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same ole – same ole

June 2, 2009

tuesday morning i was listening to XM radio while i was getting ready for the day. it was on their “contemporary christian” station and after nearly an hour of listening to it i realized something…i had heard 10 + songs and they all said, basically, the same thing…almost the same way. while the message of the songs was encouraging and full of truth, it got me wondering about something…

why isnt mainstream contemporary christian music more creative? more bold? more advanced? i find myself hearing the same cliche lines over and over…” you know its true – He’ll never leave you…” stuff like that. and while i believe that with all my heart…its been said a million times.

now… i do realize there are tons of people every day who are moved, blessed and changed by these same songs im questioning. and i am grateful for that. i am not dissing the value of these songs content – just questioning the writing.

if we are growing and going deeper with and in Him on a daily basis then we are constantly evolving as well as growing in knowledge and wisdom and experience, right? so as songwriters, shouldnt the lyrics reflect that too?

this isnt true for all artists. and again, this is just my opinion…dont shoot me 😕

one thing i have noticed is that musically some worship music is becoming a ton more creative, innovative and edgy. i love that! and some of these artists lyrics are advancing in the same way. unfortunately, we’re not hearing many of those artists on christian radio.

ok. so maybe im looking at, or listening to, this the wrong way. but this is just my opinion.

one of joshua whites favorite worship songs is actually a secular one. you can watch the video on his blog. its a beautiful song that caught me off guard by its lyrics. they were different. not christianese.

one of my favorite worship songs is how He loves us by kim walker. its bold and lyrically different, refreshing.

ok. so…these were just some of my thoughts. do you have any on this subject? do you care? cuz you may not, and thats ok 😉

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150 Comments leave one →
  1. June 2, 2009 9:53 pm

    word.

  2. June 2, 2009 9:53 pm

    Do you think that it’s cyclical? Pretty soon the next wave of “cool” Christian musicians will pass by, but we’ll eventually get tired of that too. I’ve felt that way lately. As I’ve been leading worship more lately, I’ve been finding myself to be a more critical listener.

    My kiddos have a pretty good taste in music. The set lists my son puts together on the ipod are ones that we all enjoy listening to. His favorite groups right now are Foo Fighters, Tom Petty, and Phil Collins. He says he listens to them not because of the lyrics, but because of the music. The other day he proclaimed, “I WANT TO ROCK LIKE THESE GUYS,” in reference to Foo Fighters. He also says he listens to Christian music because of the lyrics. There are some groups that he does enjoy for more than just the words. Need to Breathe’s “Washed By The Water” is one of those songs. At the moment they happen to be one of my favorite Christian bands.

    One could always throw out the question, “Won’t we eventually run out of original musical ideas?”

    • June 2, 2009 10:00 pm

      one of my kids, and mine and brents, favorite bands is the foo fighters too. they get it. theyre dynamic and brilliant with how they play and write.

      i also love washed by the water. i really dig that guys voice!

      i guess it could be cyclical. then my concern would be that for the upcoming artists… the current cycle is paving the way. 😕

  3. June 2, 2009 10:05 pm

    agreed, agreed, agreed.
    in fact…i RARELY even listen to ‘contemporary christian’.
    i’m a fan of non-mainstream worship, tho.

  4. June 2, 2009 10:11 pm

    p.s. if i hear one more “jesus loves you, yes it’s true” type of lyric, i’m going to personally march into the radio station’s office, and punch someone in the face. anyone. 😉

  5. Jeff Weinkauf permalink
    June 2, 2009 10:14 pm

    Hey Tam –

    I agree with you. I am so very tired of the same reconstituted “stuff” on the dial.
    Couple of thoughts, take em or leave em:

    – I have heard it said over the years that (paraphrased) “we’re writing and singing about an experience that is somewhat limited in it’s ability be expanded on” I.e. how many ways can you say “I’m glad that was Jesus up there on that Cross and not me”. True enough….but to that I say – the great majority of Rock and Roll is limited to two, maybe three topics (relationships, and mind altering substances) sometimes also a favorite toy like….my new car or my new boat etc. But the VAST majority of songs are about how I got blasted, and who I went home with. That being said……..I can listen ALL DAY to the radio and not get tired of the NUMEROUS ways artists have chosen to describe their conquests. So I have a problem with the position where we say “our content is limited”.

    I think we use the same words over and over –
    I think we don’t look hard enough for ways to tell our story which not yet believers can relate to.
    I think there is a formula that sells records, and that’s what get’s printed, cause as much as we want to avoid the idea – the record business is just that…..a business.
    I think we’re WAY too proud of some stuff that, if it had to live and die in the secular market – it would never get released.

    Once when I was back at GMA (gospel music week) in Nashville – I was riding on a bus out to one of the record companies, and this lady sitting behind me shoves a tape between the seats, waives it around and says……”Kin eye bless yooooou?” I remember thinking at the time “mmmmm not sure if you can or not”. I think I just said thanks and took the tape (yeah I’m real tough on the blog but in person I still like to be a nice guy : )

    Bottom line – I think we should work harder at being solid lyrically, and musically. That’s what I think.

    • June 2, 2009 10:30 pm

      “I think we don’t look hard enough for ways to tell our story”

      exactly. its like everyone is borrowing phrases cuz they “work” and rhyme.

      “I think there is a formula that sells records, and that’s what get’s printed, cause as much as we want to avoid the idea – the record business is just that…..a business.”

      this is why half the music, probably more, on our ipods you wont hear on the radio.

      sad. cuz there is some great music out there not being heard cuz it doesnt fit industry standards.

      and wow! jeffypoo is on my blog!!!

  6. Russell permalink
    June 2, 2009 10:15 pm

    I’m totally in agreement with you. I wish the songs would get more biblical and deeper. I dare somone to do a worship album on Romans 9.

    • June 2, 2009 10:34 pm

      holy moly!

      that sounds like a challenge. for….someone.

      any takers???

      • June 3, 2009 1:11 am

        I don’t think mine would be a worship album, unless we start an electronica church…but I’m always up for a challenge in the lyric department – thanks Russell & Tam, we’ll see where this takes me.

  7. June 2, 2009 10:33 pm

    veer off the CCM path and there’s some pretty fandamntastic stuff to be had.

    (and that “how he loves us” song by kim walker got me through a few really rough weeks a couple months ago. i listened to it over and over and let it just wash over me… so good.)

    • June 2, 2009 10:37 pm

      i watched the video today and sat in complete chills and tears totally worshiping God and humbled to silence.

      and i agree…outside of ccm there really is some great stuff!

      i love “fandamntastic”. almost as much as i love you. and thats lots!

  8. June 3, 2009 12:54 am

    That was pretty awesome.

    “Heaven meets earth, like a big sloppy kiss”
    “Grace is an ocean, and we’re drowning in it.”

    It sure makes a change from the usual..

    Tell how he
    Died on a tree
    For you and me
    So that we
    can be free
    Whee!”

    • June 3, 2009 7:58 am

      those are two of my favorite lines in the song too. something about their rawness moves me in a completely different way.

      “Tell how he
      Died on a tree
      For you and me
      So that we
      can be free
      Whee!”

      FUNNY!

  9. June 3, 2009 1:09 am

    I care. I have a huge dislike of Christian radio in this country, but I won’t go into that now. I’ve never listened to much radio in the US, but I know radio over there is (in general) much more compartmentalised than it is here.

    I was getting bored with Hillsong a few years ago, but they have found some fresh fire in the worship music area (as opposed to Christian radio music). There is a tendency to cliche, but on the other hand, they turn out so much material that there are sufficient gems to keep me happy. And I’m happy that what I consider cliche may not to someone else. It’s sometimes subjective.

