Last (proper) blog I promised to write an article about how Christian music is the most boring thing on the radio. While that is an opinion, this is a blog. Therefore, I’m allowed to express my opinion. Stay with me though, because I hope to make a compelling argument.
Go to a radio, even if it’s an imaginary one. Are you there? I have super-duper satellite radio, but if you don’t, I’ll give you corresponding radio stations for the Montgomery area. That is where most of my blog audience is, after all.
First turn it to pop radio [101.9 Y102]. Hear those catchy rhythms, simplistic lyrics, and similar song structure (usually consisting of V1-C-V2-C-C-B-C-C-C-C….DOES IT EVER END??)? This is assuming you don’t get a commercial, of course.
Now turn it to alternative radio [104.9 The Gump]. Hear those awesome guitars, gritty lyrics, and generally experimental style? You never really know what you’re going to get when listening to Alternative radio.
Now turn it over to Christian radio [107.9 K-LOVE]. Not very catchy is it? Lyrics you’ve probably heard before, right? The only real reason to listen to it is because it’s Christian and you feel like you have to, or perhaps it’s the only “clean” thing on the radio. If it’s the latter, that’s great. But perhaps we ought to don our protective suits and venture into the world of not-so-squeaky-clean music and determine why we can’t make encouraging music good.
The fundamental purpose of worship is growth.
I admit, being in a state of worship is a specific high only attainable by coming face to face with God. It is the culmination of joy and awe, and it is amazing. It’s the time when the lyrics and the music and your heart separate themselves as elements as you approach God. And no partying or meditation can match that eternally significant sensation.
But as you grow as a Christian, that sensation wears off… or maybe just changes. A growth of knowledge and understanding of your relationship with God renders repetitive choruses ineffectual in achieving a state of actual worship.
At some point a relationship with Christ turns from awesome to awe-inspiring to wondrous. It’s a relationship that’s increasingly complex, just like in real life. As the relationship becomes increasingly complex, so too does the worship required to fulfill that relationship.
Theory: radio worship is meant for baby Christians.
All of this leads me to my first thesis of this blog. Radio worship has only one predominant audience: young Christians.
Having a music genre devoted to beginning Christians is not a bad thing. After all, they can’t really speak the same language as more experienced Christians. Younger Christians have a more vacuous grasp on the idea of the faithful stability of God; the fact the God’s will isn’t something to be deciphered, but is instead a constant driving force in life.
Again, it’s not a bad thing at all to have this type of music. But here’s the problem:
Radio worship is not approachable for any other group of people.
Non-Christians are not going to listen to it because it lacks any kind of appeal, be it musical or lyrical. The music is often created by people of less than stellar talent. The lyrical premise is often frankly shallow and doesn’t vary from time to time. No deep philosophy or theology here.
Older Christians will likewise grow tired of this kind of music for one simple reason. It doesn’t provide the spiritual nourishment they need to grow. Hymns in the past often provided deep swaths of theological topics, but current worship seems more like modified pop music. Modern “pop-worship” utilizes repetitive, memorable choruses to convey short text messages about God as opposed to larger, theology-heavy concepts.
In doing so, I feel you may take something away from the glorious nature of God.
Christian music can change effectively in one of two ways.
The first way Christian music can change is probably the most obvious. Completely emulate your pop counterparts. Fill your music with infectious beats to accompany your repetitive choruses. Build a tabernacle of catchy sounds, begging non-Christians to come for the spectacle of the thing.
With this method, you really wouldn’t have to change much in the form of lyrics. Just enhance the sound by getting experience from the latest and greatest producer and musicians. Collaborate with Daughtry or Taylor Swift, both of which claim to be Christians.
For me, the second method is far more effective in the long run. Restore the reverence behind the music. Make Christian music a feast for theological minds. Fill it with complexities of the universe and big questions about God. Make Christian music the “thinking man’s music.”
This would further the desires of non-Christians to seek the answers that only God can provide. Likewise it would restore the relevance for Christians who want more. It would also be there when young Christians take that next step in their relationship with Christ.
Either way, radio worship music needs to change. Or, at the very least, it doesn’t need to be the only easily accessible Christian music at our disposal.
Life is all about taking steps to become a great, self-actualized representative of Jesus. Music plays no small part in that.