The Minority Report: Why I Quit Listening to Christian Music

Every Tuesday in The Minority Report, Drew Dixon takes a look at trends in youth culture and offers some biblical wisdom for navigating them.

The title of this article is not entirely fair. I listen to and sing lots of Christian music. Every Sunday morning, I count it a great blessing, to join with other Christians at my church in singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs in praise of the Father. I also listen to plenty of music made by Christians in my free time. There was, however, a time in my life when I parted ways with Christian Contemporary Music and have more or less never returned to it.

I know what some of you are thinking: I am either incredibly pretentious or incredibly worldly. I will own the pretentious label–I am well aware that most people do not share my taste in music. I am also very aware that many wonderful Christian brothers and sisters listen to CCM regularly and are encouraged and blessed by it. I don’t intend to discourage anyone from listening to CCM, I merely want to share my experience with CCM in hopes of encouraging thoughtful engagement of the medium.

The most common critiques leveled at CCM by my contemporaries is that it is theologically shallow and stylistically derivative of successful secular musicians. When I converted to Christianity and started listening to CCM in the early 2000′s, I certainly noticed that a great number of CCM songs spoke of Jesus as a cosmic boyfriend come to fix all our earthly problems and consequently seemed to lack a biblical understanding of justification, sanctification, and glorification. Add to this the number of CCM artists who mostly took popular secular song structures and imported Jesus into them, and I can see why such criticisms have been leveled. However, neither of these two criticisms get to the heart of why I quit listening. I stopped listening to CCM because the majority of it did not compute with my experience as a Christian.

Singing along to CCM felt like some weird existential experience–standing outside myself applauding my own deep seated faith and many spiritual victories. The problem was that my life was not filled with an endless chain of spiritual victories. My prayer was more often “help me with my unbelief” (Mark 9:24) than it was “I’m desperate for You / I’m lost without you.”  My early days as a Christian were filled with struggle, frustration, and, at times, failure. I found solace in Paul’s description of himself as “the chief of sinners” (1 Tim 1:15)  and in the Psalmists who often cried “How long O LORD?” More than a lack of creativity or theological grounding, CCM seemed lacking in humility and vulnerability.

All the Christian singers I was listening to seemed to have it all together. They seemed to have been transformed into Christ’s likeness overnight and acted as if they rarely broke a sweat in their fight against sin. Where are the Christians singing about their struggles with sin? Where are the desperate pleas for help? Where are the Christians who will join with Psalmist in expressing their frustrations and doubts openly? Where are the artists willing to say with Paul “I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is in my flesh . . . the evil that I do not want to do, that I keep on doing” (Romans 7:18-19)?

I just didn’t see them and I found more honesty in other places. I started listening to a lot of independent music–made by all types of people, Christians included. I learned to value the beauty of music no matter who creates it–I discovered that all kinds of music can reflect the glory of God.

I was pretentious and still am, but I was looking for authenticity–something that the Scriptures seem to value more than modern evangelicalism does.

It is important that Christians recognize that CCM artists are selling them a product. That doesn’t mean that all CCM is devoid of honesty, but it does, at the very least, present CCM artists with particular temptation to sell a certain type of spirituality. In my early days as a youth pastor, I hosted enough CCM concerts at my church to see this temptation first hand. It was because of such temptations that Jesus said, “beware of practicing your righteousness before men in order to be seen by them” (Matt. 6:1).

Don’t stop listening to CCM because I did. If you enjoy CCM, I hope you continue to find it encouraging. Perhaps CCM is changing, I try to at least pay attention to what is going on in the CCM world, but honestly I am not paying close enough attention to know if it were experiencing a renaissance of creativity, honesty, and vulnerability. I know I am pretentious, but that is the point isn’t it? I am, at the very least, striving for self awareness. I know there is much Christian music that carefully and thoughtfully articulates Christian truth, but I think CCM is still lacking in music that speaks honestly about the Christian experience. Whether you are a fan of CCM or not, that is the kind of music we should all hope and pray to see more of.

