people who really do mean well. I would suggest that the next time you critique a massive group of people for their moral conduct, don’t dig yourself too big of a hole. Be professional.

  26. Was going to weigh in with my opinion, but then stopped…decided to wait, pray about it so that I could truly speak with love and hopefully wisdom from the Lord. We all may differ in our opinions, but we have to remember that Jesus said, “…make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” Will weigh in again if I believe the Lord prompts me.
    Carolyn

  27. So here’s my take….in reading the comments I’m hearing lots of separation of the sacred and the profane. In other words, art isn’t spiritual unless the name of Jesus is blatantly spoken… But the truth is, God is the creator of all things, and just in the act of creating, God is glorified. So does not mentioning the name of Jesus in a song make Him feel insecure? Methinks not! We need to stop with the deceptive teaching (heresy?) that God is not God of all. We also need to stop the deceptive teaching that sprung up through Greek thought, that the body, soul and spirit are separate entities and thus divide our lives and our culture into those categories. I say bravo Michael for speaking out truth that will set us free…

  28. As a producer and writer for some of these christian artists that are cookie cutter and some that are less attatched to that cliche I often see the scenario of what sells in the created market outweighing what is earnest and what is not bound by the rules of radio especially when an artist is taking money from a label and an A&R rep is executive producing. Unfortunately the only way for artists to change the industry is by continuing to make earnest and artful music and by not changing their path because an investor/label entices them into a money cage. I am working with two unsigned artists right now that christian listeners will hear a lot about over the next couple years. One of them broke the billboard christian songs top 40 without a label deal and their stuff sounds nothing like anything Elise on radio… All of this to say…make music that you love, be a great communicator and be humble and stick to your guns.

  29. Thanks for your very insightful and honest blog. I’m a Christian singer songwriter, and I can’t bring myself to listen to Christian radio. Once in a while I’ll try to listen, but I can’t get past one or two songs before I turn it off again… for the exact reasons you describe. When I started as a performer I sang the blues in barrooms and restaurants. When got saved, I ended up writing my own Christian music because the music in the Christian world was plastic… I described it as, “Everything’s coming up roses.” There was no substance to it compared to the soulful blues I used to sing. Unfortunately much of it is still that way. I have found a few musicians that I can stomach, but they are few and far between. Which brings me to the dilemma I have had to face as a Christian artist. I don’t write “pop and bananas” Christian music, and I can’t bring myself to sell out. As a songwriter, I can’t write a song I don’t believe in, let alone sing it. So finding my specific little niche of folk blues Christian music venues has left me struggling. But I’m not going to give up because it’s all I want to write about, and Jesus is who I sing for. He saved my life and there is no other One to give the soul of my music to but Him. Thank you for your honest blog because it helps me realize I’m not just being hard headed. Somebody out there hears the same phoniness that I hear. But I believe in this music because music is healing. I get emails from listeners who tell me heartfelt stories of how it got them through the toughest of times. So there is a place for the little indy artist like me… but it’s not on the radio! Blessings to you, Wendy

  30. Reblogged this on Ray's Musings…Is That Even a Title? and commented:
    So much of what this man writes here is spot-on and applicable not just to Christian Music, but art, film, television, religion, politics…A very well thought out and articulated essay.

  31. I agree with you. I actually want a beer right now. I could kill it at the Christian/Secular Game. I grew up on mtv. It was by best friend. Here’s my thing: I cuss and I drink and I gamble and in no particular order. Im not always proud of it either. I tune in to a Christian station sometimes to simply prepare my day or to find some peace instead of craziness. I feel bad though when Im singing a Christian song and some dude cuts me off and then I get all road raged and cuss the guy out and then I start singing the song again. Sometimes I’m like “oh shoot” afterwards and I might change the station. Stupid I know. So why do I listen to both: I love em both, I get what they both are. When I feel a certain way this is what I toon into. Hells yeah, I’m a cussing Christian that probably needs to figure my messes out a little better.

  32. Going to keep it short & sweet – great stuff here about the soul of Christian music (very valid), although I’d much rather us Christian artists promote what we love rather than bashing what we hate. (Let’s face it, we’re unfortunately not above making some shockingly bad music sometimes – life’s a journey eh – but it’s definitely something not confined to the Christian sector!) While I agree that “having a beer (etc)” isn’t a salvation issue (setting aside the bigger issue of addiction for the moment) – good leadership calls for wisdom. With high levels of responsibility (eg the public platform to lead people through music) comes a greater level of accountability. It goes beyond the usual “stumbling block” talk and moves into the question of what is good leadership – what is most beneficial for those we lead? The best leaders I have known have often held back on some of these things not because they are inherently wrong, but because they have the wisdom to understand their presence in the public eye & the effect of their actions on those they lead. They have a vision beyond their own life & a capacity to see their effect on that vision. We are all leading someone whether we realise it or not :)

  33. IM ROCKINRON a dj whos been playing christian music on a college station for over 12 years now. my theme playing great christian music from artists you know and love but also new artists and new songs i think youll love too. other wards i love playing INDIES and artists out there thats not getting alot of other radio exposure. ive learned its often the little guys (as ive heard called before) that often have a heart after GOD and an appreciation for little stations like mine. my heart has always felt the call to be a supporter of the artists and their music. to help them share Jesus through their ministry. ——–i guess to the point i just wanna thank you for agreeing THERE IS ALOT OF GREAT CHRISTIAN MUSIC OUT THERE that some stations wont let you hear. im not just serving BECKY BUT BECKY< DAVID< FRED< MR SMITH and whoever wants to hear songs THAT SHARE JESUS.

  34. I love this article! Bravo! You know, the last time I heard any “real” Christian music was when Russ Taff sang “I want to Change” (1983) It was real, and you knew it. I remember when I was a DJ at a Christian radio station in Dallas. TX back in 1982. (AM station now gone). I constantly got in trouble for playing the “contemporary” style of Christian music instead of Jimmy Swaggart stuff. But back then, the contemporary stuff WAS genuine and it was exciting! They meant what they were singing. It wasn’t a machine cranking stuff out.
    Now, I’m in my 50s. My husband is a guitar player (electric). We love music… but I CAN’T stand to go to these churches here in Southern California where the band plays before the sermon… and the band is so loud, and into playing “riffs” and solos. It doesn’t glorify God, to me! It’s noise and I’m watching these musicians play like they are an opening act! I’d rather sit in my car and pray before going in to hear the sermon. I don’t know what the balance is for Christian music. But I do know they may not find it during my lifetime. So sad.

    • Lauren Kelly-Hill: You post nailed it! I love my church. The pastors preach the Bible, and the Truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The musicians that play in the band are talented and I have no reason to believe that they haven’t accepted Christ as their Savior. But for me, it’s exactly as you stated, “It doesn’t glorify God, to me!” Without fail, at least one of the guitar players wants to believe he’s Van Halen, moves and plays accordingly, and looks ridiculous — so much so that it’s distracting. I’ve started going in late every week, just to avoid the music. It tends to calm down at the end of the service. Nice to know that I’m not the only one that feels that way.

      • I have to disagree with both of you here (Lauren and Robyn) about the style of music. It may just be a generational difference though (Lauren is 20+ years my senior), but my worship is much stronger with newer worship songs. Also, as one of a few drummers for my church, having that avenue for me to worship God and for me to help lead others in His worship is an incredible blessing.

        I know that almost all of the songs we play have the opportunity to have an instrumental bridge at some point, but we normally keep that to a maximum of one per week, and don’t go off on extended “‘riffs’ and solos.” I can’t speak for your churches, but I assure you that when I play, it is for the glory of God.

        Your church should promote worship on a communal level when you attend along with Biblical teaching from the pastor (the latter of course being more important), but if you think that your church is lacking in one of these areas (again, mainly the latter) perhaps you should prayerfully consider seeking a different community of believers to worship and learn with.

        I feel like I went on a bit of a tangent there at the end, but it’s midnight so, eh.

  35. There they go arguing again. Just read the blog, learn from someone else’s experience and consider its validity for your own walk with God. Why all this trying to prove anything? Most of these negative counter-offensives are merely offensive. It’s just one man and his opinion. Grow up. kids.

  36. Well, there ya go arguing again. It’s not that christians are uniquely hypocritical; that’s something all humanity shares since we don’t do that which we would like. But we sure try to prove our point of view without giving another any validity. The guy wasn’t talking about booze necessarily, it was about a culture of mediocrity. Many of the people responding need to get off their soapboxes and consider that this guy’s had enough experience to “deserve” the right to voice his opinion. And that’s all it is – not holy writ. Here’s what I hear about christians -they’re mean spirited and judgmental. And that should not be (well, at least according to the Bible anyway).

  37. I agree. My take is that the bar is set much lower in the Christian Music Industry. I like a lot of Christian music, but mostly the music by Christian artists in the mainstream. They are forced to be more “creative” to compete and have they’re music embraced. Perhaps creative is not the word I’m looking for, but maybe innovative. Something that sounds accessible, but fresh and new.
    With officially sanctioned “Christian” music, many are on that labor and those radio stations because they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) compete. They got a pass because they are believers.
    What could have been added to this article is that artists in other parts of the music industry are also forced to compromise and there is a sheen applied there as well. It’s just easier to identify it as “secular” because of the lyrics.
    Personally, I don’t believe in tampering with the free market. If it sells, there must be a demand. However, the Christian Music Industry does seem a bit like “affirmative action”.

  38. Thank you thank you thank you!! I stopped listening to Christian radio several years ago because of this. I’ve been saying this for so long and it’s really encouraging to have you say it too. I’ve played the game myself! I’ve convinced myself to stay away from the Christian music industry … Maybe I’ll change my mind now. One thing’s for sure, if I enter it, I’m going to revolutionize the way Christian music sounds. I hate the (true) stereotype that Christian music lacks creativity. Thank you for standing up against that. Maybe I’ll be right behind you one of these days. Good luck and God bless :)

  39. Thank you for this post. So encouraging to see artists breaking away from the lifeless christian music.

  40. While its fairly accurate to say that Christian music is all marketing…well….there really is no counterpoint there. Christian music is marketing by its very nature, simply calling your music Christian is like saying your soup is Campbell’s. When you write Christian music, you are selling it to a very niche crowd of Christian drones who all well and truly believe that they are not complete artificial snobs. Anything less than full recognition of the stupidity that has gone into the Christian music marketing industry (The marketing of course BEING THE ENTIRETY OF THE INDUSTRY.) is just plain idiotic. Anyone could claim that Christian labels are genuine music labels, but that would be a lie. If they were not marketing schemes, then they would not be labeled as Christian music.

  41. I’m an artist and the cards are stacked against me; I am trying to be courageous. Your last paragraph brought tears to my eyes.

  42. I am a Christian and LOVE music but never listen to Christian music because its boring. I don’t know the industry or the technical side of music but have sometimes wondered why Christian music doesn’t appeal to me, and what I realized is simply that its because its too monotonous. A good secular song will have the beat and melody change every few seconds. There are zingers and unexpected changes throughout that keep it interesting. I like how you said that with Christian music the lyrics are the focus, as with country. I never thought of that before, but it makes sense. I don’t care for country music, and maybe that’s why. My wife wonders why I don’t like worship music, and I tell her is because it too is boring and repetitive. I always just figured that Christian radio music was that way because then it could beer used as worship music also, or at last that’s what Christians were used to hearing at church, so it was familiar.

  43. The trend is changing..Come and Live is bringing a beautiful change to the industry http://comeandlive.com/
    from a beer drinking baptist preacher in CT

  44. Thank you. I struggle mightily to listen to my local “Christian music” stations and when I tell fellow Christians that, I feel ostracized and they appeared appalled. I usually define Christian music either as horizontal or vertical. Most everything played on the radio and advertised nationally is horizontal. I can only listen to vertical Christian music because it brings all glory to God and skips out on the seemingly fake emotions of horizontal music. Thanks for your challenging blog, it is refreshing to see and read your courage to challenge the status quo. I try but I do not have nearly as big a platform as you. I greatly appreciate this writing. Thank you.

  45. So refreshing to hear. The first time I ever heard a Gungor album I was thinking “Wow, this music is amazing, and it’s CHRISTIAN!” My own surprise at that fact is extremely telling and I have a difficult time not instantly having a bad attitude about most Christian music I hear, which is a sad state of affairs.

  46. I agree with a lot of what you’re saying until you got to the alcohol part. there are a lot of very sound arguments that what’s been referred to as wine in scripture is actually not alcoholic wine, but just common fruit juice. which makes a lot of sense because of how hard it was to purify water back then. The moving on from that argument, I believe that labels producers are pretty heavily responsible for what’s happening to the Christian music industry. A good heartfelt Christian song is often written by somebody who sings it in the tone that actually fits to it, but then The song is heavily adapted for both radio play and for a particular artist who’s style is not the same as the style of the person who originally wrote work.

  47. Dude…this was just too much. I have been to so many shows…rock—Metallica, Pearl Jam, Kings X (like 12 times), U2…so many secular bands. And I have played so many bars, parties …etc. AND I HAVE PROMOTED a ton of Christian shows…
    People need an alternative to the slosh…trust me.
    I agree with SOME of you points on Art in the tunes…yea stop the cookie crier stuff..but overall I just kept feelin like dude…just be humble and go through the doors that are open to you. Show the Christian Market humility in yourself…
    Let others play music with their conscience…as they should do with their drinking.
    I could share some cool youth stories…kids being touched through the crappy music you talk about…
    Bottom line…lets all be all things to all men…
    I always loved “Friend of God”…love the guitar man!! Keep doin it!

  48. Yeah buddy! I’m with you Gungor!

  49. Write better songs.

  50. Very thought provoking artist. We sing your song “wrap me in your arms”. God has used that song mightily in our church. My family and I listen to all kinds of music. I love art and when I hear my son play a song he’s writing it blesses my heart.

  51. Thank you, thank you very much. As a freelance musician who plays in both secular and Christian groups, its always been tough to put my finger on why Christian music sounds different. This article, very well written by the way, brings to light mumblings and feelings I’ve been hearing from listeners and artists over the last few years. I actually gave up listening to Christian music many years ago as a teen/young adult because I couldn’t stand the ‘zombie’ effect. Being a musician and less of a vocalist, I connect with the music more-so than with the lyrics/message. At the time I felt like a lot of artists gave up or really fell short on the music end of things when compared to that of secular artists. Many songs I could successfully predict where they were going musically and lyrically on the first listen, and it wasn’t due to some gift I had. After meeting my wife in my early 20′s, who listens to nothing but christian music, I started to listen to christian music again (it’s called compromise – important part of a marriage!) and was both disappointed in the same lacklustre product of some, yet encouraged by the true art of others. It’s been really interesting and exciting since as I have been listening to a few christian bands, some indie, who have really taken their art seriously, and to new levels where the message/lyrics aren’t the only focal point of the songs. Songs where it is very apparent that someone worked extremely hard and passionately on the music end of things, right down to great guitar tones, different voicings of chords, extremely soulful lead vocal lines and harmonies, drums mic’d properly and played with emotion, and musical twists that break out of the expected norm and leave you wanting more. And for goodness sakes steered away from ‘Jesus is my boyfriend’ songs and endless ‘I love you, I love you’ lines. I know this is a long reply, but I really enjoyed reading this as it put into words what I have felt for many years. My wife still rolls her eyes at me for politely mocking her latest Newsboys album, but now I know why I do it…

  52. Just because because someone is screaming doesn’t mean they are angry. You may not understand “screamo” music, but that’s no reason to to say it’s angry. My two favorite worship bands are “For Today” and “Sleeping Giant.” I’ve been to multiple shows with both bands, and kids get saved at every show. Kids that would never have known God if it weren’t for this type of music. The music is passionate, not angry. There is a difference. Go on YouTube and listen to Sleeping Giant’s song Tithemi all the way through. My favorite worship song ever. Also, listen to For Today’s song From Zion. These songs are worship, and they aren’t angry. They are just heavy music, and they are spreading the kingdom to people who will never hear the gospel any other way. The vocalists for each band preach at EVERY show. Even when they are playing with negative, anti – God bands. Even if they get harassed and booed. They spread the gospel like wildfire. You can’t tell me that their music isn’t worship, just because it sounds “angry” to you. I bet God loves hearing it as much much as any Jeremy Riddle song.

    • I was just thinking this haha. I can’t stand it when metal gets generalized and labeled “Emo” or “Screamo” music. Metal is a passionate and zealous genre, not just angry.

      • “Metal is a passionate and zealous genre, not just angry.”

        Um. Yes. I do aerial silks and I really want to do a piece to Oh Sleeper “The Finisher” and “Son of the Morning”.

        I also do Poi to worship. And fire poi.
        And trapeze.

        God loves his crazy kids.

  53. AHHHH, here we go. i read this early this morning and have been thinking about it all day. i read it again just now and have read a lot of your comments on the subject as well. i feel that where i have been in my thoughts and prayers over the last 7 years (being saved out of the secular music scene), and being a believer after being a musical heathen, there are some valid thoughts to consider here.

    I now record music for secular and Christian artists full time and run sound engineering for multiple secular and christian music festivals throughout each year.

    1. You SHOULD be able to tell the difference between christian and secular music. How you can tell the difference is another story…
    1 John says to be in the world and not of the world. What you sow you shall reap, what you put in is what will come out. As an artist, what you draw from for inspiration can often be clearly evident in your art. For some, there is clearly an attempt to copy the world… this can be done with multiple motives, evangelism (becoming all things to all men), or worldliness. Both exist in the christian realm You shall know a tree by its fruit (do the math).

    2. I question the motives of most mainstream or “widely known” artists. even the ones i like. this may seem crazy, but even as i have acquaintances and deep friendships with some very popular and famous Christian artists, there is always the question of how far the stage removes you from being able to influence the people you are “playing” for. Are you “entertaining” or are you “Ministering”? again, the fruit is the evidence. I hate seeing teenagers that listen to “christian” music just as an alternative to “bad” music, and i feel that the artists themselves feed this habit by their lack of drive to “influence” rather than “entertain.”

    I ran sound for a band this summer that, although the music fest had its own HUGE front of house P.A. and lights, decided to unload their whole P.A. and lights for whatever reason. They took about 10 hrs and set up a light show that was worth more than most of your homes… i remember joking with this band and saying, “if you have half of the influence on the people here spiritually, that i know you will have visually, we are going to see revival! If not, we are never having you back here again!”
    whats the point? -> when did the gospel become “Not Enough” because that is what this is about! which brings me to my last point….

    3.Though i understand some of the points brought up here, I was a little turned off to find that the only scripture that was brought into the whole blog was a reference to justifying alcohol. i Understand the point, Christians need to own their walk and not be controlled by someone else’s relationship with God. this being said, WHAT THE HECK DOES JUSTIFYING ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION HAVE TO DO WITH CONFRONTING CHRISTIAN POSERS? sorry bro, but in this day and age, alcohol is a big deal. especially in ministry… read timothy, there are specific guidelines to a minister’s alcohol consumption… the next question is, “what qualifies you as a minster?” thats something you have to ask yourself mike. ahhh too many thoughts here…

  54. I just decided that I no longer wanted to support the booze industry. Bless you if your life style can afford you to give money to Jack Daniels. I have a hard enough time giving money to my church.

  55. I wish threaded discussions were limited to 140 characters or less. Meh.

  56. From an old guy… We thought that Larry Norman would change the industry, but he didn’t. We thought Amy Grant would change the industry, but she didn’t. We thought Nashville might change the industry, and they did make the quality of recording better, but it is still the same… a music business. Music has to sell to be heard and that’s why they call it a business. And where is this Christian and secular coming from? Did I hear a musician call it this? Where is Francis Schaeffer in this discussion? Art is art.. good art or bad art. Good art comes from Christians and people who don’t claim to believe as Christians do. Bad art comes from Christians and from those who don’t claim to believe as they do. Judge the art! Judge the artist! I buy any song that I like… no matter who produces it because good art reflects God.

  57. Awesome TOTALLY agree!

  58. The bottom line?
    There is only good music and bad music. There’s no such thing as Christian music, there is music with Religious content, usually pretty destitute stuff at best.
    If you are serious about being a Christian and a musician, Then get into mainstream music, where your life can make a difference.

  59. I had to chuckle to myself Michael about your use of “for crying out loud”, which you used 3 times in your article, as I use that phrase a lot too. In fact, my non-Christian teammates on my football (i.e. for Americans called soccer) team laugh every time I use it instead of swearing like the rest of them do. I can’t help it though, it’s one of my ways of releasing tension. haha.

    I will actually be seeing you play LIVE at Parachute Music Festival at Mystery Creek in New Zealand. In fact, I am most looking forward to seeing John Mark McMillan (as headline artists go), as I have been a fan since his music challenged my walk with our Father in 2010. But after getting familiar with some of your music over the last two years I am looking forward to seeing you too. I like your sound, and the rawness of your lyrics, which is one of the reasons I like John Mark.

    In reply to the other parts of your article, I honestly would like to play that game with you, and see if I pick up the same things. A lot of the CCMers have worn on me too, and they make up a very small proportion of my music collection. But I never wanted to be jaded by judging which Christian artists were being genuine, and which ones are faking it. I always feel this will lead me to walking on the thin ice of trying to remove a speck in others eyes when I have a plank in my own. I just have an allergy to music that sounds plastic, so I can identify with you there. But I think you’re going a step further in identifying the artists that are actually singing lyrics that they fully mean and those that don’t.

    Couldn’t that concern be applied to any worship time in any church service though? Where people in the congregation are singing a song or lyric that they never wrote or lived through in their life, but are singing because it is a song sung in church? I too am guilty of singing lyrics that I may not mean, but as you say I may not record it, market it , and sell it like many artists do. But still we all carry shades of hypocrisy.

    I guess the point I am wanting to make is rather than trying to identify the countless problems that are plaguing the church and Christian Music Industry, why don’t we spend more time talking about the genuine article and the life-giving stuff (in music and a huge range of other topics), which means the problem doesn’t become our focus, and at the very least doesn’t look as big anymore. And Michael, please continue doing what you do best to make music that truly speaks your heart and welcomes the presence of God in. I will follow you on that path. :-D

  60. I think it’s about being real. People get saved and then the masks come on. I really dislike how trends and marketing shapes what we artists do. I keep saying I would rather make less money and produce something I am happy with. We draw lines in the sand of the secular and sacred. I find myself being drawn outside of the Christian market. Who is your audience? I want it to be everyone but I suppose that’s unrealistic. My bottom line is being real and honest. Pretending is fake. I don’t like to see perfect people on stage. It was a funny strange day when I realized I could journal / pray anything to God. You mean He doesn’t get mad when I tell the truth? Honesty seems to go a long way with Him. Funny.

  61. I almost disagree with this entire blog! I just love how people in this day in age like to bend the rules to meet their standards. Society does not dictate what is right and what is wrong ! God does! If you have to question why Christian Venues try to keep booze out of their shows, then you probably shouldn’t be playing in one. As Christians we are not high and mighty for not drinking, we choose not to because any regular person seeking something more in their life is not going to look at us with a beer in out hand and say that person is special, id love to know more about why they act the way they do! Everything we do should lead back to God ! You are not honoring God or setting an example of Christ by drinking , acting foolish, opening the door to tempting things! The blog I just read sounded like it came from a teenagers point of view , trying to get the best of both worlds. I sincerely hope our society does not push the Christian music industry into make compromising choices when it comes to socially accepted issues!!! Sad sad sad

  62. simple solution to the “i’m so conflicted about being a christian artist” problem: don’t be a christian artist. you know you do it for the money. cue the sob-story about trying to strike a balance between Excellence and liturgical-acceptance. ugh. you know that tour you described, where clubs sold out every night? was that because the music was good? don’t give me a mealy-mouthed rationale. you work in the bubble, you contribute to the bubble. you’re not some undercover artist, shedding light into darkest africa (oops! missionary reference!). either accept it or get the fuck out. you know the right thing to do.

  63. From the comments you’d think the blog post was all about alcohol.

    What a shame.

    And what a shame to see kneejerk reactions rather than seeing what you are actually saying.

    And what a shame that some people are actually being rude or abusive, ascribing bad things to your behaviour or character.

    Sadly the religious community can often major on morality but pay little attention to ethics. And the world laughs at us, or sneers.

  64. Reblogged this on raquitachica and commented:
    As I appreciate ‘realness’ in Christian communities, I thought this would be great to share with you all. Enjoy this well presented blog and strive to make your difference.

  65. Having grown up as a pk and having been in the Christian music scene all my life and touring with major recording groups (before Gungors (your) time)…I can say that I truly do share some of the same sentiments in regards to music. However, when it comes to alcohol…you’ve clearly not done a true study on the subject….be careful. I don’t go around judging Christians who drink but if you honestly and truly study the Word of God on the subject, you cannot come away with and “alcohol is cool with God” conclusion.

    The “Jesus turned the water into wine…saved the best for last” (and this of course is the famous license for Christians to drink). There are actually different Greek/Hebrew translations to ‘wine’ and ‘strong drink’, in fact the bible refers to grapes as ‘wine’ while their still on the vine (just some more food for thought). Getting back to the “water into wine ….best for last”….Back in that time period one of the most challenging things to do (for obvious reasons) was to keep the wine cool enough to keep it from fermentation (because as we know fermentation comes from the warming/death of the grapes). Also, lets not forget that God cannot have anything to do with death of any kind (some more food for thought). One of the Greek words for wine in the bible means fermented and one means unfermented. In the instance were it’s said “best for last” the Greek word used is ‘unfermented’. When you truly study for the truth and not to justify a position, you’ll see that “best for last” was what they called unfermented wine because it was the most difficult to make because you had to keep it cool enough to keep it from fermenting. Again, lets not forget the bible used the word ‘wine’ while it was still on the vine….indicating that ‘wine’ does not automatically mean alcohol (in biblical interpretation). In addition, when there is any warning against drinking/getting drunk in the bible…the Greek/Hebrew Translation is ‘alcoholic’…whenever it talks about it being good in anyway, the Greek Hebrew translation is ‘non alcoholic’. This may be one reason Paul told Timothy to “study to show yourself approved, a workman that needs not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”….Do I think drinking will send you to hell? NO. But Im not God:-) I personally try to make it a habit of staying as far away from the grey as possible, and as close to him because that’s where change happens. The closer I get to him, the more the world sees him.

    • God cannot have anything to do with death of any kind???!! Death is pretty much His form of punishment for disobedience. Examples would be the Flood, Sodom and Gommorah, Lot’s wife, Er (the firstborn of Judah – Genesis 38:7 “And Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD slew him”), the plagues (including killing the firstborn of Eygpt), the Eygptian army under the Red Sea…this barely gets us to Exodus. I don’t know about translations on the word “wine”, but God most definitely kills. He is the Author of life. No life is brought about unless by God, and he can surely take it away too.

    • God can’t have anything to do with death(really) but he killed people in the OT?

    • I totally respect your view on this but I wanted to just point out a couple things. Yes in the bible it talks about drunkeness as a sin. Why? Because it slows down and messes with our thought process and can lead us into more sin. But I see no problem with having one drink with a friend because I know it won’t hinder me at all. This doesn’t mean I am encouraging Christians to drink, especially if you have an alcoholism problem. I’m pretty much sayin that all people should be responsible for knowing how much is too much and where you’re motives are at for drinking. It’s not a sin to have a beer that you know will not cause you to be drunk. But saying that all alcohol is bad and people who drink alcohol are bad (not saying you did, just usin an example) is a judgment in itself. And as for the comment about saving the best wine for last It was an expression and I believe it should be left at that and not interpreted as more than just that. Just trying to throw some new perspective on the subject, that is all :)

    • “God cannot have anything to do with death of any kind”?! How exactly do you explain Jesus’ death then?

