A Public Response To Michael Gungor And Thoughts On The Disingenuous Sonic Of Christian Music

Nathan Finnochio has quickly become one of my dearest friends.
He loves my kids, my family, and me.
In that order.
He is also one of the most brilliant people I know.
We got to talking about the Michael Gungor blog post, that I retweeted because I thought it was amazing, and the dialogue dug deeper.
Nathan had great thoughts on what Gungor wrote and because I value conversation I asked Nathan to write a guest blog on Ragamuffin in response to Gungor and his opinions on the Christian Music Industry, Disingenuous Sonic of Christian Music, and Christian Social Drinking.
Take heed. I know Micheal and Lisa personally and have nothing but respect for them both and honestly agree with what they wrote. That’s why I couldn’t write this. I had to have someone else write it. 🙂
This is why we dialogue…

Hey guys.  Nathan here.  I have three simple questions for Michael Gungor and everyone else:

1. Why are we having worship nights at bars, knowing full well that Christians are going to come and stiff the bar, but also expecting them to stiff the bar because, hey, maybe you should NOT drink at a worship night? Let’s be honest: it’s mainly Christians that go to these worshippy shows in bars. I say worshippy cause I don’t really know what they are. They’re like… quasi-worship but more but not… I don’t know, I’ve always been really confused at these events. I saw Gungor in Toronto earlier this year at a church. I’ve always loved his worship stuff, but I didn’t get his show. It was so damn good but it felt confusing. I was wishing it was less Christian or more Christian. I know that makes no sense to some people philosophically, but practically, it makes a lot of sense. I just think the guy belongs in the general market AND church worship market, and not a mix of both. I also think that would eliminate the frustration at the alcohol toting venues.  I don’t have a problem with alcohol and Christians, or people who have achieved wisdom and righteousness superior to Jesus and therefore abstain.

2. Can you decipher the authenticity or reasons of the heart by genre or sonic? If you sound like Sufjan Stevens does that mean you’re disingenuous? It sounded like Gungor doesn’t like CCM. Who does? CCM doesn’t even like CCM. They’re like their own dirty secret. And screamo? Bro, I think Underoath were legit, not a bone of insincerity in the whole band. And let’s be honest, 50 years ago Rock N Roll was considered the devils music and Christians who adopted the genre were considered anethema. Mike both Rocks AND Rolls. Unfair.

3. Should Christian music that isn’t congregational or overtly devotional even exist? I don’t think so. I think Christians that don’t do music expressly for spiritual devotion (Keith Green) or congregational worship (Chris Tomlin) should just do general market stuff. Why? Influence and Creativity, two concepts antiquated evangelicalism has given up on and almost completely abdicated in society altogether. And THAT is a completely different topic.

If you’re a Christian worship leader, please don’t do a Christian side project. No Christians want that. Just do worship music and general market music. Your general market stuff will be enjoyed by both Christians and non-Christians alike, and maybe God will give you influence in places you never dreamed.


OK Ragamuffins…DIVE IN…Thoughts?

But i mean seriously, Nathan plays Father Abraham on a daily basis. He’s a softie.

Happy Christmas Father Abraham from The Paradigm Collective on Vimeo.


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  • Adam

    Some abstain from alcohol because of lack of control. Not because we have “achieved wisdom and righteousness superior to Jesus”. But Nathan knows that. Why, then, he chose to say that would be cool to know.

    • Jake Buchholz

      I believe he was being facetious. He was probably referring to the legalists who have never had a drink in their life simply because it is taboo in their church culture or because they are clinging to social/cultural rules and thinking that they are Biblical ones.

      • Or maybe they were just never interested? No that couldn’t be… Everybody wants to drink! I mean, alcohol is just so refreshing, and tastes like Heaven! #sarcasm

        • Adam

          Agreed. Many people wave the flag of “Christian liberty” and look down upon people who don’t partake in certain things as “legalists”, even if it’s because of a conviction or conscience or even because of no particular reason at all. This is the other extreme, opposite strict religious legalism. Call it strict liberty.

          Ironically, what they’re doing is being legalistic.

          • Jake Buchholz

            Wholeheartedly agree with you Adam

          • Matt

            True. There is trouble on both sides of the coin, though. If I’m hanging out with someone who doesn’t drink, I couldn’t care less, but if I’m hanging out with someone who looks down on me for drinking because I claim Christ – and they would NEVER drink, then I have a big problem with that. Like Nathan said, even Jesus didn’t prohibit drinking, so to say that he did seems to be talmudic at best and delusional at worst.

          • Nathan Finochio

            I’m not highlighting the fact that Jesus didn’t prohibit drinking, I’m highlighting that fact that He drank Himself, and thought wine such a good idea that He made it part of the Sacrament.

            I am also making light of the MASSIVE imbalance in American Christian leadership attitudes towards alcohol. If you don’t drink as a leader or Christian, it’s commonly equated with wisdom, and this viewpoint is continually preached.

            Drink or don’t drink, I don’t care. What I’m saying is just don’t let me hear you even thinking that it’s somehow a greater moral decision. Same thing applies to vegans and their rejecting of meat.

          • About 6 years ago during Bible college I worked at the Olive Garden as a server. One time I served a pastor and his wife. They both ordered a glass of wine. It freaked me out.

            I went back to the dorms and told my fellow bible college friends and we all debated why it was wrong and unwise for pastors to drink. This kind of thing came up a lot. We’d always talk about all the scriptures that said how it was wrong to drink, that Jesus turned water into non-alcoholic wine, and how satan was a worship leader.

            pretty funny stuff. it was all based on what i had been raised on, part of the culture of my church. like Nate said, there’s a MASSIVE imbalance in the church, so far that most students from the bible college i attended would -whether they’ll admit it or not- associate drinking with sinning. just like my grandma thinks i’m irresponsible when i don’t shave for a few days.