About Drew Dixon

Drew is an editor at Christ and Pop Culture and editor-in-chief of Gamechurch.com. He is also a pastor, soccer coach, and writer. Drew also regularly writes for Think Christian, Bit Creature, and Paste Magazine. He has also written for Relevant Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @drewdixon82

  • Jim Geertsma

    There seems to be a lot of dishonesty in the modern evangelical movement today. We are commanded to “love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves.” This is a command and our eternal destination is at stake, according to evangelicals. Dishonesty about our relationship is fostered in this situation. We sing love songs to God, close our eyes to show our sincerity, hold up our hands, etc. I agree that our songs should tell the whole story. Hymns, which I did not appreciate as a youth, did a better job of telling the whole story of how it really is difficult to follow this command. This was a welcome article for me to read.

  • Fred Smith

    You are right about CCM “selling” a certain kind of spirituality. Another reason I don’t listen to is is that I don’t want to turn that which is sacred to Christ into mere “entertainment for me.” I don’t want to find myself “toe-tapping” to the sacred. I would rather hear Christian music–CCM, Gospel, choruses or whatever–in the context of worship, not of entertainment. (Can I listen to Christian music in the background for edification and spiritual uplift, not for entertainment. I ask myself that question sometimes.)

  • Larry Prater

    I am currently listening almost exclusively to music made by Christians (as opposed to Christian music): Switchfoot, Avett Brothers, NEEDTOBREATHE. Quite satisfying to my spirit.

  • http://theologygaming.com Zachery Oliver

    I’m not sure when I had an entirely similar epiphany, but my story’s a little different. I had been raised as a Christian, and as a result hadn’t known any other kind of music. Anything outside of the “bubble”, so to speak, was considered an evil version of the music I was listening to at the time (Christian metal, hip-hop, etc).

    It was around the end of my high school days that I had begun to rethink this – starting with Guitar Hero, of all things. I heard some excellent, awesome music, but nearly the same as what I had heard already. At that moment, I’d realized that many of my favorite artists were simply aping what was already in the market place, simply replacing lyrics directed towards negative ends towards Jesus.

    This isn’t a bad thing in itself, but once you’ve declared everything “evil” because the lyrics might not fit your taste, you’ve rejected an entire audience, an entire culture outright who may have legitimate grievances or concerns. They were plagiarists, almost, and that didn’t seem Christian to me.

    I barely listen to any CCM at this point; my music tastes are all over the place, from opera to chiptune but I try to see the beauty in the divine spark of humanity in everything (even if I’m not particularly enamored with it).

  • http://www.theretuned.com Matthew Linder

    There is a great Q talk on this topic by Josh Jackson (co-founder of Paste magazine) on how CCM record companies encourage musicians to created watered-down music which is “safe for the whole family.” http://qideas.org/video/signs-of-life.aspx I want to know how we got to this point where we are sanitizing the gospel to make it squeaky clean. Jesus death on the cross is a thing of beauty but it was messy, bloody and full of suffering. Without speaking to the human condition we pretend that Christians are always living in victory and never struggle with anything. It is almost as if we are spouting a semi-pelagian view that Christians are without sin in this life now that they have Christ. I would say though that the kistchiest of Christian music was from the 1980′s and 90′s though.

  • St. Ralph

    Hm. Well, Matt, the ’80s and ’90s did give us Carman, who was kitsch personified … but there’s some stuff from the ’70s that might give him a run for his money.

    CCM as I knew it doesn’t really exist any more … seems to have been replaced by “worship music.” There are only two worship artists whose stuff I can actually listen to without puking, and one of them hasn’t recorded for a few years, after she was excommunicated by her church in Texas for being a “failure at marriage” (twenty years and four kids notwithstanding).

    There used to be room for CCM artists to sing about tough times, confess imperfections, etc. … if they were “alternative” artists who weren’t going to get airplay on the “adult contemporary” stations anyway. But that all went away sometime in the past 15 years.

  • http://www.theretuned.com Matthew Linder

    Carman was the worst, especially when he tried to do hip-hop with his song “Who’s in the House”. Plain horrible.

  • Daniel

    Drew, you made two sets of observations. The first reasons observations that you accepted as true, but not as your reasons for not listening to CCM:

    “The most common critiques leveled at CCM by my contemporaries is that it is theologically shallow and stylistically derivative of successful secular musicians. When I converted to Christianity and started listening to CCM in the early 2000′s, I certainly noticed that a great number of CCM songs spoke of Jesus as a cosmic boyfriend come to fix all our earthly problems and consequently seemed to lack a biblical understanding of justification, sanctification, and glorification. Add to this the number of CCM artists who mostly took popular secular song structures and imported Jesus into them, and I can see why such criticisms have been leveled.”