    • That’s plain silly JCarsten. Noah didn’t get drunk off grape juice. People didn’t assume David was drunk on grape juice when he danced. Paul didn;t tell Timothy to drink a little fruit juice. You are searching for ways to justify your silly insecurities. Period.

      I once heard a very learned Biblical scholar argue that all historical evidence pointed to wine (in Jesus’ time) having the alcoholic content of modern day beer.

      OK – so Jesus created a big kegger at the wedding feast. Feel better now?

  66. Lots of good thoughts here. I love music and find it difficult to listen to most of it due to its lack of soul. I am not a fan of manufactured music in any genre. God is the creator of music and it is sadly ironic that much/most of what is called Christian music today is so hollow.

    I get your point in your diatribe on drinking, but you came across as pompous and self-righteous in the way you communicated that. Obviously it is a point of aggravation for you. I think it took away from what you are trying to communicate here.

    Thanks for your post. Very thought provoking.

    • Very…VERY thought provoking.

      Three quick things.

      1. There is a great book about this…somewhat dated now but not overly so…called Walk On…about the band U2, their faith and the struggles in the music industry. Amazing read even if you aren’t a super nerd fan of the Irish lads like I am.
      2. Years ago…phew, perhaps ten already…big sell out concerts featuring music by bands that were on the radio where being put on, funded, by something I think called the warriors of God. Truly wanting an army of young. The megachurch mentality type. The ones that make the Mall of America seem kinda small and…perhaps, God too big? The entire enterprise made me cautious…i would like any band or artist for any reason…I’ll stop listening for one: if they sacrifice art for the purpose of something dark…darker than greed…we are talking converting people into cults.
      3.The best examples of non christian music that are actually from Christians are as follows.
      Tom Waits
      Arcade Fire
      U2
      Paramore

      Thanks again for you’re wonderful blog. This isn’t talked about enough. It should be.
      Truly,

      A fan of Irish music, Irish whiskey, and my savior.

    • This Michael Gungor goon is one hell of a fucking dumb-ass! All he does is rant. Besides, why is he slamming other artists? I’ve heard this guy’s music before and it sounds like shit. It’s virtually as bad if not worse than all of the other generic christian artists out there. I’m sorry people, but your beloved Mr. Gungor just went full emo… You never go full emo…….

  67. I used to play in a popular Christian band for years, and I always said the hardest thing about being in a Christian band is how to sneak beer on the bus.

    Nice post.

  68. An interesting perspective on the Christian music industry.years ago a visiting artist at our church mentioned how marketing was huge and the message lost somehow. He said it is owned by secular companies and a lot of band guys are drunks and sleeping around goes on. He wished the Dove Awards would fly away. I quit listening to Christian music a long time ago, it was making Jesus your lover instead of your Heavenly Father and I often wondered how guys bought into Jesus as their lover.seemed creepy and too sexual for me. Many of the lyrics are shallow and repetitive. Much of the music sounds the same. Some of it sounds angry or demonic, ect. I love the lyrics of hymns not the tunes so much. The lyrics teach the divinity of God, the power of the blood, the second coming, being faithful, and personal triumph over tragedy type testimonies. Today’s lyrics rhyme and repeat and repeat! I wish a line was drawn between entertainment and worship, and what is wholesome. Not all wholesome entertainment is bible based but has moral lessons, not all Christian labels music is worship. Christians need to know worship comes from the heart not by enjoying music alone. Wholesome entertainment is good and doesn’t require a religious title. Wholesome music ought to speak for itself. I don’t know if we need labeled Christian industries but rather companies run by Christian people upholding the character of Jesus.

  69. I disagree with most of this.
    1.
    He obviously doesn’t know what hardcore is about. Hardcore is ALL about emotion and passion and not really about anger at all. Love/Jesus lyrics work fine with hardcore

    2.
    I would say that Music is not just about art and creativity, in my experience it has mostly been about community. If it be folk or punk or worship it has always been more about people coming together than it had been about creating art. If you understand this his argument isn’t that valid

    3.
    I Don’t believe the Christian music industry is broken, I believe it is more alive then ever.

    4.
    I hardly believe that there is more false emotion in Christian music than mainstream radio. Shows like xfactor and The voice are built around false emotion. People on these shows are taught to display and try and show emotion during the songs, and these TV shows are just a showcase of the secular music industry. I recently watched the ARIAS and was saddened by the amount of crud that had been churned out. Most of the Christian bands that I have seen live deffinatly have not displayed false emotion.

  70. While I’d challenge the writer and anyone who feels similarly about Christian metal to give it another shot–particularly Sleeping Giant’s song “Whoremonger”. That song, especially preceded by his testimony in a live performance, is one of the most genuine and moving things I’ve seen in music. And metal in general can be a great platform for Christian music–and, unlike worship music, is actually listened to by non-Christians.

  71. I really feel like this is merely a conservative point of view. Sure, some of the people in the industry give off the impression that they use Christianity as a way to make money. However, you don’t necessarily know each and every artist’s true thoughts, now do you? To say the things you have said in this post is like saying the same of divorce and children disobeying their parents. People could say the same thing about Christian authors and speakers. Or about Christian blogs that display ads. How does your Christian blog with ads make you any different from a CD in the music industry? How does your Christian speaker status make you any different from an artist’s music industry status? How do your claims not display as hypocritical considering you’re doing something similar? How does your point of view on the screamo and rock music define what the rest of the world should see it as? Where you find rocks to be hard and stubborn, another will find it to be delicate and gentle. It’s all about perspective and environment and how one views things.

    In other words, just because you say it’s so doesn’t mean that it is, indeed, so. You’re not looking at the bigger picture, just the single puzzle piece. For all you know, that screamo music is the way a person found God and decided follow in Jesus’ footsteps. Rather than being judgmental and acting like a God, why not think about others’ points of views of things using the rock metaphor and try to visualize and feel it from a different angle? Think out of the box; not everything is the way it may seem at first glance, or even from a one-sided glance. Don’t knock it down before you don’t know or understand the other parts of it.

    Something Christian speakers never seem to understand (except for one I’ve witnessed in my lifetime) is that it isn’t their place — or anyone’s place — to judge others. It’s just not. You can teach, but be careful of your perspective because your perspective is just that: your perspective. It’s your mere interpretation of what you have been taught. This kind of thing is what made me want to completely leave the religion recently, or within the past couple of years, but then I realized that it’s not necessarily the religion, but the people who are in it. It’s the people who feel the need to label and dissect everything, therefore spending more time doing that than actually living and following Christ. That’s partially why I despise church these days and also why I really avoid talking about the ways of the Lord anymore. Although not directly, this is another form of the hate I avoid, but something in me urged that I share my perspective of things. Rather than teaching and doing hate, why not try tolerance and loving? It’s not our place to judge or define or point out what one or another is doing wrong — it’s our place to “love thy neighbor”, or at least it was in when I attented Sunday school class as a child. And if that has changed, that’s a new problem within itself. We are not God; we’re supposed to follow, not declare.

    I do, however, respect your confidence to have posted this as an open-ended blog post; it takes a lot of courage to post blog posts with comments on.

  72. I’ve never called you creative. A copy, yes. Clone, maybe. Creative, no. I think the reason many Christians consider you creative is because they do not listen to the secular artists that you copy. Maybe they are the same Christians who avoid a beer at the bar, I don’t know.

    I have not heard your new record because you have yet to put it on Spotify, I’m guessing it’s because you are more interested in selling music than spreading it, but I would imagine it’s excellent. I would imagine I could pinpoint influences from the likes of Bon Iver, Volcano Choir, Sigur Ros and more. However, it’s okay to copy. In fact Christian music has copied secular artists for decades. They copied from U2, Creed (shudder) and many more. After all, there is nothing new under the sun, right? Justin Vernon (Bon Iver, Volcano Choir, Gayngs, S.Carey) has been considered creative because he is doing something no one else is doing. He is taking music to places no one has taken it. Sigur Ros has long been considered creative because their sound is unique. I have yet to see Gungor take music to NEW places. I think you can but as of now, I think you are right in saying you do not deserve the label “creative.”

    I applaud your efforts to take cues from lesser known artists.
    I applaud your willingness to put emphases on feeling and passion. Music evokes emotions nothing else on earth can.
    I applaud your efforts to be in the Christian market but not of it (wink emoticon).
    I applaud your efforts to push the boundaries of what we consider worship music.
    I applaud your efforts to make music that isn’t radio friendly. Worship has taken a sad turn as it merges with radio.

    However, don’t pretend you are above it all. One mans Creed is another mans Sigur Ros. Just because I align with your sound and feel moved by your music doesn’t make me better than someone who prefers lame radio friendly music. It’s about being authentic. If authenticity is borrowing from Bon Iver then so be it. If everyone in the Christian market borrowed from Bon Iver then your sound would be white noise. Authenticity is being who you are, at all cost.

    side note: Drinking is always a great issue for Christians to bring up. I’ve met few non-Christians who ever make it an issue either way. Its what Christians think separates us from the “cool” Christians and the “uncool” Christians.

    good article. stay humble.

  73. Great post. I’m considered many of these things myself; also, I work at a Christian retailer so I see a lot of this stuff first hand (I mean the marketing aspect of it). I do not believe that it is wrong in itself to sell “Christian” things or music, but when it becomes this out of hand defiling of God’s temple then we have the responsibility of “throwing over the tables” so to speak just as Jesus did. If we are seeing the Church becoming this den of thieves then we have the authority through the Holy Spirit to do something about it. And I think it starts with being honest. I play for a worship band, and for the past two months we have played the same artists, the same verse, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus songs over and over, and it gets annoying, but I’m not leaving the band because of this. I believe the God is working through us to draw us closer to Himself, to turn this desert into life. If remember the lyrics “You make beautiful things,” and I believe God can begin to work in the people involved in this “industry” to create something amazing and powerful which draws people to genuine repentance and holiness (not just trying so hard not to do this or that.). There is a lot of screwed up stuff in this world, and in my heart as well, but the first step is prayer and fasting (calling on the Lord and admitting our situation). I was glad when I heard that my store’s “marketing” techniques changed from “marketing” to have a prayer focused and a focus to be genuinely interested in our customers lives. I’ve been in the “Christian” world subculture, and I’ve also been out of it. I found that the Church is in both of these.

  74. I’m honestly disappointed in this post. I love Gungor and I definitely agree that Christian music should become more authentic but I dont think this article sets a good example. We are all a part of the same church. I expected many people to fight amongst each other about issues like this but not a band like Gungor. Its clearly taught that we should be submissive to each other and not be stumbling blocks to each other. Its clearly taught that we should listen to and respect our elders. Our elders may have failed in some ways, but so have we.

    I understand getting fired up about issues, but I hope that we can grow in passion and love. This article felt more like frustration and a desire to be seen as separate. The church is dying because people keep thinking the solution is to separate themselves from it because they somehow know Christ better than everyone else does. But we cant function separately. Lets have the courage to stand with the church and be the change we want to see. We need our sages and the perspective they bring, whose prayers have been the foundation for more people’s faith than we could possibly imagine.

  75. Some things I don’t agree with… At the point made about “screamo” music, you claimed that it seemed ingenuine. However, that’s not something that can be so easily claimed. You cannot gauge whether someone is truly feeling something merely because you don’t share the love and appreciation for that genre. Many pundits wrongfully put all gospel-centered rap and rock on the same level. Since they don’t understand it, they claim that it’s a selfish and distracting art form, and thus detrimental to a Christian’s walk with God. We must be wary to superimpose our opinions as biblical fact. God came to redeem art and culture. Even the ones that we don’t understand.

    • this has absolutely nothing to do with the article. nothing. and you completely missed the part about how it was his written song performed by some screamo band that felt (as you put it) ingenuine. so…stop it.

  76. There is no such thing as Christian art. Art cannot be modified; it simply is a vocation, like medicine, baking, and manufacturing.

    There can, however, be Christian music, i.e., musical content that contains Christian elements.

  77. Since we’re playing the Christian or secular game, I have to say that after reading this blog that it would be very hard to determine if a Christian or a nonbeliever wrote it.

  78. Great Post. I am a musician in the industry and have been part of many shows in “regular” venues and you are hitting the nail on the head. Everything you’ve expressed has entered not only my mind, but the band’s as well. Thanks for writing this.

  79. I don’t know what this blog is about, but I love the fact that zombies are in it.

  80. WHOA … okay… Mr. Gungor – let me talk straight to your for a moment.

    Let me tell you a quick story about a very special country that had GOD as their King. That meant PERFECT justice and 100% Victories at all times. But this special country, made up of imperfect people, started to look at their neighbors and saw that they all had humans as king. So they begged, begged and begged and God, being the gentleman that He is, gave them exactly what they wanted. But these people chose wrong, they chose out of what appear to be nice but turned out to be rotten. Moral of the story – be careful to tell God what He should give you.

    Why do I share this with you? Because what I can understand from this blog is not exhortation for us or a PROBLEM/SOLUTION Blog. No, it’s you being fed up with the BUSINESS that goes around in the Christian Industry.

    It doesnt serve you well writing how everything is about MONEY. I mean — hello — where have you been in the last 2,000 years of humanity? IT IS ABOUT MONEY! Unless you are a volunteer musician at your church, then you might as well be making some money if you want to do this for a living. AND ITS NOT A WRONG THING. Your producers, they need to feed their family. Your concert promoters, they have families too. And I bet you have more money than me. So do not complain. You have a platform that God has GIVEN TO YOU — dont use it to talk bad about the blessings that He has allowed you to have.

    And the second thing I want to tell you is that I think that you have the “Blue Like Jazz Syndrome”. Mr. Miller did a beautiful job at writing the book but a horrible job at LOWER our Christian standards. He gave my generation the permission we so desperately wanted in drinking, in sleeping or fooling around, in not making disciples, in not going to churches, in not reading our Bibles . It is not cool nor hip to talk about beer as if it wasnt anything, or like you put it “OLD AMERICAN VALUES”.

    Newsflash Mr. Gungor, I grew up in Latin America and it was SOCIETY that frowned upon drinking beers. It wasnt the catholic or evangelical churches – it was SOCIETY itself. The World. Why? Because that was only for low lifes, wife beaters, drunkards. You grew up in a Christian home – I wikepedia you *wink *wink – and your father was a Pastor. LOVELY. So is mine, and that’s why sometimes it hard for us to talk about these things because we have not seen the bad ugly side of it all. My parents never drank around me, Did yours? I cant stand the smell of beer, do you like to drink it? But my mom grew up with an alcoholic father, and if my dad for any reason at all takes out a beer and she sees it, it brings back some not nice memories. So he doesnt drink at all because he loves her and doesnt want to open old wounds.

    Hey, why dont we do that? Let’s LOOOOVEEEE. Let’s not bash Christians. If there’s hypocrisy, let’s pray. Let’s read the Bible and be reminded that we are foreigners in this world, that we ought to VALUE others more than we do ourselves, that we should strive to be Holy just like He is Holy.

    And let’s write and make the meanest music we can for His Glory.

    Let’s set the tone for a new wave of Christian Musicians. Mr. Gungor, you have that platform and you know that it was given to you by the Almighty. So I encourage you, take it with a huge sense of responsibility and go be the Light. Even if its just you and this industry is filled with Sharks, let them eat you because your God, your King, assures you 100% victory if you let Him be your guide.

    Peace Brother.

  81. Well, I personally believe the problem is the idea that you can commercialize Christianity and market it in the form of music. I believe the disconnect is mixing the act of ministry with trying to make a living at it. Christians who have had control of the market, IE you guys in Nashville and the surrounding areas… you only have yourselves to blame for all of the above mentioned things that are wrong with Christian music. Then let’s talk about the word “Entertainment”. Personally… because most of the musicians and singers come out of the “Entertainment Business”, I think it’s hard for them to have a changed heart when they begin “Performing” music with a Christian message. Same hat, same song, different content. That’s why you have statements using the word “SHOW” which to most Christians gives it a flaky feel and honestly reveals your WORLD VIEW on why you are doing what you are doing.

    Maybe the problem is those who control the main outlets of “Christian Music” and the culture they live in is just too close the “Entertainment Business” aspects that they really are clueless as to why most Christians don’t think that their music choices are as good as “Secular”. If there is ANYONE in the “CHRISTIAN ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY” reading this…let me give you a hint…”STOP ENTERTAINING CHRISTIANS”, drop your ideas of what you think Christians want to hear and “START SEEKING GOD” and get this idea out of your head that it’s ONLY MUSIC with a Christian message.

    The problem is when a producer gets wind of a person with incredible talent… personally most of the time it’s more about how can we market this individual instead of how can this person lead others to the cross. You’re NEVER going to influence ANYONE DEEPER spiritually than where you are spiritually at that moment in time. How many Producers of Christian music are humble, are only thinking of souls when it comes to the artists and music that is created in collaboration with that artist. People of UNQUESTIONABLE INTEGRITY…. those of you who are in the “BIZ” know exactly what I’m talking about…and for this reason I think this is why so much of the “CHRISTIAN MESSAGE” coming out of Nashville is bland and spiritually inept and the Christian community sees it more as “Entertainment” than ministry….oh you might use that world about your own career in “Christian Music” but for Christians it all comes back to the heart issues you struggle with and then 1 last Person…

    The HOLY SPIRIT… why is your message bland and lacking of power… because it’s void of power…why, the HOLY SPIRIT is the ONLY thing that gives the Word of God it’s PUNCH and anyone singing about it. This is something that most Christians who are extremely gifted, who have stayed out of Nashville and the BIZ understand and personally I believe the HOLY SPIRIT doesn’t give his POWER to people who don’t have a heart that is pure when it comes to performing music as a career under the guise of it being a ministry. In other words, you can fool people…but the HOLY SPIRIT sees the heart of each individual and their lifestyle and you have a problem when you’re more concerned with the use of alcohol than with asking yourself, “why is this so important that it becomes a theme of why you’re music ministry is devoid of life and power.” Also, one last thought… personally if you are performing a song…for whatever reason…and people walk away and mention your name more than they speak of the Jesus they see in you or the message you sang about… I’d start there….

  82. The intent of the heart. I read some this then you started to talk about old people. I grasp that many of the things that you share have merit but it is not old or young that maifest these things. I happen to be an older person (67) but many of the things that you share have value and are credible. He said, wrestle not with flesh and blood. It is the spirit that guides the person and a believer can allow themself to be guided by the Spirit of God just as easily as they can be be guided by the realm of darkness.
    So be encouraged that you have an awaress of what is happening in the the culture but don’t allow culture of the world to conform you into its demonstration.

  83. Thank you for speaking up. You took many of the words straight out of my mouth, and I’m thrilled that someone in your position of influence is saying these kinds of things. They need to be said. We Christians have fallen for the idea that if something says “Jesus,” it must be good. If we see yet another painting of an eagle flying over a mountain range with Isaiah 40:31 written on it, then it must be good.

    We were made in the image of the Creator. As such, we are the only creatures endowed with creativity. We ought to use this creativity well, since it is one of the primary ways which we express our made-in-the-image-of-God-ness, and we especially ought to use it well when talking about our Creator.

    Also, as Christians, what we do should speak of the Kingdom that is coming and has come. That Kingdom will be filled with incredible beauty, incredible evidence of the Creator who reigns over it. It won’t be filled with products and consumables and profits. We need to be showing people what that Kingdom looks like Christians used to have the monopoly on the world’s great art, and we need to get back to that.

  84. By the way, I’d love to see a post recommending other artists you’ve discovered who are doing things with excellence, since I’ve only discovered a few. Other than yourself and John Mark McMillan, there’s Josh Garrels, Rend Collective, and…

  85. Great thought provoking article on art and a disingenuous music culture. I believe the main point (or at least the point I took from the post) can be applied to a great deal of modern evangelical culture giving your article a relevance far beyond what you might have intended. Too bad many commenters are focusing on your discussion of alcohol at christian concerts rather than trying to understand the comment within the context of your greater point. Pay no attention to them, your post was insightful and appreciated. Thank you.

  86. Here’s a link to a book excerpt I read a couple of years ago, about a guy in a Nashville coffee shop who could tell when a Christian rocker walked in. It’s sad. And funny. And true. http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/catalog.php?isbn=9781400074723&format=book&view=excerpt

  87. The machine is placating and disingenuous… hear honesty, hear greatness. And it’s generally not on the radio.

  88. It’s ironic, because it took me about three seconds to smell the pride, arrogance, bitterness, etc. in this one. Maybe on some level your interior quandary is correct, but I still think that if they both have a smell, this one is worse..

  89. THANK YOU for this blog post!
    People tend to think I’m crazy or sacrilegious or whatever for having the opinions that I do that tend to go against the norm. Thank you for stickin’ to your guns.
    You have my support and endorsement! (Whatever that’s worth) Keep up the great work.

  90. Wow….”all Christian music sucks…..except mine. All Christian musicians are fake…..except me”. What an air of superiority. Love your music, by the way. It’s very CREATIVE.

  91. I am a fan of your music. I discovered it in an opening song at Lakewood church. I happen to have made my living my entire life in “mainstream” music. A few thoughts.

    One: Playing in a bar does not legitimize your art.

    Two: You make your living from Christian music. It is very passé to do so, and then hate on your genre. You join a long line of artists who love the controversy….. Which is also cliche for Christian music at this point in time. If you don’t like playing in churches, and hate the genre, then simply leave it. You insult the fans of this genre, which are also your fans, by belittling your fans and fellow artists.

    3. Become a part of the solution, instead of part of the problem. The first step in that direction is to not eat your own.

  92. I think people should just listen to what they like. We all have different taste. I don’t bash other genres just because it’s not my cup of tea and I have friends that feel the same way about some of the stuff I like. I do understand the silliness/separation of calling music Christian music, but I don’t know another way to go about it. As a song writer myself, I just write what God puts on my heart, so I have no place to judge what God puts on another persons heart.

  93. I can agree with some of what you said, but also I disagree with most statements made. Something to point out is that you never used scripture to teach what you are trying to point out, which instead caused you to make some very opinionated statements. Instead of going off on a rant, you should be using that energy and time to build up and teach your brothers and sisters in Christ.

  94. Hey mike,
    Love you man, and I’ve been screaming a lot of this for years. Problem is it’s easy to hate me cause I’m nobody, but it’s hard to hate a successful blessed Christian in the public eye. I’m not sure if you know but I’ve been trying to contact you over the past year, much like a squeaky wheel I am pretty tenacious…
    Let’s talk sometime I’d love to just pick your brain and dialogue.
    Also, thanks for being an artists’ hero.

  95. There is one thing I’d like to ask about the main post. Is it possible that people can love some kinds of “Christian” music and dislike other kinds… and that still be okay with God? I mean seriously… I enjoy some music- Christian or otherwise- with deep, thoughtful lyrics and I enjoy others that are just fun, light, and “pop”. As a “Contemporary” Christian radio deejay with more than 35 years in the general radio industry, I have worked in Country, R&B, Rap, Top 40, Jazz, Black Gospel, Southern Gospel, you name it… and can appreciate- and enjoy- all styles. I believe God does, too. For me bad music is music that appeals to the lowest common denominators of sexual lust, exhibitionism, rage, violence, nihilism, rage, greed, etc. Good music, in any genre, makes you of thin of things that are pure, noble, loving, peaceful, inspiring, uplifting, repentant (not just guilty), thankful, etc. Contemporary Christian music skillfully done, with lyrics of truth, from a heart of faith, for me is a winner every time- whether or not it has commercial or critical success.

  96. I can hardly listen to commercial Christian Radio stations because so many of the songs all have this same…”whine” sound/feel/factor. I can’t even come up with the right word for it, but it’s pretty close to say disingenuous emotion. I agree, there are some of you who don’t strike me that way (you guys and JMM are on that list! ;) ) but so much of it feels like a plastic, fake, emotionally weird version of Christianity. :)

  97. We ve been talking about ths for over twenty years. Very little has changed, because there are Christians who don’t trust art, and the record companies want to sell those people a product. Zombie Christians will buy Zombie music. We can keep making music that is alive and real but don’t expect it will do well in this market. Much of American Christianity is dead inside, so we have to keep making music for the few who need it to survive, but there shouldn’t be any expectation that dead fundamentalists will hear it and change.

  98. Thanks for sharing your heart. Love to hear honest artists.

    1) My wife and I play the music game in the car where we try to name the artist. When we come to a religious station, we often just say “Christian” and move on. I can’t put my finger on it but you just know! I appreciate Gungor’s music, lyrics, etc.

    2) Agree about the industry seeming to be about marketing than anything else. But how is that any different from the “secular” market? Not sure what else to expect unfortunately.

    3) The post kind of went random with the tangent on alcohol. The reason SOME are uncomfortable with alcohol does have to do with an extra-biblical moralistic code. However, there is also a strong temperance movement in the history of Evangelicalism. This was borne out of a desire to have solidarity with the addicted (who were also often the working poor) and abstinence was an act of love, not moralistic self-righteousness.

    I’d say, don’t worry about the bar and don’t be sidetracked. Keep making great, honest music that inspires people and glorifies God and let that speak for itself. There’s a reason your shows sell out and perhaps God will continue to use you to bring another fresh, honest voice into our faith communities via your followers.

    Peace,
    Jason

  99. Thank you so very much for this. It makes me want to re-read Steve Turner’s “Imagine: a Vision for Christians in the Arts” for the umpteenth time.

  100. This is the best thing I’ve ever read on this matter. As a worship leader people don’t understand why I have a hard time listening to worship music. You are exactly right!

  101. I feel like Christian music actually has become more uniform in the last 15 years or so. I think there was more variety in the 70s, 80s and 90s. Today many Christian bands actually have their own version of the same song. It’s all worship music, and it sounds almost the same. Authentic Christian music has an equal chance of getting airplay in “secular” radio stations as anyone else I believe. In Norway at least, bands like dc Talk and Newsboys were picked up by “secular” radio in the 90s. More recently MaryMary and The Welcome Wagon have had some airplay.

  102. (I listen to a lot of ‘Christian’ music and find much of it sounds the same, very much like you described and agree with most of what you’re saying)–one thing I struggle with though is when ‘Christian’ artists hide who they are. They want the income that comes from being a mainstream artist but their product ends up on the shelves in Christian bookstores. The lyrics could easily be interpreted as being about loving a man or woman, not God, or are otherwise very much about social issues, etc, overcoming, redemption–all great stuff, but when you go their website, you go to their concert, etc there is absolutely nothing said, written or shared that ever points anyone to Christ. Christians can listen to it and interpret it ‘their’ way and non-believers can do the same, getting more of an Oprah-like fix of positiveness without ever understanding it was written by someone who supposedly is Christian. I’m actually not a Duck Dynasty fan but there is a group of people who, to me, have really got it figured out. Yes, there is a prayer at the end of their show but the program itself is not remotely Christian in content. The ‘actors’, however, are solid in their faith and so, when they appear in public, when they talk about what they do and who they are, it comes up. There’s no confusion about what they believe–they seem to be mastering the idea of the almost cliched statement about being in the world, not of it.

  103. I’m gonna start a screamo-worship-cover band called Zombie Propoganda ;)

    But seriously, love your work. Not only do my ears and heart not grow weary of it, but I’m thankful for artists like you paving the way for hopefully non-”zombie propoganda” young artists like us. Keep it up!!