    I cannot begin to tell you how excited I have been by Jesus Culture and all the music coming out of Bethel Church in Redding. (So, when we visit, a weekend there is high on our list of stuff to do. Of course, we’ll need about 3 years to do it all). Kim Walker’s solo album was on constant play for months and I didn’t even come close to getting tired of it.

    So…back to the question…why is there not more creativity in the music? Ultimately, the machine I think…the way radio works (esp in the US), the record companies, etc … it’s all about playing it safe – until something comes in from left field, changes the acceptable sound, and off it goes again.

    My (very-long-winded) point is that as the church, shouldn’t we be all about coming in from left-field, fresh, new, creative? The same power that made the universe lives in us, awesome creative opportunity floods our beings, yet we let the mechanisms of the world dictate how, who and what.

    All comes back to one of my fave verses which I quote all over the place all the time “The church is not peripheral to the world, the world is peripheral to the church” Eph 1:23 – but most of the time, we act the other way around. No matter what we tell ourselves or think, we’re not subject to the ways of the world once we’re in Christ. Victory not defeat.

    Sorry…I didn’t expect a music discussion to end up here. As you can tell, I have no interest in this at all… 🙂

    • June 3, 2009 5:45 am

      exactly. sing a NEW song to the Lord.

    • June 3, 2009 7:56 am

      “point is that as the church, shouldn’t we be all about coming in from left-field, fresh, new, creative? The same power that made the universe lives in us, awesome creative opportunity floods our beings, yet we let the mechanisms of the world dictate how, who and what.”

      “awesome creative opportunity floods our beings”…

      THIS is what i reeeeally wanted to say!

      thank you, david!

  10. Kelly Chorley permalink
    June 3, 2009 3:03 am

    an awesome website is http://www.last.fm and you can put in “Kim Walker” and listen to all kinds of music that is like hers. Or anyone you want. Some of my favs, along with Kim….Brian and Jenn Johnson, Josh Baldwin, John Mark McMillan, Kristene Mueller, Aaron Crider…..a lot of the “Christian Indie” music.

  11. June 3, 2009 3:14 am

    how he loves = best song of 2008

    all you did was save my life = best song of 2009

    😉

    yeah, that kim walker cover is insane. those are some powerful vocal chords to go along with some powerful lyrics.

  12. June 3, 2009 3:20 am

    2 words: soccer moms.

    That’s the target audience of CCM.

    If you get a chance, ask Shaun Groves to explain it to you.

    He has an insiders perspective, albeit one from an insider whose label kicked him to the curb because “Becky” (early 30s soccer mom) doesn’t want to hear deep, meaningful music. They want positive, uplifting, and familiar. It’s why CCM all sounds like Casting Crowns.

    I just learned that the target audience is referred to as Becky a few days ago. Glad I could use that knowledge!

    • June 3, 2009 8:01 am

      im gonna DM and see IF i can get a response from him 😉

  13. June 3, 2009 3:47 am

    OK.. So let me start by saying. I hate Rap but….

    A couple years ago I was introduced to Toby Mac, and was hooked. Just the wide range of styles he can engage makes him completely dynamic. Although Portable Sounds was a bit of a downgrade from his edgier stuff… Well about a month ago, while riding the lawn mower I was listening to Pandora, and Toby Mac was the station. A song called Oooh Ahh, came on by Grits,(Again I hate Rap but…) I found myself singing along very quickly….Fast forward to yesterday, now on Pandora I have a station of Toby and Grits, and find my self listening to Flame, KH-52, and others. YES RAP….

    So maybe it is not so much the style of music but the words that touch us. Cause I can’t listen to emenem, or Tu Pac or Puff Daddy, or any of that type of rap. But I identify with Toby, Grits, Flam and KJ-52 I can listen to them without hating the style of music.

    So maybe it is the lyrics that influence what we listen to…

    My pandora Stations are as follows.

    Toby Mac, Grits, Jonny Cash, Chris Tomlin, Flam, Kutless, Day of Fire, Mathew West, U2….Makes for an interesting Quickmix, when you go from Flame to Jonny Cash,

  14. June 3, 2009 3:52 am

    Oh and yes.. with the exception of a few artists in the Christian genre of music, it has become very cookie cutter…

    Hopefully soon Mrs Thompson will finish up a song that is anything but cookie cutter, and straight from the faith of a child. Just a child writing from the heart… We will share when it is done.

    Peace and love sis.

  15. June 3, 2009 4:41 am

    K…so I’m gonna comment blindly in that I admit (sorry) that I did not read all the comments above.

    Here’s my take on it:
    Even with XM radio, the format is the same. They play what is “popular”. And they play it over and over and over until it’s worn out. And that means style of music as well as artists. I think there are more creative lyrics and music out there in the Christian genre. We don’t get to hear it all that much because most of us don’t know where to go to find other stuff. Just like every where else they find a “recipe” that works and they use it until it’s so diluted it’s gross!

    I think one of the things that, as a member of a worship team, makes a huge difference is using the resources and the resource pools that blogging and the internet offers. There are a lot of people looking for, and sharing, the music that pushes the boundaries, and changes the “recipe”.

    But there is one more point: Does CCM music have to reach and touch only the believers? Can the music, with the cookie cutter lyrics and music, actually reach the “un-churched”? I mean, sometimes a song that pops up on a station as someone is surfing that says “Jesus loves you. Yeah, even you.” in a secular cross-over style might just be the catalyst for that person to seek Him out and become a believer. The thought being that the deep-thoughtful-complex emotions-turned to song might be great for the believer who can identify with the place the songwriter is in, but won’t mean a thing to the seeking individual….?? maybe?? I don’t know. Just typing “off the cuff”.

    • June 3, 2009 8:04 am

      your last point was something i hit on too. realizing that, yes, these cookie cutters still serve a purpose. not knocking that reality. i think it will always exist.

      i would just really like to see some of these seasoned artist push themselves more creatively. start thinking outside the “lets please everybody” box.

  16. Heidi permalink
    June 3, 2009 5:09 am

    This is one of my favorite songs also. Jesus Culture has some amazing work. I think this song is in my CD player right now.

    I am not a worship singer or even can sing, but I do have a peeve of repetetion, we are not monks and we are not all soccer moms. I want to just unleash sometimes in worship, but you can see the teams just hold back, worship can only be 20:18seconds! the pastoe needs to speak ya know. Some of the best work that God has done in my life, has been during worship. Tell the worship leaders to unleash again, feel God again. It’s not about the program!!

    Anyways, I could really rant. I love worship music, I tend to listen to the hit for months and then slip to track 10 or 11 and find a new song for me. It happen with Jesus Culture, although How He loves me is my favorite. I listen to this alot also:

    • June 3, 2009 8:05 am

      ive listened to this one over and over on my ipod too! great stuff!

  17. June 3, 2009 5:53 am

    Great questions, Tam. I listen to all kinds of music – rock, pop, country, oldies – but when I need to be grounded or comforted, I turn to the CCM stations. Not because they’re the most interesting musically, but because I need that good word. And because I’m a little slow 🙂 , I need that word over and over and over! So, in that way, the simplicity and repetition is good.

    But how much BETTER could it be if I could turn to that music, those stations to be challenged and taught, too?