    “Theologically shallow”…maybe in some cases, I’d agree with you. Carmen was mentioned, though I think his heyday was over by the time you started listening in the early 2000′s. In the same era as Carmen, others were also what I’d agree are “shallow”–like the all too cringe-worthy “Evolution Redefined” by Geoff Moore.

    But even that era, there was quality CCM that even got a lot of airtime. I remember Randy Stonehill’s “Latern in the Snow” as an honest look at doubt (even while on that same album the sneering superiority of “Great Big Stupid World” marred the otherwise beautiful Wonderama). Steve Taylor’s biting sarcasm of “I Want to be a Clone” or haunting struggle with doubt “Harder to Believe than Not To” are anything but shallow and derivative. Terry Taylor (and his various projects) challenged the Church’s hypocrisy and silence, as well as addressing the heartbreak of loss (while yet exuding hope–quite a feat!) Add to that the 77′s or The Choir…”shallow” and “derivative” are not words I’d use to describe them.

    As for “Jesus the Cosmic Boyfriend”–well, I’ve heard this charge before (or it’s couched in the more intentionally offensive “Jesus my girlfriend” charge), but it never really made sense to me. We’re His Bride, right?

    Now, your real issue was this:

    “Singing along to CCM felt like some weird existential experience–standing outside myself applauding my own deep seated faith and many spiritual victories.”

    I suppose some CCM songs fit in this category…songs that say how wonderful I am, now that I have Jesus. I’m sure you could give some examples. But I’ve noticed a lot of songs today–maybe the majority of them that I hear–aren’t so shallow.

    I frequently listen to KLOVE, probably one of the clearest windows into what’s popular in CCM in the Church today. Here are some of the songs currently on high rotation:

    “Jesus, Friend of Sinners” by Casting Crowns…with one of the clearest statements about who we are in Christ: “You died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet” (Sounds a bit like 1 Tim 1:15, don’t you think?)

    “Praise You in this Storm”, again by Casting Crowns…where we can’t even hear God, but chose to praise Him in the midst of our pain and doubt. Not because we’re wonderful and conquering warriors, but because of His faithfulness.

    “Let the Waters Rise” by Mikeschair…again, a statement of doubting trust, not how Ducky things are now that we have our “cosmic boyfriend”.

    “Jesus in Disguise” by Brandon Heath…simple lyrics, theologically deep, and (personally) very convicting.

    “The Motions” by Matthew West, about having an authentic life. (Personally, I don’t care for the musical style of this song, but I don’t find the message shallow, inauthentic or lacking in humility.)

    I could go on…and sure, you could argue that the music is derivative, or kitschy…but I really don’t think that they speak of experiences I don’t have. YMMV, of course, I don’t know your own experience, except what you wrote here. However, I think you’re in danger of painting with too broad of a brush, and maybe allowing your self-admitted pretentiousness to assume that if it’s popular, it must be shallow and simplistic.

    From one pretentious sinner to another, Drew.

    Daniel

  • Paul Baxter

    In the words of Hank Hill, “you aren’t making Christianity better, you’re making rock and roll worse.”

  • St. Ralph

    My local Christian radio station actually uses the “safe for the whole family” trope as part of its advertising and on-air station promos … marketing the music on the basis of what it does not contain.

  • http://friarsfires.blogspot.com Brett

    I’ll echo Daniel a bit; I don’t listen to KLOVE, but when I’m in one of the area Christian bookstores I’ll sample some of the demos and I frequently find some worthwhile stuff — Audrey Assad and Ginny Owens, to name-drop a couple. I agree that the brush being used here is far too broad.

  • St. Ralph

    I must have read a hundred of these “why I quit CCM” essays by now. One shortcoming of most of them is lack of specificity. I’d like to know exactly which songs by which artists got you so cheesed that you finally reached out and touched that dial.

    Chris Christian, back around the dawn of time, recorded what we in radioland used to privately call a “Jesus loves me when my car won’t start” song. The chorus went: “On a day like today, it’s good to have a friend like you.” John Fischer, bless the wrinkles on his brow, wrote an essay on the back page of CCM magazine about that song. Of course he couldn’t name the artist, but it was easy enough to figure it out. John said an image came to him in a flash: Jesus hanging on the cross while Chris Christian stood below with a microphone and sang “On a day like today, it’s good to have a friend like you.”

    So Drew, don’t hold back. Tell us who got your goat so completely that you decided to write off the genre.