  104. Hi there, I’m an aspiring producer and engineer. Worked with a few singers in South Florida and I agree with you that Christian music isn’t mixed quite well to where I can listen to it OVER and OVER again. When you talk about the sheen, I know exactly what you mean. I rather listen to secular Hip Hop than Christian Hip Hop. I feel like the same engineer is mixing and mastering these things and loosing the grit of it. In Pop, I really enjoy Brooke Frasiers shadowfeet. When I fitst heard it, I didn’t think it was christian due to the sound/production of it.

    I also think that in the secular world there is other contributing factors at the time of recording like marijuana. This is a very common factor(but not everytime) in the recording industry. Helps with performace and letting loose, not condoning it though.

    And for the alcohol at shows, I think it’s the testimony of it not so much the fact that us as Christians could embrace the gray area of matter. And there will always be the one or few people that will over do it and thats when media will explode and exploit it and make Christians a bad name, possibly as hypocrites, which we already slightly have in the world and media.

    Great article and keep doing your thing. You guys are great. Start a revival in music of what you want to do, not what is popular or what bland music you can sell to the mases or have covered by large church bands.

    Sincerely,
    Jay

  105. Love this. Thank you so much.

  106. Yay! Let’s see who turns this whole article into an alcohol issue!! Oh America….

  107. I like your view on Christian music. I’m a Christian and a musician and, for the most part, don’t care for the mainstream Christian music and your blog help me understand why I don’t.
    But, I think there are some valid arguments against the somewhat of a tangent you went on about Communion…
    First, there weren’t age laws in Jesus’ day about drinking alcohol. If the Church were to offer only wine, how would anyone under the age of 21 be legally allowed to take Communion? Secularists and those against religion would have a field day with claims of churches “making” children drink alcohol for their beliefs. Also, what if a believer who struggles with alcohol addiction wanted to partake in Communion but only wine was allowed? 1 Corinthians 9:22 says, “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” Paul’s intention was to never do something that may not be sinful or a struggle for him but tempts someone who does struggle with it. Using wine is fine for Communion. I have no problem with it, but it shouldn’t be the only form. Ultimately, it’s not what you use for Communion, but why you’re doing it. That’s what matters. And as for drinking at a Christian concert…it depends on your heart, the reason why you feel the need to drink alcohol there, and the example you’ve obligated yourself to make as a believer to others at the concert, especially children and non-believers. Again, drinking is not wrong, but if it hinders someone else in their faith or leads others into temptation, then it becomes a problem. That goes for any event where there’s alcohol. And if the reason for such rules in a particular church is due to where the money is coming from, then that church and its leadership (or lack thereof if they’re trying to appease members rather than follow Christ) has much bigger problems than grape juice.

    • Ok, I know this doesn’t have much to do with the article, but the Catholic Church does do only wine during Communion. Children receive First Communion around 2nd grade (depending on the diocese). And they are allowed to drink the wine. It’s for religious purposes. I’ve been taking the host and wine every Mass since I was 9. Although I’m not the best with church attendance, I’ve never heard any of my very conservative friends, regardless of religious beliefs (or non-beliefs) get up in arms about “making children drink alcohol.”

      And as long as you take the host, you don’t have to take the wine. It’s more of a supplementary thing than a required. In fact, my priest is an alcoholic. When he came to our church, he was very upfront about it and he doesn’t touch the wine, not even after blessing it.

  108. I get it, I really do. I am very particular about the Christian artists I listen to because listening to some of them is like eating fat free ice cream. It looks like ice cream, it kinda tastes like ice cream, but its lacking the good stuff.

    I would take caution pushing this line of thought too far though. Eventually it becomes less about ‘creatively’ praising God and more about worshiping art and creativity. I would agree that our fear of alcohol is not what Christ intended, but I will gladly abstain and feed into the the American religiosity if it means, and it does, that family and friends won’t be tempted to indulge in something that they struggle with.

    All music is art, and all art is creative. I appreciate the effort you put into your music, and I understand that many artists don’t do the same, but don’t knock the other artists that are putting their time and energy into their music and praising God through it. If the words are hollow and there is no soul behind it that’s on them, but I think it would be a stretch to propose that their shinny plastic music is a stumbling block as large as some of the things you have shown support for.

  109. I don’t have time to read the entire article and comments so maybe someone else already talked about this – but I think that the “Christian music culture” has little to no respect for music history. If music started with Steven Curtis Chapman (with a hazy memory of Larry Norman) you’ll be drawing from a very shallow well of creativity. Great artists immerse themselves in the lineage of creativity that informs the richness of what they go on to create. And why do Christian musicians like to add a bridge to a great hymn as if they were half the lyricist that Charles Wesley was.

  110. interesting article. And at one point i would agree. But then i realized that maybe we are listening to the wrong “Christian” music. The stuff we hear on the raido is very neutralistic because the market is sooo small. They have to play to a wider audience. ALSO they have to appeal to the ones that are keeping the lights on so to speak. Lets face it, my grandmother isn’t listening to: Classic Crime, Emery, Showbread, Anberlin, The Wedding, Children 18:3, Fallen, Flyleaf, Red… list goes on and on. This just means that we have to do more work in what we are listening to in Lyrics. Just because you have “Christian Lyrics” doesn’t mean you are a “Christian” Band either. Our whole premise is a fallacy.

  111. This blog post was spot on, and that is why it is so important for the church to move forward. Move into new tech, new sound, and new vision. Jesus was so ahead of his time on earth, and the church should reflect that. Well Done!

  112. Loved every bit of this! And if y’all hadn’t fallen ill (hope you are better, BTW), I would have totally gotten my regular Blue Moon at the Local 506 Show in Chapel Hill (I’m kinda a regular haha). So, that means you need to come back.

  113. Ha ha! I am so glad there is someone else out there who likes to get on their soap box too. I wholeheartedly agree with many of the points you make. I can’t stand disingenuous Christianity and I hate it in our entertainment vehicles. I am tired of watching poorly written and acted christian themed movies. It is the same thing there. They think they can pull it off if they have a good production team, good music and if they blow something up. How about write a good script and not a sermon? How about hire good actors? Not necessarily famous ones (because most of the famous ones who would be willing to star in one are probably having a hard time getting hired somewhere else.)

    Like Michael, I am not trying to be hard ether. But why do we as a body think the way we do? How can we truly be connected with creator of the universe, the most genuine reality imaginable and peddle it like cocoa puffs.

    Anyway thanks for writing this and perhaps it will cause us to think ponder our own lives to replace any false or fake elements and replace it with God’s truth.

  114. Reblogged this on TiNypianO and commented:
    Amazing truth here.

  115. Right on. I’ve felt the same way and have had many of these discussions with my musician friends over the years. The sad thing is that it’s not just music. The same “success” formula dictates a lot of the goings on in modern churches today and just makes me sad. I majored in jazz peformance and composition years ago with an emphasis in saxophone. I’ve always been highly critical of mainstream Christian music but I could never put a finger on what caused that distaste. I think you hit the nail on the head. It’s just not honest. If it isn’t honest, how do you connect with it as a musician? I’ve been told that it’s not about the musician, it is about God and about playing and writing music people can/want to worship/praise God with. What about the heart of the artist? Doesn’t that also come from God? Is creating something inspired by events/circumstances in their similar struggles of navigating through day-to-day bs living as a Christian only valuable or worthy if it checks all the boxes? I see the sheen you mentioned as basically the glazing of conformity to the formula. The “yes man” attitude that trumps artistry and replaces it with the next I-V-vi-IV song. Give the people what they want to buy and forsake honesty…some guys in the secular world call that selling out. I am not saying it is all bad. Not saying people/God can’t be blessed by the me too songs. I just want what you described as soul back in the music. When I hear Christian artists going against the grain it’s so refreshing. Thanks for that. Funny thing is that going against the grain is just simply doing what people in the secular music industry have always been doing and what Christian artists used to do.

  116. Why is this like this? Because it’s all written, produced, packaged, and sold at the same factory. Like modern country music, which also sounds soulless and homogenous. Country has Nashville as its home base, Christian music comes from the suburbs of Nashville: Brentwood and Franklin, Tennessee. As a result, it all sounds the same. Furthermore, it is not written, produced, packaged and sold to spread a message. Certainly there are those who would like to think so. However, they are lying to themselves. It is written, produced, packaged and sold to maximize profits for multinational media conglomerates. Companies like Capitol Christian Music Group (a division of Universal Music Group) and Word Entertainment (part of Warner/Curb). Certainly there are smaller imprints out there, but the people who get played on Christian radio are the ones with the marketing money behind them, and those are the major label folks. So this is why Christian radio is awful, as well.

    In short, it is like this because Christian music is not Christian, it is capitalism.

  117. absolutely phenomenal blog! to say that you hit the nail on the head would be an understatement! Awesome read

  118. I thought this was a blog about Christian music. But honestly you lost my interest when you started pushing the alcohol and harshly judging those of us convicted not to drink. If you grew up with alcoholism, maybe you would be as convicted as I am about never spending a penny on that industry. Maybe not. You are free to do as the Holy Spirit leads you in your witness to others. Which very well may be to the bartender. But, please note that there are many of us convicted by the Holy Spirit not to ever be found in a bar or spending money on that industry. That is not based on money or old men or “rules”. But only by the conviction of the Holy Spirit not to be a stumbling block to those youth who watch our every move. And to those watching to see if we are any different than the rest of the world, in our hearts and by our actions. To imply that all Christians must spend money on alcohol to please the bar owner is ludicrous. And to imply that all those that abstain from drinking or frequenting bars are Pharisees is crazy. Please stand by your convictions but do not judge me in mine.

    • Thank you, a bit of sanity at last. We are clearly warned against alcohol in proverbs 20v1, proverbs 31v6, isaiah 5v11, isaiah 24v9 and more besides. Gods word is all that counts, man taking an isolated incident in scripture is beyond dangerous. We are called to search the scriptures, comparing one with another.

  119. Great points other than the completely out of place, unsupported, and bigoted attack on death metal/screamo/any music that yells. The fact that you equate even the vocal styles of death metal and screamo leads me to believe that you do not even know what death metal is. One of the major points of this article is to get Christians to question the stereotypically nonchristian stigmas yet you LITERALLY demonize entire genres of music simply because it is the new “devil’s music.” How ironic can you get? The worst part is that you seemingly thought this attack would endear you to your audience or at least cause some comic relief. Great points but I cannot overlook such an egregious contradiction.

  120. So, I’m guessing this has already been answered in the long string of comments above, but who are some artists you would suggest? They don’t have to sound Christian, they just have to be Christian. My brother likes hard stuff and I don’t, so if you have suggestions for either I’d appreciate it. :)
    Thanks!

  121. Great thoughts man. I’ve been struggling with some of these things, too, as I look at the Christian metal scene- Why is so much of it the same? Why the lack of originality? Why don’t most people care about actually making disciples in their music? Why do the lyrics have to be vague and so out there?… And on and on it goes… Good things to think about here man… ;)

  122. Titus 3:9, “Avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless,” certainly comes to mind. It would appear that you have positioned yourself as judge and jury, determining for yourself which music is ‘worthy’ and which is not, based on your interpretation of, among other things, the performer’s emotional involvement. For some reason you have taken it upon yourself to run interference for us, so that, Heaven forbid, we are not duped by some Christian musician who is only going through the spiritual motions. Really Michael, gripes like these you should keep to yourself, as they only serve to cause division. Please pray about deleting my comment and this entire blog post. It supposes way more information that you could possibly know (only God knows the heart) and truly serves no good purpose.

    • Really? Speaking the truth in love is wrong. Passionless music with pretentious style replacing something we should be most passionate and thoughtful about needs to be talked about. Mediocrity to make music palatable to a few is wrong and stupid. It loses its ability to be used in evangelism because it is fake and just sucks in general. I have a hard time telling my non Christian friends to enjoy listening to a song with me because the music is so lame.

      • No, what’s wrong is that you feel you have been gifted by God with the ability to listen to a person sing a song and then determine what’s going on within their heart. If you pray about your criticisms over an open Bible, I trust (if your prayers are not fake or lame, or otherwise do not suck), God will reveal to you the error of your ways.

        Here’s a Bible verse you can mull over when you begin:

        “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.” Jeremiah 17:9-10

  123. I lived in China for 4 years. In that time, I discovered what many people know about the Chinese art industry — that it is flat and dead.

    Why? Because there is little freedom for true expression. The Chinese government allows only certain kinds of expression, and disallows others (i.e. anything that could interpreted, widely, as a criticism of government policies). But the human mind doesn’t work like that. As an industry, you can’t say, “Free your mind! Express whatever you want! Except this. And this.” You can’t shackle part of your mind and expect the rest to work just as well. The resulting art is flat, without life. And those with the best talent, those whose brilliance flows out of their very pores and cannot be repressed–these people leave. They go to a place where they are allowed to truly express themselves. That’s one reason why such amazing works of fiction come out of Taiwan.

    For Christian music to be good, there has to be room for doubt. REAL doubt. Sometimes, that means real unbelief, and honest disagreement with what the Bible says. There has to be room for talking about real life, as we really, really live it — not a sugar-pop version, where any mention of something “worldly” must be followed by how it brought us back to Jesusn, or how we asked for forgiveness. But this is not something that the current Christian music industry can stomach. Why? Because of how the Christian music industry defines itself, and who it chooses to see as its audience. It markets to people who want a “Christian” version of pop culture, because they see secular culture as polluting or dangerous. If the “polluting” elements of pop culture, i.e. doubt, enter into “Christian” music, Christian music loses its purpose, at least for these people. This is the constraint, the “censorship,” of Christian music, if you will.

    Brilliant musicians rarely stay within the Christian music industry, because it is so constricting to their freedom of expression. And without brilliant musicians, the Christian music industry is forever confined to copying the musical trends that are created in the secular industries.

    I write about Christianity and fundamentalism at my blog “365 Days of Hijab.” Come leave a comment and join the discussion!

  124. I think it’s pretty funny that when I finished reading the blog post, before I could scroll to the comments section, there was an ad for Olive Garden. Isn’t that the CCM equivalent of Italian food?

  125. I think it’s funny that, before I could scroll to the comments section, I was greeted with an ad for Olive Garden. Isn’t that the CCM equivalent of Italian food?

  126. Since no one really mentioned it, I feel the need to leave a reply. While I love the main part of your message. I don’t think it should be just the music here….the same thing can be seen in all of the Christian walk…I’ll use your comment for an example. Smoking is in no way like drinking. Not only is it not good for your own temple, it effects everyone around you! 2nd hand smoke causes diseases, and can in no way be thought of in any way shape or form as glorifying the name of God.

    Yes, we all have issues (and smoking is a clear indicator that there is something spiritual they haven’t dealt with yet) and we don’t want to judge others. It is the responsibility of their immediate Christian friends and spiritual leaders to get intimate enough with them to be able to walk them through whatever struggles they are having. I am not sure that means we want to parade off our sins. Would we lie in front of everyone continually and say it is ok? Especially with people in the spotlight, who people tend to copy. If they chose to do so, they should also be very open as to why they are doing it, that it isn’t a good thing, the struggles they face, and that they are receiving help through the word of God and are confident that they will soon be more then conquerors! Then when they are, that would bring glory to God!

    Our bodies are the temple of God. I can’t even stand seeing Christians eating garbage food all the time, eating GMO’s with no shame, supporting Satans company itself. I don’t judge those people but it makes me equally as sad as you get at the art. We are God’s art. The reason why you see this in the Christian music industry isn’t just because of money, it is because of us…..Christians on the whole are fake. We talk the talk but don’t walk the walk. How many truly count the cost before becoming a Christian? Most just walk up on an alter call on a whims notice….they don’t sit and really count the costs. They want to be saved, but not leave everything and follow him. We are among the richest and Jesus said it is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God then it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. Also that there would be many who call Him LORD, where He will say “I never knew you”

    The Christian walk is all about daily and moment by moment decisions of the heart, every decision effects more then just you so make sure every decision is made for God. Like my decision right now to get off this computer! Yikes,

  127. Christian community: “I Am Mountain is really obscure, doesn’t make much sense, and refuses to talk openly about Christ or even remotely moral themes. Also, you use autotune, which is silly.”

    Gungor’s response: “It’s art, man! You guys are totally dumb, you just can’t understand!”

    Christian community: “No, really… we get what you were trying to do: You wanted to paint a picture of humanity from humanity’s perspective. You just failed at it, both musically and lyrically.”

    Gungor: “LA LA LA LA LA I can’t hear you because I’m too busy being the ONLY ONE who does real art”

    Real mature, Michael. This blog is full of arrogance and general nonsense. I love how you just decide to go on a 1000-word tirade about how alcohol is fine and we should drink at your shows. Who suddenly made you the pope of Christian music? Who gave you the authority to come in here and slight the entirety of CCM just because people use the word “creative” to describe your music? A lot of genres sound the same. Rock, metal, rap, etc… they are all arguably constrained by their definitions. If you think secular music is so much more “honest” and Christianity is just a bunch of “zombies,” then by all means gracefully exit the industry. You’ll certainly do better for it than the soapbox approach you’ve taken here.

  128. I’m hesitant on writing this because I in no way want to offend anyone especially those who have made the decision to sing for our Lord. For this reason I have kept my opinions to myself. First of all I remember growing up in the 60′s and I remember the labeled hippie cult music. I resisted this era of music and attitude. I labeled this type of music as cult music and it always had a particular sound. And it troubles me that Christian music has that same feeling to me, and I believe that it is the enemy making me feel this way wanting me to resist the message a Christian song is trying to send tome. I really try to listen to the message and ignore the same irritating sound I associate with those sappy whiny songs I heard in the 60′s. I, like Mr. Gungor, can identify Christian music within a few seconds, and right away, I feel like, “This sounds so depressing an not uplifting at all.” And I know it’s intention is to be uplifting, but I resist to the point I don’t want to ride in my friend’s car because he listens to Christian radio station. I become fidgety and feel anxiety and I just want to turn it off. My point is that if anyone has any advice for me, I feel so guilty because I don’t feel the same as my friend. I keep thinking the vocals sound fake and insincere, its like the singers are trying to sing with a voice that’s not their own. I want to shake these feelings off so bad. Am I wrong to feel this way? Am I being too critical or judgmental? Or is it just a matter of taste?

  129. My take on what’s wrong with Christian music is the artists don’t have or show any belief or confidence in themselves. The main reason why I love secular music is because of how much belief and confidence secular artist have in themselves. Christians have this religious pride, so they believe they must put all belief and trust in Jesus and none in themselves. Should we not be the people with the most confidence and belief in ourselves than any other secular person in the world because of the confidence and faith we have in Jesus! In short most Christian music sucks BC there is no confidence in ones self!

  130. It’s funny to read this from you, because a few years ago, you visited my youth group to perform for a special event. I was there to help set up, and at several points in the evening before your performance, I heard curse words from you, and members of your band. I heard discussion that did not honor God, in fact displeasing to Him. No one is perfect, and those things in no way make you a bad person, or your faith less plausible. However, the plank in your eye may be greater than the one you are casting. God is the only judge of the validity in other Christian artists, not you.

  131. I find so many things wrong with this post. It feels like your bashing the Church & the Christian Music Industry. They do not need that….they need support. Do some things in the industry need to be changed..yes, but bashing it does not change anything. Another thing, while we have the freedom in Christ to drink, it does not mean we should. The Bible also speaks about not being a stumbling block. I don’t know about you, but I do not want to contribute to someone who has had alcohol problems in past, start drinking again because they see me with a glass of wine in my hand. Also, wine in Jesus’ time and wine now is actually quite different. It was not as strong back then, therefore it would take much more to get drunk. And if you look at the Greek/Hebrew translations you will notice it calls grapes while still on the vine “wine”. So when the Bible talks about “wine” it very well could be talking about grape juice. Any Hermeneutics professor will tell you that. I know I’ll probably get replies saying I’m judgmental or whatever, but the Bible says what it says. And if you have to justify your drinking, you know deep down what your doing is wrong.

    • Seriously? You’re going to argue the “it wasn’t as strong back then”? Alright. How about smokin’ the dank? Weed was many, many times less potent in the 60′s than it is now. So it was “just a thing back then”?

      No, if you have to justify drinking it in no way means it’s wrong. The bible says what it says… But if you’re going to try to interpret passages without any biblical training or knowledge, and try to claim that the bible is talking about grape juice… you’re right, you’ll get rebuking replies.

      It’s common sense not to crack a beer in front of an alcoholic. You don’t have to be a Christian to know that it’s unfair. But if you’re going to try to tell me that I’m sinning by having a pint with my life group on wings night or a glass of wine at dinner, then I’m going to call you a sinner for violating your body as a temple by ingesting trans fat, or mountain dew, or pizza.

      Honestly people… Give your head a shake. We are tempted by sin. We also have free will and a conscience. So many people seem to think that as soon as you down a beer you’re on a slippery slope, or are a determining influence on someone else (who ALSO has free will and a conscience), or going against God’s law.

      The Bible is pretty clear, and pretty practical. Don’t be drunk. Why? Is it because somehow the nature of being drunk is satanic? No. It’s because you’re putting yourself in a situation that is stupid, dangerous, harmful to your health as well as being psychologically weak and vulnerable. You can’t think properly and you’re more susceptible to other sin.

      What it DOESN’T say is to not drink wine, not be in a place with wine, not to look at wine, ect… That’s when you become a pharisee, building rules around rules with the intention of preventing people of breaking the actual rule. Which, if you didn’t know, isn’t biblical.

      So loosen up people. It’s not sinful to drink alcohol. Be conscious of the situation others are in, but realize that they make their own choices too. And PLEASE, don’t start calling people out for having a beer at a barbecue.

      I would say end rant, but this wasn’t a rant.

  132. I can’t be the only person reading this thinking “Gungor music is super christain music sounding”….. Not a pass on weather their music is good or not, just saying if I were to play the “christain or secular” game Gungor would easily be put in the christain sounding music category.

  133. What I personally find most saddening about this blog is the responses of the “Christians”. Do we not realize we are stomping out “Freedom of Speech”? Do we not realize that we are one of the most condemning groups of people. Reminder John3:17
    After I graduated high school, I worked in Germany for a while. I took my little Southern Baptist self down to a retreat and thank goodness I got OVER the fact that everyone in the room (during the worship session) had a beer as refreshment. After I got over this fact, I saw that they were worshiping. I also worshiped. Point is, Jesus looks past the exterior and even the sin to see the HEART!!!! He looks at the part of man that can be redeemed, otherwise, there was no need for him to come. Can anyone see Gungor’s heart in this matter? He loves people. He wants people set free, not held in chains! That’s what Jesus did!! I bet that most of Christianity would crucify Jesus all over again if he were here- his heart has become THAT foreign. People have lost the sense of wisdom and discernment and call it judging because it makes them uncomfortable to point a finger at a system. Faith, Christianity…it has become more about playing your cards and how well we do the system.
    Christ came to set us free. Free to have eyes to see and ears to hear what’s going on in HIS kingdom and his Holy Spirit was sent to teach us. Most of us would rather hang on to what man teaches, since when did doctrine and systems trump the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives?
    We have rivers of living water flowing in us but some of us still can’t see. We need to repent (have our beliefs align with those in the Word, to have our minds renewed by the work of the Holy Spirit and to walk in freedom, not fear. Freedom not cowardice. Freedom not judgement. Freedom and love, not hate.

  134. Wow this was so enlightening. I am a Christian, I go to church every Sunday, heck I even play on our worship team, but I have been thinking to myself why I just can’t get into certain Christian music. I can say you hit the nail on the hea with this article. It’s so true how you put it about there being just a sheen to it that makes some Christian music void of emotion. I feel like this is why I have trouble listening to certain artists. I have visited other church’s and sometimes I found myself not being able to get into worship. I can relate this to your article. Some worship leaders (not all, and definitely not trying to be mean) but some of them put no real emotion behind the words they sing, they are just pressing the words themselves. Not trying to make my church sound like it’s the only one like this because I know there are others but one reason I love my church soo much is because I can feel the emotion in my worship leaders set. I’m fact the heart of this worship team is glued to the connection and emotions that should be involved in worshiping God. We play a lot of your songs and it’s really an inspiration to know that there are artists out there that are not just conforming to sell or reach out in a certain way but you guys stick to truth in your music and that in itself has a huge impact on people. So thank you for this, it inspired me to stay truthful and emotionally tuned in to my music and what I want to portray. I hope others catch something good from this!

  135. LOVED THIS!!!! Thank you for bringing this up. I don’t listen to much mainstream. Just got Woodkid melting my face along with Josh Garrels and Humming House. I haven’t been able to put my finger on why I can’t stand most Christian music that is produced mainstream. I love the rawness from guys like you and occasional Derek Webb when its not like an overdosed Moby soundtrack, it gives my soul freedom to actually come to God and leave my mess there and deal with it with Him. Your comment about getting a drink makes me remember when I was at a Jars of Clay show a few years back in a bar, one of the best shows I have ever been too, minus you guys jamming out with us at SYMC, I remember going to the bar to get a “drink” the bar tender told me they were not selling alcohol due to the venue… I was floored.

    It comes down to the authenticity of the heart found in the art from. So glad you guys have tons of raw heart in what you produce.

  136. This article Seems a little self righteous, especially with the genre of “emo” or” screamo” music! Truthfully I’ve felt more positive meaning from heavier metal music than your typical accoustic guitar hippy type lyrics. Sorry to put in the context of “hippy” music, but I’ve never felt angered or hear anger when it comes to metal.

  137. Thank you for this. I have stopped listening to Christian radio for this reason, along with some watered down/ incorrect theology in songs. I grew up listening to Newsboys and DC Talk, and feel like Christian music has gone downhill in recent years. It’s so refreshing to see that someone inside the industry gets it! Thank you!

  138. It’s so sad that this whole blog had one point. To show that’s music should have soul behind it and not just produced in fake manners to reach differen genres and all people can look at are the few sentences that talked about alcohol. In no way did he say it is ok to be drunk. In my perspective he was merly stating a point that he thinks it’s sad that people would be judged for having a drink or even buying a non-alcoholic coke from a bar. Please don’t twist his words. Judging is such an easy thing to do and a lot of you are judging right now. Judging him by the alcohol comment, judging if he is being honest, judging a whole bunch of things but in reality we need to just look at this as someone’s opinion. It’s like a jacket if you don’t like how it fits then don’t wear it. No one is forcing you. I just wish people wouldn’t be so closed minded and judgmental.

  139. I agree with what Gungor said in this article. As being a singer/songwriter myself, it is always difficult to write because you are always trying to make it sound like the status quo because you know that is what everyone wants to hear, and with that, you lose your authenticity because you’re music is no longer true to who you are. I definitely think that we need more transparency in Christian music, and transparency is what Gungor was showing by this blog post. However, after reading some of these comments and comments by “Christians” on other sites, I now know why there are so many people who do not want to be a part of Christianity.

    The one comment about calling Gungor a “fleshy” Christian, or saying he is not even a true Christian is simply immature. How is that being a Christian? Who are we to judge? Christians are not perfect, but we sure like to talk about how less Christian someone else than me because that makes me feel better about myself. Also, we have so many people that like to preach Scriptures at people instead of just loving them. I like the Samaritan woman story because this shows a great picture of Jesus and what Christian love is all about. He didn’t preach Scriptures or pass judgement on the lady (which he could have), but instead showed her love by being real with her. And in that, she came to know the truth.

