Christian music lyrics seemed to be overly simplistic and unoriginal. It was odd to be a Christian that didn’t like Christian music. Or even understand it. But, honestly, I was a Christian music cynic. I wanted something more than just the same line over and over again.
If you are one of those people who instantly changes the radio station or rolls your eyes when your roommate plays the stereotypical “Jesus is great. Jesus is the best.” type of Christian music, you’re not alone. I, too, used to change the station after the chorus repeated itself for the third time.
Every time I drove, I gave Christian music a chance, but it seemed to let me down. Oddly enough, I still loved the hymns at Mass, but this “praise and worship” stuff got under my skin. I was unimpressed—but, I came to realize that unlike popular songs, Christian music isn’t made to impress me or anyone else. It’s meant for the glory of God, to bring Him praise, and to help others come to know His great love.
So I decided to give the Christian radio station another chance to change my attitude. God hit me with a metaphorical brick via Casting Crowns’ “East to the West.”
Cynically, I was about to roll my eyes when I heard them sing “Only You [God] know how far the east is from the west” and I was thinking “Duh, because He’s God. Thank you, Captain Obvious.”
Instead, the lyrics answered how far that distance was: “One scarred hand from the other.”
Maybe Christian music isn’t so shallow, I thought. The more I listened, the more I had a change of heart. Even the “Jesus loves you” stuff became deep to me (because, it’s true!), and here’s how you, too, can better appreciate the music from your fellow believers. It’s worth a try, especially if you’re a Christian who doesn’t like Christian music.
1. Understand the styles are all different. There are “Christian artists” that don’t go under “Christian music.”
A Christian artist may still create music that isn’t labeled under the “Christian” genre. It could be country or rock or alternative. This makes sense because Christianity isn’t limited by style preference. So, what about that genre of music labeled “Christian”?
These are different styles, too, depending on the artist, but the reason they often are categorized under the “Christian” genre is because they are directly evangelical. As in, these songs tell a story of Christ’s love or often praise and worship Him. Hence, the repeated lines.
Not all Christian songs repeat “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” over and over again. That’s an overgeneralization. But, even if a song does do that, there’s a reason. Like my fiancé says, “When you love someone, you don’t get tired of saying or hearing ‘I love you.’”
Listen to the whole song and appreciate it for what it is. You never know if that’s the tune you find yourself humming or the message you need to hear. You don’t have to rave about every song, but stop being a cynic.
If you happen to still not find your preferred “Christian” artist despite trying everything from Skillet to Matt Mahr, then perhaps it’s your turn to create Christian music the way you think it should be done. But, don’t blame the genre for your pickiness.
2. God is the audience for Praise and Worship, not you.
There are people who appreciate a large gathering of Christians who sing along with a band, lifting hands in the air and clapping. There are those who appreciate smaller gatherings, less outwardly involved, more internally reflective—perhaps in Latin.
“Christian” music isn’t just for the former, just as Gregorian chant isn’t just for the latter.
You don’t have to stop listening to your old favorite bands, but don’t stop exploring the Christian music genre just because you are turned off by a certain artist. You’ll discover that Christian music isn’t about pleasing the audience (i.e. you and me); it’s all about God.
God smiles even to those reflecting on “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” for two minutes, and those people are growing closer to Christ. I didn’t grow closer to Christ with my cynicism, and neither will you. You can by singing along and joining along in praising God.
3. “Safe for the whole family” radio stations (and concerts) are worth appreciating.
I doubt you’ll find Gregorian chants on the radio, but you will find Christian radio stations that are safe for all ears.
Maybe the Dave Crowder Band is more your style instead of Mandeza. Either way, “Christian” music can lead you to Christ through the beat or the lyrics. When you’re having a bad day, would you rather listen to a secular song about partying or scandalous past-times or a song about love, faith, and hope?
Try turning on the Christian station every once in awhile. You and your family deserve to hear encouraging music rather than lyrics about sex, drugs, alcohol, or partying.
4. Sing along to it. Just try it.
“He who sings, prays twice,” St. Augustine declared.
Especially when the music is praising God, there is no harm to singing along. If you have a bad voice, think about this: if every Christian sang along, we’d all balance each other out and something beautiful would come forth.
That’s what God hears—a beautiful choir of His children’s praise—and, remember, He’s your real audience.
That old church lady certainly enjoys praising God with hymns on Sunday, no matter how off key. If it bothers you, sing along and soon you will stop focusing on her being off-key and more on the words you are singing, which is the point of Christian music. Use the music lyrics, even the repeated ones, as an opportunity to grow, meditate on God’s glory, and tell Christ you love him.
Especially if you have kids, be brave for them. Let them know that it’s okay to sing along.
5. Get over yourself.
If you’re still criticizing Christian lyrics, perhaps it’s time for you to spend one-on-one time with God and ask Him why. You don’t have to love every song, but you also don’t have to be so judgmental.
Someone else listens to and feels Christ in the song you criticize. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Appreciate that the music is clean, uplifting, and praising God instead of worshipping man like other music lyrics. Maybe, like me, you just need to get over yourself and suddenly, a song will hit you deeply with an unexpected reflection.