  • Daniel

    St. Ralph, I think you hit the nail on the head.

    Often Christians seem to criticize a nebulous “movement” or group, but are skittish about giving specific names and examples so they don’t hurt the feelings of their targets. But is it any better to use a shotgun approach that criticizes everyone so that no one in particular feels offended?

    If some CCM artists are teaching weak theology or are musically derivative to the point of plagiarism, isn’t it more productive to approach those artists individually and tell them that, rather than some generalized criticism of “CCM”?

    Now, as to Drew’s main points about the songs not speaking to him…can’t say criticism would help there. But I think that underneath that criticism is an assumption that CCM artists try to appear to “have it all together”–and I’d really like to know WHICH artists are making that claim, because I haven’t encountered them.

  • http://www.theretuned.com Matthew Linder

    Daniel,

    On the whole Jesus is my boyfriend issue… Thinking of Jesus as my boyfriend implies a casual relationship that is between him and I. On the other hand, our marriage to the lamb is a covenantal relationship which involves Jesus, me and other believers as part of his Bride, the church. That is a huge difference with the former focused on individualized religion and sometimes looking towards Jesus when the latter is about the two greatest commandments, to love God and love others.

    There is one CCM song that actually means a lot to me and that is Laura Story’s Blessings. The music is super cheesy but the lyrics explore a lot of the things that Drew brought up in his story.

  • Daniel

    Great points, Matthew.

    Yes, a covenental relationship is far more than boy/girl friend. Frankly, I think that pointing that out is not only a criticism of an improper view of God, but also an improper view of love itself. In other words, the whole concept of “boy/girl friend” is a trivialization of what love is supposed to be (whether that be Eros, phileo, storge or agape). The modern idea of “boy/girl friend” and romantic love is pretty much a twisting of God’s intention of Biblical marriage.

    And great point on Laura Story’s song Blessings. I agree I don’t necessarily care for the musical style, but the words are very powerful, authentic and vulnerable.

  • Zachary Beck

    In spite of your many disclaimers, your lack of current, concrete evidence seriously weakens your argument, as a few commentators have already pointed out. You use as evidence your ten-year-old memory of what CCM was like, which is colored by your spiritual struggles of that season.

    Perhaps you should actively listen to a mainstream Christian radio station for a day or perhaps intermittently for a week to get a sense of what music is in rotation. For example, my wife and I drove from Austin to Waco yesterday evening, and I heard four songs that at least raise reasonable doubt about your claim– Matthew West’s “Population Me,” Matt Maher’s “Hold Us Together,” Chris Tomlin’s “Our God,” and Sidewalk Prophets’ “I Want to Live Like That.”

    This is not to say that there are no theological problems with CCM; my wife went so far as to call a radio station to explain to them the problem with one song she heard (this was a couple of years ago–I’m afraid I don’t remember what song she was complaining about). Such problems, however, are the exception and not the rule when we have listened to CCM, which is frequently.

    I appreciate your call to Christians to be self-aware, as long as that means humbly coming before the Lord so that He can reveal to us the places in our lives, hearts, and minds where His healing power hasn’t touched yet so that we can open those places to Him. Pretentiousness should never be confused with this; the first is posturing and the second is the way we grow in the love that Jesus commands us to share with others.

    The self-congratulation you mention leaves me a little puzzled. If you mean that CCM sounds like the Pharisee’s prayer (“Thank God I’m not like that sinner over there”), I don’t believe I’ve heard a single song like that on a CCM station or from the Christian artists whose music I’ve purchased. If you mean it sounds like “Amazing Grace” (“Was blind but now I see”), that would not be self-congratulation so much as thanking God for His redemption. If you mean it sounds like a declaration of victory over sin, death, and Satan, I still don’t see a problem with the music’s content because that is true. We may not always feel that victory, as you were unable to ten years ago, but that doesn’t mean that the victory is not actually there. Jesus is victorious, and He has enabled us to tap into that power in our lives. To know that there is victory even at a time of darkness can be a great comfort to people who are struggling, and to declare that victory in song is a major blow to the enemy, who seeks to rob us of the joy and life that Jesus promises us. This is not to say we should deny that there is pain, suffering, anguish, and injustice; rather, we should not give in to evil by saying that that’s all there is. To sing victory when we are in a pit is an act of faith, an act of claiming promises that God says are ours by virtue of being His children.