    The fact of all of this is, is that if we were to love people with the same love that Jesus had, more people would would come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Instead, we are too focused at preaching at people instead of loving them to the Lord. That is one reason that Matthew 5:16 is one of my favorite verses. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” It isn’t about your words, but about your actions. Let us examine ourselves before we start passing judgment on others, both saved and unsaved.

    P.S. Before you go on a rant and post a comment, make sure that you spell things right. When you spell things wrong and have bad grammar, it just makes you look like a buffoon.

  140. I disagree with most of this.
    1.
    He obviously doesn’t know what hardcore is about. Hardcore is ALL about emotion and passion and not really about anger at all. Love/Jesus lyrics work fine with hardcore

    2.
    I would say that Music is not just about art and creativity, in my experience it has mostly been about community. If it be folk or punk or worship it has always been more about people coming together than it had been about creating art. If you understand this his argument isn’t that valid

    3.
    I Don’t believe the Christian music industry is broken, I believe it is more alive then ever.

    4.
    I hardly believe that there is more false emotion in Christian music than mainstream radio. Shows like xfactor and The voice are built around false emotion. People on these shows are taught to display and try and show emotion during the songs, and these TV shows are just a showcase of the secular music industry. I recently watched the ARIAS and was saddened by the amount of crud that had been churned out. Most of the Christian bands that I have seen live deffinatly have not displayed false emotion.

  141. Well… the good will always shine through the bad, eventually. The various ‘industries’ cannot be counted on to provide lovers of good art and/or craft with those things. Industries are concerned with product that sells. that’s how an industry survives. The best thing the industry can do for us is set a good tone, and the industry is dependent on artists to make honest art. Artists often feel left out because the industry has decided to feed mediocrity to people, which is not exactly what most people want… but kind of. In my experience, what most people want is a medium, which isn’t inherently mediocre. When the industry primarily lets in those who prescribe to a certain sound or say the ‘right’ kinds of things, fewer people are raising the bar, and when the boundaries are challenged, the artist is politely marginalized (Wow, that sure is creative), more often than not. And I understand the need for a medium, but new mediums immerge when we embrace the bar being raised or boundaries expanding. The responsibility of the artist is to explore and report honest findings, whatever industry or DUI system one subscribes to.

    I appreciate the post. It’s a thick issue, and I find most Christian music industry music to be embarrassingly (search for the right word)… bad. But there are more Christians out there making good music and art than any of us realize. That’s because they’re not so concerned with being relevant, and more concerned with doing good honest work, and being in relationship with the people they come in contact with. Simple. Kinda makes one wonder what the purpose of a solely Christian industry is in the first place, with the exception of creating church music. Oh ya, I said it already: it’s to sell things. Not ironically, church music is what the Christian music industry is best at, and not surprisingly, the church music from the past 30 years is arguably sub-par when compared to the older. The medium… is low. But the good (praise God) finds ways to shine through.

  142. I’ve been thinking this for a while now! It’s nice to know that someone else sees it too. I really resonate with what you said about the soul of each genre. As a vocalist, the best way to communicate the words is not just by singing them, it’s by being creative and actually singing the words how your soul wants to sing them. It’s amazing when you listen to Gospel music, and you hear the choir singing, the soul of that music is JOY. And I believe them too. I don’t believe that many of the vocalists in Christian music are truly “letting go” when they sing, they sound restrained and boring. I don’t believe that they are singing at their full capacities. Also, thanks for saying what you did about alcohol in the church. It’s dumb to restrict yourself just for the sake of appearances, when you believe something else. What if we just lived out our lives the way that we believe Christ lived his? And we represented ourselves the way we are on the outside the same way we are on the inside? It would be cool. And most likely transformative for those who know us and are watching us. Transparency is a powerful thing. So is God through our transparency. I’m done now.

  143. Confession: My worship leader and I (lead pastor) joke that the only time we listen to Christian music is on Sunday mornings.

    We prefer other things, like rock-n-roll or the blues. The gospel is essentially the blues anyway, the story of a lover who refuses to give up on his betrayer. So when Chris Robinson sings, “I got no sermons on ascending, no verdict on deceit; no selfish memorandum, no confusion for me,” he’s lying. He’s hurt and everybody knows it. He’s chasing love through the blues, and so there is hope there, and that’s something we all understand. Music doesn’t always have to be victorious. Nothing on Led Zeppelin II ends well. But it relates well (and it sounds good).

    Sometimes it needs to hang there unresolved, and yet generative in the hope of renewal. It’s why Come Thou Fount is at the top of the list for me. The whole song is only the hope of a new beginning. It’s clearly written from the depths of struggle and sin. The whole thing is an invitation for grace and a better day. It reads like a journal entry of a struggling Christ-follower who woke early next to a guy she didn’t really love, or even know that well, and she feels the weight of a reckless night that now stands as history, and history can’t be touched or changed, only carried along, like baggage or weights. “Streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.” That’s the hope of the song. Redemption. It should be played in open-E with a slide.

    I just read an article on a Rutgers professor who is teaching a semester-long class on understanding the gospel though Bruce Springsteen’s lyrics. This is brilliant, because it’s in there. People laughed when I heralded the article, but they laughed out of fear, or from a level of discomfort that God’s truth might crop up in other places that have not yet been approved.

    Amy Ray said: “It’s funny ‘cause you can find God in music when you’re gathered together singing a song, but also there are moments that I’ve had seeing people perform where it’s just, That’s God. It’s like they’re not God, but God’s there. It’s like Patti Smith at Red Rocks, Prince’s Purple Rain Tour. You know, it’s like these certain moments, like Rage Against the Machine at the Masquerade in Atlanta, you know, like there’s just these moments and it’s not the personality of the musicians anymore. Something’s disappeared and the music and the audience and everything is merged, and there’s no separation between performer and audience. That’s what spirituality is supposed to be. No separation.”

    Full Interview Here: http://www.onbeing.org/program/indigo-girls-on-music-and-finding-god-in-church-and-smoky-bars/6008/extraaudio?embed=1

    I could go on and on.

    Good article.

    Loved it.

    Sing the blues, my friend.

    Derek Sweatman

  144. I’ve seen 13,000 people with their arms open wide worshiping to Chris Tomlin. I’ve seen a tough as nails biker dude brought to tears by Steve Green’s ‘The Mission’ copied radio to radio using a cassette tape and an external microphone. I’ve gotten dozen’s of personal testimony about how ‘I Can Only Imagine’ helped people get through a bad day.

    I’ve also seen the biggest act in Christian music in a radio studio at 5:30 in the morning ready to do an interview when he really didn’t have to (that was Steven Curtis Chapman,and that’s one of the reasons he’s STILL a huge star). I can also think of a few Christian bands that are still relevant after having huge Mainstream careers because of their loyal Christian fan base (even though the whole time they were at their peak they ignored and played down their past).i

    I’ve been in Christian Radio for 12 years (in New York City) in that time I’ve seen hundreds of songs that were marketed to death never get airplay. The biggest lesson I’ve taken away is that you can market a song but if people don’t like it their is no way they’ll support it.

  145. I am a career musician and I am a part of NARAS. Years ago, I decided to never again vote for Grammy’s, CMA’s, and especially Dove’s. Music should not be judged and should not be a popularity contest. Just like the example you made about art (painting, drawing, etc.), the soul is touched in a personal way. Mindless people let the culture and society tell them what is good. It’s truly sad. I’m also a stage performance coach, indie producer, and music mentor. It pains me to share the truth with the next generation of this business. God have mercy! The one positive outcome is that it has made me grow that much closer to Christ because the culture has seriously blurred the vision of Him. Thanks for sharing that blog.

  146. I highly suggest reading, Addicted to Mediocrity: 20th Century Christians and the Arts by Franky Schaeffer.

  147. Growing up as a PK I also remember a “season”…. granted only a “season” of being frustrated, annoyed and even made fun of Christians, the way they work our their salvation, their lack of balance, hypocrisy… It was so easy for me to see where they really were missing the mark. I was in my 20′s, naive, judgmental, and believed because I grew up in church as a PK, I must have a more correct view of many biblical issues. I am thankful God was gentle with me through that season, whew, He probably should have knocked me off my high horse early…. Eventually He did. All of that to say, be careful. We are called to love His people, love His people, love His people. Just as He loves us, with all our flaws, judgments, and mockery of those whom He died for. To use repulsive as the description of those He is willing to extend grace to as they grow…. Wow. We aren’t talking about Pharisees, we are talking about “the woman at the well”.

  148. As a recovering drug user and alcoholic that was saved from these things by the Lord Jesus Christ….it’s good to know that Jesus promotes alcohol drinking in the Bible. Thanks Michael I guess I will now go have a drink….or maybe two.

    • Yep Christopher. It is not a problem with Jesus at all. So get over yourself. If you’re FAT, do you expect us to ban chocolate chip cookies? Alcohol is all throughout the Bible. The instruction is don’t drink to excess and don;t be addicted. But it was used in parties (Jesus actually made it at the wedding), medicinally (Paul telling Timothy to drink some wine); etc. If you lived in Scotland or Germany or the U.K, etc you would see how categorically stupid you sound. This fear of alcohol is exclusively an American thing. Again – quit trying to create “Christian rules” based on your own fears and problems.

  149. You’ve never grown up in an alcoholic family. Look at the stastitics of households that keep liquor in them. Those aren’t facts coming from crumudgeon old farts in the church. This is a form of legalism isn’t? You forcing your convictions on me? It takes 1 drink to be legally intoxicated. Ever been to a drunk driving accident? Didn’t think so. Poor illustration.

  150. Interesting…i’m one of the ones who likes a lot of what’s out there and has called your music creative. When I say it…i think I meant that you didn’t conform to the pop-rock pattern and sound of most of the other artists.
    I plan to digest this because there were a lot of angles to the point :-)
    One question you didn’t cover that I’d love to hear is…do you think it’s fair to compare christian music and other genres of music…I ask because (worship singer here) I have 2 categories of Christian music…what I see as just art and what is meant for common singing. I can’t sing the creation track from your last album in a service but I like to listen to it. Conversely there is a whole wealth of christian music, and gospel music(grew in black Gospel church) that I see meets a very specific need in the body of Christ for worship singing times. So those songs have a lot in common and often sound alike. Non-musical singers need to be able to pick up a song quickly and join in while sincerely being able to agree with biblically sound lyrics that express their hearts. My thought is that that 2nd category gets played on the radio a lot be cause folks who like communal singing wanna hear worship music as well as ART. Agree? Thoughts?

  151. So the christian metal band As I Lay Dying is not being true to their lyrics because they are screaming? I totally disagree.

    I find it hard to believe that every time a christian singer takes stage at a concert or worship, that when they raise their hands and put on a needy face and sing in a true voice that they are being true to their/the lyrics? Many are doing it because of an obligation or form of payment.

    I used to set up stage lighting every week in a school cafeteria for worship/service. It was depressing to see some band members before/after worship sad, mad, talking about a crazy party etc, then see them on stage with their artificial facade plastered onto them as they were worshipping, only to go back to their real self after it was all over and they fulfilled their obligation/paycheck.

  152. I’ll start off by first saying, I hope you actually read these, because these are some honest and thoughtful comments from your fans.

    I’ll also start off by saying I really love your music, because it is “creative,” and clean and, who doesn’t love actually poetic Christian related lyrics? Plus you rock at guitar riffs.

    I didn’t know much about your personality or viewpoints just by listening to your music (obviously, who ever can?) But some of your articles and actually tweets have opened my eyes. Due to words and advice and criticisms like this, unfortunately my respect for you as dropped a bit. There are PLENTY of Christians, or even “Christians” out there who can criticize out the wazoo, and always blame these problems on “other Christians.” I think this is completely the wrong mindset. We have too many “Christians” who represent us as nothing but judgers and condemners. You seem to completely avoid judging the smokers, the drinkers, and the non-Christians, but this is some pretty harsh judgement on Christian artists and also extremely conservative Christians. Why can’t we let them believe how the want? That smoking is sinful, 1 drink will send you to hell, and everybody is going to hell but their family? I’d assume they’re already saved. No need to direct anything towards them. The people we need to be reaching for are maybe the ones who do go to clubs all too often, who have multiple addictions like smoking. Sympathy isn’t the solution for their salvation, but I think the approach of “God loves you, God is love, he forgives you and wants you to be his one” might just be highly effective and comforting to them. Where are the blog posts like this? Why does it seem that 85% of blog posts I read nowadays are harsh, judgmental and always point a finger to somebody else?(usually someone of Christian background…..)

    Maybe you’re trying to accomplish something entirely different than I thought/hoped you were, and in that case I’d just best let these thoughts die out, but man.. this came to a great shock to me, and not in the good way. Maybe if more time were spent devising the perfect lyrics for that particular lost man or woman instead of hashing out articles like this one, the world would be on its way to salvation.

  153. “… because he’ll drink all your beer” aaah! I get it! Took me a sec…

    I’m not going to lie… I probably would’ve enjoyed a beer when I went to see Jesus Culture at a venue in Philly (like a non-church venue)… however, after thinking about it for 2 seconds, it kinda made sense why the bar wasn’t open at a worship concert.

    Really enjoyed the article. I have some friends in the CCM industry and while its easy and necessary to criticize, I’m sure there are good people who believe in what they do as Christian musicians. I would love to hear their perspective as well.

    Love the article, thanks!

  154. my wife and i play this game all the time. incredibly easy. and incredibly sad. great post. nailed it.

  155. Great article. As a promoter (small time), I understand the empty bar thing though – Christian music is family friendly and often targets a younger audience. There is a lot of red tape when mixing alcohol and young people. Closing the bar not only eliminates a host of additional needs, but the event insurance prices are much lower, and we avoid the “boycotting” and nasty emails from the judgmental Christians. On the other hand – we lose the opportunity for ministry when we eliminate the “drinking crowd” who will not turn out for a concert that doesn’t sell alcohol.

  156. I think I get what Michael was saying – authenticity speaks for itself and it’s absence speaks louder. A fair amount of what is floating around out there in the popular music realm is almost holographic, pretty and having the appearance of something substantive on the surface until you reach out and try to touch it. At the same time, even if you have a great, authentic song, I’ve long felt that the modern music business (along with a willing accomplice in a consuming public) strip-mines the art. Even when an amazing song is written, produced and recorded, it will tend to get top-40′d to death until it has little or no impact from sheer overuse. Then the cycle repeats itself.

    Jim K.

  157. My favorite “Non-Christian Christian band” is The Autumn Film. They are absolutely amazing, so real and gut wrenching, and there is absolutely no swaying involved.

  158. It’s interesting to think about what “Creativity” means and looks like nowadays. I think with Christian music, creativity is the opposite of formulaic – it means, “Wow, they dared to do something different” or “real.” There is a lot that sounds the same in Christian music – and in Christianity, sameness will birth complacency and apathy.

    Here’s the thing though – creativity is innovation exceeding the parameters of mediocrity, comfort, and sameness. Maybe what used to be creative has now been dumbed-down into what’s normal.. which is what always happens. I know Coldplay, U2, NIN, and Smashing Pumpkins were all probably flattered at one point, but are now probably beyond exasperated from everyone and their grandmother jacking their style.

    Creativity has to impact faith and vice versa – it has to keep moving away from stagnation. The enemy likes all things that take us further from ongoingly building a relationship with Christ. That is true whether it’s about Church or whether it’s about the Industry.

  159. Thanks for the article, especially the last paragraph. I have at points given up writing because of rejection from the industry. I have friends in the industry who were shunned and blackballed after a divorce that wasn’t their fault. I know people who have incredible talent and have been told by execs and program managers that their music is “too honest” for Christian audiences. Really?!? Too honest?!? I share your frustrations completely. I once asked an exec in a Q&A at the GMA convention who was responsible for killing creativity in Christian music, and what group of gatekeepers got together in a room and decided that only worship music appealing to soccer moms was aloud on the airwaves. He looked me straight in the eyes in front of 400 people and said “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I had at least a hundred people approach me afterwards thanking me for my question. Part of the issue is people in the industry that are blind to the zombyfied crap they put out year after year. At this point I’ll settle for playing at my church and in local coffee shops now and then.

  160. There is even a more fundamental problem here. We define ourselves by our religious views. We create subcultures for ourselves and pretend that they are better because we call them “Christian.” People are people, artists are artists, music is music, and art is art. Some of it is better than others. The fact that there is a Christian subculture in which something as asinine as Christian Music exists makes me sad.

    I worked in a Christian Music retail environment for years, and the best selling albums were those that sounded similar to a secular band. They may have been similar but never as good. They were poor copies. It was all about marketing, about the all mighty dollar. Some of the best albums I heard while working there sold very few copies.

    Listen to and enjoy good art. Enjoy it for the quality of the art, not because someone has placed a “Christian” label on it.

  161. Spot on, bro. I find much secular music far, far more spiritual and significant to my faith. Just listen to a blues solo by Clapton, or anything by James Taylor (Mill Worker comes to mind). Real.

  162. Great write-up. I whole-heartedly agree.

    I find it incredibly ironic though….considering Gungor’s music is a pretty blatant, (and obviously) christian rip of secular artists such as Sufjan Stevens and Sigur Ros. Just food for thought. You’re not “original” because you rip-off less “mainstream” artists than the other Christian artists do.

  163. Reblogged this on Rachel writes… and commented:
    This is why I don’t listen to Christian music stations as much anymore.

  164. I liked the article for the most part…..there have been many times John Maddalena & I have changed the channel simply because the artist sounded…..fake. I disagree with the writer on alcohol though. I agree with the writer with regard to his view on Biblical history and do not feel that alcohol in and of itself is wrong, besides Christians have freedom in food and drink. But, when a Christian buys alcohol they are not just buying alcohol, they are also supporting companies whose views are in stark contrast to Christians. Many of these companies advertise with poor choices being glamorized or through the use of sex through ad campaigns or using young girls to parade in very few clothes at local bars (had a friend who used to work as a Miller Light girl and her job was simple…look good in the outfit and flirt to get guys to buy more….not exactly the career she wanted but she needed the money). How are we bringing glory to God when we support these companies? When we buy alcohol in the United States it’s not like we are buying from some mom and pop vineyard, at least not most of the time, we are buying from a larger company and our money is going to support their values. I am not saying that Christians are not Christian if they drink, we have many friends and family who drink and have been to many events where alcohol was involved. I know God works on each of our hearts differently and do not attempt to pass down my beliefs as the only fact and choice for others or judge/look down upon those who drink. It wasn’t so long ago that I drank, as did John, and it wasn’t an easy decision to stop because of the different family/friend events a year that included drinking. But the belief that I shouldn’t judge Christians who drink, only share why I don’t, also is a belief that other Christians shouldn’t say its perfectly fine or chastise in some sense Christians who don’t stating that their reasons aren’t founded Biblically. I believe the writer made a mistake in doing this. Christ never supported anything that was not of the Kingdom of Heaven, even in His drinking he brought glory to God, can we honestly do the same in today’s culture when we buy from these companies? I’m not saying I have all the answers, I want to continue to grow and am open to change, but these are just the thoughts that came after reading the article.

  165. I am not a known Christian artist but I sing and write. I have a difficult time controlling my emotions at times because I deeply feel what I write and sing. Unless you know someone’s heart, it is unfair to say they don’t feel what they sing.

  166. I have been trying to say the same thing for a while now but can never find the right way. We even have stations that will not play really good music because it doesn’t sound “Christian enough” bands like Remedy Drive or Abandon.

  167. There is nothing that can be said to give or take away from what you said. All I CAN say is I feel EXACTLY the same way. About EVERYTHING. Well said.

  168. My wife and I have played the “christian or secular” game for years. Dead on. Sadly, it is easy to spot. I’d like to take you on in a game someday! ha!
    Another thing that bothers me much about much of Christian music are the lyrics that simply aren’t true. “Every breath I take, I take in you…” really? What about that breath you were taking as you were lying? Lusting? Cursing? Was that breath taken in Jesus too. So many artists try to portray Christianity as perfection when it’s anything but. Our lyrics should be the most honest ever.
    My last album, So Human, tackles this issue. It’s the most honest I’ve ever been in my music. And that’s probably why it will never amount to much. (Even had one promoter ask me, “where’s the happy ending to this song?” Some songs just don’t end that way, sorry. Just being honest. Sometimes I just want to sing about the struggle I have forgiving someone, or how I struggle sometimes in the middle of a prayer to keep my focus on Christ. Sometimes I just want to yell at God. Those are real life things. To pretend they don’t exist in our music is a lie. It’s not right.
    Anyway, that’s my .02. Agree with this post and love the thought you put into it.

    Tim Glenn

  169. My wife and I have played the “christian or secular” game for years. Dead on. Sadly, it is easy to spot. I’d like to take you on in a game someday! ha!
    Another thing that bothers me much about much of Christian music are the lyrics that simply aren’t true. “Every breath I take, I take in you…” really? What about that breath you were taking as you were lying? Lusting? Cursing? Was that breath taken in Jesus too. So many artists try to portray Christianity as perfection when it’s anything but. Our lyrics should be the most honest ever.
    My last album, So Human, tackles this issue. It’s the most honest I’ve ever been in my music. And that’s probably why it will never amount to much. (Even had one promoter ask me, “where’s the happy ending to this song?” Some songs just don’t end that way, sorry. Just being honest. Sometimes I just want to sing about the struggle I have forgiving someone, or how I struggle sometimes in the middle of a prayer to keep my focus on Christ. Sometimes I just want to yell at God. Those are real life things. To pretend they don’t exist in our music is a lie. It’s not right.
    Anyway, that’s my .02. Agree with this post and love the thought you put into it.

    Tim Glenn

  170. You have succinctly wrote what I have always felt about “christian music”. You have put into words why I have a hard time listening to Christian radio music. Simply put it lacks real emotion. It feels phony half the time and because of our christian culture in America we are afraid to appear authentic for fear people will reject us. Thanks for expressing what I have always felt but could not put into words why I felt as so. (For the record I don’t believe all Christian music is like this, but it is the vast majority, the rule not the exception)

  171. I believe It is ALL about the motive of the hearers Heart!!! Why do we as Christians strain at gnats ! They will know we are HIS disciples by Our LOVE for one another! Where is the Love?

  172. As a full-time singer-songwriter who is a Christian creating music and playing in primarily mainstream venues, I fully appreciate this blog. It has said everything I’ve been wanting to say and have tried to say for years. Thank you, Michael!
    -Joy
    http://www.joyike.com

  173. Reblogged this on The King Katie and commented:
    There is a lot of truth in the wise words of Michael Gungor. I’m not a huge fan of a lot of today’s Christian music, and this piece expresses what I couldn’t put into words.

  174. I am an independent smooth jazz artist and a believer. Sometimes we work so hard to put everything in a neat little box. My debut cd has one blatantly gospel song on it, the rest would be interpreted secular by most, but certainly inspirational. It seems the mandate should be to write what comes from the heart, and let God do the rest. Anything else is “false labor” so to speak.

  175. I just taught a social studies lesson about the emergence of political parties in the United States. It took the very young United states roughly 14 years to create the Federalists and the Republicans. The argument was basically over money and it divided a nation and established factions (our current two party system). Anyway… Satan is a master of divisiveness and the prince of lies. I enjoyed Matt’s “sophomoric rant” and took it for what it was worth. I loathe “CCM” and found myself enthralled by his insights, perspective, and honesty (which some here have questioned).

    Then I read some of the comments: overtly negative and critical. People disagree on so many things and Satan has figured out that it’s easier to pit Christians against one another than to feed us to lions. Am I saying that a two party political system is bad? Do I think that every Christian should hold the same opinions concerning spiritual gray areas? No. I will say, however, that “Christians” should spend more time being a light to others through love and good deeds and less time worrying about things that are not Salvation issues.

    And out of insecurity and fear of judgment I’ll throw in an obligatory scripture:

    Matthew 5:14-16
    “You are the light of the world. A town on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

  176. About the alcohol issue: you are missing a very important piece of American history when you claim that prohibitions on drinking are “all about money.” The Temperance movement began as a response to the huge social problem of alcoholism. Men were drinking through their families’ wages; others couldn’t work at all and wound up in places like Skid Row; women drank too, sometimes hiding it in the guise of ‘medicines’ that were mostly alcohol. Drunkenness was rampant and tearing families apart, or leading to spousal abuse. This was a real and pervasive issue around the turn of the century. The church, seeing how this was hurting people, held many campaigns to try to stop drunkenness. Did some go overboard? Yes (I would NOT endorse Carrie Nation’s attacks), but they were responding to a real issue.

    You come along 100 years later and all you can do is bemoan the lack of Christians drinking at your concerts. How much drinking is enough? I used to work as a bartender (pre-Christian) and no way can Christians purchase enough alcohol without getting drunk to fill the bartender’s coffers. If a revival hit your city and people stopped going to strip clubs, would you bemoan the lack of patrons?

    (Personally, I do drink wine when I’m having a special dinner, and I would actually prefer it if my church offered wine at communion, so I’m not an anti-alcohol activist. FYI)

  177. You wrong on the alcohol issue–

  178. Reblogged this on Katie Wolford and commented:
    This is an excellent blog post that talks about common frustrations felt with the Christian music industry that most have trouble putting into words. Michael Gungor not only hits on the head why Christian music can often sound short-of-genuine, but also starts to scratch the surface of living a more honest and genuine faith in general, digging into our Christian subculture that in fact holds more inherited and American values than biblical ones. This was a refreshing read this afternoon.

  179. Spot on. Brilliant.
    After working in the British Christian Music industry between 93 and 98, I was shocked to experience;
    1. Record companies continuously not paying artist royalties within contractual timings, and then asking the artist to suck it up because they were doing God’s work. That was morally bankrupt Kingsway and you should be ashamed.

    2. Susan Ashton used to have a bottle of vodka on her tour bus, because fans won’t smell it on her breath. (And she used to mark the level with a pen so none of the crew could steal it)

    3. In certain hotels in the states at the CMA time of year, populated by artists and record companies alike, bar takings would be at a record low, yet mini-bar bills would be smashing sales records.

    Interesting this concept of spiritual integrity in business eh?

    Cheers

    P.S as for the deliberate manipulation of sounds, volume, keyboard washes, reverbs, chanting and intensity to create a reaction, emotion and the illusion of a spiritual experience in large teenage/youth group events is quite simply abhorrent…..

  180. I haven’t had time to read the whole article yet, but I know exactly why Christian music sounds “disingenuous”. Actually, I call it cheesy. The problem is that Christian-based record labels are in such a mad rush to compete, both sonically and numbers-wise (sales and just ratio of Christian to secular bands), that they’ll pretty much sign anybody that comes along. The cheesiness you’re hearing is a relative lack of creativity and talent, period. People can argue all they want about how important the message is that musical quality is secondary, but I beg to differ. I mean, how do you expect anybody to hear the message when the music is barely listenable? I’ve been playing in bands, both Christian and secular, for 25 years now, and have done studio work, session work, and even have several releases (one being on Nuclear Blast records). I will say that the Christian metal bands are narrowing the gap a lot, with some bands being as good, if not better, than their secular counterparts. Extol is my favorite. I played in a Christianetal band called Syringe. Check it out on Reverb Nation. Also, check out the secular band I was in called, Echoes of Eternity. You will find that the musical quality is congruent. That gap needs to be closed up a bit. People need to be honest and demand more out of the music, so that it matches the greatness of the message. Peace!

