Right Side Cast - My Favorite Band
Christian band members are frequently asked,
“Are you a Christian band?”
If a Christian asks the question, they often mean, “Does your band perform songs from my preferred genre that have lyrics about God?” Somewhere along the line many believers have come to associate a specific genre of music with the depth of spirituality of each band member. Unfortunately, the music genre that is perceived to be the most spiritual changes depending on the viewpoint of the person asking the question.
When anyone else asks the same question, they are often asking “Do you believe in God?”
How can this question have such a wide range of meanings and potential answers? What defines a band as being Christian? This debate has raged for more than 30 years and, as Christian music gains in popularity, the lines have been blurred and the question is asked more frequently. But, there are still some common expectations of Christian bands and their members.
Commonly accepted Characteristics of Christian band members:
Typically, Christian band members are held to a very high standard in their lifestyles. They are expected to set an example to all other Christians, just like a minister or pastor.
• attend Church regularly
• avoid the most common behaviors considered to be sin
• actively pursue a deeper spiritual life through Bible study and prayer
• maintain a strong family life
Since band members are human (as are all ministers), they stray from these high standards occasionally. Repentance and apologies are deemed necessary to continue their work in the band but restoration is also available freely as part of the beliefs of the Christian faith. Every Christian is imperfect. Many Christian band members struggle to consistently live up to everyone else’s definition of a Christian lifestyle.
Some Characteristics of Christian Bands:
• The Christian band generally plays at churches, Christian music festivals, or other religious events.
• They prefer not play events where alcohol is served.
• In the past they generally did not work with record labels that did not focus specifically on the Christian market. But today, crossing over is reasonably well accepted. In fact, many larger secular music companies now own smaller labels specifically marketed to Christians.
• Christian bands are very fussy about how they are represented publicly since any mar on their reputation damages their market.
• The lyric content of their songs specifically express an aspect of faith. For example: love songs are most often about a band member’s wife or meant to be used at weddings.
• They usually talk or preach during performances.
Some band members say they are Christians in a band, but do not want to be labelled as a Christian band.
A few people say that a band is a business entity and does not have a spirit or a soul, so it cannot be Christian. Other bands simply do not want to be associated with the negative stereotypes of Christian bands.
Most often, being Christians in a band is meant to imply that the band members are living a Christian lifestyle but working outside the traditional Christian music market. These bands are free to write lyrics on any topic they feel is relevant, frequently about the struggles of life and their faith. The music genre and style is often very artistic or fringe. These bands usually either sign with secular labels or remain independent of any label. They play at secular venues such as bars, clubs, and beer tents in addition to Christian events.
So, what’s the difference?
The members of both types of bands are held to the same lifestyle standards and both claim to be doing ministry. But, their target audiences are very different and so the approach to ministry is different.
A Christian band primarily targets Christians. They hope to inspire and encourage believers while praising God. Evangelism occurs when a non-Christian attends a Christian event.
Christians in a band hope to connect primarily with the un-churched or de-churched by demonstrating how their faith affects their own lives. They express many aspects of their lives in their lyrics and focus on reaching out to people wherever they are.
Who’s right and who’s wrong?
Is there a right or wrong way to express faith though music? Either way the Gospel is going out and lives are being changed. Could it be that we can grow closer to God by experiencing the ministry of art in all its expressive forms—just something to consider as you seek to define “What is a Christian band?”