Pastor Scott Summers
Youth (4-6th grade) & Young Adult Pastor, Shiloh Community Church
For as long as I can remember, I have loved music. Some of my fondest memories of music from my childhood were the “We Sing” kids worship songs that my parents played, every song from Sister Act 2 (but especially “Joyful, Joyful”), my first cassette (DC Talk – Jesus Freak), my first CD (the Space Jam soundtrack), and my first concert (Carmen’s free concert at America West Arena)…don’t judge me.
Although my music tastes have evolved slightly since my youth, I still am moved greatly by music. It’s been a medium through which God has used to heal my broken heart, focus my attention, calm my nerves and my temper, and simply to feel good. It has been such a constant throughout my life and something I tend to express (sometimes too much) enthusiasm and passion for. But besides the personal connection, I see its great significance throughout the Bible. The Psalms are the obvious place to start, but my favorite verse regarding music is Zephaniah 3:17…
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
The thought of God singing just makes me giddy with anticipation that I will someday get to hear the most amazing songs of all time, sung by the very Creator of music!
Now this is where I pause to think. Since believers have God (the Holy Spirit) living inside of us, should we not be more known for our creativity, especially in music? I mean it should at least be equal to the quality produced by the rest of the world, right? And yet, the culture views the “Christian” music genre as second-class. I would argue that they are correct in their assessment, as Christians isolate ourselves within a “Christian” culture that produces second-class quality music. This isolation reveals itself in our judgment of other believers. The huge and ugly problem I see is that the music we support becomes the litmus test for our salvation (rather than the whole Jesus-following thing). The perception is that you must not be a Christian if you don’t listen to “Christian” radio. Add to that, you become more sanctified the less you listen to secular radio (and only tune in to K-LOVE), and then you’re super holy if you support K-LOVE monthly.
The result is an audience that is obligated to listen to “Christian” radio due to our own self-imposed cultural pressures. This audience cares less about the quality of music, and more about how “Christian” they appear. The music is therefore lackluster and boring, because nothing more is demanded of the artists other than including a very obvious “positive” and “encouraging” “Christian” message in the lyrics.
So what’s the solution? The good Lord has blessed people with the creative genius to make something called Spotify. It takes a little more time to sort through to find good artists, but these people need your support! They don’t get airplay on the secular stations because of their faith, and they don’t get airplay on stations like K- LOVE because they don’t present a cliché “Christian” product. These artists have so much talent, and depth, and insight, and creativity and they work tirelessly for the Gospel through the mode of their trade.
Here’s my K-LOVE challenge to you: take money that you’d send to them each month and spend it on a Spotify subscription. Then find good music and tell non-believers about it. Don’t present it as “Christian” music, but rather something that you truly love listening to. If you don’t know where to start, here are a few of my favorites:
- Josh Garrels
- Rivers and Robots
- Citizens and Saints
- Jason Barrows
- Jon Foreman
- The Sing Team
- The Modern Post
- Judah and the Lion
- Rend Collective
- Zach Bolen
- Andy Mineo
- Bryan and Katie Torwalt
- Ellie Holcomb
- Sufjan Stevens
I warned you that I sometimes get too passionate about this subject. My heart in all of this is to encourage my brothers and sisters to not settle for ordinary, but to seek out that which is excellent.