  181. Cant we just be Christians who make music. I mean if its whats in our hearts, and the music comes from the heart, then wont the music be Christian. I have a unique perspective since Ive spent most of my life as an addict and not as a christian. I can spot the sheen a mile away, and honestly that sheen is what turned me off from the church, and God for that matter. At least when I was with a bunch of drug addicts we were all honest about how dishonest we were. Thanks for the post, and by the way I enjoyed your show in Richmond, and hope you enjoyed your pizza. Keep up the good work.

  182. So….. the real reason you wrote this post was to rant about how you think old fashioned Christians are ridiculous for drinking beer. I have to tell you man, while the Bible does not directly condemn the consumption of alcohol, it does, on MANY occasions, clearly give warnings against drinking it. Or did you just choose to ignore all those verses in the Old Testament where it clearly says, “anyone led astray be these is NOT wise.” Yeah it’s not a sin……. but you must be a half wit if you think it’s a good thing. Have you seen what alcohol does? Have you seen the destructive forces it unleashes? Do you honestly think that a God who wants what is BEST, would say: “Sure drink all you want! Makes no difference to me if you beat your wife and children, or kill a few people while driving, or drink yourself to death! Do what you want ;)” Give me a break…

    • It’s about the heart. Same with guns, cars, or anything else someone chooses to make destructive. A heart sold out to Jesus wants to please him. Alcohol is only a symptom. That’s the problem with American Christianity, we only want to treat symptoms. We’ve whittled down the Trinity to what makes us feel comfortable to the point that we no longer realize the power that is literally on the inside of us. So, we compensate with rules and regs, moving back to the law. Anybody with half a brain can tell what alcohol can do. That’s not the point. The point is, if you’re going to do it in private and cover it up on Sunday and “act” like what you think a “Christian” should act like- that person’s heart is off. Way off. His point is the heart of the matter, not the specific issues. He’s asking people to open their eyes and not to be lulled to sleep by what makes them “feel” comfortable.

  183. Coming from outside the US I never really believe just how hot under the collar people would bother getting about these “controversial” opinions of yours, Michael. Then I browse some of the readers’ comments. All power to you, Gungors. The scene needs brave, honest and authoritative voices like yours’, most especially on the inside, laying stones on the path toward change. It’s always a pleasure having you in HK & hope to see you again some day. x

  184. In the art world, it is often said that “form is content”…I think it’s unwise when people, especially performing artists (Christian or not), act like one aspect or the other isn’t important to their communicative work…a good artist knows how to use their form/content to powerfully express something to others and a bad artist doesn’t…I’ve found that Christian performing artists make more form/content contradictions than secular artists due to a divided heart…on one hand, they seem like they want to please the Lord (singing about the importance of humble inner beauty), while on the other hand, they seem like they want please the world and their own desires (i.e. dressing immodestly)…this is similar to the confusion created when one’s faith and good works are not in concert…art, like money, is a tool that can be used for good or evil…Jesus’ example seen in scripture and the Holy Spirit’s counsel, not current or past culture, should guide a Christian in their New Covenant approach to creating and critiquing form/content…I imagine that a Christian would strive for a form/content that would be honest and lovingly sacrificial like their Lord.

  185. Michael, unfortunately as I read your blog it just sounded way too bitter & critical.
    Not sure that Van Gogh spent his time criticizing Monet’s work… they both just painted.
    This particular blog (and unfortunately, by your own admission, some of your favorite time passing games) seem to elevate a discussion about musical taste and artistry, but seem to do little to elevate the name of Christ or to promote unity among His bride. I trust you are equally as gifted in quickly and easily identifying which of these two is a higher calling.

    Grace and humility are Beautiful Things… a critical spirit… not so much.

  186. yes, yes, yes. I stopped listening to most Christian music about 4 years ago, when I went through a very hard season. The music that I used to connect with just seemed so….shallow. Like none of the singers had ever been through a hard time, or wondered whether God cared about them, or struggled.

    During this time, a friend sent me your song “Beautiful Things,” and I cried as I listened. Thanks for keeping it real.

  187. Thanks for the very thought provoking article. While I agree that Christian artists and worship leaders need to be genuine in their real lives, I don’t necessarily think that’s why there is a disconnect for me when listening to most CCM songs. I think it comes down to the fact that believability is in the details for our generation. Don’t tell me how you feel; Show me!

    Take a look at a verse from the current #1 on Christian radio (Overcomer by Mandisa):
    “Everybody’s been down
    Hit the bottom, hit the ground
    Oh, you’re not alone
    Just take a breath, don’t forget
    Hang on to His promises
    He wants You to know”

    Now look at a verse from the current #1 on Country radio (We Were Us by Keith Urban & Miranda Lambert):
    “Rearview crosses
    Railroad ties
    Oh, Hail Marys
    Friday nights
    Heartbeat baby
    Low-beam lights
    God, I miss when you were mine”

    Mandisa has a vague encouragement to hold onto God’s promises, but doesn’t show me how or why. Miranda Lambert on the other hand gives you 6 very specific visuals before she says she misses Keith Urban, and by then you totally believe her because she has such detailed memories of being with him.

    The same concept applies to the #1 on Pop radio (Royals by Lorde)
    “But every song’s like gold teeth, grey goose, trippin’ in the bathroom
    Blood stains, ball gowns, trashin’ the hotel room,
    We don’t care, we’re driving Cadillacs in our dreams.
    But everybody’s like Cristal*, Maybach, diamonds on your timepiece.
    Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash.
    We don’t care, we aren’t caught up in your love affair.”

    Talk about being visually specific! Lorde shows you exactly what it means to her to be royalty!

    While I am all for making sure our heart and our life match up as artists, I also think we need to be more discerning writers as well. If we have encountered the living God through the power of his word and Spirit, then it’s our calling as writers to be able to visually articulate who He is and what He has done in a more believable way.

  188. There is some truth to what he says in parts.. Most of it is babble..
    I see it this way, there is (are you ready?) no such thing as “Christian music” there are Christian lyrics a or a message but music is not secular and music is not Christian. You can’t tell me that a D chord is Christian and and a D minor is secular… When Christians stop painting themselves into a corner the music will all stand on the same level….

  189. Even though it’s about Christian music, much of it also applies to books and culture in general. This is why I write non-Christian novels from a Christian worldview. The characters in my novels sin and sin in big ways in reaction to harsh situations. It’s messy and honest, but the sins have consequences. As Christians, when we engage the culture, we need to be honest about the human condition. People, Christians and non, wrestle with sins and disappointments. We’re messy and no one has it together. It’s disingenuous to pretend otherwise.

  190. I live in city that has a very ‘sanitized’ Christian music station. I absolutely appreciate that it is here and that my kids like to listen to it as opposed to many of the other stations in town that play music and advertise things that my children don’t need to hear. BUT, I can hear how much the music has been overly sanitized and as Michael said, there is no soul…It’s hard to explain…it’s like eating vanilla ice cream. Sure it’s good but it could be so much better. I dig Michael’s music and others like him. There’s a certain rawness to it. It hasn’t been processed like most of the stuff I hear. I want to hear the real emotions that are coming out as a result of the words and the music coming together instead of someone trying to conjure up some feelings because it sounds good. Well said sir.

  191. This is why I’m in Christian EDM. I have dedicated the past 6 years of my life to it. It is only just beginning to explode. A lot of what you said in this made my heart sing because that’s exactly what I’ve been feeling for the past 6 years. “Oh this is so edgy/creative,” or, “How do you make ‘techno’ Christian” (which btw, it’s not called “Techno.” Techno is a very boring sub genre of EDM that you have to be on a lot of drugs to properly enjoy). It’s just a genre. Like seriously… It’s not that hard.

  192. Great post! I agree with so much of it. My only concern is your tangent about the wine. Not the part about drinking in general but regarding wine or grape juice for communion. I don’t know if you are aware of the reason John Wesley made grape juice part of the Methodist Church. The concern was for those that were recovering alcoholics being encouraged to participate in communion. Why would we want to give our brothers and sisters the very thing they struggle with and expect them not to have any struggle with it. Those are my two cents.

  193. Ya know, it’s kind of interesting to see the majority of “artists” commenting completely agrees with what gunger said and a lot of the rest of you don’t. Interesting to see the disconnect between artist views and consumer views.

    • A complete and incorrect assumption the “artist’s” are the only ones in agreement with Micheal Gungor….. It is that those who agree want to profess their “artistry” in order to align themselves as like-minded. As those in disagreement, are only speaking as a fellow person or christian….. I don’t care to drink the Koolaid….. nothing to do with my “artistry”. Just because one has the freedom to share a point of view doesn’t mean they should. “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.” Micheal Gungor may be a gifted musician, but to assume he is also a gifted teacher, preacher….. I will just stick to listening to his music.

  194. Thank you Thank you. I have been struggling with the same thoughts for ages. I was starting to think that people were thinking I was a nasty piece of work because I am critical of everything. But why shouldn’t we be. What I hated about Christianity before I became one was the fake la di da attitute and behaviours that came with it. And it still is around today. Needless to say, those types of people are not my friends. But music is the same. If I here one more band come up with “jesus is my boyfriend” type lyrics, I will seriously lose it. And if one more Christian looks at me funny for wanting to have a wine after church on sunday… I am gonna slap them.
    Love you kids

  195. Finally somebody gets it right! There isnt a “christian” NFL,NBA,MLB,MLS etc. why is there a “christian” music industry? The whole thing baffles me. I grew up in nashvegas yes it has that element. If your good enough to make music people will listen to, then they will listen! You play anywere anytime to anybody. When was the last time any ” christian” band made other people want to become serious musicians. Everything i have heard the last 15 yrs is acoustic based quiet music. Now thats fine but it should not be all there is. Its not even good acoustic music. Everything is capo at the 2nd fret play a G,C,D based song..,. Boring! Stop moving to nashville to be a christian star. Go back home and form a band with your friends and play to the people you can and glorify God! And please please turn it up. Drums and bass and guitar were meant to be played loud. Its the electric era the christian industry should close its doors. Go get a real contract and tour with a real band and make a difference in somebodys life who needs it. Be real, let people see your flaws and love people. God is moving in the music industry and in musicians lived every day not to sure about the sappy christian music industry

  196. Awesome blog, been pretty disillusioned with the main stream Christian industry as a whole for a while now. first heard John Mark at the call Nashville in 2007, which led me to find a while slew of underground artist and I realized why I was so bored with Christian radio. If you haven’t already heard of it, check out the book “snakes in the lobby” totally hits on all these points.

  197. I just saw this post today and it came just at the right time. I actually just wrote a similar blog post on this a few days ago and Michael hit some things that I tried to explain, but could not get worded quite right. You can check out my blog here: http://amarafalk.weebly.com/1/post/2013/12/-finding-comfort-in-the-psalms.html I am so thankful that tides are turning. The music I create comes from the deepest part of me and often I get told by people that “It’s to bad I don’t write Christian music”. I am a Christian, so it hurts to know that people don’t think my music is “Jesus approved”. But as Michael stated so well in this blog, I just need to continue creating my art.

  198. Um….what are “communion loafers”? Specialized church footwear, maybe?

  199. New Generation, same old (whiney) song.
    My Brother, Michael, your statements appear so disengenuous, naive, and self-serving! I’m sorry brother, but you’re stating nothing new here, and the fallacies of many of your statements and suppositions have long been hammered out by thinking folks.

    I’d like to ask you a question, and I hope you take it seroiously – Have you ever stopped to ask yourself if maybe you actually just worship MUSIC? That maybe you first serve creativity and your own muse rather than your Creator?

    This is the quesion I ask of any artist that begins down that path of basically identifying a lifestyle or beliefs that they adhere to, things they enjoy and make the self-serving (and fallacious) intellectual leap to “therefore they must be OK”, and then begin shaping a smorgasbord-ian like “systematic theology” to support their beliefs, lifestyle or actions that has no real base in scriptural teaching. Of course, if you start with the supposition that the word is of human origin, subject to error and just “a great book of history and advice on how to live the Christian life”, the the above practice makes perfect sense for you. I can’t go there, however.

    I think you need to check your heart, and more importantly and carefully the word, before you begin making broad sweeping statements about biblical teaching on art and other practices.

    Regarding Christian Music – your statements about recognizing it are no surprise. It’s easy to spot because it’s by and large, bad. It’s driven by an industry that doesn’t care a bit about the spiritual/scriptural purpose of music, art or worship in the life of a Christian or the Body; its driven by what will entice the most people to fork over dough for their product. It mimics the tried and true pop music industry formula, it whores out it’s artists for the almighty dollar, and controls both the industry and the artists with Pimp-like iron fists. And you’re a part of it! Congrats.

    Honestly, if I hear one more worship leader speakinig passionately about his “new EP” dropping on itunes next month, while only giving half of that time and passion to leading God’s people into an understanding and experience of worship before the throne…I…I don’t know what I’ll do. “Hey church, just FYI, me and the guys won’t be here next month, because we’ll be on the road promoting our new Christmas EP! Do us a solid and “like” it on Facebook, and tell your friends!”. And I’m sure worship will be awesome while we’re gone, with umm, that other guy. Uh…yeah.”
    The 800 pound gorilla in the worship green room is that a shockingly large percentage of currently serving worhsip leaders, if we could truly see their thoughts, consider their worship leading the “crummy day job” that pays the bills while they pour their heart and hard work into trying to become the next superstar of Christian pop. As I read this last statement, I see the cynicism and harshness, but as a pastor of 20 years who also happens to be called into and passionate about the arts, I see this every day.

    Regarding the homoginization and confusion over “what is Christian art” and it’s abuse – unfortunately many of those who should know better (church leaders, mature Christians) have lost the ability to discern what is good, what is mediocre, what is meant for coporate worship, what is meant for individual edification, what is meant for Christian entertainment, and what is meant for offering up as a sacrifice of praise. These are all valid yet distinct purpose-driven categories, but the industry, the artists, the church and the Body have lost all ability to discern the difference and interchange them indescriminately. It has watered down our corporate worship, turning them into a passive audience there to be entertained, it has dumbed down and made scarce our Christian entertainment because “hey, worship music is selling BIG right now. Do more of THAT”. Generalizations, I know, and I have experienced plenty of artistic experiences both worship-related and otherwise that are exactly the opposite. Unfortunately, those are the rare treat, not the bread and milk of our worship life.

    Bottom line – the Christian Music industry is destroying both our coporate worship, our Christian entertainment, and the Christian artistic community. Artists are selling their sole to buy into the false idol that has been constructed, and the church is standing passively, dumbly by while the influence and effect of this money-driven process are destroying it’s “First Love”, the passionate, spirit-filled and led worship of the body before the throne.

    God, Rescue us, and restore Your Bride!

    • Wow…sorry for the typos! I’m usually more careful, but I was writing with a fevered and impassioned intensity that totally surpassed my typing skills!

    • I am not a musician, but am a very serious painter, sculptor and fabricator, therefore I may be unqualified to speak regarding a number of points you have raised. I would like, however, to offer an observation on one point you make, considering the context of the original thread. It seems, from reading Michael’s post as well as yours, that he is lamenting the state of the artistry, while you are defending the motives of the artists and their audience – their intensions, rather than their craft. I did not gather from Michael’s post that he intended to impugn the spiritual determinants of those who produce or enjoy Christian music.
      As a visual artist, I am regularly enraptured in the intertwining of my art and my person. This is true for the inspiration and design/invention elements as it is for the technical/executive functions. I believe that this passion is derived from those qualities that God placed in me and that mirror, though very dimly, his traits as the Creator. In imitating his Godly characteristics and functions, I find myself much nearer to Him than I do while engaged in most other activities, including corporate or individual praise through music. I would assume that for musicians, there is a parallel in their engagement with their artistry. These experiences are not necessarily coincidental with those encountered through the acts of pure worship. True worship does not require creative genius, and it does not satisfy the constitutional imperative of the creative sole to create.
      I cannot help but believe that Michael is reacting to the frustration that creativity and artistic expressiveness have been wholly subjugated by the message of the medium. It does not follow that those who desire most to be close to the Author of all artistry should be furthest from His ways in these regards. This cannot be His intent! We are his children and it is not wrong for us to yearn to be like him, each in his or her own fashion. I am sick to death of people who wish to define what intimacy with God should look like for me – when their dictates would require me to be remade in their image! I was never called to this. My worship, my highest praise will be found in being the person he made me to be and intertwining my spirit with his, not by offering some affected imitation that does not honor His creative expression in me. I am distinctly a creator and am proud to be so. I believe that Michael is speaking from a parallel vantage point. We must both exercise creative genius and honor similar expressions of artistic passion wherever it is found. If these qualities are scarce in Christian music, and they are (probably due to suppression by those who regard the value of the message, to the exclusion of the artistry), then it is appropriate for people like Michael to lament the circumstances and to strive for change.
      Truly it is not the message that is week, as you seem to have suggested, but is rather the dearth of artistic and expressive passion that weighs down the creative sole.

  200. For me, the missing distinction between Secular and Christian music is the genuine anointing and connection with the Lord. I understand what you are saying about “emotion” in the music. If the world sings about an immediate, temporal, human relationship, the feeling tends to come through. If believers sing as if God is “just” a person, they will be less genuine than the world. But if we sing out of a genuine life change, love, reverence, and presence of the Lord, that “feeling” and “emotion” cannot be hidden, it will be apparent and shine forth. Part of the problem is, in an effort to be solid in biblical truth, the church has discounted emotion. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His Holy Name (Psalm 103:1)

  201. Great article by Michael here. Me and my wife have this conversation all the time. Confession only read the first part about the music before going into the subculture so I might have missed something. That said I should probably finish this article but there is only so much time so hopefully I got the gist. This guy is right. But I would also say that there are good bands that play secular positive music that many people downplay (Which is why he probably ends up 9 out of 10). There is also a huge shift to Worship music that sounds nothing like secular music and maybe it shouldn’t. (think about the albums Martin Smith of Delirious is releasing this year). After all people are creating this stuff they are not taking the most recent Miley song and just changing the lyrics (maybe they are – hahaha). People love depressing music (me included) much of what makes rock music special, but is hard to curtail into a religious state. Artists like Mates of States who create very happy music — often are critiqued as being “too sugary”. They make great music but too sweet for some. It’s not Christian music but it is critiqued as if it were. I surf through a lot of music and I would say that there is a lot of music that is secular that gives me the popular Christian music vibe. Let’s face it there are a lot of bands out there and aside from the radio their music has a Christian feel to it (i.e. Guster).
    Some great Christian bands that may sound Christian but have the music to push it past which is what I think this guy is saying (you might disagree, these are my ears): Plankeye, Quale, Nouveaux (last album), jars of clay, Ten Shekal Shirt, Aaron Sprinkle/Poor Old Lu, Anberlin, some Bleach, Blindside, POD, Mute Math, FSF, Kosmos Express, Embodyment, Emery, Josh Garrels, MeWithOutYou, Skillet, Switchfoot, Sixpence, Pete Stewart, Shawn McDonald, DC Talk, Underoath, Norma Jean …There is more trust me. I know people that absolutely love artist like Norma Jean and to call there music non genuine because of the scream and rage that you personally hear should not label those who hear the beauty that it envokes. It makes the person saying this sound short sided and slightly ignorant. Then there are others that sound Christian but you would be making a great error to ignore them. Some: Fono, Three Crosses, Shaded Red, Jennifer Knapp, Needtobreathe, Satellite Soul, Telecast, Delirious, Audio Adrenaline, Third Day, Small Town Poets.
    There are others like Jeremy Enigk (Sunny Day Real Estate), Matt Kearney, Sufjan Stevens, Chevelle, Lifehouse, the Fray, Over the Rhine, who are not mentioned in Christian Music Industry but are there none the less linked in some way. Or even those who question or are searching the spiritual like Iron and Wine who we don’t analyze like we do Christian music. I would say the fact that we play this game (Christian or Secular) not only says something about the music being chosen and played but about us as Christians and Music people and expectations in general. It’s the same reason when we get a new cd of our favorite bands and we want to like it and we aren’t blown away at first we must begin the process of listening until we understand the album more. We don’t always give albums this kind of chance. And I would say the Christian Music industry doesn’t give their fans enough credit and allow their artist the chance to shine like a few I noted earlier I believe have.
    Five great songs:
    Plankeye – “Who Loves You More?”

    MeWithoutYou – “Fox’s Dream of the Long Flume”

    Skillet – “Scarecrow”

    Blindside – “Pitiful”

    Quayle – “Superman Sun”
    http://grooveshark.com/#!/s/Superman+Sun/20Trjy?src=5

    lemonandmayonaise.com

  202. Well said. I have thought the same thing very often. I can’t tell you how many times I have said to family and friends how much I can’t stand (some) Christian music.

    As a musician I love seeing you speak out about it. Keep up the good work!

  203. I think groups like Hillsong, Hillsong United, Hillsong Young & Free, and Jesus Culture have incorporated modern technology and sound without losing the message of honor and reverence for Jesus. I find that many other Christian groups don’t have much substance in their lyrics.

  204. Reblogged this on LEMON and MAYONAISE ● a music blog and commented:
    Great article by Michael here. Me and my wife have this conversation all the time. Confession only read the first part about the music before going into the subculture so I might have missed something. That said I should probably finish this article but there is only so much time so hopefully I got the gist. This guy is right. But I would also say that there are good bands that play secular positive music that many people downplay (Which is why he probably ends up 9 out of 10). There is also a huge shift to Worship music that sounds nothing like secular music and maybe it shouldn’t. (think about the albums Martin Smith of Delirious is releasing this year). After all people are creating this stuff they are not taking the most recent Miley song and just changing the lyrics (maybe they are – hahaha). People love depressing music (me included) much of what makes rock music special, but is hard to curtail into a religious state. Artists like Mates of States who create very happy music — often are critiqued as being “too sugary”. They make great music but too sweet for some. It’s not Christian music but it is critiqued as if it were. I surf through a lot of music and I would say that there is a lot of music that is secular that gives me the popular Christian music vibe. Let’s face it there are a lot of bands out there and aside from the radio their music has a Christian feel to it (i.e. Guster).
    Some great Christian bands that may sound Christian but have the music to push it past which is what I think this guy is saying (you might disagree, these are my ears): Plankeye, Quale, Nouveaux (last album), jars of clay, Ten Shekal Shirt, Aaron Sprinkle/Poor Old Lu, Anberlin, some Bleach, Blindside, POD, Mute Math, FSF, Kosmos Express, Embodyment, Emery, Josh Garrels, MeWithOutYou, Skillet, Switchfoot, Sixpence, Pete Stewart, Shawn McDonald, DC Talk, Underoath, Norma Jean …There is more trust me. I know people that absolutely love artist like Norma Jean and to call there music non genuine because of the scream and rage that you personally hear should not label those who hear the beauty that it envokes. It makes the person saying this sound short sided and slightly ignorant. Then there are others that sound Christian but you would be making a great error to ignore them. Some: Fono, Three Crosses, Shaded Red, Jennifer Knapp, Needtobreathe, Satellite Soul, Telecast, Delirious, Audio Adrenaline, Third Day, Small Town Poets.
    There are others like Jeremy Enigk (Sunny Day Real Estate), Matt Kearney, Sufjan Stevens, Chevelle, Lifehouse, the Fray, Over the Rhine, who are not mentioned in Christian Music Industry but are there none the less linked in some way. Or even those who question or are searching the spiritual like Iron and Wine who we don’t analyze like we do Christian music. I would say the fact that we play this game (Christian or Secular) not only says something about the music being chosen and played but about us as Christians and Music people and expectations in general. It’s the same reason when we get a new cd of our favorite bands and we want to like it and we aren’t blown away at first we must begin the process of listening until we understand the album more. We don’t always give albums this kind of chance. And I would say the Christian Music industry doesn’t give their fans enough credit and allow their artist the chance to shine like a few I noted earlier I believe have.
    Five great songs:
    Plankeye – “Who Loves You More?”

    MeWithoutYou – “Fox’s Dream of the Long Flume”

    Skillet – “Scarecrow”

    Blindside – “Pitiful”

    Quayle – “Superman Sun”
    http://grooveshark.com/#!/s/Superman+Sun/20Trjy?src=5

  205. Here’s something very NON mainstream. These guys write out of the brokenness they see on the streets of Brazil every night.

    http://shoresofgrace.com

    Click on Music and pick up anything by Nic & Rachael Billman, or find them in iTunes. You won’t be disappointed.

  206. Your comment “but the Christian sheen is like a blander sheen somehow” really resonates. I review Christian music and have commented “same cookie cutter, different sprinkles” in my reviews. originality is rare. Arguably there are two or three styles out there and quite predictable. Lyrically there are problems as well. Once in a while there is some creativity but it is often the same. Some of the words are fine but often not a lot of meat. Our band’s album “The Regenerates”, had its own concerns but I think we avoided some of the copycat sounds.

  207. I don’t think that the Christian artists are disingenuous, muzzled, possibly, but not disingenuous. I really love the local groups I know, and there are some amazingly talented and dedicated people who don’t fit the “look” for the Christian Music Industry and that is a crying shame. They’re “too old”, “too fat”, or not “pretty” enough and don’t have the total “package” that the Industry wants to sell. There are amazing Christian singers out there, just like there are amazing Christian writers and speakers too. But like the rest of the world, they’re few and far between and they are awash in a sea of mediocrity.

    A couple of other thoughts:

    1.) In Jesus’ day, it was more dangerous to drink water, than wine. Let’s just say sanitation issues were the reason, and that the wine imbibed in Jesus’ day was mixed heavily with water. The alcohol killed the e coli bacteria (same reason that people in the middle ages drank so much beer and beer cut with water) and so it was vitally important that you have “wine” and not water to drink. This is why most likely Paul urges Timothy most likely to take ‘a little wine for your stomach’ too “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.
    I Tim 5:23. They weren’t imbibing the level of alcohol found in wine today, on a daily and meal-by-meal basis.

    2.) *IF* Christians were perfect people (and of course we aren’t) then having alcohol at a venue would be no big deal. Ministries would have no issues with the people going out and enjoying alcohol responsibly. The problem is a lot of Christians abuse alcohol, struggle with abusing alcohol, or abstain from alcohol because they were alcoholics. Just like the world.

    And the idea about “not drinking” in Christian organizations and being fired or “let go” if they do, mirrors the idea found in corporations where people have been fired for stupidity in their off time (like posting videos of themselves harassing clerks at certain fried-chicken chains). The person continues to be associated with the business or organization even when they are off the clock. And the business has the right to protect their image.

    Now, just to clarify my own point on drinking in general—alcohol is not evil. It’s not good. It’s neutral, and can be used for either one. The same alcohol that sanitizes, kills. The drink that helps people relax, can cause them to do things they will regret later. Alcoholism cavorts through my family tree. I don’t drink, because I don’t want to risk it having some kind of hold over me. My father and brother and Mother all do drink socially, and responsibly and all are Christians. I don’t think less of them for drinking, I don’t think more of myself for not drinking. If anything, I think there are times I’m the scardey cat for not trying alcohol. Then I have a ginger ale and decide that’s better calorie wise anyway.

  208. Hey. This is very inspiring to me. I loved it. I am a singer/song writer based out of Pittsburgh. I am a Christian “Christ follower” artist and believe that my music is completely from God. There’s no way I could write the songs I do without his hand in it. It was very encouraging to read the last section sent to the artist. It’s so tough theses days to please labels. That’s why I self produce everything and can barely afford it. I would love to be on a label and share Gods message through my music that way, but it just doesn’t seem realistic anymore. God put a song in my heart for a reason and I will follow that calling if it “pays off” in a worldly view or not. Thank you Michael for this blog post. We need more genuine, raw, and real Christian artists. Continue to be open and honest.

