Have mercy on Christian music

I have to make a confession, and I ask that you please withhold judgment. Sometimes, I listen to Christian music.


by Gabby Staker, Editor-in-chief

As I drive down Ward Parkway, tears running down my cheeks, I hear exactly what I need in that moment: “Be strong in the Lord and never give up hope. You’re gonna do great things. I already know. God’s got his hand on you, so don’t live life in fear. Forgive and forget and don’t forget why you’re here.”

They’re the lyrics to “The Words I Would Say” by the Sidewalk Prophets.

My spirituality lives in words. Words hold immense power and I believe that if you listen hard enough, they’ll tell you exactly what you’re meant to hear. Christian music has provided many of these words.

Let me make this perfectly clear: it is certainly not my favorite genre of music and not part of my Spotify’s most played list. I don’t make my friends listen to it with me. Usually, I’ll let my brothers play their music in the car. I don’t play it when I’m working out. I don’t play it when I get into my car after school or when I’m doing homework… unless it has been a really hard day.

I am not trying to defend the quality of most Christian rock or any songs that might contain bad theology. But, many lyrics have shaped my life to this point and still do on days when I need a little bit of extra strength or encouragement.

Ever since I was a little girl, K-Love and LIFE 88.5 have been saved radio presets in my mom’s suburban. I grew up listening to my dad’s Tom Petty and John Denver, too, but it was my mom’s need to find peace while driving five kids around that introduced me to worship music.

I started a journal of lyrics copied from Christian songs when I was in seventh grade, and flipping through the pages still brings me a sense of peace. I can reflect back on the parts of my life that have hurt and the parts that have been beautiful.

In the times in my life where I’ve felt lost and broken, and I need reassurance— I hit shuffle on the Christian rock playlist because I’ll hear what I need to know.

This isn’t to say that spirituality can’t be felt through other types of music or that non-Christian songs can’t evoke the same emotions. They can and they do. Many people find spirituality in other types of music, and I do too.

However, there is something really powerful about being alone in a car and blasting Sidewalk Prophets. It’s direct prayer in music. There’s something about the words that other music can’t replicate. It’s simple and digestible, weaving bits of ancient scripture into contemporary thoughts.

It’s also worth addressing the fact that not all “Christian rock” is confined to the genre. There are plenty of Christian, contemporary singers who don’t specifically write worship music. The lead singers from both the Killers and Imagine Dragons are Mormon and they address spiritual concepts in their music. In April, Justin Bieber posted a video on Instagram of himself singing Cory Asbury’s “Reckless Love” in a car. “God’s love is reckless and he loves you mad tons,” he wrote.

Hopefully, Christian music will continue to move in a positive direction focused on creativity and originality. Worship groups like Hillsong have recently been producing songs like “Oceans (Where Feet May Fall)” which appeal to younger people, outside of the typical Christian music stereotype.

Some songs inspire action, others empower love. Some are uplifting, and some are cries for help. Some express gratitude. Many talk about grace and forgiveness. They’re worth listening to, and deserving of more credit than they’re given. If you’re ever feeling alone or unworthy or even extremely grateful, give them a try. Don’t let previous biases deter you.