GPdrums || Marathon Drummer

What Makes Christian Music “Christian”

Posted in Drumming by gpdrums on June 14, 2006

There are 32,500,000 results on a certain search engine when that statement is entered. I guess that means that there exists more than one opinion on this subject. Here’s my expert opinion simplistic answer…

The most effective way for an artist to get themselves labeled as “Christian” is to write blatantly overt lyrics with reference to Jesus Christ. If that’s what you’re striving for, then write these types of lyrics. Avoiding cliche lyrics will be the hardest part. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard “love” and “heaven above” rhymed in a song. You’re gonna have to be more original than that to write a good song.

However, there are scads of songs performed by secular artists that reference Jesus and/or God. Does that make them a Christian artist? Of course not. At the same time, it doesn’t mean they are Christian, or not. Likewise, many “secular” artists happen to be devout Christians who don’t sing about God. So really, lyrics alone cannot determine if Christian music is Christian – or if secular music is secular, for that matter.

It’s been a long held notion that the better musicians play in secular bands. I disagree with that. Secular bands tend to have more production dollars thrown at their projects since they cater to a much larger market. A top-notch recording studio, engineer, pro-tools, and rented instruments can make virtually any musician sound better than he or she is. Furthermore, using studio musicians for recordings is a common practice.

On the contrary, I believe that the most talented musicians are in the church. Think about it, there are far more churches with worship teams than commercially successful bands. On top of that, I know of many studio musicians who are Christians, who prefer the studio to the road because family is more important than being a rock star. I’ve played with hundreds of musicians in both secular and Christian music; it might be hasty of me to say, but not all musicians are driven to obtain commercial success.

Church musicians get to play several times per week leading congregations small and large into worship. Their entire outlook on life and the reason they play is different than many secular artist. There’s no money exchanging hands at the alter. There are no flyer’s to print and fan-lists to maintain. There’s no pressure to write another hit record. These are musicians who feel that God has given them a gift that they must share, giving back to God.

Much more important than lyrics and musicianship is attitude. When an artist walks the walk, it doesn’t matter what type of music they play. God uses people in accordance with His will. I would rather have a person in my band with heart, that plays with soul, that loves God, that wants to share their talent, and that believes he/she is lead to be there, over an egomaniac that wants to show off and twirl his sticks. God uses egomaniacs, too, so don’t get me wrong.

If you listened to the above song you heard overt lyrics. You also heard a story about someone trying to figure out his life. You’d probably never guess that my band was really popular at a particular biker bar. We had more people showing up for those gigs than many others. We even pushed the fact that we were a Christian band. It didn’t matter to them, they just loved us. Could it be that we loved them, too? You know, the “Agape” kind. I just hope that the way we lived had a positive impact on at least one person’s life.

Lyrics and musician matter, but not nearly as much as setting a good example. The artist walking the walk is what makes music “Christian.”



6 Responses

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  1. manders said, on June 17, 2006 at 8:38 am

    Greg, I wanted to stop by and say “hi”. I miss you!

    “On the contrary, I believe that the most talented musicians are in the church.”

    I wholeheartedly agree with you. I have been to plenty of secular bands concerts/shows, from the largest arenas to the most intimate of settings. Likewise, I have been to Christian artists in both settings as well. One thing that has always struck me by the Christian vs. the secular artist is the quality of the live shows. In fact, I would say, that Christian artists actually sound BETTER live, where the opposite is usually true about secular artists. I have never been disappointed. The wonderful thing about Christian artists performances is that God, the Creator of music, dwells within them. The crowd is receptive to hear and be moved by the Holy Spirit. I will never forget my last Third Day concert I attended in a HUGE arena sized church. The band wound down the performance with worship and pulled the whole “disappear off the stage thing” (like Petra). No one noticed. It was incredible. I didn’t feel like that after Def Leppard. (LOL)

    I have also seen God take a person with no musical training but with a heart yearning for worship and a spec of faith, and transform that person into a musician literally overnight. I have also seen accomplished musicians have to learn how to be lead my the Spirit. Praise and worship is not necessarily designed for the musician who can only read sheet music. (I am speaking from my own experience and musical training – fo’SURE!)

    Regarding the tones in music and the composition of the notes, there is POWER in them when God is the composer. I received a healing while listening to an annointed violinist by the name of Janet Shell. A tumor literally disappeared from my body by the about the 5th bar. That had nothing to do with lyrics, as of course, there were none! God gets ALL the glory for that! (Janet was playing in the spirit, actually just warming up)

    Anyway, I feel blessed to know people like yourself, even if only casually, via the internet, from a website named GrayCharles. I could sure use your encouragement. I know I am called to be “up there” playing with you all. Prophets, evangelists, and worship leaders have spoken it over me many times in my life. However, until I clear up my heart condition (from being hurt by the church), I can’t begin to think about it again. God’s timing and His will for our lives, you know…. my desire to praise Him will always be there depsite my attempts to deny and avoid it.

    Much love, my brother! Peace.

  2. GP said, on June 17, 2006 at 5:33 pm

    Wow! You know, perhaps the next step to healing the hurt is to share your gifts. It sounds like you know that it’s about more than being “up there.” It’ll happen in God’s time. Interestingly, I’ve been slowing down a bit for some reason and I began to get depressed about not being as involved. But, about the time I decided to go with the flow, another opportunity came up that I’m sure is a path God wants me to follow. I still play, just not five nights a week. Hopefully the path I’m on will benefit a lot people. Just keep praising Him and it’ll all work out. Thanks for checking it, too.

  3. Rick said, on June 25, 2006 at 1:41 pm

    Hey, I just caught your blog through your comment on Rich Kirkpatrick’s site. Good stuff here. I remember the first debate that I sucessfully had with my parents about 25 years ago was on the subject of Christian music. I tend to prefer the covert messages in Christian music, a la Jars of Clay about ten years ago, on their first cd which contained all kinds of allegories and innuendo. To me, artistry is part concealing a deeper truth for those willing to dig deep enough to find.

  4. GP said, on June 25, 2006 at 4:41 pm

    Jars of Clay is in a class all by themselves. Great band with beautiful lyrics… and those guys walk the walk, too.

  5. […] My wife and I really dig his tunes. He does some really great piano work, and his lyrics are much more creative than the “praise-grace” “love-above” rhymes that much Christian music is awash in. That’s not a severe criticism – modern Christian music rocks, but I sometimes chuckle when I hear it in three straight songs on the radio . For the record, I’m not just backseat driving. I write Christian music… just without the musical ear or talent, and struggle with copping out on those common Christian cliches as well. […]

  6. Carla said, on October 16, 2007 at 2:13 pm

    Hi. I just stumbled upon your blog while googling “gp drums”. You should check out the Christian band Downhere. They have some of the most thoughtful lyrics; gifted music; and humble, grateful, and fun attitudes. ( or

    God Bless!

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