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I spend my days doing stuff for Soul Survivor NZ and my church "Blueprint" in Wellington NZ. I am perplexed, amazed, in awe of, and spend a lot of time thinking about this revolutionary called Jesus and what it means to follow Him.

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Take your gig and shove it...

One if my really good mates, a guy called Matt Holleman, has refused to play at Soul Survivor as an artist for the acoustic concerts happening in the cafe at night. Not just him though, all the guys signed to his record label.
And so I rang and thanked him.

Its a bit of a hobby horse of mine at the moment, but I am very confused as to why there is a Christian Music industry. It doesn't make sense to me. Why on earth would you use these great gifts and skills to form a little holy huddle and entertain ourselves? How are we being "salt and light" with our separate sub culture? How are we "in the world but not of it" as Jesus called us to be, when we are not even "in" the world? Why do we have to have "christian bands"? Why cant we just have "bands"?

Sure it is dressed up with all sorts of language that try and make it some spiritual venture. And I have being a part of the whole scene for years, playing in a number of high profile Christian bands at parachute, I have seen the dark underbelly of the beast.
The more I think about it, the more I am totally confused. I would argue that Christians who enjoy creating and performing music are meant to be in the pubs, not the church. Which is why I am stoked that Matt said no to my christian event.
My church has gone the opposite route. Most of the performers at the venue are not christian, and most of the artists at the church are regulars in the Wellington music scene. Awesome stuff.

In saying all of this, I absolutely love worship music. I crank it loud in the car, enjoy getting together with mates and singing my heart out... and so I kind of disagree with myself in some of my practice by differentiating between church worship songs, and other music. This is a whole other yarn...

But I would strongly argue that we have defined "singing in church" as spiritual, and slamming out some bogan tunes at the pub with the band as non-spiritual. When I look back on some of our gigs in one of my old bands, I am most proud of the mates that we made while playing the local Wellington pubs, not coz I felt good about it, but because they are legend people that totally enriched my life.

I have spent years chewing over some of this stuff, done some very crazy tours, and so will probably blog on music and being a christian, as well as looking at the place of music in church and in culture from time to time.

On music news, check out Matty P's yarns on opening for Elton John.

In other news, its only a couple of weeks till the first NZ Soul Survivor festival. Its going to be a stunner. You can register online here.

Apologies for lack of posts, busy boy at the moment...

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“Take your gig and shove it...”

  1. Blogger Sir H C Llenrad Says:

    I tried to write an intelligent response to this article but I got tied up.

    I think there are things here I agre with and thiongs I don't.

    PS: If a band refuses to play "christian" gigs in favour of "secular" ones, are they not the people who are perpetuating the christian/secular divide?

  2. Anonymous Ben Says:

    Kinda gotta agree with the above PS comment. I was thinking the other day that Brooke F seems to be one of the few artists who seems fully intergrated on both sides of the "divide" and I think there is a nice integrity to that. No disrespect meant, but I think that artists who refuse to play to either secular or christian audiences are being a bit precious. Seems to have more to do with "marketing ones self" than really sharing the gift God has given you with the world

  3. Anonymous Anonymous Says:

    I agree with Sam on this one, its totally up to each artist.

    I feel like as soon as a Christian artist makes it even remotely into the secular scene alot of the christian media and what I call the "bubble" will sap you for all your worth.

    There is no right and wrong answer... each performer tackles their marketing in their own way.

    There shouldnt be a devide, at all. I'm a christian and I go to mostly secular gigs, "Sir H C Lienrad" your statement implies that no christians would attend a secular gig, this is untrue unless Im the only unholy christian out there kicking it with "Satans Music" so to say.

  4. Anonymous Naomi Says:

    I have to say I agree with Sam on this one, especially in a broader sense. Christians are free and able to attend secular concerts and see particular bands, but non-Christians really don't have the same freedom - despite what we would like to believe. It is Christians that create segregation between 'them' and 'us', and not just in the music industry but in many other areas of society. It is very comfortable for us to stick in our cliques and remain safe within our own groups, but ultimately this is not serving the purpose we have been created for.
    I believe that more Christian musicians should be aiming to bring their music and message to those who really need it rather than playing to audiences who are already having those needs met. I've always thought it a little bizarre how we think that Christian bands should be playing at Christian events because I think it really misses the point. I have gifts that God has given me such as advocacy and counselling, but I'm not dedicating those gifts to those within a spiritual family, but rather those people who don't have that support and are in desperate need. Same thing applies with music, which of course is a ministry within itself.

    The End

    The End

  5. Blogger Sam Says:

    I would contend that Matt's record label, while leaning further to one side then what is normal, is doing so because there is such an imbalance, there is such a divide between Christian Music and the “Worlds” music scene. And so I agree, there shouldn’t be such a segregation, but there is, and therefore in the same way that Jesus tried to bring a balance by being radically partial to the poor and the marginalised, I think we need to challenge the incredibly creative innovative followers of Jesus to go and enrich the world with their music, and in so doing bring alive the statement of being salt and light etc...