    If anyone wants to hear my music check out http://www.facebook.com/officialnoahmusic
    Thanks

  209. Well said. Growing up my parents only let me listen to “Christian Music.” As an adult, I find more of God in music that has nothing to do with the “christian music industry.” Then again, I despise modern Protestantism, and the whole “popular church of the week” routine (which is what the modern christian music industry is rooted in). Call me old school, but if I had to pick, I’d say most of my favorite Christian lyrics are in Latin.

  210. People. Let’s not forget that artists are artists. GOD MADE THEM ARTISTS and as such, they have a tendency to speak out against things they don’t agree with or things they hate. It’s called passion. And I would say that anyone who just goes with the “status quo” lacks that God – given passion. So suck it up. We stupid Christians sometimes think we can’t or shouldn’t be real or honest about how we feel about things. That is so far from the truth and how we should be acting. It is this complacency and apathy that causes all types of social injustice in the world to persist. People don’t do anything and are satisfied to just sit in their little homes, withdrawn from the world, eating up anything the media (Christian or non) feeds them, not caring about anything outside of their own little “world.” If every single person on this earth got together to end world hunger, we could totally do it, just like that. It is Michael’s passion that makes him successful. So shut your piehole. And for you Christians judging Michael, saying he’s not a real Christian, based on his viewpoints and observations, you are very hypocritical. You DO NOT know his heart. You DO NOT know his background or his thought process or his worldview. I could say the same things about y’all because a lot of y’all keep taking Scriptures out of context, aka twisting the Word of God, which is WRONG. Just quit. We ALL have a tendency to judge in the wrong way, whether we think we are judging in a good way or not. Also, we all have different convictions. Some people feel they should not drink, while others feel it is ok. The point is to NOT JUDGE for thinking that what the other person believes is wrong or stupid. Plain and simple. Please. Quit interpreting the Bible through modern western thought. If you do that, you are ALWAYS going to get wrong doctrine. You have to look at the author, his audience, why he was writing to them, what was going on in the culture back then, etc…. JUST STOP WITH YOUR IGNORANT COMMENTS.

  211. When you get that religious spirit that is judgmental and harsh and the mentality that is framed by what we are AGAINST and not by what we are FOR you always have strife and disunity and division.

  212. Thank you so much for putting this into words! This has been my thoughts for the past 5 years at least! That’s why I stopped listening to Christian music! It’s not that I don’t love God, it’s that I’m a musician too and got sick of the low musical quality in the songs. I mean if you’re writing the stuff to praise God shouldn’t you right something fit for the King of Kings? Not some boring chord progression used by all pop artists. The emotion thing is so true too! Secular artists put so much more emotion into there songs and a lot of them are actually better singers/songwriters. Some words maybe weren’t meant to be put to music. This is why I now listen to mostly soundtracks. And Michael W. Smith because he’s an actual musician not some bum off the street who can sort of sing so decides to write songs about God. Anyways I’m just rambling now but thanks for putting this into words.

  213. I don’t completely disagree with you, however I believe your not taking a few things into account….

    1. We are human. No ones relationship with God is perfect, nor their Christian walk. Therefore the “insincerity” your referring to could perhaps represent the certain disconnect that we humans have from our Heavenly Father. And despite that disconnect, if many of these “zombie” minister to their audience their is no reason to put the entire industry down.

    2. Not having alcohol served at venues, at least for the churches I have attended, is to provide a safe environment for people who have had problems with perhaps addiction or crude behavior while under the influence in the past. By not serving alcohol at venues it provides a safe place for everyone to come and have a good time with less temptation.

    3. If someone wants to put Christian lyrics to screamo music, why not?? Sure it not for you, but as long as one person is reached through it, that’s all that matters.

    I’m not denying that money isn’t a factor. Of course it is. And I’m not denying that there is a need for more/ better Christian music, but that doesn’t mean that what is happening in the industry is all bad, and specifically not as bad as you claim it to be.

  214. I’m a Christian… and a pastor’s son… I grew up in the church and I grew up listening to “Christian Music.” However, I did not limit my listening to only Christian Music, I would say I am well versed in secular music as well. Now… I love God and I love Jesus… But with a very few exceptions… CHRISTIAN MUSIC SUCKS!!!!!!!!!! It lacks artistic integrity and it is disingenuous… It’s art with an agenda, not a heart. And if you think this mindless, repetitive “positive message” drivel is glorifying to God… You vastly underestimate God. This is a business that preys on the weak minded sheep that go to church every sunday. I’m not hating on these people, I might take some issue with those that lead them. It’s the same business that prints leather bound bibles at a cost of $5 and sells them in the “Family Book Store” for $85… and they pat themselves on the back for spreading the word. Woe unto those who use faith and the truth of the gospels to make money. I remember a Jesus who lost his temper in a temple over money changers… The modern day church and the Christian industry is taking advantage of those who may have a very real faith, but have been given a sad, corrupted, profit driven industry that seems to care far more about it’s bottom line than it does reaching souls for Christ.

    Rant Over.

  215. I have worked with everybody from Amy Grant to Stevie Ray Vaughn and DC Talk and Loretta Lynn and The Chipmunks.
    Anointed, Avalon, Cece Winans, Kristin Chenoweth and The Little Mermaid (Jodi Benson)…Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Jaci Velasquez and lots more. Just record GREAT songs, don’t use a click track, listen to Beatles Sgt Pepper over and over and Rubber Soul and Beach Boys Pet Sounds, try to learn more than 3 chords and hire a great lawyer before you sign any contract. God will bless you as you do your homework and enjoy writing songs that don’t keep saying the same thing over and over and over with the same 6 words.

  216. Reblogged this on Navigating by Faith and commented:
    Some food for thought from a “creative” “Christian artist”. A bit of a rant, but I think he has a point. I, too, like authentic. Sometimes happy and sappy is good. We need to be uplifted sometimes, but I definitely tend toward the art of music and like different. As a point in fact, I like the Michael Gungor Band and encourage everyone to check them out.

  217. If you think Christian music suffers from cultural inbreeding (my personal characterization of its inherent vulgarity), you should check out Christian cultural expressions in the visual and performing arts. Your game of Christian or secular should yield stunning results when applied to content within these mediums. I doubt you would need a full second to make a proper determination in these cases.
    Isn’t it amazing that elegance and sensuality of artistic expression, in all of its forms, has become the exclusive domain of secular practitioners? Even more so, these secular artists, as a group, reflect the creative, expressive and technical characteristics of God in a way that their Christian counter parts rarely achieve. These circumstances should be intolerable to Christian artists! Instead, our cultural inbreeding has left us ignorant and defensive of malformed socio-artistic mores that God never ordained.

  218. Thank you for posting this. It’s insane to me how inauthentic “Christian music” has become today. It’s good to know there are other people out there who are good at playing “Christian or Secular” too.

    I would like to present a counter argument to your statements about alcohol, however. I know it wasn’t the main point of your post, but this is an issue that I happen to be researching a lot lately and I’d like to share my opinion (since that’s what the age of the interactive Internet is all about).

    I’m finishing up my undergraduate studies at a small bible college. The school was started in 1933 and because it has remained fairly small over the past 80 years, it tends to be more conservative with its rules. No rated-R movies, no rated-M games. Things like that. The school also asks students to keep from drinking alcohol during their years of study. At first, I thought to myself, “Really? I just turned 21, I have no family history of alcohol abuse, my dad has a beer each day for lunch, and I’ve never had any issues with alcohol in the past. Why can’t I drink?”

    Paul addresses issues like this in Romans 14 and 15. He says this in 15:1-7…

    “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”

    In the book of Romans, Paul’s talking to a church that was majority Gentile, but also included Jews who were still following Jewish tradition (like the old American people you referred to). The strong members that Paul refers to were the Gentile Christians, the Christians who didn’t see anything wrong with eating the meats that were unclean for the Old Testament Jews. God had declared that all meat was now clean through the new covenant and eating Gordy the pig was no longer sinful.

    But the Jews still held to their convictions and there was judgment both on the side of the Jews and Gentiles.

    Now we, in our “American” mindset would assume that Paul would commend the strong Gentiles for acting in faith and cooking the pig and tell the Jews to get with the program. But what he actually does is pull a fast one on us and says this–”Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God. Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats. It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble. The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves.” (14:20-22)

    We are the work of God. People. He died for us for Pete’s sake. As people we all have different struggles. Statistically, 1 out of every 7 people who take a drink of alcohol will become alcoholics. Alcohol is a real problem in America today whether you’re a Christian or not. Like Paul said in 15:1, we (strong Christians) have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak and not to form a stumbling block.

    Quick side note, I know the term “stumbling block” gets thrown around a lot in the Christian community. When Taylor Lautner takes his shirt off, all the girls “stumble”. When the lady singing on stage at church wears a skirt that stops above the knees, it makes us “stumble”. What Paul means by a stumbling block is this: there are things in this world, like alcohol, that are clean and available to use. I think as time progresses, you will find less and less theologians out there who consider drinking a sin. But these things that are available to us can cause us to stumble if abused (same thing with gluttony, sex outside of marriage, laziness). These things become problems when we don’t use the gift properly. And when one of your Christian brothers views something like alcohol as unclean (not unclean as in sinful, just unclean as in a stumbling block), that clean thing becomes unclean within the community of believers (14:14-15).

    I’m not saying that since people abuse alcohol, that drinking is a sin. But this brings it full circle that we bear one another’s failings. I have a close friend at bible college with me who developed a drinking problem after turning 21. Since it was legal to drink and drinking wasn’t a sin, he would drink. A lot. It got to the point where some people he knew saw him walking around the city one night completely hammered. Some men in authority over him confronted him about it and kept him accountable. By the grace of God, he hasn’t had a drink since then, but he says he still craves a beer every day. Would it be right to show up at my friend’s apartment one night with a six pack and tell him that I’m going to have a drink while we watch the game together? No, I need to support him in his weaknesses and go without drinks for the evening. Does that mean that I can’t go out and share a beer with my old man at the pub the next night? No, my dad has always been a responsible drinker and has taught me to do the same.

    The point is this, Paul says that we as Christians all have different views and convictions on what we see as acceptable. We need to support each other in our failings, even if that means giving up some of our freedoms to build our brothers up. That runs counter-cultural to the American mindset. If an American is allowed something, the American should get it. Or at least so we’re told.

    As I’ve been thinking and praying through this issue in my own life, I’ve realized that my school’s rule for not allowing students to drink is not based out of a need for the donors’ money (our school relies heavily on outside donors for funds), but on the biblical idea that since we have people like my friend on campus who struggle with drinking, we should be able to give up drinking for the amount of time we’re here to build up the weaker brothers.

    One last tidbit concerning this, Christians use the example of Jesus making wine at the wedding to support their view that alcohol is “clean” for Christians. In reality, during that time period, most people lacked drinkable water. Wine was the drink that was never in short supply and was therefore the standard drink of everything. That’s no longer the case today. We can fill up a gallon of purified, ionized, mineral-rich spring water for a quarter. So the example of Jesus’ first miracle hardly supports the issue today.

    Thank you Mike for sharing your thoughts. I appreciated what you had to say. And thanks for seeking to make your music an art and not a sales pitch.

  219. I’ve only heard one or two of your songs so my sample size might be too small to offer much of an informed opinion…but to me your music doesn’t sound any different than the music you’re being so critical of in this article. I would guess “Christian” within 3 seconds of hearing the songs I know of yours on the radio. For the most part, I agree with what you’re saying in the article, I just don’t hear a difference between your music and anything else on Christian radio.

  220. Reblogged this on dedrye's Blog and commented:
    Wow, very well put. I see his heart in this too, I wish we could bridge gaps in between a lot of other subcultures so eloquently like this article does with this certain subject. Way to speak your mind!

  221. Ok. I understand what you are saying. And you are VERY correct that Jesus’ first miracle was in fact turing water into wine. You are also very correct, sad to say, that many of the rules and regulations set up by the organization of church have been influenced by men. After all people make up the church. There is HOWEVER, a very big difference in the organization of church and what the church really is. If anyone looks to the organization of church for answers, they will always be forced into a corner of conformity. So where should we look for answers? God’s Word. If His word is true, then we as believers have a responsibility to bring Scripture to bear in our lives. Scripture teaches that we should NEVER be under the influence of anything except the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5). Smoking, drinking and the rest are free to indulge in, but should we indulge in whatever we want?

    “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” – 1 Corinthians 6:12

    If we are in fact God’s temple (1 Corinthians 6:19), then what are we doing with our time, body, etc.? If there is a guilt associated with an action such as drinking or if your friends feel like they should hide their smoking addition, then maybe they should ask God (not men) why they feel that way. We can’t ignore Scripture just so that we can indulge in whatever we want. A person doesn’t have to be perfect to follow Christ, only to “deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow” God… not men (Luke 9:23).

    If we are not grounded in God’s Word, then what is the point? If we don’t seek to live our lives for God alone, then what are we doing? If we just want to do whatever we want, because we want to or if we want to hold ‘power’ over someone else, then we are not serving the God of Ages.

  222. I really enjoyed this article and would have to agree. I’ve felt bad for not liking Christian music but it’s nice know it’s not just me and I agree that an artist shouldn’t have to choose between writing and singing passionately or being a “christian artist”. I feel like Micheal is just giving an honest opinion and this article is saying that the industry shouldn’t be afraid to move forward. Secular music is constantly changing and while I am a Christian, I identify emotionally with secular music much more often. Some of that music does have religious undertones but what draws me in is that feeling the artist gives you, that they are feeling that every time you listen to that song. I personally connect with God the best through music and it would be awesome to see more artists branching out like the Gungors have done, to have something I actually enjoy listening to and can connect with God in that way throughout the day.

  223. Thanks for this. I am a brand new person when it comes to the “Christian music” industry (just released my first cd!) and can’t help but already feel out of place and stuck. You bring up a great point about how fake the industry is.
    I keep feeling an overwhelming pressure to “conform” be “radio friendly” “write a hit!”
    To be honest I’ve been thinking kinda of dumbing down some songs thinking that’s the only way I can get my message heard…I’ve been kinda on the fence about it…(however the current project I’m writing is anything but the status quo) but I still wonder “ehh that song I wrote…the one I think is ehh…the cheesy one with the half hearted lyrics that just sounds okay to me…prob would be a hit…should I put it out there then?” I’ve struggled with that idea,
    Cause the Christian media doesn’t want music. They want an attractive person with a great voice, perfect hair and who sounds like everyone else. So I begin to think the music that I like to write, feel compelled to write is not a direction I should go in. “Andrew your being selfish your only writing music YOU like” so then I begin to ask the question “maybe I should change?”
    But I don’t think I can put out anything of my own that I don’t feel 100% on…so this was encouraging to keep going…to not feel BAD about singing about what’s on my heart or how my songs don’t meet this boring heartless standard. I want to write what I feel God wants me to and not the status quo…I appreciate your honesty and I feel encouraged to keep being…me when it comes to music. Thanks.

  224. This is a very judgmental article. Does the fact that you don’t believe Christian singers are emotionally disengenous mean that this is true? If you think someone’s laugh is creepy, does that mean that person is not feeling the emotions which lead to loud laughter? Who made you the judge of a person’s heart?

    The Christian music industry is based on marketing. Oh really? Says who? You? Unless you interview a few of these disingenuous Christian artists and they all say, “The Christian music industry is really all about the money,” you’d best keep your judgments to yourself.

    “This is what I initially feel when I play the “Christian or secular” game. I look into its eyes, and I perceive whether the thing has a soul or not. And 9 times out of ten, I can do it very quickly and efficiently.” Okay, hold up! Who are you, God? You’re really playing with fire, thinking you’ve got everything and everyone figured out and all.

    If you don’t like mainstream Christian music, if you think Christians should drink more alcohol, if you think Christians shouldn’t make money, you’re certainly entitled to those positions and thank God we have the freedom to express them. We also have the freedom to express unfounded judgments on other people and their hearts. That doesn’t make it ok to do it. Please stop, or don’t claim to be a Christian.

  225. Great article – I agree with the fact that ” marketing” is partly responsible for the lameness of some popular Christian music….worship, should be organic, improvisational and inspired by the Holy Spirit- yes, I realize that for church services there need to be songs the congregation can sing and be a part of…as a musician who works with youth, it is a challenge helping them to think out of the box. Where is the creativity that God has given us? I will never forget being at a Radiohead concert and watching Thom York dance and twirl around like King David….. Why can’t we do that at church? Or the better question is why don’t people feel the Spirit and want to dance like David. I think you raised some valid points and I thank you for speaking your mind….. I’m still trying to get approval for our youth to do ” Sedated” by the Ramones- with different lyrics Of course !!!!!!

  226. I apologize if I came across as judgmental myself in my last post. I was pretty angry and might have spoken harshly.

  227. I loved everything about this.

    I remember in college I had this huge weird internal struggle about if it was ok to listen to secular music or not. Seriously. Conservative Christian culture … that’s what I grew up with and that’s what I knew. The thing that I struggled with was that I really connected emotionally to songs by “secular” artists. Side note – I hate that word, and I hate that phrase. Anyway, I heard someone say once that the reason we connect so deeply with music is because God spoke the world into existence, and that speaking was more like a song. I don’t know how theologically valid that is, but it was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard. Now, when I hear a song that really touches me … like really touches me … I’m talking about crying here, not just thoughts of “oh, that was a good song,” that’s what I think of. I think of God speaking the world into existence. I think that some how, whether or not the song was supposed to be Christian, it hit something that resonates with the core of what it means to be human. It touches this longing for God or this longing to be loved that hits at deep and complex emotions that we can’t fully express by just talking.

    Example? I’ve had this song stuck in my head all day.

  228. An awesome band that deserves recognition: Bellarive. Seriously guys, look them up if you haven’t already heard their stuff. New album comes out soon.

  229. One thing that I think stunts the Christian music industry is that many artists try to write songs the average congregation can sing in worship. And, frankly, the average person can’t sing as well as a truly talented musician, so the music becomes merely average.

    Personally, I LONG for arts (music, books, movies, etc) that accurately reflect the creative nature of our God. It baffles me why those of us who are indwelt with the very Spirit of God, the creator of everything, seem to often create such bland arts. By all logic our arts should vastly surpass the world’s, since we have the Spirit of the creator! And I think it’s tragic that many Christians don’t seem to understand (and value) that God cab be glorified through creating truly wonderful, spiritual art in all forms.

  230. 1st Chronicles 22-29 Michal didn’t like the way King David was dancing, but I bet he had a good groove to dance to with Chenaniah, leader of the Levites in music directing it. He understood music.

  231. It wouldn’t be the worst thing if everyone just ignored Michael Gungor. I have heard about him slamming the Christian Music Industry for years and he’s still there. It’s similar to someone looking for a change but doing the same thing over and over. I am actually just tired of hearing about him. So Michael from all of us who are tired of hearing you whine just stop. Consider doing something else with your life.
    The last thing Church needs is a secular influenced artistic expression. I wish more Christians would not support these artists because it’s a mindset that just cripples the church.

  232. And yet, In all this talk of creativity, sales, sheen and redundancy, of which I concur, I have seen The Lord work amazing miracles in the life of a person through the simplest lyric and lackluster melody of a 4 chord radio tune. I mean life changing stuff!!! The Lord will do with it what He wants to do with it once He allows us to create it!

    Proverbs 19:21
    Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.

    Isaiah 14:24
    The LORD Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.

  233. “Standing With Jesus”- I find you words most reflective of the Lord. Thank you. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND. This is the great and foremost commandment. “The second is like it, YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” And – “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.” We are all accountable to the first, in every situation, and wise to apply the latter. The Father owns it all; the earth, its fullness and the servants therein. If He is dissatisfied with the Christian music industry, then let those who hear the call for change, obey it and express it according to the Father’s direction. We don’t own our talents when we belong to Him, He does. We shouldn’t be thieves; it is His artistic gift, given to us to glorify Him and Him alone. It is not man’s creativity, but God’s in man that counts for eternity.

  234. I have felt this falseness for a very long time. It is why it is becoming increasingly difficult to appreciate worship. It becomes performance and not real worship. People are going to be dishonest unfortunately. It is part of our sin nature as we all know. I appreciate your calling it from within. I do not see hypocrisy, I see honesty and I have a lot of respect for that.

  235. Oh how I agree with this post!! 100%. The Christian music scene is ridiculous. A marketing machine aimed at brainless sheep who think it’s “good” only because of how it’s labeled. All that FAKE emotion – or guys trying to sing like Eddie Vedder – literally make me gag. I’d much rather see Gungor in a seedy bar than any one of the “popular” Christian acts at the county fair du jour. Every artist that I’ve ever liked who is a Believer – ones with artistic integrity – usually get the hell out of that machine: Bruce Cockburn; Jennifer Knapp; etc. I quit listening to CCM years ago because of the phoniness (and the sickening DJ’s on CCM radio).

  236. I’ve noticed myself gravitating to John Mark McMillan, Gungor and others who have a different sound. I think you’re right…I think the heart and soul of the music is different, and I can relate to it. There’s something genuine about it. It makes me feel understood, alone, and found all at the same time. It makes me want to run into God’s will. I love it.

    I also think we’re at the beginning of something new. I’ve seen it at conferences where the khaki wearing Christian persona has been replaced with the raw and unruly hair and tattoos of young church leaders. And I’ve heard it in the vulnerable music that is invading the radio. Keep it coming. It makes me excited. Let’s be who we are….let’s be imperfect and on fire for showing the world the God that loves them for who they are, individually made to reflect His complexities and diversity. Let’s make church look different, let it be real and genuine and heartfelt. Let’s start a revival.

    Also… you said ‘balls.’ I’m glad I’m not the only Christian who says ‘balls.’

  237. I think that there should a “sound” that appeals to everyone. I love rock and I want Christian rock because all you really hear is that upbeat music on the radio. But I want to hear the raw emotions of being a Christian. I want to hear “His beautiful arm is bloody and cut off, His heart ripped out to show me he loved me. But I would not believe him. I left his arms empty and arms outstretched for me until he died,” sung by Lacey Sturm.

  238. Michael,

    I played drums in the Drummer Boy 2011 at Grace Church when you brought “Let There Be” to the show. I just want you to know that, the heart of your ideologies certainly transcend this blog. To me, there’s no question you walk the walk. I could feel it when we played together. I don’t think we actually ever spoke but the conviction in your life was thoroughly expressed in your playing.

    Thanks,

    Nick Savage

  239. you’re talkin about being artistic, unique, extraordinary to worship God. Let me remind you that there’s nothning you can do to impress the Creator. This is why the Bible clearly tells you that God seeks worshippers adore him in spirit and in truth. anything that you might come up with he has a really heard anything that you might create he already gave it to you. The Bible talks about angels there are constantly worshipping new song with new sounds. there’s nothing on earth That we can do to impress him. Cain and Abel are a very clear example of what happens when you try to impress God and worship Him your own way. God had already given them specifics on how we should worship. Now on the other hand, if your music is a tool for evangelistic porpoises then have at it. Be better than what the world has to offer, get their attention but don’t lose your purpose.

  240. Phil Wickham does the best job of making deeply personal Christian music that really sounds like he’s so happy about his relationship to the savior, and him being so in love with Jesus

  241. Michael,

    I am very thankful for the music you make with Lisa and the band; it blesses people.

    I am among those who have been influenced and blessed by your work. Seeing you and Lisa play with Kevin on the 7 tour was a cool moment for me. The DC*B and John Mark have also influenced me greatly. In addition, my fiancée and I were introduced to the brilliant music of The Brilliance; because, you toured with them. I have lifted my voice with you in praise. I have listened quietly and thanked our God for ministering to me through your songs.

    I appreciate your candor and honesty. I have a few questions that were laid on my heart as I read this blog. I truly appreciate you taking time to read this. I’m not hoping for a written response, but if you are compelled to write back, that would be cool too.

    1. Do you think the Holy Spirit uses the money driven machine of mainstream Christian music to minister to people?

    2. Knowing that our fight is not against flesh and blood and that we are instead called to unity within the body, is there a way you could have more clearly communicated your frustrations with legalism, hypocrisy, disingenuousness, etc. without making it sound like, “Us versus Them?”

    Again, I appreciate your passion.

    I know that these questions can be interpreted as me taking a shot at you. If that were truly my heart, then every word of this would be gongs, cymbals, and even more disingenuous hypocrisy.

    It is my goal to say all of this humbly and gently. I aim to speak the truth in love; hopefully, I have done an adequate job.

    Additionally, the beginning of this post was not just an attempt to flatter. Flattery is a snare. Your art really has blessed me. God gave it to you. You shared it with us. PTL.

    “Who is like the Lord?” “[He is] everything good.”

    Grace and Peace,
    Tyler

  242. radiou.com !!!

  243. Wow man…finally someone that speaks up. So incredibly good and i´m right with you on ever single note.

  244. There Gungor goes again, stirring up controversy. I love the “Christian or Secular” game idea…I may use that idea as a game to play in the truck when my family takes road trips. I was a youth pastor for years, and did a lot of leading worship most of that time. I wrote a lot of songs to be used for worship, in part because I always seemed to have a hard time coming across songs that I could believehad any heart and soul bbehind them. So I completely agree with all of Gungor’s sentiments on this one. I’ve always referred to much of the mainstream Christian music as “plastic Jesus music”. My brother calls it “Barney music”. I find it interesting how people vehemently defend the plastic Jesus music they listen to, as if they don’t recognize how shallow it is.

  245. Thank you. The one song with many lyrics has gone on too long.

  246. try BoomBangtwangs music which does not fit the mold. http://www.boombangtwang.com

  247. I like how this alleged Christian attacks other Christians for choosing to live a higher standard and abstaining from alcohol. I’m sure his music lacks as much as his humility. Glad I’ll never know.

  248. Reblogged this on These Words of Mine and commented:
    Every once in a while I read something that hits me at a soul level. This post is one of those somethings. Posts like this are the reason I am such a huge fan of blogging.
    Michael Gungor gets it. He hit the nail on the head so many times it’s ridiculous. Everyone who calls themselves a Christian needs to read this post.

  249. curious that i read this whilst enjoying a glass of great Australian shiraz, preparing a song list for Sunday gathering and thinking about a lyric to write for the next independent release our band puts together.

    Honestly, the food chain of any industry is fed by cash – don’t know why we keep finding that such a surprising thing. IN the CCM case, this seems to homogenise the music. Sad? Maybe not – millions love it. Isn’t this true of pop stations, dance stations….yada yada…..you get the money from the common denominator….it’s called a marketing plan and no, it doesn’t have any connection to art.

    art is different. if you love art, you’ll make art. If someone can monetise the art, good luck to em…..but if an artist doesn’t create cash from it, it shouldn’t stop them making art!

    I’m also wondering why we’re still so surprised that true art comes along so rarely. What’s the equation? if you have ‘X’ people recording ‘X’ amount of songs to play on ‘X’ radio stations, websites etc, whatever, one amazing piece of art will emerge….and the rest will be fodder? anyone ever figured out the equation?

    it seems CCM exists to be a vehicle to carry the gospel to some new ears. the problem kicks in when we lose sight of the depth and breadth of that story! Of course the music sounds homogenous when everyone thinks the only two themes in existence are “He saved me from the darkest night” and “glory be He’s comin’ back!”.