    • June 3, 2009 8:09 am

      “I turn to the CCM stations. Not because they’re the most interesting musically,”

      and thats the sad part to me. like david said above – we have the Creator of Creativity pulsing through our veins…why isnt our art expressing that? this is my beef.

      i am not saying i dont enjoy some of this music either. i do. im “used” to it. but sometimes….repetition for me, becomes just…familiar, which then becomes complacent and then i lose the whole point of it. i guess i just need something fresh. which definitely suits who i am as a person. i like change. i like to shake things up.

      and i love me some good oldies too 🙂 i especially like disco. no…i LOVE disco. 😯

      • June 3, 2009 11:47 am

        I had to come back, because over lunch I had the CCM station on and thought, “You know, some of these songs DO challenge me.” And then I remembered that a week or so ago, I heard a new country song and thought, “Ugh. Have they really run out of new melodies?” Because it was just so BORING, musically!

        So . . . what’s my point? I guess I just wanted to say that some Christian music is good, some is great, and some is junk. And some is just bleh.

        But it’s not just a CCM problem, I don’t think. However, as Christians, I think it makes sense that we’d be most concerned about OUR music.

        I don’t know. Pretty sure I don’t have a point. Just a jumble of thoughts.

        • June 3, 2009 11:51 am

          no. you DO have a point. and i think we all agree here that some of it is indeed good. but i think as believers in the most Creative Being ever known – we should be the most creative and innovative people who walk the earth.

          so for me…when i hear an AC song from 20 yrs ago and it sounds like one from today, lyrics and all, that disappoints me.

          • June 5, 2009 10:00 am

            You know, all this talk is about music, but it’s making me think of so much more. I just finished reading Mark Batterson’s In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, and it’s about taking chances and really LIVING LIFE for God and with God. I think that so often we get comfortable and we feel safe and we stop LIVING LIFE – which, at least to me, means that creativity comes to a halt. And that goes for life in general or music in particular – it’s all kind of mushing together in my brain right now…

  18. June 3, 2009 7:19 am

    I don’t know about lyrics sounding the same. I like pop music so most of it works for me, however my dirty little secret is that I like hip hop music. I really haven’t heard any christian music that is good in this area. Some comes close, but isn’t to the level of secular music. I don’t listen to it at all now because the lyrics in secular hip hop are pretty bad so I am totally missing it.

    • June 3, 2009 7:48 am

      Have you given Group 1 Crew a listen? They’re like the Black Eyed Peas of Christian hip hop.

    • June 3, 2009 8:10 am

      sam – are you talking local bands? im sure if you are youd have to look very hard to find them around here.

      otherwise, if youre talking KLOV…i agree 100%!

      • June 3, 2009 1:18 pm

        Yeah I was talking on the radio. I am sure there could be bands out there, but just for a regular joe smoe like me to find them I haven’t yet. And sometimes I girl just needs to shake her booty, but not to lyrics that are vulgar.

  19. June 3, 2009 7:32 am

    Don’t have time to read all the wonderful comments here, but …

    I don’t think you’re at all off. I’ve been contemplating the arena of worship and music since starting my study on spiritual gifts, actually. (And shhhhh …. this hasn’t been posted yet!) There is not a ‘gift of worship,’ or ‘gift of music’ listed as a spiritual gift. Yet not only is it a definite part of the Body, but certain people are gifted in that area. So how does this fit in with the spiritual gifts? Well, (I feel like I should write this in code) I am suspecting more and more that music, and worship specifically, is an arena that moves in the prophetic. This is the most commonly mentioned gift, actually. If I am right on that … than it means that worship ought to have a ‘fresh word.’ Because that’s what prophecy is: hearing from heaven a living, breathing word for right now. So much of our ‘Christianese’ music has missed this idea. And yet the songs (and worship) we love and connect to the most are the ones that do just that. I can’t say I blame anyone – it hasn’t been common knowledge to me at all that music operates in the prophetic. So probably most people don’t know. But that is what I am thinking.

    and you’re the first to know. 🙂

    • June 3, 2009 8:11 am

      you are ALWAYS on to sumpin, woman… love it!

      🙂

    • June 3, 2009 11:48 am

      Annie, that just blew my mind. I’ve never thought about worship that way. But what you’re saying makes sense. Hmmm…more to think about…!

      • June 4, 2009 2:58 pm

        I read an article on Kim Walker, where she described what she does as a ‘new genre’ called ‘prophetic worship.’ That about flattened me in my chair. Because what she does on stage is SO similar to what I do when I pray. I have called it ‘prophetic prayer’ but thinking that it didn’t really fit. But I think it only seems not to fit because we have somewhat incomplete ideas of what prophecy is. She doesn’t sing out of her head. She doesn’t sing out of a set playlist. She doesn’t sing out of ‘this one worked in the past.’ She sings while she’s listening. She’s listening to heaven – hearing what God is singing, how He is moving, what He wants to say, in that second. And that is the spirit of prophecy. And because of that, I do somewhat disagree with the article (I don’t actually know if it was the interviewer or her who called it a ‘new genre’) that it is in fact a new genre. I think it’s been around since the beginning of time. I think David did this. I think the priests did this (when under the Spirit). I think the early church did this. I think Jesus did this with His disciples. And I think the true spirit of worship has done this throughout the ages since. We as humans think it’s about ‘creativity.’ And while, on a natural plane (and as an artist myself) there is a definite amount of talent and gift in the natural that needs to be present (God loves excellence), I don’t think that’s what’s missing. I think people are singing out of their heads. Or hearts perhaps. But not so much out of their spirits. I think that is what’s missing.

        There’s a phrase called “yesterday’s manna.” It refers to trying to live today off of the provision of the past. Trying to ‘get by’ without seeking anything fresh. God only gave the people manna for one day. Every day they had to gather the manna for that day. Jesus quoted Scripture (thus it appears in both Testaments) when He said, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” This (and other passges) makes a direct metaphorical connection between bread and the active words of God. It is unfortunately characteristic of humanity that we try to short-cut the system whenever we can (I’m not excluded) and ‘get by’ on what worked in the past. In the Church this can have dire consequences. We try to eat the moldy, stale stuff that worked for us in times past, and somehow we have trouble waking up and realizing what we’re doing. God doesn’t want us eating stale stuff anymore than we do. More even! He’s our Father! What Father would give his son rocks when he asked for food? I believe His Spirit is crying out to give us the fresh, new bread we need for today. So yes, I think this subject is SO ‘on point’ for the Church. This subject is apt not only for worship, but for literally every arena of Church growth. I am SO hungry for it.

  20. June 3, 2009 7:36 am

    All I can say is praise God for Itunes because, like you Tam, 95% of the music I listen to is not found on the radio but is cherry-picked from artists albums. I listen almost exclusively to ‘Christian’ music but also enjoy a few ‘secular’ songs that have something good to say (these labels, by the way, are somewhat misleading – I mean, if a band is comprised of believers but they make secular music are they then a ‘secular’ band or a ‘Christian’ band? And what about bands whose lyrics could be interpreted as both secular AND sacred? Are these bands then ‘Christular’?) If I do listen to Christian radio, it is usually something like Air1 which is a bit more edgy.

    Here’s the thing to understand about music programming on the radio: a.) It is all about ratings and appealing to the broadest audience possible, b.) It is largely driven by what the listeners are requesting and buying, and c.) It is even more largely driven by record company marketing & promotion and pushing sales of the album. Radio is a genre that lives by the mantra “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Someone here already mentioned how formulaic it is and the listeners, to some degree, have control over that with their buying power. As long as the Chris Tomlin’s and the Casting Crown’s (not knocking them, just using them as examples) continue to sell thousands of records that is what you will continue to hear on the radio dial.

    Having said that, there are several acts that I like very much for both their musical style and lyrical content. I think folks like Phil Wickham, David Crowder, Charlie Hall, Chris Taylor, Daniel Doss Band, downhere, Jason Upton, Jeremy Riddle, Jimmy Needham, Joel Auge, Jars of Clay, Newsboys, Remedy Drive, Revive, Ten Shekel Shirt, Above The Golden State, & Tenth Avenue North (just to name a few) are making great music that is a step above the norm both musically and, especially, lyrically.

