Contemporary Christian music has lost its divine touch with younger generations

Posted: March 19, 2012 by Rebecca Patton in Lexington and beyond

Christian artist Brandon Heath opening for Third Day on their "Revelation Tour," 2009. (source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Christian music industry has blown up in recent years, pumping out artists like it’s the way to win souls. Not that the Christian genre is in itself bad, but to some in our generation, it falls on deaf ears.

I grew up in a God-fearing home, went to a private school and now go to Asbury University, but I can’t stand listening to mainstream Christian music.

Why? Well, for one, it’s been stuffed down my throat my whole life. We sing the songs in Church, blast them on the radio on family road trips and receive them for Christmas in CD-form from well-meaning family members. And since we have become so saturated with it, we are now desensitized. “Open the Eyes of My Heart” just doesn’t move us like it did when we were children belting it out in Sunday School.

In some ways, the accessibility of Christian music has actually made it lose its meaning. It’s like that one pop song you used to like when it first came out until they played it on the radio for two months straight…except imagine that for your whole life.

Not only that, but most Christian music sounds the same, to be frank. Brandon Heath sounds like Aaron Shust who is indistinguishable from Chris Tomlin. Each song starts with a quiet, heartfelt intro, and then comes the acoustic guitar, which slowly crescendos into the chorus where the drums and electric guitar join the club. There’s a bridge, a key change, some high notes, at least one profound—but cliché—statement about life, and end.

Perhaps it’s the alternative culture we’ve found ourselves in, but for some reason, our generation tends to shy away from the conventional. Matthew West, who is often featured on local radio stations like K-Love and Air1, just doesn’t have that unique sound that Christian indie artists like Gungor or Asbury’s own Jenny & Tyler have.

I, personally, feel like my mother (bless her heart) when I listen to a Christian radio station, because that’s the kind of music that she listens to. So, perhaps in an attempt to be my own person and all that, I rebel, and instead escape to the less-familiar genres of indie-folk and synth-pop that have less childhood connotations. It is there that I have a chance to build my own musical tastes without the influence of my Church upbringing.

And honestly, our generation is tired. We’ve heard the same songs, messages and chord successions since we were in the cradle. It’s not that we’re opposed to the idea of worship music, but we long for a new approach to it. After all, doesn’t the Bible itself say in Psalms 61:7, “Sing a new song to the LORD!”? A new song. How interesting. It doesn’t say, “Sing the same songs you’ve known by heart since the third grade!”

Many of us are sincere in our faith, passionate about Christ and are eager to worship Him, but we need to find our own way to do it. And didn’t generations before us do the same thing? In fact, back in the time of Martin Luther (who wrote “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” by the way), even hymns were considered too creative and altogether scandalous. Then there came the charismatic hippies of the ‘60s who brought guitars and (no, it can’t be) dancing into the sacred house of God.

Maybe in 20 years the elder members of Church congregations will complain that the mandolins are too loud or that the music “just doesn’t speak to them the same way that Brandon Heath’s songs did.” But if the Church doesn’t make changes to ensure that it stays relevant in today’s culture, it will surely fall by the wayside.

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