Do I really have to say it?

Recently I read an interview with Jon Foreman (lead singer of switchfoot) in which he discussed why Jesus and God are never directly mentioned in switchfoot’s songs. In the interview Jon Foreman basically said, that when it comes down to it, serving God goes a lot further than mentioning his name in songs, but rather following God is about what you’re doing for Him. How you serve others, how you love others, and how you’re reflecting God to others. Which are good points, but got me started thinking about a debate that’s gone on for a while, as a Christian artist do you HAVE to mention God’s name in your music?

With debates, I always look at both sides and generally I can see where both sides are coming from and this debate is no different. The one side demands that Christ has to be mentioned in songs. To them if you’re really trying to serve God, why would you write your lyrics in such a way, that the listener could easily mistake the song as being about “that special someone”, a friend, a family member, even a fireman. On the other side they wonder why do you HAVE to put God into it? If you know what the band stands for then can’t you just realize Who it’s about? And if God isn’t directly mentioned, won’t that lead many un-believers, who normally would never pick up a Christian cd, to look into who these people are singing about?

In all honesty I agree to a certain point with both sides. As a songwriter who is a Christian, I eventually had to make a decision as to how I would handle both. Would my religion and songs go hand in hand? Would I be vague about by beliefs when writing? Or would my beliefs be completely separate than my songwriting? To be honest it really wasn’t a hard question at all. To me there’s a balance, a middle ground. In my opinion, if you’re a writing a song about God then say GOD. I hate the argument “It’s the same whether you say His name or not”, while sometimes that’s true, to do it every time is crazy. If you were married and you never said your spouse’s name, never wrote their name in cards, and never said their name when talking to them, they AND everyone else would wonder if you truly loved them, or if you were even comfortable with people knowing y’all were together. Now on the other hand I do believe there are exceptions. First off, I don’t think it’s right to be disingenuous as an artist or as a Christian. I don’t believe in just inserting God into a story or presenting unrealistic expectations of who He is. Secondly I don’t think every song has to be about God. As a songwriter I’m going to have stories, fictional or non-fictional, that do not directly involve God. Whether a love story or just a random song about a guy dancing on a street corner . Plus I do believe that sometimes a song that doesn’t mention God at all, can lead a person to Him faster than a repetitive worship chorus can. Perhaps the song doesn’t lead them to get saved at that very moment, but it can definitely plant a seed.

In the end I think it’s all about finding a balance, whether writing songs or everyday life. Serving God goes a lot farther than just saying His name a lot. As Christians we should not be cheapening the name of our Saviour by over using it. However if we are not using it, we should definitely examine why we aren’t. If we are purposely avoiding saying His name to gain notoriety, money, or something else then there is something seriously wrong with our faith.

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Walking the Walk and Talking the Talk

It was Friday morning around 9:30am at Three Crosses (the outreach I work at). A kid by the name of Champ was standing in front of me and I was disciplining him for throwing water on another kid. As he explained his side of the story I kept hearing the same things reiterated “Well he…” and “And She….” and “I was just retaliating”. By this time some kids had gathered around (if you don’t know by now, kids are naturally nosey) and I said to them “I don’t get why you feel like y’all have to retaliate and I don’t get why you have to provoke someone in the first place. You don’t see Sarah (my friend who helps out there as well) and I calling each other names. You don’t see me getting mad when Ashby (another friend who works there) hits me with a ball”. It was interesting the reaction I received afterwards, it was just silence. Now I can’t say that since then everyone has been little angels, I can’t say that five people got saved due to those couple of sentences, but what I can say is that the staff is doing there part. See my words would have fallen on deaf ears had my actions not reflected my words and most certainly one of the kids would have happily stepped right up to call me out on my hypocrisy, but thankfully they weren’t able to.

Words mean nothing if your actions aren’t in check with them. You can quote any Scripture from the Bible that you want to, you can start any Bible study you want to, you can smile as big as you want, but if your life outside of an outreach, church, etc… is different, then somewhere along the line, you’ve missed the point. To be completely honest, one of the things that gets me the most is when people sing about God, read about God, or talk about God, then ten minutes later they’re talking about the person that they hate, the party they’re going to next weekend, or they go on a cynical rant. It contradicts the very thing they were promoting just a little bit ago and it’s not good.

Keep in mind people are ALWAYS watching (not promoting paranoia, you know what I mean). So make sure you’re following the same Christianity that you’re marketing to an unsaved world.