    And, a shout out to my boyee, ck, for kickin’ it to the sick beats, yo! Props to every one of those rappers spittin’ rhymes for JC. Represent! You might also check out Lecrae, Tonex, Shacah, & Sho Baraka. Peace out, homie!

    • June 3, 2009 8:13 am

      points “A” and “C” make me sad. and problem is, in my opinion, it is broke. or at least “stuck”. which to me means it needs some exercise to build it and strengthen it. but i guess as long as we let “them” and “money” call the shots…then this is what we have.

  21. June 3, 2009 7:55 am

    Tam
    Interesting I’d see your tweet/facebook status on this while I’m listening to the brand new “Sojourn – Over the Grace” CD from SojournMusic (on twitter, @sojournmusic @mikecosper and @bobbygilles).

    I can say that I’m more in-awe with a recording, the creativity, the sonic clarity, the theological truth, and creativity … than I’ve been in a LONG, LONG, time. I’m sitting here IM’ing back and forth w/ Joel (klampert) and we’re both blown away.

    THIS needs to be in rotation on the radio. Wow. I’m blown away. I can’t give enough props to this stuff. You and Brent should def. check it out!

    • June 3, 2009 8:14 am

      we’ll check it out for sure.

      so my question is….how do we get something like that on radio?

  22. June 3, 2009 8:10 am

    Oh my husband’s gonna love this post! He talks about this ALL the time…more from the “churchy” stuff perspective and not JUST the music perspective….for example….”GOD IS GOOD….ALL THE TIME, ALL THE…” yeah, you get what I’m saying, right? I just forwarded this to him…I’m sure he’ll have great input!! We also have this discussion quite often because one of our closest friend is general manager of a christian radio station and it’s exactly what you described in your first paragraph! His response to my “concerns” has always been “our target audience is women in their 30-40’s” That’s who listens in the most but I do believe WE want more bold, creative and advanced music too!

    • June 3, 2009 8:16 am

      christian radio…sigh…

      the target audience is GOD. we need to be expressing to Him a NEW SONG…not just rearranging a clever phrase that 30 other artist have beat to death already. grrr.

      oh. im not yelling at you. i love your comment. im just on my soap box. 😀 thanks for passing it along to your man. anxious to read what he says.

      • June 3, 2009 8:45 am

        that’s tough … they seem locked in to the handful of record companies and radio promoters who limit their playlists to the Top 20 or so CCM/AC stuff that all sounds the same. Ask Shaun Groves … he’ll tell you all about it!

        Request it … request it … request it. and .. buy it … if people (radio stations) see people are buying an album, maybe they will realize they should play it.

        I dunno – great question.

  23. June 3, 2009 8:18 am

    Could it be that the cliches are not really cliche at all but that we’ve possibly grown too accustomed to hearing the simple yet rich truths of these songs that are based on the deep, lifechanging precepts of Scripture?

    Not that there isn’t some monotony going on on CCM radio, but as much as I hate to admit it sometimes, we can get carried away blasting the vanilla-ness of CCM as we browse through millions upon millions of albums, songs, bands, videos, etc.

    Somewhere on the other side of the world, there are Believers who have no mp3 players, internet, record stores, itunes, music cafes, let alone a home, food, clean water, or clothing.

    Not trying to smash on anyone who’s tired of CCM…but just throwing out a challenge to those of us who have it so easy and find it such a commonplace part of our day to not be thankful that we even have the resources necessary to complain at all.

    And for the record…I don’t listen to CCM music..or any music really at all when I’m in the car. I listen to talk radio.

    Get crunk.

    • June 3, 2009 9:09 am

      true. and like i mentioned in the post… i know these cliche and repetitive songs have their place for someone. shoot, some days even me. they have a message that needs to be heard, indeed. its the delivery im questioning.

      im thinkin about tomlin right now. as much as i like a lot of his songs – too many of them are repackaged phrases with new melodies. the ones we wont hear on radio are the slightly unique ones. those are the ones that catch my attention.

      • June 3, 2009 10:14 am

        And, therein lies part of the problem…..too many Christian artists are trying too hard to be the next Tomlin, to put out that next ‘great’ worship song (some of which are not.so.great.), the worship song that everyone will want to sing in their services. And the quality suffers because they are trying to cater to something other than the integrity of the song.

  24. June 3, 2009 8:20 am

    There’s some pretty pedantic stuff in secular music as well. I listen to some 80s hits nowadays and have to laugh at the music we bought.

    What frustrates me about some CCM is not so much the lyrical content as the musical content. I mean, how many ways can you play G-D-Em-C? They used to say all you need to write a country song is three chords and the truth. Apparently all you need to write CCM is three chords and Jesus.

    While there are some artist who take musical chances in CCM, there’s not enough. And the ones who do generally are low-end on the lyrics.

    On the other hand, CCM is like comfort food. We want catchy hooks and approachable melodies, because those will resonate more deeply with our hearts and souls. Right? I’m just sayin’…

    • June 3, 2009 9:11 am

      “I mean, how many ways can you play G-D-Em-C? ”

      yah. thats a whole other subject right there 😕

      youre right…CCM is like comfort food….force fed comfort food 😉 to get something original and unique, we really have to dig for it today. i really do want to support indies and underdogs.

    • June 3, 2009 10:37 am

      “I mean, how many ways can you play G-D-Em-C? ”

      That made me think of this video…

  25. June 3, 2009 8:28 am

    agree agree agree. I think what’s happened is an overstuffed swing toward what is most palatable and most singable by the average congregation.

    What I mean by that…. “He Loves Us” is an amazing song. I LOVE IT. We’ve used it once in our church, but somehow it doesn’t translate well to the corporate worship setting in our specific church culture. Our church does better with Tomlin & Baloche flavors, which is fine. Both those songwriters, in my opinion, are creative and innovative within their own rights. It just seems that much of the writing that happens tries very hard to fall into that same flavor, and so we end up with hours and hours of radio stuff that all sounds the same.

    This, by the way, is also the exact reason I’m completely frozen in my attempts to write. I’m sooooooo afraid of being cliche. It’s a lame reaction, but it’s the one I’m stuck in at the moment. Must… get… crackin’.

    • June 3, 2009 9:13 am

      kim, there have been several songs that brent has introduced at TRF that we both have sat back and been totally wowed by them! we’ll do’em a few times at church and the poor people, mostly, look as if theyre seeing a naked man running around on stage.

      wow.

      and yes…GET CRACKIN!

      • June 3, 2009 9:50 am

        I read recently on someone’s blog (can’t remember who) the thought that musicians/artists get more restless with song selections in church; maybe we feel the push toward new songs more intensely than most people. Which then would imply that most church attenders might be most comfortable, more fed, by that which is familiar. I wonder if that same idea applies here? It’s difficult to explore that without sounding like ‘we’ are more evolved or something…. it’s not really about that. It’s about having a greater appetite for more creative expression.

  26. June 3, 2009 8:28 am

    On a related note, much of my poetry is too ahh… edgy for Christian markets and too Christian for secular markets. The secular markets would rather me write about politics and the Christian market would rather I be more sugar-n-spice and everything nice…

    • June 3, 2009 9:14 am

      ric – i love your poetry because you write outside the box. you make me think for myself. youre not doing the thinking for me. you are a quality writer!