    All of us, those that say they love Jesus, need to find that fire within us that speaks to us of the true beauty of the gospel….the art of the gospel…..and then get the balls to preach it, sing it, write it, paint it, celebrate it, tell it and re-tell it.

    yada yada. Matt 17:8

  250. “You’re not making Christianity any better. You’re just making rock and roll worse.” – Hank Hill, Family Guy

  251. The word of God is not shallow. If we had more songs that were simply the Word of God set to music, then we could have something of great value to listen to, without much in the way of musical creativity; it would still be great! Part of the problem is that many bands that have nothing great musically to share, also do not have anything great lyrics-wise to share either. The two often go hand-in-hand, but if you can’t do that great, at least let the lyrics be God’s Word. That said, there are a number of good Christian bands and songs out there that don’t have this fakeness to them – many are distinguished from current secular songs because you can hear the lyrics, the lyrics matter, and there is a different spirit to them, even if some of the musical styles are common – or not. There are different kinds of Christian music radio stations out there, and if the ones in a certain area are all about alternative music marketing to clean up their fun, well, that’s kinda sad. We’re not cranking out “greatness” in mass numbers with Christian music, but that doesn’t mean all the mediocre stuff has to get played; the mediocre makes us seem mediocre. Then again, there is plenty of mediocre secular stuff too.

  252. All those other Christians aren’t genuine but we are. This completely misses what it means to be a Christian, and what it means to make music. Christianity isn’t based on sincerity or adherence to some standard, it’s about grace. The assumption that Christian music can basically only be their version of folk if it wants to “be real” is ridiculous. Rappers, rockers, and screamers can all come to Christ, and God can be glorified through all of them when they trust in Christ and seek to honor him.

  253. I have a friend who used to work in a Christian bookstore. She was joking with other co-workers about how crazy it was that consumers wanted to buy “Christian” stuff. For a laugh, they painted a cross on the stapler at the sales desk with white-out, and put a price tag on it. And someone bought it. How sad is that?

  254. For some reason, Christian musicians are held to a lower standard of excellence – an anomaly unique to the Christian music industry and worship leaders in local churches. Case in point, taking contemporary Christian music and changing the Christian lyrics to secular lyrics, an embarrassing amount of music wouldn’t make the cut. The same goes for many worship leaders if they were to write/play secular music for secular venues, many are simply not gifted or talented musicians. The pursuit of musical excellence in writing and performance is dismissed in “Christian music”, as if it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to make up for sub-par musicians and mediocre songs.

  255. Michael, I just took two young girls to see you in concert.,…and while I respect your view….I didn’t see anything in your post about a positive solution….It’s o.k., to bring all of this out and state your views and opinions….but if you’re going to complain….come up with a positive solution….He who is without sin…cast the first stone….I mean “really”…..

  256. My God, thank you for writing this. You have no idea what you’ve done for me…

    All the best.

  257. Way to go! So glad to someone else sees this problem! You really nailed it on the head! As a christian from overseas (Israel) it is maddening to see how American Christians don’t appreciate the religious freedom they have! They dilute it, Mass market it, and turn it into yet another regular product! Not Art! Not sacred! You don’t know how lucky you are that you can actually have Christian Radio stations that openly play Christian music! Doesn’t exist where I come from! But as you said it is so sad that most bands just let that religious sub culture dictate how they will sound! Too phoney! That’s part of the reason my husband and I simply can’t find a church where we can relate to the music/ worship!
    I have a few CDs of American Christian Artists I just listen to at home! That is my church for now! Much of that Christian subculture is so prevalent in the Churches that we simply feel unwelcome outsiders, as soon as er start to get to know people, and they figure out that my husband struggles with smoking or that we’ll have wine with our meals etc. We just don’t fit the mold! Hope there are people like us / you out there! Less concerned with these things more with people’s hearts!
    Will definitely check your music out!
    Thanks for the refreshing message!
    Blessings
    Hani

  258. Derek Webb beat you to it Gungor but a great window into your soul nonetheless. I agree wholeheartedly.

  259. I can only surmise that you are too young to remember when there was no decent alternative to mainstream pop music.

    1) The fact is that there is inherent value in just having similar catchy music that is not fronted with foul or sexually perverse lyrics. You completely lost that point and it is huge one. If that is all that Christian music does, it is enough.

    2) Most of the rest of your argument is a complete retread of every artist who has ever felt angst about the lack of true creative freedom and why the really creative artists don’t get breaks or airplay and why so much garbage music has taken over their little area and is drowning out the real artist. If the “real artists” made music that people really liked, people would listen to it. That argument always comes across the me as the artist on his pedestal telling the listeners that they simply don’t know what they SHOULD like and are wrongly choosing to listen to something subpar. Rap has “sellouts” who clean up their act enough to get airplay. Country has “sellouts” who get their music played on pop stations, etc., etc., etc.

    This argument has the same framework as thousands of others who have argued the exact same thing about their genre of music over the years.

    • There has always been alternatives to pop. You just had to read a lot of music magazines and travel to shows to see your favorite non-mainstream bands. Not everyone buys into over produced music. Most real music fans have deep roots. To say that if real musicians made good music , people would listen is a silly remark. I follow bands that you have never heard of most likely that sell out clubs. Your average person has never heard of those particular bands. Many of these bands are ridiculously creative and many don’t even have major label deals. I think if you don’t want to buy into the terribly predictable Christian music scene then you have to strike out and just make your music, Christian tags be damned. The true fans will find their way to you.

  260. Beautiful and honest. Thank you.

  261. After leaving the church and a dozen year stint as a music director in CCM churches, for me, the problem isn’t with the contrived and glossed over pseudo art. The problem is the contrived and pseudo truth at the heart of the enterprise. You can spend all day every day struggling with faith/doubt, but at the core of every reasonable individual (those to whom the consolation of faith does not supersede the longing to understand what is true) there is this nagging and ever present knowing that the faith that you try to buttress with your art, is in ideas that don’t align with reality.

    The fake it until you make it approach will never produce organic artistic significance.

    Art = Truth
    Faith = An Absence of Truth

    Once there is truth, faith is unnecessary.

    Be honest and the picture will paint itself.

    Peace!

  262. Music is music. Shouldn’t be labeled “secular” or “Christian”. Music is either positive or negative. You can find some “secular” with a awesome lyrics that can lift you up. Also you can find “Christian music” that has no true meaning.

  263. I couldn’t agree with Michael Gungor more about this. My wife and I recently started listening to a Christian radio station, because we needed a softer way to wake ourselves up in the morning and wanted to use a radio alarm, and also don’t like the idea of starting the day off with some ode to sexual immorality stuck in our heads. I’ve often commented to her that a lot of the songs “feel fake” to me but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

    I think part of the problem for me is that an important way to identify genuineness of worship is by the character of the worshipper. I think its easy to feel that worshipful songs are fake when we don’t know the person- we haven’t gotten to hear them introduce their song or explain what the Lord means to them. But maybe I’m just making excuses for people. There should be a way to communicate genuineness for the Lord in music.

  264. Christian music is so boring and fake because the notion of an all-seeing, all-knowing wizard in the sky that passes judgment on everyone is also boring and fake. Maybe building an entire industry upon a lie wasn’t the best idea?

  265. I appreciate you perspective as an industry insider. I’ve got a few thoughts in response to what’s wrong with the Christian Music Industry. On “Christian radio” in my town all the music sounds the same because 90% is pointedly worship and worship of a particular genre.

    Guitars. Do people go to “Christian guitar school” to all play their guitars the same way? Yes, as you point out the vocals are produced to be heard and this can set “Christian” music apart.

    Part of the problem with the Christian Music Industry is that it is an Industry. In the words of a Todd Rundgren way back in the 70′s, “I thought we were supposed to be free but we all got sold. Must be the death of Rock and Roll”. The secular music industry deals with inauthenticity as well. Industry in large part is about what sells.

    You rant about the alcohol taboo among American Christians. You’re right it really doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter whether one drinks or does not drink. I think the cultural prohibition is silly. So is bringing it up in a blog about what’s wrong with the Christian Music Industry. It’s just not that important. A much more significant problem over the years has been Christian music industry “celebrities” that have moral lapses. The grace of God covers our moral lapses but these highlight what’s wrong with the “Christian Music Industry” much more than whether a bar is open at a venue.

  266. After reading a lot of responses…I just have the need to respond. The idea that “Christian Music” sucks is probably a poor choice of words…and would better serve anyone who calls themselves a “Follower of Jesus” to express that Point of view by saying the music that’s mainly flowing out of Nashville doesn’t appeal to me and has lost it’s edge…because you’d probably never say the “Christian Message” sucks….and to me it’s one and the same…so first of all, if you’re going to communicate the idea or expression that you don’t like something…think about what you’re going to say and express it correctly without bringing Christ or His name into it…because NOTHING HE DOES SUCKS! Soap box #1.

    The idea that the “Christian Music Industry” is broken in it’s ability to allow those who follow Christ to have an avenue to use to express their particular brand of music or style is probably a fair statement and a sentence of judgement as well. So my question to ALL those artists who feel their being slighted in order to express their style…forget Nashville… go and do it… let your success rise and fall on your own calling… and let’s put it another way… Paul didn’t have much, but what he did have wasn’t of this world….so if your calling is to write and sing and produce your style of music…what’s stopping you…with the avenue of Itunes and facebook etc… you can get your message out there and if it’s good, and God wants to promote you…your music will sell like hot cakes and revenue will be there to support your calling. No one has any excuses anymore…with the avenue of technology and computers…the doors to the public have been kicked open and believe me…just like Russ Taff and Petra and Whiteheart… if your stuff is good, people will pay money to listen to it…so no more excuses about what Nashville is doing…set your hair on fire and run with Jesus…soap box #2.

    Now to the listening public…all the rest in the stands…let these artists know what you’re looking for…send an email…or write a facebook message…all your Christian Artists are on there…let em know….and most of us because of the ease of ITunes and Amazon…we don’t mind paying for the music we enjoy listening to…and with the fact that if an Artist puts out 12 songs, and 11 of them don’t appeal to you…but 1 does…the reality that you can buy that one song is AMAZING and WONDERFUL… so to me… here’s the finality of this blob of text… the music industry is mainly about 1 thing, money…and the love of it is the ROOT of all evil, but that doesn’t stop us from buying their music….nope but I am very selective with what I buy and I have my own tastes of music, but , but if we reached out with the message of hope to these secular artists and they find the road to repentance and surrender to Jesus…would it make a difference on whether or not we’d buy their music? Probably not….just like we go to movies…because like I said in my previous blob of text, to be entertained is not a sin…unless it becomes more important than who Jesus is..then it becomes an idol…and we certainly don’t want to serve idols..sincerely cv.

  267. I think instead of writing about it, you should use your talent and money and prove your point. You say this is about money, and what that means is that most people listening to this soul-less Christian music like it. Otherwise those making the money would change it up to make more money. The problem lies with the listener, and not the industry. We’ve been lead to believe for years that once we become a Christian, that we should be Christ-like. We forget that we are ALL humans saved by grace. That glossy fake sound you hear when you listen to Christian music is the sound of a song that has forgotten about grace. The singer can’t be human or sing about human struggles, because they want to make money rather than acknowledge the fact that they are humans saved by grace. – I think that if Pastors around this country would properly teach on grace, then the listening audience would change, and thus the Christian music industry would change. And why not in the mean time you just lift up Christ with your music and not worry about the rest. Because if you’re truly lifting up Christ, then he’s the draw. He is the soul of Christian music.

  268. the picture above the blog almost discredits it. what a creative and soulful picture.

  269. Reblogged this on Coffee, Theology, and Jesus and commented:
    This is a must read for Christians, especially Christians who happen to love music,

  270. Based on what you’ve written, the problem seems to be the gatekeepers. This isn’t surprising, as it’s usually the middlemen and the rent-seekers that cause problems. The way I see it, the best possible thing you could do would be to create a platform where middlemen are not necessary. The Internet was supposed to facilitate that sort of thing, but the recording industry freaked out and reinserted themselves in the name of protecting artists from piracy.

    Just my two quid.

  271. From an ex-christian:
    by beginning your artistic process by placing it in a box called ‘christianity’ you are implicitly impairing your creation. It’s dishonest. The depth of your religion is in the relation between christ and the human experience; that the immensity of your experiences: the breakups and deaths and joys and jubilations as well as the mundanity of life are overwhelming to you, but that they are all you have. Meanwhile your christ came and lived, experiencing those same things that you do, experiencing temptation and overcoming it. But you all forget that you’re not perfect, that your mission on earth isn’t to be perfect, but to be human, as human as you can be. So you create all of these cultural institutions that allow you to avoid the human experience, by attaching the word ‘christian’ to them, then you wonder why you can’t convince people of your truth, why they don’t see the power of your christ. Of course ‘christian music’ doesn’t sound genuine, it isn’t.
    There are a very few artists who ‘get this’, and none of them would identify their music as ‘christian music’, just as music.
    So, ditch christian music. Honor your god and live your life, which is truly the greatest gift you’ve ever received. Then, write about those overwhelming and underwhelming experiences you have, and honor the fact that you can only relate to your god because he had them too.
    Until you do I’m happy to say I have a good three-second ear for christian music too, and I’ll turn that dial as soon as I hear it.

  272. I wish I ‘got it,’ but I don’t. Sometimes I think artists strain at gnats and swallow camels. I just listen to the music. If I like it, great. If not, fine, I move on. Honestly, I’ve never noticed the ‘sheen’ of which you speak. I went to a conference last week, where the damn music was so loud, I had to SHOUT at the person standing directly next to me to be heard. It was actually painful! Then, we were subjected to a Joan Jett tune, a Beatles song, and another ‘secular.’ It was such a forced attempt to be cool and relevant. Just sing for Jesus. BTW – I do love Gungor’s music!

  273. I have thought about why Christian Music is definably different as well. I don’t necessarily disagree with you, but I think your strokes are a bit too broad. Background in worship music is my answer. Most Christians get their live music start in some variation of worship. Your point about vocals being hot in the mix are good evidence for this. It also explains your frustration with the simplicity of Christian music, however it can be a good thing too. My Epic immediately struck me as having those worship roots, but their music is nothing if not passionate. Thanks for speaking honestly about something close to your heart.

    PS. “screamo” isn’t angry empirically. It is passionate empirically, reflecting all emotions at that level. Thank you for supporting the service industry at Christian shows.

  274. Reblogged this on art, heart and this generation and commented:
    This is the kind of thing you can expect to see from me. I love music. I love the art AND heart behind it, and I love how this article exposes Christians for what we are, broken.

  275. I have not read ALL the comments above but as I skimmed a few I realized something that cut to my heart. There are a lot of us passing judgement on how some artists choose to express worship and praise to our Almighty Father. We listen to the music that directs us personally to the heart of Jesus. There is room for lots of variety here but there is no room for saying one persons praise is more genuine than another’s. Pointing fingers is wrong and only God knows the hearts of those who create the music and those who hear the music. We need to examine our own hearts – not the hearts of those around us.

  276. Well it seems to me that there is a spiritual aspect to music. Therefore I can imagine that someone carrying demons, or is in some other way closely related to the dark could be genuinely be apalled by real christian music.
    In some instinictive way I can also tell within a couple of seconds if something is secular/demonic, or christian. Obviously with Britney Spears, Jay Z etc. it is not that hard. If you find this hard to believe cf. the truth behind hip hop for example. With great insights as to why some/most mainstream music is “dark”.

    As for having a feeling of Christian music being not genuine that is quite possible, but I would rather first question whether my own state of heart is right before God, before trying to judge another professed Christian. (Unless there are obvious signs that the artist who professes to be Christian is not a Christian in truth.
    (Demons also sincerely hate the light)

  277. I agree with you wholeheartedly. Your blog post reminded me of a book written in the last century that I read back in the day, “Addicted to Mediocrity: Contemporary Christians and the Arts” by Francis Schaeffer.

    And to folks who say we should be grateful that we HAVE boppy woppy music these days with a Christian message. I can see how, back at the beginning of the Christian rock movement, or whatever you call it, just having rock music with a Christian message would have been enough. However, Christian rock has been around a long time now. People who like music, who really like music and appreciate music, want more than just mimicry. Its a little like getting an Andy Warhol print of a colorful Coca Cola can and stamping ‘WWJD’ all over it and calling it Christian Art. Why be satisfied with that when we have the Sistine Chapel? We have potential to make amazing things. But making amazing things can’t be made when you are so fixated on making sure the cookie looks exactly like the cookie cutter. (not sure what that meant, but it sounds good.)

    So, there you go. :P

    • I just realized that I used the word ‘making’ about 12 too many times in my last sentence there. Sorry about that. :p I guess I was making sure that I was making my point.

  278. I agree with a lot that he said, but also recognize there are some issues with some of the things he said. What I’m hearing is that he has an “opinion” that many Christian artists sound the same and that they are not creative. I think he painted with a broad brush. Some of those artists may have been as creative as they could be. For me, and I am a pastor, who still loves all types of music. I very rarely listen to Christian radio because the music they play is so OLD.

    I am a product of the 70′s, so I tend to listen to more 70′s music which, in my opinion, was extremely creative. The secular music of today sounds all the same to me. When I was coming up you could hear a group and say… “that’s the Doobie Brothers, or that is the Eagles, or Boston, Kansas, or Deep Purple and the list could go on and on.” Why? Because they had created a “sound.” I don’t hear that “sound” today with many secular artists.

    So again, I think Gungor is partially right is some of his assessment, that there needs to be more creativity, but as I’m sure he knows that often times the label who signs these guys fashions them into what sells, ie. marketing and money. You can be as creative as you want, but if you are not making money, even Gungor, would change his music so he could make money, unless he has another job on the side so he doesn’t have to worry about money.

    The other issue which he seemed to spend a lot of time on was alcohol. Personally, I don’t think drinking a beer or having a glass of wine is going to send anyone to hell, but my problem is that Gungor seem to really focus on this issue. We must also remember that as believers, we live by a higher standard. While it may be permissible, it may not be beneficial in front of a lot of people because of the influence that we carry. My problem is that when you have people spend this much time on this topic in an article like this is that some will see it as permission to drink, especially young people. Even though they might be 21, many are looking for reasons to drink instead of realizing the greater influence they have.

  279. This blog is exactly what has been on my heart for a very long time. I am a songwriter and worship leader and strive to write creative songs…”Heaven songs” as we call them at my church. The Holy Spirit is the most creative being there is! And he should be our partner when writing and singing. I wrote to my city’s Christian radio station recently and asked them why they don’t play specific types of music (even more specifically, I mentioned Bethel Church, Jeremy riddle, Jesus culture… But I gave an extensive list). The lady who responded was nice enough, I guess, but she ignored every single artist I listed and singled out Bethel and said “we have taken a stand to not play Bethel or any music associated with it because we disagree with the pastors teachings. We are not the only radio station who feels this way.” I asked her if she would please be specific about what they disagreed with and what she responded to me with was, frankly, very ignorant and incorrect. You could tell she did little research of her own and had perhaps HEARD these statements about Bethel but didn’t actually check them out for herself. I respectfully corrected her and gave her the ACTUAL facts (to which she has chosen to not comment on at this point), but I know it probably won’t change anything. This station is listener supported, as many others are, and even if they took me at my word and started playing bethel or Jesus culture, their listeners may pull their donations. The SADDEST part, however, is that they actually DO play Bethel! Brian Johnson wrote “One Thing Remains” which many CCLI bands have done their own version of and Jeremy Riddle, co-wrote Phil Wickhams new song “This Is Amazing Grace”. Both of those songs came straight out of Bethel and it goes to show that a CCLI band can make their own version of a song and strip it of it’s creativity and emotion and make it sound like every other song on the charts and people are happy with it. Ignorance is bliss, I suppose. But it is definitely all about money. And that makes my heart SO sad because this is all about Jesus and glorifying HIM. He couldn’t care LESS about how much money these songs make. He wants our heart. I’m not saying everybody on Christian radio is disingenuous, but a lot of them are…
    Great blog.

  280. 3000 words… so lonnnnng!

  281. I have never heard someone – secular or Christian – critique music so viciously, so cuttingly, as you express your “feelings” and judgments, Michael.

    I don’t care what your position is in the “industry,” bro. NO ONE has any right to make these kinds of statements:
    “It’s that same kind of creep out that you feel when somebody gives a really loud fake laugh.”

    Clearly you forget these people you’re eviscerating are WORSHIPING GOD.

    I probably would agree with your points about the lack of creative inspiration in the Christian musical genres – IF – you didn’t express these points in such vicious terms. As it is, I couldn’t stand to finish your article.

    Check yourself, Michael. Speak any truth you’ve received from God in LOVE next time…………..

    You are a gong.

    • Before you cast judgment, you need to finish the whole article. If I was reading the bible and didn’t like the slavery, rape, murder, evil, mass killing and multiple spouses people had in the Old Testament and stopped reading, because as it is, I couldn’t stand to finish reading the rest of the bible. I would never learn about Jesus Christ, and see the whole plan of God, and his whole idea. So before you go and calling people “vicious”, and using your words in an attacking manner. You need to see the whole picture and read the whole article before you can make a response. Because there is no way you can make an unbiased response if you read part of the article, don’t care for it, and stop. You are going to have a very impartial understanding of the idea, as well as a very skewed view of it. Go finish it or don’t comment at all.

  282. Yeah I’d agree, ever since the “Jesus freak” days! Your so wrong on the Death metal bit though, coming from a vocalist who has studied a huge varieties of genres what can be more genuine then a noise from they very depths of your insides… the Beelzebub bit is your Christian brain talking.. its not evil just honest. why not scream if you love someone?

  283. Well said and well written. I have played this same game in my mind when visiting a new city and turning on the radio. I think sometimes Christian music artists are pressured to not speak of real life, heartache, doubt, fear, grief, or disappointment. If they do, it is “controlled” and “contained” within positive lyrics, hence the feeling of a “plastic veneer”. There seems to be an unwritten law; secular music is negative, therefore Christian music must be only positive. When was the last time you heard a Christian song about the middle 40 chapters of the book of Job?

    Country and secular music, has a lot of “real life” messages and heart woven into it…people talking about what has happened in their lives. Our churches often cultivate a “plastic veneer”, we arrive at church to show everyone we are doing fine. But in reality, we are hurting, disappointed, sad, angry or fearful.

    Thanks Michael for this thought provoking blog! Keep it up!

  284. Why not just be a rock band that plays Christian themed songs? Worked out pretty dang well for U2.

  285. I lived in Nashville for a while and I did the music thing there. I think a lot of the creativity problems stem back to the producers who are trying to make a buck using a safe and predictable formula. The artists, for the most part, are forced into it or leave in disgust.

  286. I didn’t read all of the comments (though I read quite a few) so forgive me if I’m making a point that has already been made, but I am an artist (fiction author) and let me assure you that the exact same problems are rampant in the Christian publishing houses. Both industries are bound largely by legalism because legalism sets a ‘safe’ parameter and ‘safe’ ensures nobodycouldpossiblebeoffended which in turn helps ensure a greater chance at seeing a monetary return on the record label or publishers investment (I should mention that a great deal of time books do *not* earn out, and I assume the some goes for record labels). Nevermind that ‘safe’ is usually impotent and therefore next to useless.

    in general we tend to get very upset by all the political correctness going on around us. ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of Merry Christmas and all that sort of thing… but when the art being produced in Christian industries falls into this ‘safe’ mode aren’t we then the very *worst* sort of hypocrites because here we are, not as unbelievers but *believers*, turning out and accepting a bland, legalism bound, p.c. version of Jesus? Because that is what goes on, not all the time, but far too often. We create a disingenuous facade that self perpetuates within the body itself. Our version of Jesus (the nicey-nice Jesus, not the REAL Jesus) is all but irrelevant. In fact, its more than that. Its very much like a lie. Oh sure we’re not technically saying anything wrong, but the idea presented when you step back from the individual artists and look at the the message the industry on the whole is sending is harmful in a way that is difficult to explain. Sort of like having a diet consisting of too many empty calories, but being told its the only diet permissible. Eventually you suffer from malnutrition but probably don’t understand why.

    This Christian industry fed line of ‘safe’ also tends to alienate artists. There are a lot of Christians that have a difficult time accepting art, any sort of art, as being for the glory of God if it isn’t overtly obvious. That is a new phenomenon, by the way, at least on the scale we see it now. If you’re a painter, you’d better be painting Jesus, or Noah. If you’re a writer you’d better have the plan of salvation outlined in three easy steps and have a conversion by the end of the book. If you’re a musician you’d better sing about either Jesus or your spouse because its not holy enough to have emotions about any other things in your life…. or at least that is what the industries have suggested to everyone and been peddling for 30 years now, and I’m afraid its done nothing but alienate the very artists that all these agents, publishers, producers and (in bygone days) the bookstores rely on for their livelihoods. We’ve been cookie cutter-ed by the gatekeepers… people who ought to have no issues finding art that *surpasses* whats available in the secular market because we are to lay our very best at the altar for our Lord. But we’re floundering with our identities as artists (and humans on the whole) because we’ve accepted ‘safe’ as some sort of holy rule. We don’t know what to do, or how to grow or whats ok anymore. And whats worse, is that the world sees this confusion and facade in us plainly. And so why would they want any part of it? I talked way too long.

  287. I do not think one can flippantly throw aside the argument against the wine being alcoholic. The party Jesus turned the water into wine was not a one day party. If we are commanded to be our brothers keepers and keep them from stumbling, why would Jesus make the best alcohol wine possible to allow them to become more drunk and stumble? Would that not be the sin, not the getting drunk part? If this was alcoholic like it is argued, He knowingly and willingly said hey, here, SIN!! So there is more to this issue then someone just throwing out the word sheesh and acting like it is dumb to think it is not alcoholic wine. America is not the first culture to think the wine was not alcoholic. The problem with Christian music is we have a bunch of talented, but uneducated in scriptures, people singing about stuff they themselves know little about. I get tired of musicians pretending they are preachers and preachers pretending they are musicians.

  288. I agree with Gungor. Its about the AMERICAN Christian music industry. American Christian artists are creating worship music for their demographic, NOT for God. God is second. We, as a nation, need to refocus.

  289. Although, I sometimes play a game when I look at people’s faces and think, “Follower of Jesus or non?” That’s surprisingly easy to do, too. There’s a peace and a joy in the eyes of someone who TRULY knows Jesus (and many say they know Him who don’t, so, I’m not going by what people claim). I think there SHOULD be an intangible something that shows we’re different than the world.

    Twenty-one years ago I was diagnosed with an insidious, painful, untreatable disease. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat in a medical specialist’s office over the past 21 years and had them ask me, “What’s different about you from my other patients? Whatever you have, it’s REAL. And I wish all my patients had it, whatever it is.” Over and over and over and over again. It’s that intangible something–my heart knit with God’s–that makes people say, “You don’t look sick…” Well, it’s not a visible disease so NONE of the people with it should look sick. But they don’t know how to explain what’s dramatically different about me from the vast majority of people with this illness.

    And whatever it is should be in Christian music, too. I would hope that I could hear a couple of bars of a song and be able to say, “This artist adores their Papa God” or “This artist doesn’t know the true God from gum on the sidewalk.”