    As a scholar I was angered by the presentation of your argument, but that doesn’t matter. As a brother, I would urge you to reconsider your view of CCM and the role it plays, and I would urge you to abandon the pretentiousness angle–you do a disservice to yourself by using it. Why call into question your integrity by suggesting you might be posturing? Your experience as a struggling believer certainly wasn’t a false testimony (I hope), but it is possible that your experience doesn’t give you a clear perception about mainstream Christian music. That wouldn’t be pretentiousness, though; that would be an honest mistake, which is so much better to commit. The only way to know if you’ve made a mistake, though, is to give CCM a fair listen again.

  • Amanda Beck

    My husband Zachary commented above that I called and tried to explain why a song that was theologically wrong to KLOVE. It was Mark Schultz’s “Love Has Come,” which discusses an eschatology (“Every heart set free…”) that I found great problem with. Because the coming of Jesus is nothing to be trifled with, and categorical statements about everyone being set free as opposed to being lost to the darkness–the urgency in my heart that every heart actually be set free by relationship with Jesus spurred me to call. It’s a great chorus and very engaging…but I felt it was making light of the imminent return of Jesus without the importance of introducing people to the Son of God before they are deceived by the devil. Not thinking completely clearly this morning and I’m typing fast, but hopefully you get my drift.

    Maybe I’m crazy, but they stopped playing it, for a while at least! I wonder what Christian contemporary music would look like today if we who are theologically-minded engaged the radio stations playing it and the brothers and sisters listening to it, not out of a place of superiority (of which I am very guilty) but out of genuine earnestness for truth in music.

  • http://www.christandpopculture.com/ Drew

    @Zachary, Daniel, Amanda et. al.

    Thank you for your comments. I am sorry that time does not allow me to thoroughly and thoughfullly interact with them.

    This is a weekly column that I do each week reflecting on youth culture, consequently, it is often difficult for me to provide concrete examples. That said, I think your comments exposing my own ignorance and lack of examples are helpful.

    I wish I had time to show more examples. I admitted that if CCM was experiencing a explosion in creativity and vulnerability, I would not know it because I stopped listening to it. That was me, again admitting my own pretenses.

    Not everyone needs to follow my example in this area of life–thus I felt my many disclaimers necessary. I simply wanted to point out how I have been fine without CCM. I think some people are weirdly married to it. I don’t think Christians should be married to anything in pop culture just because that thing is identified as “Christian.”

    I think enough, people have experienced first hand what I am talking about in this article to show that my complaints at the very least represent something of a problem in the world of CCM.

    I am, however, encouraged by your reports that there are indeed meaningful, thoughtful, personal, and vulnerable songs being written by CCM artists.

    Thanks for the helpful examples and offering me some correction.

    Blessings!

  • Abraham

    Wow, I am left aghast at this article. The words written were exactly, almost verbatim, what I tell others in relation to my experience with CCM. When I began in the Christian walk, I was already an 18 year old who had grown up in the church so I knew all the hymns and songs, but I immediately dove into Hillsong and the well known CCM bands. I was really into them until a friend recommended I listen to As I lay dying and with my roots in thrash metal, I took an instant liking to the wonderful brutality in which the message was delivered. I dug a bit more and found that this genre of music was comfortable in questioning our faith instead of simply singing along. The recurring theme which drew me was “separating the truth from tradition” and the failure in being human. I agree with Drew in the topic of CCM usually being theologically shallow; but I have also listened to the current CCM and have to agree with most of the reply’s; the message has gotten better. Yet, my current distaste in CCM stems from the fact that all of it’s musical composition is written in power chords and soft, easily digestible music. The image of these artists is pretty redundant, with the good looking guys and soft spoken lead singer that wears a scarf and a haircut straight from an A&F catalog. To this day I am mildly up to date with the CCM bands and singers and understand that my individual choice in music is not for everyone. I also understand that sometimes that feeling of being “pretentious” sets in not because I take on an “elitist” mindset but because most CCM fans have never tried to so much as question whether there is any other Christian music beyond the realm of CCM.

  • Ndiva

    Have you been under a rock? There a floodgate of non-CCM, Christian music out there. The Christian metal has exploded with the likes of For Today, Sleeping Giant, Wolves at the Gate, Oh Sleeper, etc which is complex and genuine. There’s Christian hard rockers from Project 86, Disciple, Red and Christian rappers from Lecrae, Tedashii, to Beautiful Eulogy & Propaganda. This explosion has occurred through the web, from TVU Live videos, Rapzilla, Come&Live’s ministry promoting Christian rockers, to countles Christian rock/metal/rap websites. The choices, today, are endless.