  27. June 3, 2009 8:32 am

    Without sounding too much like a fangirl, this is why I loved listening to Charlie Peacock as a teen-current day. He seemed to address deeper issues and stuff that resonated deeply with me on my Christian walk, at a time where it seemed to be all whitened teeth and ‘lalala I have no problems’ kinda ‘worship’ – haven’t these people read the Psalms? Anyway…

    Oh, and he also wrote a book some time ago called “At the Crossroads” about the challenges facing CCM – it’s just as fitting today and a good read.

    Christian radio here – sorry FAMILY radio – does my head in. It’s like Groundhog Day and you can set your watch by what song will be on when. It seems like we get stuck in between the Soft Rock and the Hard ‘Youth Punk’ Place. Other genres ARE available, but CCM seems determined to stay in that twilight zone of trying either not to offend, or assuming that all young people only listen to emo. When I was young, I enjoyed the odd retrotastic track myself, but then I am a rare bird.

    Unfortunately, Christian labels seem to impose the same restrictions on their artists as secular ones, and it’s also sad to see so much Churchianity that goes on when the lifestyle isn’t present. I’ve heard it’s as much a struggle (if not more so) to maintain your personal integrity in a CCM environment as in a secular one…having worked for mostly Christian organisations I can understand the dilemma.

    Talking about Kim Walker (I love her work) – there’s a lack of inhibition and a joy that spills out that goes above and beyond her musicality – that’s what’s missing in a lot of CCM stuff for me. And though I hesitate to say it, is this because a lot of CCM lacks…the power of the Holy Spirit? Maybe not a popular thing to say, but it’s a thought that concerns me regularly.

    • June 3, 2009 8:39 am

      And this would be the second half of my rant, the better half – coming from my better half 🙂

      • June 3, 2009 8:42 am

        dang! whats in the water down unduh??

        i know smart people. weeeeeee 😀

    • Heidi permalink
      June 3, 2009 10:20 am

      “the power of the Holy Spirit? Maybe not a popular thing to say, but it’s a thought that concerns me regularly.”

      So true Diane… so true!!

  28. June 3, 2009 8:45 am

    One of the reasons I value hymns so much is that they add a variety of theological, experiential, and historic topics that we may not find in today’s music.

    Maybe the answer isn’t to write more, but return to what has already been written and tested by time. Modernize the sound of the songs, but keep the content pretty much as is… I appreciate Passion’s Hymn album a few years ago. We could use more of this.

    • June 3, 2009 9:17 am

      i was talking to LSOF over DM’ing last night about this subject and hymns came up. theyre a perfect example of not fitting a mold. the writers wrote out their hearts cry with, seemingly, little concern over whether it pleased or tickled the fancy of the listener. many hymns come from the raw and deep crevices of the human soul crying out through the writers hand.

  29. June 3, 2009 8:51 am

    There’s more Christian music out there than what’s on the radio…

    Check out: http://grrrrecords.com/ for starters.

    There’s numerous independents – not just the mainstream stuff.

    Then check out the band lineup at Cornerstone Festival – that should give you plenty of ideas to expand your listening horizons… http://www.cornerstonefestival.com.

    @Diane – I saw Charlie Peacock last summer at Cornerstone, and attended his seminar too. Great musician.

    • June 3, 2009 11:09 pm

      Probably better to not tell me of your Charlie experience, as jealousy is a terrible sin. 🙂

      I have met him though, but it’s a long time ago now, and I was a bit of a squee-ing early 20s fan girl. Embarrassing, really.

  30. June 3, 2009 9:32 am

    I just commented on Love’s blog about nearly the same thing. Today’s ‘Christian’ praise and worship songs lack concreteness and firm doctrine in their teaching aspect. They are very relationally based which is not bad but unfortunately, many times, you could easily be singing about Little Susie or Bad Bobby and not the Lord and Savior.

    I agree that the style of music is freely evolving and needs to… however, I think the old Hymns have lyrics that trounce all over the lyrics of today.

    If we could just bring those two together.

    • June 3, 2009 2:03 pm

      “If we could just bring those two together.”

      or…if we could just write how they wrote then. i think the motivation was different. there were no deadlines of an album looming over them. they werent comparing a potential worship tune to the one the mega church just wrote up the road. they were writing from gut-wrenching life experiences. their souls and heart penned out. period.

  31. June 3, 2009 9:35 am

    Right now I’m crushin on all things Jimmy Needham. Just found this one and LOVE IT. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b54uONSRpUY&feature=related There was a point in the song where I thought “nu-uh, he did not just say that to people?!”

    givemejesus up there in the third paragraph listed some great ones. I find that I like the songs that will point blank say what everyone thinks but is afraid to admit, and still come out praising Jesus in the end.

    • June 3, 2009 10:19 am

      Amen, sister! The happy-happy joy-joy worship songs certainly have their place in my playlist but I am much more drawn to songs that address the ugliness, the brokenness, the sinfulness of people and God’s redemptive power over them. I guess it’s the recovering addict in me.

      • June 3, 2009 10:29 am

        YES! I love the ones that don’t hide how human we are. One of my favorite lyrics is in a DecembeRadio song…something like “I got a tattoo of an angel to remind me that I’m saved, I wear my hair long, but brother don’t you be afraid b/c it don’t matter at all to the Ol Rugged Cross…” I’m sure I botched it, but the point of it was that there IS NO PERFECT CHRISTIAN. I love songs the celebrate that. Dirty Christian Music I guess. LOL haha!

        I just heard Fence Sitters by Jimmy Needham today. WOW. Good stuff in that one.

        • June 3, 2009 10:40 am

          I love DecembeRadio…….I like my worship with a rock edge! I’m a child of the 80’s hair-bands so I definitely likes me some Jesus Rock!

          Jimmy Needham is one of those artists that I think gets what we are talking about here. Check out the cuts “Rend”, “Forgiven & Loved”, “Before And After”, and “Great Love Story” from his latest album ‘Not Without Love’. And “Dearly Loved” from the album ‘Speak’.

          • June 3, 2009 10:57 am

            Forgiven and Loved is my current favorite! Chokes me up everytime I hear it! Great Love Story sounds like it would be good….gonna check it out. Thanks!

            worship with a rock edge…TOTALLY! That is the only way I got my husband to listen to it. I hated it at first, but now I prefer it over all else. 😀 I saw DecembeRadio back in April with Newsboys and Needtobreathe. AWESOME!

  32. June 3, 2009 9:42 am

    Oh my gosh! I read the first half of your post and thought, “Man, she should listen to that Kim Walker song How He Loves Us because the lyrics are so different.” Ahhhh! Then I scrolled down to see the rest of the post–creepy. We’re doing that song this weekend too. KLOVE has a station affiliate called AirOne. They play some fun stuff that will never be done on CCM Nashville pop stations. Been enjoying that lately.

    • June 3, 2009 11:00 am

      AirOne was all I listened to before we moved to a place that ONLY has KLOVE. KLOVE is great and all, but I’d some harder stuff! 😉

  33. June 3, 2009 10:09 am

    I do think, however, that some CCM musicians’ music is much more palatable if they perform live because a lot of the studio production is gone and you get to hear their hearts as well. New rule–live recordings only.

    • June 3, 2009 10:32 am

      Now, this opens up another interesting can of worms. Because, in my experience, live performances by some of my favorite groups have been largely disappointing. Why? Because I went expecting to feel that same filling of the Holy Spirit I felt listening at home and got….a concert. The lights, the video production, the venue…….rather than being a corporate worship experience it was just….a concert. I think worship in churches can fall victim to this as well when it becomes more about performance and flash and less about inviting the spirit in.

      By the way, the best live performance I ever saw? Jason Gray…..one guy with a great voice, an acoustic guitar, and a passion for God. One of his live performances was recorded for the album “Acoustic Storytime” and is excellent.