  290. As a Christian… Thank you. A long time ago I remember a poster at youth group where they compared one ” secular” band and had a tree of Christian bands that ” sound like” that artist. As an eager teenager I would buy into the music only to realize wait this doesn’t sound at all like the band I liked before. Who “sounds like” Johnny cash? Who “sounds like” modest mouse. No one they are unique. It was super clever marketing though since I was eager and would buy the 5 they listed on the tree for the one artist, throw enough darts and one will stick and I would find a band I like right? The problem in Christian music is rarely the heart it’s that we allow ourselves to be fit into a section when god is so vast. The same god who made a giraffe and a platypus instilled that same creativity into each of us…. The same god who made no fingerprints or snowflakes exactly alike made no person exactly alike when all of us explore our own creativity we see a glimpse of gods creativity.

  291. Hey this is great. I encourage anyone who is interested in engaging the world as well as glorifying God through art, do read the book “Saving Leonardo” by Nancy Pearcey. It is a deep book; application is the most at the end, but it talks about this struggle for Christians where we have really hindered the creativity that God created us to use to glorify him. I believe Christians as a whole have really backed away out of the art world, and the world is really suffering for it. Just as Christ has redeemed us, so can we spread that redemption to the world so that it is seen through all areas of life, including art. Christ redeems all of us, not just a part. So all areas of the world can be engaged and not backed away from. The christian subculture is hiding from the reality of the day to day challenges and is hiding the lamp that Christ talks about instead of shining it brightly for all to see. We are not called to an appearance of following God. God has called us to something so much greater, and we are to use whatever talent, gift, etc. to glorify him in everyway and to spread His name around the world.

  292. Omenga at the comments. You just landed my first purchase of your album. I’ve followed you on spottily and played your music in-between all my good ole’ secular jams for a long time. I can always tell when I hear you not because I know the songs (I listen to a HUGE amount of music) but because of the soul, indeed. I hear your music and sound as an actual artistic story, not just a good hook line and some nice catchy chorus. You have earned my respect by pretty much nailing every plaguing thought I’ve had about the genre gap. Thanks and God speed!

  293. I’ve read a lot of comments and this article. At the end of the day you know what the Lord cares about? You and you only. What has he called you to do? Are you concerned with the things of God or the things of men. Why waste your time debating this. Go do what God has called you to do. Read scripture and allow the Holy Spirit to convict you. What Michael has said and does he only is accountable for the Lord for, not you. Stop wasting life living for comfort. Focus on what God says that lasts. I promise then the American Church would be having the same impact as those of our brothers and sisters suffering for the name of the Lord in other parts of the world. Ever notice there are tons of ppl coming to Christ outside of this country? I’m also just trying to point something out here I’m not putting blame on the church I know God is doing things here but I see the lack of power that I see other places in the world. Just my observation also something I’m accountable for. God is the judge and I know he wants so much more for us. I hope we get back to the basics. This quote says it best:
    “What the Church needs to-day is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use — men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men, men of prayer.”- E. M. Bounds

    My prayer is that all who read this will be encouraged to focus on the things of God and not worry about what everyone else is doing.

  294. Secular has also had disingenuous music, ever hear of 80′s hair metal ? this is why Nirvana and others were able to change the industry. people were tired of cookie cutter music with not much substance. try and get a rec exec to sign off on a glam metal band today and see how far that gets you. I’ve said for years that the christian music industry needs a Kurt Cobain. That said, I find a lot more integrity among the metal core bands, who do directly “compete” in the secular market. … as far as what pleases God, God judges the heart, something we have no ability to do outside His gifting. PERIOD !!! Simple music can and does please Him. Art and expression are wonderful, but we are the ones effected by it’s complexity or lack thereof …..

  295. I live in Nashville, and can add a hearty “Amen” to a lot of what is said here. We have at least 3 large Christian Genre radio stations here. I was alerted to the music of Gungor and of John Mark a few years ago through a friend at Church. I was so blown away by the contrast in quality and sincerity offered in their music that I anticipated an immediate revival in the Christian Genre analagous to when Jars of Clay’s first album hit the air almost 20 years ago. We played their songs at Church, but the radio here has not embraced this movement. I believe that their are more groups out their giving God the first fruits of an incredible gift, as these two are, but they are not easy to find.
    As a worship leader, I do think it is worth mentioning that Christian Genre radio must share air time between all of their chosen sub-genres (rock, pop, country, dance, rap, praise, etc). The popularity of praise music has a good bit to do with the relative lack of more artiscally ambitious songs. Though I love belting it out to “Beautiful Things” in my car, it is not designed for communal, congregational singing. Many of the highly compressed, vocally dominated, and melodically simple songs fthat are more aggressively marketed are not designed to be “admired in a gallery,” but rather to be shared like a meal.
    If anyone cares to extend my list of music made by these more “creative” groups, please comment.
    PS, I had two beers at the John Mark McMillan Show at 12th and Porter.

  296. I really get what Michael G is saying here. Honestly, if we, as Christians, are tapped into the Creator OF Music, then I would love to see the Christian Music set the barre of creativity for the rest of the genres to chase after; and do it b/c the Holy Spirit inspired these new sounds in such a way that would be so obvious and would be embraced. Christian Music has played its music “from behind” for many years, chasing secular sounds, b/c it IS, bottom line, ABOUT the bottom line. I am one who has connected with the different expressions of Christian music over the years. But, there is a difference between music that the Holy Spirit births out of us and what is simply another cookie-cutter song. However, there is ALSO a difference in the casual music listener and the music-creating artist. They can listen to music for different reasons than we make our music. As an artist, we desire to be unique and creative. A casual listener may value familiar, ear-pleasing tones. This is and can be the simple challenge of every artist, not just Christian Music artists. We, as artists, can sometimes get so “creative and unique” that casual listener is not really listening for that reason.

    At the end of the day, it certainly seems more plausible for Christian Music, with a Holy Spirit connection to THE CREATOR of music, that we can make music that reaches so deeply into the soul, and yet is so new and freshly creative, that casual listener can’t explain why they like it, they just like it b/c it speaks to their soul. Yes, It would be so incredibly gratifying and glorifying to God, if the rest of the musical world and genres were looking at Christian Music with eyes and ears of desire; to see the Holy Spirit drawing their souls in with its Spirit-led creativity musically, authentic lyrics, and its inexplanable drawing from deep within. That would reset the barre for an industry, for sure. Great dialogue starter, Michael Gungor. Love your heart to create. Keep going, my friend.

  297. Amazing how (if the date is correct) this was written on November 16, 2011, and it’s just now receiving attention. It takes time to start a movement, but it’s one worth starting.

    Thank you for your insight. Fight on.

  298. As someone who believes he has good ear for music and enjoys all genres, I can testify that most Christian music is garbage, as is most pop and country for the reasons the author states. Over production. This article was genius to point out what it does, The Christian community is so afraid to admit that anything it does is sub-par. Soulless music is soulless. Period. I love this new generation of Christian thinkers. Great article.

  299. As soon as I started reading the article I knew how predictable it would be. Kind of like your guessing game of “Secular or Christan.” I normally don’t comment on these type of article/posts but after seeing so many of them ringing the same similar bell, I thought I’d chime in.

    I am a musician who, before I got saved, toured in secular bands in the 80′s. Since being saved I’ve played in a “Christian” rock band and more worship teams than I can count. I also own a recording studio where I get to engineer many different styles of music secular and christian. Was not raised in a christian home so my “stereotypical christian tradition” doesn’t exist or very light. While my worldly baggage from the past was not light….

    ***Note when I use the term “Christian Music” I’m using it as an identity term and not that music can be “saved” as one or two crazies might try to argue that….

    While I agree to a certain extent that a chunk Christian music is done without a sense of “musical” soul to it and I also have a hard time believing that a 17-20 year old “Christian” pop artist singing about a difficult life may understand what a difficult life is. (I’m not saying it’s not possible, but if you’re born and raised in America, chances are your life has been mostly good relatively speaking. I’m also not saying that something bad hasn’t happened to a young person I’m not that naive) Most of the mainstream Christian music sounds much the same…..bland and boring. I’m not saying that they don’t have a message, because they do. But having said that there is a lot of great Christian music bands out there that don’t get the “main stream” play. It appears to me that you are carving out a “portion” of what is out there ‘but’ probably most of what is heard.

    I’m getting to my point where I disagree with you on your “overall” indictment of the Christian music industry and your
    view on alcohol at a “Christian” event in a “Club” type venue.

    First, the music: Good lord man the secular music market is full of bland CRAP that has no soul to it, are you delusional? If you are saying Christian music should rise above that, it should, I get that. Are there more secular artists with ‘more’ soul to their music? Maybe, but even so they are few and far between. There are many Christian artists who are great artists/lyricists. And then there are some who just have some talent and are given songs to sing….certainly that shows. Creativity? There is a lack of creativity in secular and Christian music so indict the music industry as a whole. You could have prefaced quite quickly and then moved on to “what you’d like to see in the Christian music industry” but you didn’t. I also believe there is ‘Christian’ music for it’s content and maybe not the best delivery. Like some pastors who may be able to write a good message but failed to deliver it with the passion it should have. Is that right or wrong…..neither?

    The music industry, Christian or secular, as you know, is “for profit” what sells. If it didn’t sell they wouldn’t produce it. It will always be that way. It seems it’s gotten worse that’s for sure. (but as a musician it does seem you’re coming from an artists perspective-more about authentic/genuine/passion/feel music) If there is any shift in music (regardless or genre) will be grass roots and if it takes off, which has in the past, will be exploited by the record labels as have happened. U2 used to be one of those bands then their following actually became mainstream.

    Second, the alcohol: As a product of the 80′s, over indulgence etc, etc… I disagree with the premise of your idea that “Christians” should drink at Christian events. (At club type venues) Is that dishonest? I don’t think so. I think it’s polite and respectful to those around you. A few things and I’ll make this quick. 1) You are correct as in the bible doesn’t say drinking is a sin,(being a drunkard is) but it does give us many warnings of the dangers of alcohol. 2) I have many friends who are recovering alcoholics so why would I want to be a stumbling block for them, because it’s my “christian right to drink dammit” and how would I know, in a large group of whomever, that there may be someone who has a problem with alcohol? 3) How many Budweiser’s, Michelob’s (fill in your favorite) actually help in restoring marriages and families rather than destroy them? Or how many peoples lives would have been saved if they hadn’t been involved in a drunken driving accident? Yes Jesus did change the water into wine….but he also walked on water, healed people, raised people from the dead, calmed storms, was without sin, multiplied the loaves and fishes to feed thousands. (Among countless other good things) Why don’t we get those things down and right rather than cry about “I want my alcohol!” Good lord how stinking immature.

    I’ve been a christian for about 25 years now and I see more and more the church (the ‘Christians’) wanting to be more like the world (to be ‘relevant’ it seems) than the world wanting to be more like Jesus. I was in the world for the first half of my life, it has very little to offer, certainly nothing of eternal value. But it seems we are certainly swayed to desire it. Mr. Gungor you seem a bit arrogant and smell of wanting to be entitled as it pertains to alcohol and a few things it sounds. Put your big boy pants and stop whining about lighting up and having a cold one. Iron sharpens Iron and it may create sparks in the process.

  300. I agree with some of this, but some of it sounds judgemental. How do you know if someone is being real or fake? To you it sounds fair, but to others it sounds real. Music is a form of art, and like all art, it can be used however someone wants to. If the singer from Underoath (can’t remember his name) is more genuine while screaming something positive than just singing it (like in one of his songs where he screams, “Jesus I’m ready to go home”) then that is more real for him. For Michael, it isn’t more real because that isn’t how he thinks. Why can’t we all just make our own music and leave other people’s music alone. If you don’t like it, don’t listen to it.

    All music is subjective, and sure I’m tired of the same four chords (which is why I don’t listen yo those songs), so go ahead and say what you think, but don’t say that it in fact is a zobified version of something else. That’s only an opinion; the fact may be that those people are being more genuine than even you (Michael).

  301. One artist that could have sold out to great success but chose to put art above fame and money is josh garrells.

    This article is spot on. Every song is the same. Delayed guitar intro that anyone who has played guitar for one day can play. Verse. Chorus. Repeat intro. Second verse. Chorus. 5 second solo. Bridge. And end on the chorus.

    I want the music I listen to to be something I would struggle to play. Break the mold and make true art. Michael gungor could easily turn out hits and make great wealth like the big names. But has chosen to stay true to his art. U might not like his thoughts. But they are right on the money

  302. The drinking part is totally wrong. Some areas of our American culture accept drinking as a non-sinful norm, but many people still hold to those “old laws” we should treat this the same way we would upon entering any non-Christian culture, in a Muslim culture we might dress differently not to offend the people around us and therefore profane the Gospel of Christ.Also if people around you see it as a sin to take one drink, you are strengthening them to go against their conscience and therefore sin, drunk or not.
    ” But food will not commend us to God; we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat. But take care lest this liberty of yours somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if someone sees you, who have knowledge, dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience, if he is weak, be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? For through your knowledge he who is weak is ruined, the brother for whose sake Christ died. And thus, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.”

  303. BOOM! Good stuff. I like that you just put it out there for the lovers and the haters. GOOD JOB!!!

  304. Reblogged this on The Faery Inn and commented:
    Yes. This. This exactly. I don’t have a problem with the message Christian music tries to share, but I agree whole-heartedly with him that we’re going about it the wrong way. God can use ANY music, but doesn’t he deserve for us to use the best and most creative music we can offer? Who, when offered a choice between canned meat and fresh T-bone steaks would choose the canned? (Besides the toothless, that is.)

    Grace & Peace,
    Tiffany

  305. Yes. This.

    Re-blogged. God bless you.

  306. I think part of the issue is the fact that it is an INDUSTRY at all. I remember a time when Carmen would tour and only accept donations for admission… no tickets. Also, the fact that a lot of the music is coming out of Nashville, not that there is anything wrong with Nashville or the music coming from there, it’s that they have a terrible habit of using the cookie cutter when it comes to music. When Garth Brooks went huge, they signed everybody that sounded or looked like him. Hence if Chris Tomlin is selling…… They focus on income not increase. It’s not a ministry, it’s an industry… we need to change that or we may as well be singing the same garbage as Bieber.

  307. This may be simplistic, and I realize that CCM is not some monolithic thing, but move it out of Nashville. There’s a reason why CCM production sounds like country without the twang. It’s also an insular culture. Work with producers who do not have an evangelical agenda, their agenda is good music. One of the biggest jobs of a good producer is getting all they can out of the talent and channel that into something commercial. If the talent has the right heart, their message will get through.

  308. Might as well just add bars in churches…they can stop taking offerings and just pay for the building projects and outreaches with alcohol sales!

  309. Some very good points to be seen in this, but I think it’s only a realization of something bigger (just a symptom, not a diagnosis of the real issue). I feel the bigger issue is that a majority of Christians do not live lives centered around Christ. Many live Christian lives, yet are not submitted to Christ in all areas (or even consider that that is something that is important). It can be debated whether or not what was said in the blog is right or not, but even most of the comments supporting or blasting Michael Gungor show the focus of many people’s minds still isn’t about Jesus Christ first and foremost. To me, that is the deeper problem with the Christian music industry and that’s only because it’s the main problem with the Church-we’re not focused on Christ more than anything else in this world.

  310. This guy’s a douche. And their last album sucked. I regret buying it. Maybe he’s just pissed because he knows he sold out too. He needs to find a healthier way to emote.

  311. Great article! I have a question, though: Where are those artists that “the industry hasn’t necessarily bought into”?? How can we find them? The industry controls what we hear and unless we do some serious research, how are we supposed to find those artists? I, too, am fed up with the “blander sheen” of Christian music. You hit the nail on the head…now tell us how to find these artists.

  312. Isn’t the secular industry also the same way?

  313. Modern Christian Music is blah because the Modern American Church is blah.

    Christians once built Churches like this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Roma-san_giovanni03.jpg

    and had paintings like this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Trinity_tikhon_filatiev.jpg

    and had music like this:

    That is art.

    Modern America has very little to compete with it. Post Enlightenment, post Reformation Earth has little to compete with it.

  314. “I’d love to get some of your thoughts about it.” On a practical level, I think there’s a small handful of producers in Franklin, TN (I’m an artist in Nashville) that call most of the shots. A lot of the mixes are going through the same preamps and compressions in, and a lot of that ‘sound’ is being decided upon and made in a handful of studios that are heavily relied upon. I don’t know this for certain, but it’s a reasonable guess. Most artists don’t know what they’re going for when it comes to creating a ‘sound’ for their album, so guess who’s left to decide it :) The same folks.

    “It is based on marketing.” I’m not exactly sure what the bottom line is when people say this. I’m with you in most of your analysis for sure, at the same time I feel comments like this are typically rant-heavy without much else. CCM is a business who’s target market is mostly middle aged adults with families. Marketing isn’t a bad thing, it’s necessary just as much as Octane marketing Maroon 5. It’s a part of business. I feel there’s other questions here not being asked, I’ll get to those at the end.

    “There’s just something more believable about the whispery sexy voice” Ironically, these songs are often just as fabricated and disingenuous as anything. And you better believe mainstream music is agenda driven, I hope you’re not suggesting otherwise. Sex is an easy sell, always. Though many of these pop hits are not written by the singers, I’d venture to say most anyone can get behind a mic and fantasize whatever it is they fantasize in order to communicate arousal and make it believable when they sing. I think another part of it too is they’re often catchy without the cheese-factor, i.e. are perceived more credibly. CCM is so cheesy sometimes, it’s hard to take it seriously. (But again, they’re not really marketing to me.) And another, Christian music is often viewed (rightfully so) as the one imitating. So sub-consciously a lot of us view mainstream as the one setting the bar, i.e. the ‘credible’ one. We come to it with this mindset.

    “and I hear any sort of pretending or false emotion,” I hear you, and feel like I hear it too. You/we don’t always know though. This can easily be license to judge and spur cynicism.

    “A LOT of them would have bought a drink.” I drink and prob would’ve bought one. But this is pure speculation, and I had a hard time seeing the link from this (very long) portion of your article back into the industry portion. This bit was a bit of a jungle to read through.

    “It’s based in an era of prohibition.” It’s also based currently in the Bible belt South just as much if not even more strongly. What I hear you saying is we as persons and artists need to be more real and authentic with the world. There’s some though for whom alcohol will always be a stumbling block, and for a variety of reasons. And that’s ok, it’s not our mandate to confront their conscience unnecessarily.

    “So the point? (I haven’t forgotten) The point is that the industry that labels things as Christian and sells them to you has far more to do with marketing than Christianity.” Again, back to the marketing bit, what are you really suggesting here? What’s the question? What are you suggesting labels do? You gave some helpful pep talk points at the end, but on a fundamental level no one is asking the real specific question, and therefore not answering this question:

    How does a record label market Christian music (because it’s a business and needs to) without appearing like their focus is on marketing? Or…How does a label write songs that are both authentic and marketable? Because labels think in terms of market, that’s ok, that’s the nature of their business: a target market. That’s an entire other article in and of itself, but it can’t be left to rant; articles like this circulate from time to time reminding everyone of the issue without offering a balanced perspective that asks the real questions. Though I really appreciate the heart behind this, it does need to be a conversation.

  315. Well, though I do agree MOSTLY with this article, I do not agree with the fact that you seem to think that getting drunk is okay and that Jesus was a “glutton and a drunkard”. He was not. Period. Getting drunk is not scriptural, nor is it biblical. Actually it’s AGAINST the Lords Word (Ephesians 5:18). But besides that small point, I agree wholeheartedely. I’m very sick of going to worship practice and seeing the same chords. OVER, AND OVER, AND OVER, AND OVER, AND OVER, AND OVER AGAIN! G-D-Em-C…. Wait! One with the chords C-G-Am-F! Ohhh, wait… That’s just G transposed up 5 half-steps. it’s seriously ridiculous. I love doing songs where one can actually sing with the voice and his instrument! Fore example. “Beautiful Things”. Thanks Michael.

  316. I’ll add one more thought, maybe my bottom line, now that my mind is going on this: I think there needs to be a CCM industry. And there’s artists who are a perfect fit for it and for it’s market. I’m thinking of Stephen Curtis Chapman type artists. I’ve never felt his music was at all contrived or disingenuous, and know there’s always a market who’s soul is genuinely touched by what he does. But I think it’s a narrow niche. For those who are really passionate about that, go for it. Go and try to get picked up by a label who can support you. And do it authentically. For those who want to do something outside that mold, the alter-creative types, stay independent, use managers and booking agents, and build your niche. If you’re music is as creative as you think or are hoping it is, it will take off. In other words:

    If you should be heard, you will be heard. You’ve got the internet, it’s never been easier.

    Stay independent, and avoid the entire collision of musical ideologies and approaches that were never meant to coexist together in the first place. As long as oil and water collide, they’ll never mix. Leave CCM’s Chapmans and Michael W. Smiths and Rachael Lampas and so on for the families who find it beneficial and for whom those artists exist for in the first place, and go do what you were meant to do. The internet is yours, exposure is yours, go earn it in all it’s lyrical and musical creativity and authenticity. Define what success is for you and your band, and go make it happen.

  317. Mmm, this article is music to my hears (ha) and salve to my soul. I go to a Christian college so I am surrounded by happy-clappy Christian music. Here’s the thing–music is one of the primary ways I see God in this world. But the times I see God are when the music is almost impossibly beautiful and so reflects the creativity and beauty I imagine that God has. I have heard this is Beethoven, Explosions in the Sky, Jon Foreman (whose lyrics are just…wow. Honest.), Gungor…

    Needless to say, the canned music I hear out of the Christian music industry does not come close in comparison. Sometimes the lyrics don’t even sense (but a certain chord progression gives you goosebumps and suddenly it’s the Holy Spirit….Sorry, sarcasm over). Basically, I just want to say that 1) I agree with your message and love that you are working to transform the system from within instead standing outside and bitterly pointing fingers and 2) Keep doing what you do. It is so appreciated.

  318. What??? What a ramble. Guess what??? Nothing is perfect, bro. People get hooked into the “system” when they enter any profession. Yes, old people think it’s bad to drink. Yes, it would be kinda not right to drink at Christian events due to the fact that you may “stumble” a bro or sis. This is life. There is a difference between Christian “music” and worshipping the LORD with your music and talents…..we all feel that in today’s Christian music. Frankly, I can’t listen to much of it because it seems so secular sounding. But it’s happening………what u gonna do ? Peace to you all.

  319. So have a few drinks and christian music sounds better and your not a hypocrite. Heck throw a cigarette in your mouth and you won’t have to listen for nearly as long over the course of your lifetime either…

  320. Oh, and it sucks. Forgot to put that in the article. Probably forgot with that nine year rant on alcohol. Anyway, I hate Christian music. It’s vanilla, toneless, and filled with buzzwords. Every song sounds the same, form guitar licks and solos, to drum rolls and synthesizers. Every singer sounds the same, nasally and on the cusp of whining. It’s been that way since the late 80s, had a brief revolution in the late 90s, tried to break free with ensembles in the 00s, but came full circle to the tin noise we hear on the radio today. Cookie cutting music, the same as pop music. I agree with Gungor: no soul.

  321. I came late to this christian music enviroment, but all I know is that the only guy I actually like in the genre is Keith green,and unfortunately he is dead, I liked him because his life was a great testimony, his
    Music was entirely for the glory of God and in the end he broke his contracts and refused to sell his music and just gave it away for free, He was “creative” and broke free of the usual christian artist persona.

  322. Let me be real and honest. Michael Gungor needs to be hit in the mouth. Go read Crazy love Michael..I’ll be praying that you find time to get alone with God and reevaluate..

  323. I no longer have a dog in this fight, I gave up on “Christian” music ages ago. But this discussion has raged for a long time. Here is a link to an article Mark Heard wrote about it in 1990. http://mhlp.rru.com/image.html

  324. I don’t understand why people such as Michael Gungor, John Mark, Ascend the Hill, Jesus Culture, Bethel Music, Jenny and Tyler, Brian and Katie Torwalt, Lecrae, Trip Lee and sooooo many more don’t get any Christian Music radio time it blows me away that people with the much needed Christian creativity don’t get any radio time. Its a big screw you from the Christian radio industry because many of the ones I named are widely popular and very outstanding artists. Not to mention people my age (20) and younger and many older are tired of the same old Christian radio. Yes a lot of the artists are great and they should keep playing them but its also time to play some new stuff. Who knows maybe I will start a radio station to promote these views.

  325. You wrote then instead of than.

  326. While I agree with your overall premise, and I’m really glad that you address these issues, I do want to point out one thing about alcohol, prohibition, and other countries from a Wesleyan perspective since I’m Methodist and a bit embarrassingly the Methodist’s were huge proponents of prohibition. Wesley, who help create what we now as the Methodist movement, was avidly against gin and other hard liqueurs because in England at the time alcoholism was rampant and creating those spirits used the food crops which made families go hungry and further created economic despair. For Wesley, that wasn’t about money, it was about food primarily. That didn’t translate very well in the early movement which railed instead about all alcohol rather than those which were using grains that would feed families and getting people drunk at an alarming rate since people would drink it as an alternative to water in some situations. That argument started in England and Gin Alley was a cultural phenomenon that killed people. On the other hand, Guinness, inspired in part by Wesley and what they both saw in England, created a safe alternative for people in his area that provided a living wage as well. Just a little extra information that could provide some educational fodder. The Guinness example could give additional credence to your exaltation to buy a drink! (you could even list some good companies that employ people or encourage local brews)

  327. interesting thread, meanwhile, outside the united states, believers in Jesus are being systematically slaughtered …..

  328. I am a Christian, and have been a Christian all of my life. I have had many life experiences, visited many places, seen many things, and listened to many things. Overall, I completely agree with this article and most of the main points! Being 22 years old, I listen to all sorts of music. I listen to mainstream hip hop, I listen to Chris Tomlin. Overall, Coldplay is one of my favorite bands. Even though they are not a “Christian Band” They write great music with a mostly positive Christian message. They are not addicted to drugs and don’t drink excessively. ( They even kicked out their drummer because he had an alcohol problem. He cleaned himself up, then they allowed him back into the band.) I think music in general should be about the human experience and should really come from the soul. This is not considered a Christian song, and is not usually played on the radio, but I think it has a great message for everybody.

    It’s called U.F.O. by Coldplay. I think it has a great message.

    Lord I don’t know which way I am going
    Which way the river gonna flow
    It’s just seems that upstream, I keep rowing
    Still got such a long way to go
    Still got such a long way to go

    Then that light, it’s your eye
    I know, I swear,
    We’ll find somewhere the streets are paved with gold
    Bullets fly, split the sky
    But that’s all right, sometimes, sunlight comes streaming through the holes

    Oooohhh ooooohh…

    Great message. Those are my thoughts :)

    • Thank-you. I thought I was the only Christian who could have worshipful experiences from listening to Coldplay or Mumford and Sons… Glad to know other people see the goodness in this!

  329. Wow…yes and yes.

  330. This hits almost all of the issues I have with American Christianity. I really respect Michael Gungor. Please write for my website.

    http://www.sederkegger.com

  331. So very happy to read this. I’m a writer facing a lot of similar or identical problems in the literary world (We have Amish fiction, allegories, and a half-shelf of good stuff. I’m writing superhero fantasy. This should be interesting). I want to have good art, not just a good message, because art conveys the message better. Shoot, the old hymns are STILL amazing because they weren’t just “God is good yay amen.” They were, sorry to use the word, creative, artistic, and just plain “full.” Thanks for writing this. I