    I find it odd that the secular media has picked up on the popularity of “reformed rappers” and Christian metal’s popularity, but you write a sour piece as if your only choice is Amy Grant!!

    Project 86 just released their new CD this week, that is phenomenal, and far from bland. They’ve been around 15 years, where have you been?

    The idea that you cannot find authentic Christian music that deals with struggles, doubt, frustration is mind boggling.

    By the way, I found your article through the Christian “alternative” rock web station “Broken FM.” Their homepage talks about how we struggle and the need to be honest about this as Christians.

  • http://www.hymndescants.com/ dschram

    Would love to see more Christian blues/lament music.

  • http://www.hymndescants.com/ dschram

    I wholeheartedly agree with this. No more pop-ish CCM. Let’s have more rootsy/bluesy songs or laments with the occaisonal praise song. Also, theologically rich lyrics please – no more wishy washy! (I will say the CCM has gotten a little better but still has a way to go)

  • http://radarradio.net DaveT

    My story runs parallel to Drew’s in many ways. In an act of authentic spirituality in my teen years, I turned away from secular music and focused about 95% of my listening habits on Christian music (mostly CCM and Christian rock). Some of it was good, and some had spiritual value to me. But like a steady diet of fast food, your pallet becomes numb to quality, and you become lulled into actually desiring anything that tastes like fast food (see KLove and The Fish).

    In the last 5-6 years, I also gradually started tuning out most of the “radio safe” CCM, and started getting into more indie music by Christians (I do still prefer music that has that Christian worldview breathing thru it). Now my favorites are Andrew Peterson, Josh Garrels, Sara Groves, The Vespers, Eric Peters, Jenny & Tyler, Derek Webb, Waterdeep, and so many more.

    If you don’t mind me giving a cheap plug…. Just like your musical convictions led you to write a blog post about it, I also wanted to invite people to walk with me on my musical journey, which largely meant giving up a fast food CCM diet and seeking more substantial art — both in creative musicianship and weighty lyrics. So I started my own podcast & syndicated radio show called “Under The Radar” (now airing on 200+ stations). Some have told us “This is what I wish Christian radio sounded like.” We call it “gourmet music.” It’s a 1-hr weekly show, and I think anybody looking for more quality craftsmanship by Christian songwriters will feel right at home (www.radarradio.net). Thanks for letting me share.

  • Dan’O

    My first comment is that I agree with you, Drew. You are either incredibly pretentious or incredibly worldly. I’ll go with pretentious.

    I hope you don’t write game reviews before playing the game, as you obviously wrote this article without researching CCM. That said, I can’t wait to read your review on the new Super Nintendo system. :)

  • http://www.alienman.blogspot.com Brad Williams

    Wait? WHAT?! Super Nintendo is coming out with a new system?? Like something to replace the Wii?

  • Pete

    No mention of Keith Green ANYWHERE…..

    An amazing man of God who spoke with truth, conviction and straight out Gospel.

    His music will stab your soul with the word of God something that the current christian music fails to do.

  • Gaye Sheckles

    Great web site. A lot of helpful information here. I’m sending it to several pals ans additionally sharing in delicious. And obviously, thank you in your effort!

  • http://kschaub.posterous.com kschaub

    You were kinda nice to CCM here. It would be harder for me to be. Still it could be because I’m a pretentious music snob (or so some have said). I don’t want to be, but perhaps it’s true.

    Thanks Drew.

  • Austin Karber

    I was just browsing a thread about Sufjan Stevens on Reddit (mainly asking if atheists were bothered by Sufjan’s Christian influences and references) and found a powerful quote from an atheist that made me come back and find this article, and post the quote;

    “Most “christian” music makes me glad to be atheist; Sufjan’s stuff (particularly Seven Swans) made me wish I was christian.” – Reddit User

    This quote may just be simple and his way of saying he likes Sufjan, but it had an impact on me. It’s a powerful idea that Christian artists should attempt to share the beauty, power, and magnificence of the Gospel in their music, enough so, that even an unbeliever has this desire inside to believe what the writer places his faith in. Only the Holy Spirit’s work will save a person’s soul, but God could easily use our art to point individuals towards the Gospel.