      • June 3, 2009 10:56 am

        Twila Paris was the worship leader for a women’s conference years ago. She led with herself, a percussionist and keyboard. I’m not a Twila fan but that worship ROCKED because it didn’t have 15 keyboard chorus layers and stacked vocals etc. She sounded awesome. Wish more of her recordings reflected that.

  34. June 3, 2009 10:59 am

    Ummmmmmm, that Kim Walker song is torture for my “can’t cry” reflexes. Just sayin’.

    AMAZING! Now THAT is some good music and lyrics!

  35. June 3, 2009 11:10 am

    You guys all realize that “How He Loves” is a cover by Kim Walker right? It’s originally by John Mark McMillan. Great tune.

    • June 3, 2009 11:23 am

      “i may be arrogant, but im not arrogant in this…”

      mmm. i loved that he said that.

      what an incredible story behind this song. wow.

      thanks russ for this info and link!

    • June 3, 2009 12:38 pm

      loving this song!!! thanks for the link russ!!!

  36. June 3, 2009 11:14 am

    I think you are right on with this CCM thing. I take it a step further and say that most radio stations, Christian or not, play mostly crap. It all sounds the same to me. Sometimes I say I hate pop music and CCM, other times I realize I like a lot of it. I blame it on Becky.

    We find this same struggle with live worship. People want songs that are super familiar and easy to sing. If it is new and doesn’t sound like something “they” already know, chances are, “they” won’t like it.

    The average listener/worshipper wants something comfortable and easy to engage in. It’s hard to press through lyrics that are deep and unfamiliar. Some don’t want to bother.

    Deep down I acknowledge there is probably a need for both Pop/CCM stuff and then what I like to call “real music.” I mean it is POPular for a reason. I just wish there was just more motivation (money, or whatever) for the people who aren’t POP artists to get their stuff out there.

    Think how much John Mayer’s career was reshaped and improved when he “risked it” by starting the John Mayer Trio. That move took the music he was more passionate about (and freaking good at) too the masses. Does that make it POP now? Hmmm.

    Vicious circle maybe.

    • June 3, 2009 11:29 am

      hey trav – thanks for chimin in 😉

      “The average listener/worshipper wants something comfortable and easy to engage in.”

      while i know you are right on – it makes me mad that its true. GOD, our lives in and with Him are NOT always comfy and familiar. so why, WHY do we insist on singing the same things over and over as if we’re all floating on cloud 9?

      “It’s hard to press through lyrics that are deep and unfamiliar.”

      so, is it our job as worship leaders to lead them to the unfamiliar anyway? i mean, are we, perhaps, doing them a disservice by giving them milk and cookies every week?

      hmmm… im chewing on this 🙂

      • June 3, 2009 11:32 am

        def was not suggesting as leaders anyone should bow to those things. just saying that they exist, like it or not. i think in the church our challenge is to teach people to be teachable. then we can lead them further.

    • June 3, 2009 11:32 am

      just to let you know…any frustration felt in my response is not aimed at you in any way at all….its my frustration over the problem that is coming out. you just brought up some great points that i think we really need to consider deeper. thank you!!

  37. June 3, 2009 11:29 am

    CCM music (the stuff we hear on radio and XM) is heard because it sells. It also claims to be “Christian”. If it is the only music we are allowed to hear because it sells…is it even “Christian” music at all? It’s just Popular music that happens to be sung/created by people that say they are Christian.

    God created music. Some use it to glorify Him, some use it to glorify self. Seems to me that if it is created to “sell”, that falls in the second category.

    Don’t get me wrong. There are some wonderfully deep and IMO courageous artists in the CCM world. The problem is, they are wrapped up in this crazy group of “Christian musicians”.

    As much as I love the Keith Green and Second Chapter of Acts, they were a part of the beginning of a monster that is now called CCM. A monster that should be destroyed.

    “Christian” is NOT a style of music. That’s dumb. Rock is, or Jazz is. I am so disappointed that we have created a “style” called Christian and then we wrap whoever sells into it and then they are no longer artists…they are CCM artists.

    We need more artists to produce amazing music in Glory of God. They are out there. I don’t tend to hear them on the radio though. That’s sad.

    • June 3, 2009 11:34 am

      as a worship leader then…what is your part in this? how do you propose we get the church out of their, and off their, comfy lil hineys and into a deeper mode of engaging in deeper lyrics?

      • June 3, 2009 11:36 am

        We can only account for ourselves in it.

        Travis had some good points. If we as worship leaders cater to the “likes” of our congregations or even the “likes” of our leadership, we are doing nothing different than worrying about selling our music.

        • June 3, 2009 11:41 am

          thats hard to swallow. convicting.

        • June 3, 2009 11:47 am

          this is getting a little murky to me because we’re talking about both ‘music that is written & performed by Christians’ and ‘music that is used within the church as tools for worship’. Those are two different things, yes?

          Using music in a corporate setting for the purpose of a group of people worshiping…. in that application, the culture/preferences of the gathered people HAS to be taken into consideration, at least a little. Not to placate, not to cave to the worship wars, but to make the ‘language’ fit the people.

          IMO, where things got whacky is when worship stuff intended for corporate gatherings became the same as stuff-that’s-played-on-the-radio.

          • June 3, 2009 12:12 pm

            I struggle with keeping them separate. Are we not worshiping while singing a “non’ Worship song? I agree with your thought that “marketing” worship music is wacky. But, I don’t have a problem with someone making a career out of music, worship or not. Heck I make a career out of leading it.

            My issue lies with the watering down or dumbing down of something to meet someone elses desire. I would agree with you that we as a whole congregation have a personality, I explained that to Russ a little lower down. Our church has a personality and I have found it and work within that.

            I think it would be interesting if Hillsong started just giving away their music. I wonder why they dont? I’d be curious.

    • June 3, 2009 11:43 am

      Ohh, I’d hate to see Keith lumped into this category. He HATED the thought that his music would be sold for profit. He wanted to give it all away.

      From Wikipedia:
      Green was signed to Contemporary Christian music label Sparrow Records in 1976 and worked on the album Firewind (1976) with Christian artists 2nd Chapter of Acts, Terry Talbot, John Talbot, and Barry McGuire. His first solo project, For Him Who Has Ears to Hear, was released in 1977 and his second solo release, No Compromise, followed in 1978.

      In 1979, after negotiating a release from his contract with Sparrow, Green initiated a new policy of refusing to charge money for concerts or albums. Keith and Melody mortgaged their home to privately finance Green’s next album, So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt. The album, which featured a guest appearance by Bob Dylan, was offered through mail-order and at concerts for a price determined by the purchaser. As of May 1982, Green had shipped out more than 200,000 units of his album – 61,000 for free. Subsequent albums included The Keith Green Collection (1981) and Songs For The Shepherd (1982).

      When his music was carried by Christian bookstores, a second cassette was included free of charge for every cassette purchased to give away to a friend to help spread his message.

      • June 3, 2009 11:42 am

        Could it also be that by putting the preferences (“likes”) of others ahead of our own we might also be serving them? I don’t see it necessarily as just from the “selling” perspective.

        We do edgy music that includes hip hop and heavy rock at HOJ because we believe that musical style best serves our congregation, not necessarily because it’s what the majority of people like…even though you might argue that both of those concepts are swimming in the same pool.

        • June 3, 2009 11:56 am

          Russ, I agree with your assessment on Keith. I would also say that also, Second Chapter of Acts had a message to give and wanted that heard. That was their intent, not sales. It’s the business behind it that created the monster, not the artists themselves. However, I would say that many artists today would be a part of the monster as well.

