For 7 years I tried to make a go in the Christian music industry. I worked hard and go nowhere fast. I was and still am too raw and real for nominal Christendom. I had thought for years that my “calling” was to lead worship. But something special happened in 2007 and again in 2010.
In 2007, I released an EP titled “Backwards”. I had wanted it to be a Christian release and in some ways it is. But I didn’t get the gigs that I thought that I would from it. I wanted to go to churches, but from 2008-2010, I found myself playing at restaurants, bars and non-Christian coffeehouses more often than any Christian venues. I was confused by this, as I was so certain that leading worship was my sole purpose in life. I thought maybe I would get on at least a little bit of Christian radio. Instead, without promoting, I found myself #17 on the IL Roots music charts on the Roots Music Report. Instead of taking those hints, I clung to this ideal of leading worship.
In 2009, we stopped going to church. By this point, Eric and I had found that we really don’t believe in church structure. We had too many points that we disagreed with that we found in almost all church structures to ever go to church peaceably. Both of us are fairly open with our opinion and that sadly causes a lot of drama in church, because for some reason there is a belief that all Christians have to believe the same exact way about most doctrine. Unfortunately, because we disagreed with a lot of it, we felt that to step away from church would be the wisest course for our family.
Yet for the next year, I still tried and tried to make something work in the Christian music genre. My efforts were practically fruitless. Then one day in 2010, thanks to a pastor’s wife that I had never met in CA, I had two epiphanies. She had been railing on me on a Christian music forum about my not going to church. She also told me that I was bitter and because I was bitter God would never be able to use me. My epiphany: The church is jacked up and I have absolutely NO CHANCE of ever making an impact like I want to. Another epiphany: This is not what I was meant to do.
At first I was going to quit music altogether. For one week after I made that decision, I experienced a depression and hopelessness that I have never felt before. I’ve had my fair share of heaviness dealing with previous church crap, but this was different. I felt that God wasn’t happy with my decision, but at the same time I didn’t feel that Christian music was the route for me to take. So, I decided to start writing whatever songs came out of me. These songs were better than anything I had written before and crazily enough, these songs fit into the Roots music world.
So, I abandoned my previous “calling” to lead worship and label my music “Christian”. Here’s why:
1. When we label something “Christian”, it automatically sets us apart from the rest of the world. To non-Christians, it could, (and does,) give off an elitist air, like here is something special that you can’t be a part of because you aren’t a Christian.
2. I now have a problem with worship services. I don’t like how they are set up- just like a concert: Spotlight VS. Audience I feel that this set-up easily leads to jealousy, competition, showing off, ego, pride, and glorification of man under the pretense of the glorification of God.
3. The church is practically inbred. There is no room for progressive thinking. There is very little “going into the world” and preaching the Gospel. There is little raw and real, unless you are the pastor. Then you can insult people all you want under the guise of “speaking the truth in love”, only there isn’t much love in belittling someone or making them feel like their walk with God is jeopardy if they ask questions. I realize that there are churches that get out there and where the pastor is kind, but how many do it in “their church” name, instead of for the glory of God?
I believe the church, (here comes a drama-enticing statement,) has become the veritable bushel that hides the light of Christ’s love from the world. Why should someone have to step within the bushel walls to find acceptance and love? (And that might not even happen if they do come.) WE are the lights of the world, yet we only shine that light in church. Our lights are hidden in a church’s walls- the bushel walls.
So I do my shining outside the bushel. I sing at bars. (gasp!) My songs emote feelings other than placidity and false humility. (gasp!) I sing about life, God and social change. To those who say I’ve sold out: I’ve sang about God to hundreds of unbelievers under the roots/Americana genre. How many non-Christians have you talked to about God recently? I’m not holding altar calls during my sets- I’m just singing what’s on my heart and living my life in the most moral way that I can. People are touched by my music. Many times people have come up to me thanking me for encouraging them to keep on going. Think about this- I am not shy about my faith, otherwise I wouldn’t write the blogs that I write. Have I changed that much in essence? Nope. I still dress modestly. I have a strong moral code. I don’t get drunk. I’ve not ever taken any drugs. I love my husband and have ALWAYS been faithful to him. I am dedicated to my children, homeschooling them instead of sending them away during the day, so that when I have gigs at night, they aren’t neglected from time with me.
My point is that you can still do music that isn’t in the “Christian” genre and still hold onto your faith. You can still make a positive impact on people’s lives. People need to get beyond the bushel that church buildings are, because it is affecting their thinking, making them fearful and holding them back from making greater impact on our culture.