    "are they not the people who are perpetuating the Christian/secular divide?" Short answer... No (in my opinion) I would contend that they are the ones attempting to cross that divide. They are the ones attempting to live an incarnational life, not just talk about it. Hopefully with more energy invested into the pub and cafe scene, and more conversation challenging young artists to think beyond the bubble, this can change.
    The point of the post has being articulated far more clearly and eloquently by Naomi. This is a great conversation though, respect to Chris and Ben, I hear your view but struggle to understand it. I would be real interested to hear more thoughts on this from you guys.

  6. Anonymous Ben Says:

    Mate - as you note in your post, it's not non-christian musios who have an issue with some imaginary "divide", rather some Christian musios. I don't think that choosing not to play any christian gigs is "crossing that divide" I think it's just choosing to place yourself on one side of it which just continues to perpetuate the myth that there should be some sort of Christian/Secular division in the first place.

    Why not play both? Why not play to any audience that wants to hear you?

    I might be unfairly consigning a motive, but the only reason I can see for christian artists to specifically choose not to play christian events is because they are worried that if the secular world heard about it they might see that they are a follower of Christ and that would then damage their image and marketability in the "secular world"

    I say own it, live it, proclaim it, and if the music is good enough (a la - Brooke, Bono, Dobbyn, etc) it will have an impact where ever you play. Personally, if I had a record label that told me who I could and couldn't play for I'd be tearing up the contract. I think its sad if we have to ask if an audience is Christian or not before we'll play for them

  7. Blogger P-Style Says:

    Hey Sam,

    Sorry to Hijack this discussion but I found some comments on he re3cent "Barnes" scandal (yes, another one) that you would probably appreciate.


    See comment number 10 on this page. On-to-it.


  8. Blogger lis Says:

    I don't think Christian bands (I'm just going to use the labelling of xtian, nonxtian to less-intensify confusion) miss the point at all by performing at Christian events. Firstly because there's the assumption that their "point" is directed at non-christians. secondly, not bringing your gifts to church assumes that church doesn't require what you have to offer and flip-dang, contrary to popular or unpopular belief- the church is as darn well broken as anywhere else.

    simply put: music brings joy. everybody needs joy.

  9. Blogger Sir H C Llenrad Says:

    Anonymous sais "Sir H C Lienrad" your statement implies that no christians would attend a secular gig...

    I certainly didn't mean that, and didn't say that. I simply wish we would stop labelling things christian and secular, and ranking one as more important than the other.

    Is it too much to ask?

  10. Blogger Sir H C Llenrad Says:

    Hmmm... let me say it this way...

    If I were a christian who was a plumber (a christian plumber?) I wouldn't only work for Christians. That would be stupid. But also, I wouldn't exclude myself from working for people because they were christians.

    Make sense?

  11. Blogger Sam Says:

    The problem I am trying to highlight is that there are a lot of "plumbers"(musicians - bands) who only play to people who believe what they believe. Not all, but there is a whole sub culture devoted to this. I thinks its crazy, and therefore, while not at all suggesting that everyone takes Matt's path, I would suggest that what he is trying to do is change a culture. And to do that, sometimes we have to lean further the other way to bring about that change.
    I think the reason that it bugs me is that the problem is indicative a wider problem of disconnection between the rest of the world and being a christian. And so I would argue there has being a retreat into out little safe bubble, and we have left the pubs, cafe's, rugby teams, and music scene, and just formed our own that is way more comfortable.

  12. Blogger Gareth Bezett Says:

    I'm not sure that I can offer anything helpful on this topic. For my part, I prefer to listen to "secular" artists that are Christians (eg Van Morrison, Johnny Cash, Kanye West) rather than "Christian" artists. I like to have a CD of worship music in the car when I travel. We had Phono to lead wroship at St Mary's a couple of times and they had their CD on sale, which seemed reasonable. The CDs have been quite a blessing to some people.

  13. Anonymous Naomi Says:

    in response to the "Christian Plumber" analogy, I don't think that is quite accurate because there ARE Christian bands who will only play to Christians, or at Christian events.

    But I think for the most part this practice is not even conscious but just incidental, which is sad. There are also Christians who will only socialise with other Christians. or live with other Christians. And that is sad too.

  14. Blogger Ninja Steps Says:


    Well the fact of the matter christian bands arent entirely up to us. The public has put it as a genre. We may class ourselves as "christian" rock or hiphop. But thats only because its been made into a genre and the band sees it as fitting to be included in that title.
    About this divide, i reckon its silly. There is a divide, but i wouldnt say any bigger between other genres. Every genre has a culture and a sense of "code". I think some christians dont tend to play in pubs because of what they are (the pubs that is). But i mean i play in the clubs, at events and at church and pchute. Musicians play for the love of the music. And if your playing out you should just be broadening your audience and you shouldnt give a damn where it is. lol a gigs a gig, whether theres 1 person or 1000.
    Theres more point in playing your music to non christians because of the possible message of your music (if it has one. agent'c did for sure) and for the fact you, me and other christians are walking testimonies. Even if our music doesnt show God, we can.

    I think thats all lol...