          Also, I just commented on Tyler Braun’s blog earlier and I told him that I have two main criteria in choosing worship music.

          #1 Personality. Style would fall into this. Our congregation and band definitely fit and react to a certain style. But this is not enough for me to choose the music. I don’t think having a personality and choosing style accordingly is an issue at all.

          #2 Do I worship with this song. There is so much that is done just to make someone feel or react and that is not enough for me. It has to be full of truth and lead me…personally to Jesus. If it doesn’t, how can I lead someone else in it?

          With this said, there have been many times I have done a song that the teacher that weekend wanted used. Or I have replaced a song because, even though I wanted to keep the music rockin’, I knew that sometimes we need reflection. It’s all about leading the congregation and I need to be leading, not following to do that.

      • June 3, 2009 11:46 am

        THATS what im talkin about!!

        • June 3, 2009 11:48 am

          referring to the keith green article.

          • June 3, 2009 11:49 am

            Ah yeah! I love it that 30 years ago Keith Green was giving his music away for whatever the “customer” felt they should pay. Seems like everyone flipped out when bands did it a few years ago.

            What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

  38. June 3, 2009 11:30 am

    check out this little girl singing HOW HE LOVES US

  39. June 3, 2009 11:50 am

    “as a worship leader then…what is your part in this? how do you propose we get the church out of their, and off their, comfy lil hineys and into a deeper mode of engaging in deeper lyrics?”

    Maybe we don’t have to. If they are already engaged, then why upset the applecart?

    As worship leaders/musicians/artists, there is truth in the fact that we are more drawn toward new music. Face it, we spend a lot more time with a song than the “average” listener does, or than the average congregant does.

    We listen to it to learn it. Many times, usually.

    We practice it (I hope) Many times.

    We rehearse it.

    We think about it, pray about it. (I hope)

    We play it on Sunday. This is now the first time “they” hear it. We’re already tired of it.

    We listen to songs differently then “they” do.

    If we are ministering to “them.” do we really need to drag them to “our” level? Shouldn’t we be at “their” level? Does the preacher expect the listeners to be at his level, or does he bring the message to them, where they are?

    • June 3, 2009 11:57 am

      true – true…

      this is my stance…

      leading a congregation with music into a worship experience isnt about us vs them. its about how worship through music and lyrics are being expressed. imo – too much of what we present the congregants is “milk” – not “solid food”. not really chewing and taking time to ingest it – just giving them something easy to quickly connect with until the next part of the service.

      • June 3, 2009 12:17 pm

        If the focus shifts to solid food, where does that leave the seekers in the congregation? Maybe we need to look at a happy medium – ‘finger foods’, a little mashed peas and applesauce perhaps? 🙂

    • June 3, 2009 11:59 am

      “If we are ministering to “them.” do we really need to drag them to “our” level? Shouldn’t we be at “their” level? Does the preacher expect the listeners to be at his level, or does he bring the message to them, where they are?”

      We live and worship and learn together, but we are still called to lead in the midst of it. There are times they need to be brought to a different level. If we aren’t leading forward then we have to evaluate whether we are personally moving forward.

      I agree with Tammy’s thoughts when she speaks to a “new song”. If God is personally changing us and living in us, there is no way we will not have a personal, new song for Him. We are all at different stages of the journey, but we are all on a journey. We have to lead in it.

    • June 3, 2009 12:00 pm

      I would submit that we quit trying to place our corporate “worship” gatherings on a pedestal where we feel so much pressure to go so “deep” once a week…and focus more on teaching people how to worship during the week.

      I know I’m pretty antagonistic in my opinions about this. I DO believe that the local church is the “body” of change this side of heaven, but at the same time (IMHO), I think we place too much emphasis (borderline arrogant) on our own abilities to teach and explain the mysteries of the Gospel through our limited times of musical worship.

      Why can’t they just be times of worship? There’s nothing complex about true worship. It’s simple. To have worship you must have an object to be worshiped and a worshiper (one that worships the object). In this case, the object isn’t an object at all but a LIVING, Creator God. And the worshipers are us. Simple.

      I wonder if I’d be content singing “God is So Good” for the rest of my life?

      • June 3, 2009 12:17 pm

        I completely agree…almost 🙂

        “I would submit that we quit trying to place our corporate “worship” gatherings on a pedestal where we feel so much pressure to go so “deep” once a week…and focus more on teaching people how to worship during the week.”

        I agree. But, this takes thought and leadership. If I just sing songs that “fit” my church we may miss the whole point. Leading them to the throne in truth. Turth that teaches them to go out an live out their worship, not just sing about it.

        “I think we place too much emphasis (borderline arrogant) on our own abilities to teach and explain the mysteries of the Gospel through our limited times of musical worship.”

        This is just perspective to me. I don’t ever see my ability to teach someone the mysteries, i just want to lead them to desire the mystery.

        “I wonder if I’d be content singing “God is So Good” for the rest of my life?”

        Content? Maybe. If this is all God was teaching me. I wonder if a “new song” has more to do with the lyric or the music?

      • June 3, 2009 12:49 pm

        More to Russ’ point: why can’t worship leadership and worship music be the mechanism by which worshipers simply enter into His presence? I personally don’t see it as the function of the worship leader to teach, or to explain, but to bring the gospel in some cases, and in others to lead the worshipers into the throne room of God where THEY can worship Him.

        The stuff played on the radio….does the same thing. Can it be better? I think it can. Should it be better? I don’t know. As stated below, the best the four living creatures can do, according to Revelation, is “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty…” If that’s the case, then how are we to expect greater than that? What is the point of pushing human creative limits? Is it for our ears? If it’s for God, and He’s already pleased with holy, holy, holy…then we are creating for ourselves.

        • June 3, 2009 1:27 pm

          “I personally don’t see it as the function of the worship leader to teach, or to explain, but to bring the gospel in some cases, and in others to lead the worshipers into the throne room of God where THEY can worship Him.”

          I agree if you are talking about the actual function of a worship leader during the service. I am not a talker. I don’t personally care for lots of talk. I will pray to transition or lead a thought though. Where I wouldn’t agree is that, every word we sing, we are teaching. So we have to carefully choose our lyrics and songs, becasue we are teaching our congregation when we lead them.

          And, regarding the creatures in Revelation, wasn’t that what they were created to do? Sing. Are we only created to do that?

  40. lazrus2 permalink
    June 3, 2009 12:25 pm

    AMEN to Mike and Russ’ last comments, especially,
    “I wonder if I’d be content singing “God is So Good” for the rest of my life?”

    or how about “Holy, Holy, Holy, as in Rev 4:8?:
    “Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.'” NIV

    The contentment is in HIM, not music. If that’s the case, the rest will follow as He directs (and yes, will include ‘new songs’ – perhaps even some not ‘pre-written and rehearsed’), I believe.

    D-

    • June 3, 2009 12:37 pm

      I sure would hope that contentment is found first and foremost in Him. That shouldoho without saying.

  41. June 3, 2009 12:29 pm

    I feel like I’m in the Peanuts cartoon where the teacher is talking but all we hear is “Wah wah wah wah wah wah.”

    I don’t really know any of the songs you’re talking about. At all. Amy Grant was the only Christian singer I ever listened to in high school, and I only knew she existed once she came out with her mainstream stuff. I guess you could say I’m Christian music illiterate. 🙂

    Some random stuff I’ve heard I’ve liked, but to be honest… sometimes it depresses me more than it uplifts me. That sounds so bad, I know, but what they play on our local Christian station needs to be a bit more upbeat or hopeful.