  • Drew Dixon

    Agreed! Thanks for sharing Austin.

    Btw–I am going to see Sufjan sing Christmas songs in November–CANNOT WAIT!

  • Jim Taylor

    Rich Mullins’ Hold Me Jesus is quite honest. He wrote it one night because he was waiting for his friend Beeker to fall asleep where he could see what was on the hotel tv that he knew he didn’t need to see. Beeker didn’t fall asleep in time and we got an amazing cry from a transparent heart out of it. Third Day has several songs that speak of the struggles that come with our faith. Can’t Take The Pain is one that’s awesome.
    I have think music, like life, is something that we get out of it what we are looking to get. If I am looking for fear and anxiety, I’ll always find them. Courage and contentment also found by those looking for them.

  • Jim Taylor

    Rich Mullins’ Hold Me Jesus is quite honest. He wrote it one night because he was waiting for his friend Beeker to fall asleep where he could see what was on the hotel tv that he knew he didn’t need to see. Beeker didn’t fall asleep in time and we got an amazing cry from a transparent heart out of it. Third Day has several songs that speak of the struggles that come with our faith. Can’t Take The Pain is one that’s awesome.
    I have think music, like life, is something that we get out of it what we are looking to get. If I am looking for fear and anxiety, I’ll always find them. Courage and contentment also found by those looking for them

  • P Hanna

    I listen to CCM. I don’t think it’s fair to judge all of CCM as a whole, but like many said, to point out specific artists. I listen to CCM, and I have heard a lot of songs that fit your description, but I have also heard a lot that present an honest view of Christianity. I am encouraged by CCM, but if someone isn’t, obviously, I tell you to stop listening to it. Some things are made for others. Thi’sl’s “First 48″ is about the reality of the hood, and how bad it is. I don’t have that kind of experience, so I can’t relate, and that song is pointless to me. There are also great songs that I sing in worship, such as Lecrae’s Tell the World, TobyMac’s All In, and Third Day’s Offerings. This isn’t a hate against you; I agree to what to said to some extent. CCM has encouraged me, so I will continue to listen to it, but if it doesn’t do much to someone, it’s not for them. P.S. Don’t automatically take for fact that all CCM is limited in depth and spirituality; try listening to some songs before making judgement P.P.S. Those that say that dancing is bad, David danced in the Bible.

  • P Hanna

    To add, Yes, just because something is under the label “Christian,” (POD’s I Am) doesn’t mean it’s good, and actually there are a lot of CCM songs that deal with personal struggles. The CCM band RED said in an interview that that was the point of their band. Pretty much all their songs deal with struggles, and they felt that they were called to that.

  • P Hanna

    Sorry, this might annoy some of you. I’m not commenting a lot in defense of CCM, but just to present my view, and i’m commenting this for anyone who wants to know a good inspirational artist: KJ-52

  • dapowellii

    CCM stopped being cool in the late 90′s.

  • Logan Hollis

    Go check out the Christian rock scene. Pretty much anything there is full of substance. It’s pretty cool, because the heavier the music gets, the deeper and more substantive the lyrics become.

  • Logan Hollis

    I agree, I’ve kind of been burned out on CCM. The only we get where I live are Way-FM (which plays songs from 20 years ago and claims to have a great ministry when it only plays music that 40-something Christians want to listen to), The Fish (a little better than Way-FM, but still not there yet), and the worst of them all K-Love. I live in Nashville, and about ten or so years ago Trevecca Nazarene University started a listener-funded radio station called WNAZ. Back then it was a breath of fresh air because it played all the underground Christian artists. At the time we had Way-FM (this was back when it actually played obscure artists like Olivia the Band and other such underground artists). Well, long story short, I’m going to school one morning and Divin’ In comes on. Granted, it’s an awesome song, but it doesn’t talk about anything substantive. Additionally, it was 2003, that song had come out some 6-7 years prior, and they were still playing despite the existence of much more modern songs. We stopped listening to Way-FM after that. Then, a few years ago, a little AM radio station called BOT Radio network came in and bought WNAZ, granted they had become a little stale, but they were still the best in Nashville. It irks me how a good station shows up, or a christian radio broadcasters union has a conference about changing the content of their music they play so that they can reach the new generation, and nothing ever happens. Sorry for the long post, I just wanted to express my frustration over the current and past situations in CCM music.

  • Logan Hollis

    you live in middle tennessee don’t you? 94FM The Fish?


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