  42. June 3, 2009 12:32 pm

    “I agree. But, this takes thought and leadership. If I just sing songs that “fit” my church we may miss the whole point. Leading them to the throne in truth. Turth that teaches them to go out an live out their worship, not just sing about it.”

    Absolutely. But doesn’t it follow that if they are less focused on the “new song” and more focused on the “worship” then that will come more easily?

    Example: We decided last fall that for the first six months of the year there will be no new music in our church. As musicians, we wer feeling “boooring!” As leaders… wow. We found eyes coming off the screen and onto the ceiling… or closed. Folks have been less focused on the “song” and more on the “worship.”

    Yes… sometimes worship requires a new song. Absolutely. But an argument can me made that the constant barrage of “new” “fresh” and “deep” music is, in fact, the milk. And that the personal absorption of a comfortable song, allowing a real connection with the heart of God… that’s the “meat.”

  43. June 3, 2009 12:44 pm

    I think we are talking about a lot of different things on this post so it is getting jumbled.

    The song should never become the worship. People don’t need to be comfortable to worship. With that being said, constantly bringing new songs in can become our focus of worship as well. Our church doesn’t do a ton of new stuff. Maybe 2 or 3 songs out of 25-30 a month. But those new songs continue us on a journey. They relate to the teaching or maybe something the church is doing together. In all of it, they always have a focus. Praising who God is and reminding us who we should be as His disciples.

    I agree with others that saying the same words over and over doesn’t mean anything unless we are content in Him alone. It goes for singing new words as well. If we are content in Him and Him alone. Old words continue to confirm new words continue to affirm as well. A nice balance is good.

    • June 3, 2009 3:26 pm

      “I think we are talking about a lot of different things on this post so it is getting jumbled.”

      Yep 🙂

      And perhaps I shouldn’t have ticked that notify by email box for this post…haha.

  44. June 3, 2009 12:47 pm

    @tam… read john mark mcmillan’s “about” page…kind of hits your topic right in the first two sentences…

    http://www.thejohnmark.com/bio.html

    • June 3, 2009 1:28 pm

      From Jon’s About page…

      “Carolina indie-rocker John Mark McMillan is a bit of an anomaly. You see, he’s a christian musician who creates quality, creative music that is not derivative or repetitive, that boasts well written lyrics that avoid sentimentality yet still are focused on the artist’s faith. Perhaps even more strange is the fact that McMillan has a strong following in both clubs and churches throughout North and South Carolina. But that’s the reward for quality.”

      I like…

    • June 3, 2009 1:53 pm

      that bio is this post summed up quite nicely!

  45. June 3, 2009 12:58 pm

    “Old words continue to confirm new words continue to affirm as well. A nice balance is good.”

    Agreed, agreed and agreed.

  46. June 3, 2009 1:53 pm

    I don’t know how to comment on this yet… but all I came here to say is 126 comments!!!!! OMG! THIS is going to take a while to read up…. lol

    ok

    Later!

  47. June 3, 2009 7:06 pm

    Strange….just commented about this on Love’s site I think.

    I think the exact same thing…it is the biggest frustration I have when listening to Christian music. Great performers, players, lousy lyricists.

    I am a complete music purist. I do not believe in editing music, altering it, or banning it. I think the Christian music scene however has gone to the far end of the spectrum and fought with the questionable music world by being so basic it gets boring.

    Really great post.

    If you want a great artist with a message, a story and a great cd, check out Todd Smith (self titled)….(not LL Cool J Todd Smith but Todd Smith from Selah). One amazing cd. His lyrics are phenomenal.

  48. June 3, 2009 7:46 pm

    just watched this again….and I can totally hear Miss Mandy T singing this. Totally. 😀

    and p.s. her hair in the vid is kinda what I am chewing on for my next ‘do. What do ya think? 😛

  49. June 3, 2009 7:57 pm

    I think our comments confirm times and tastes and “new” change. Life is fluid. Our journey following Christ is fluid. What was fabulous last year may not cut it this time. What was boring 30 years ago is cool again (a la Hymns). I know its semantics but we talk about the worship time of our gatherings and refer to the music. I think we agree that worship is giving glory to God in whatever we do and say so maybe we should talk about the “arts”? Sometimes its good to do a song that people just need to sit in and listen to. Sometimes there needs to be raucous celebration at the end of a gathering or something visual without words that stirs the heart to praise. Its not much fun to say, “to each their own” or “this is how God leads us/them in this area”. We tend to question motives if we don’t understand or agree with another’s process. OMW this is so Christianese of me. Sorry.

    I completely agree with Brent(inWorship)’s thoughts of declassifying the “Christian” genre. I would love it so much if there were more Christian artists pursuing/creating great art and mingling with the rest of the world. I’m not a fan of a Christian version of this and that. Still, there is great encouragement when Christ followers spur each other on using the arts. So how do we allow artists to encourage the “brethren” without being thought of as milk toasty? Dunno.

    Ick. Too much to have written at 11 pm in Chicago.

    • June 3, 2009 8:17 pm

      IMO where the church fails in encouraging arts is when they get caught up in the worlds game of fairness. The world says we can be anything we want to be, God says we are who He created us to be. In other words, some are artists and other aren’t. The church needs to encourage art by appreciating true art and music. Not just catagorizing it and making it popular. Some are teachers. Some are prophets. We should celebrate true art and quality. Not fluff.

      Sure, pop music is fun. Buy it, enjoy it, but let art speak for itself and celebrate it for what it is.

  50. June 4, 2009 1:52 pm

    Tam, it’s cool to read this from you guys. Kristen & I have felt the same way for a long time and have been really trying to allow the Lord to direct our writing in such a way that it breaks out of the mold that we have been stuck in for so long. Like you said, those old cliche’s do have power and many are touched and blessed by them but it is so refreshing to hear a song that goes deeper than the milk and gets down into the meat! That is why Charlie Hall has really become one of our favorite artists, the songs are different, not really sure how to explain it, but different. We also have really enjoyed Christy Nockles new album, much of the same feel as Charlie Hall gives off.

    Thanks for the post, this has definitely challenged my writing!

  51. tamihoban permalink
    June 4, 2009 1:59 pm

    Tam…you and i are on the same wavelength, girl. Check it out: http://tamihoban.wordpress.com/2009/04/22/creativity-or-why-i-cant-listen-to-christian-radio/

    …weird.

    • June 4, 2009 2:13 pm

      RIGHT ON!!! loved, loved, loved your post, girl!!

  52. TheNorEaster permalink
    June 4, 2009 2:34 pm

    A few good worship Psongs:

    (No, the letter “P” was not a typo, but an allusion to Psalms. Just like my http://thenoreaster.wordpress.com/category/book-of-pstorms/ )

    • TheNorEaster permalink
      June 4, 2009 2:35 pm

      Oop! Well now, THAT didn’t work! I wanted links!

  53. June 6, 2009 8:47 am

    Read through many of the comments, but not all. I just want to add that I’ve swung in my cynical attitude a little too far from Christian artists. I was listening to Last.fm, and I ‘banned’ probably 95% of the Christian artists that it recommended to me.

    I guess I’m pretty picky and cynical when it comes to my music tastes these days anyway, and I’m not cutting the Christian artists any slack (and nor do they deserve any).

  54. June 11, 2009 9:10 am

    TAM – wierd. I just posted a blog very similar to this one. Only mine is much meaner. I can be mean when impassioned about the same subject for years and years. Anyway, I was just passing through and saw this – your thoughts are dead-on and completely support my post…

  55. keithmohr permalink
    June 12, 2009 4:24 pm

    theres a new crop of musicians who are believers who are not signed and do not care to be signed.
    Check em out on http://www.indieheaven.com

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