          • just worship Jesus genuinely and enjoy music genuinely.

            and do it with a beer. or mountain dew.

          • Nathan Finochio

            Love it Tay.

            Miss you man.

            While you were debating in dorm 3 I was drinking in dorm 4.

            Cheers lol.

          • The fact that all this went on at PBC blesses me.

          • Sean

            Disclaimer: Drink if you want to drink, don’t if you don’t. My position is that God’s the judge and I’m the servant called to love. Period.

            Now, can we all please read Romans 14-15. I mean really, I’ve followed this, Gungor’s blog, and the ensuing drama that was already brewing since what, the dawn of time? I guess I wonder how much of this is about the ‘me’ in all of us. There’s so much concerted effort in proving one side or the other, but Paul told us to ‘Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.’ (Romans 15:7)

            I mean geez, at what point is it beneficial (legalists) to look down upon anyone? Have you yourself forgotten what YOU were forgiven of? And for those who are ‘liberated’, read verse 22 of Romans 14. or better yet, here: ‘So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God.’

            And then a comment for all those listed above and in the middle of it all: Don’t grow weary in doing good. Guys and girls on both sides and in the middle, keep the main thing the main thing. our efforts spent on this stuff really won’t benefit the kingdom in the long run, or maybe it will, who knows. If someone comes to know Jesus because drinking is acceptable, we’ve got a whole other problem . . .

          • I drink sometimes…don’t freak out when Christians drink.

            But…to say that wine is part of the Lord’s supper is an incomplete picture.

            #1 in the scripture it was never called wine. It’s called “The cup” (Matt 26:27, Mark 14:23 and Luke 22:17) could it have been wine? Maybe, but not likely. here’s why.

            HE used unleavened bread why? No yest. Why? Yest in the bible is a symbol of sin…the bread represents the body of Christ (sinless) so therefore why would he used no yest bread, but yest filled beverage (wine) Wine is fermented grape juice (i know you know this…not trying to be a smart ass…just covering bases) yest is put in for the fermentation process…why would he use something to symbolize a sinless body…but the symbol of his blood would be tainted with sin?

            It does not paint a complete picture.

          • Best explanation regarding this topic that I have ever heard. thank you for sharing that!

          • Nathan Finochio

            Then you clearly haven’t read the history behind the Jewish Passover dinner that became a dinner custom that is called “Seder”, where unleavened bread is served alongside WINE (not unlike Passover).

            You are assuming, presuming, and speculating that they didn’t use wine based off of the fact that unleavened bread lacks yeast.

            What you didn’t do is your homework about Jewish dinner customs.

            In addition, you are reading into the cup what should only be read into the body. It’s called context.

          • Rebecca

            Nathan, thanks for your point here. In fact, a Jewish seder meal actually contained four cups of wine, not even just one. Not that Jesus and the apostles were getting drunk (the meal would have been long and elaborate), but it was part of the culture that Jesus seemed to partake in. Nothing wrong with having some wine, and it is most definitely part of the sacrament.

    • Loren

      Interesting that the subject of drinking should illicit such a large response when it is a small part of the post. Telling about American Christians being so hung up about drinking when it is such an insignificant part of life. We are so lame! It is some kind of watermark or symbol for both sides that it becomes a bone of contention rather than a footnote to our journey. We would be better served by finding ways we can show we are Christians to the world by our love one for another.

  • I like point #3. I think it makes sense. I don’t really pay a lot of attention to details like that, but that’s because I’m not a musician or heavily into the music scene.

    “Influence and Creativity, two concepts antiquated evangelicalism has given up on and almost completely abdicated in society altogether.” Love this. Love love love. I see this in how the church treats art in general, not just music. I’ve had conversations with friends about the intersection of faith and art (specifically theatre) and what that does/can/should look like.

  • Stephen

    Gungor wrote a song called “White Man” that I think sums up all of these thoughts perfectly. Loving and following Jesus is a personal relationship, not all the corporate crap that churches throw in front of it (ultimately to make money).

    And like the song “I Could Only Imagine” proved, sometimes making a radio-friendly hit will cross over and impact many, many more people than just worship music for the “devout” to horde and keep to themselves.

  • Jake Buchholz

    A comment on point #3. I believe that art and creativity holds a special place in our lives over other things. So the question is raised: is it possible for us to separate our faith in Jesus from our creations? The best art comes from our passions and things that mean the most to us. I believe that a follower of Jesus cannot help making “Christian” music.

    But I also agree with his last point that worship leaders shouldn’t make side projects simply so they can explore different genres/musical ideas.

    Also, I would be interested in hearing Nathan’s thoughts on Michael’s comments on the authenticity of Christian music. I know that Nathan is heavily involved in the Hillsong Church world, and they have gotten some flak over the years for their supposed lack of creativity in their music and so forth (I don’t believe those criticisms by the way).

    Also props to Nathan for mentioning Underoath. They were the first band that helped me realize that Christians can exist in the “secular” music scene and create music without it being overtly Chrisitian.

  • I think your comment about those who abstain from alcohol is even more self-righteous than you wrongfully assume the abstainers to be. That whole paragraph is pretty careless in itself. I hope you will pray and seek guidance on your philosophy of all that. Freedom is great– it’s what Jeaus died for, but not reckless freedom. Not the kind of freedom that leads those who are weak to stumble.

    Other than that, I would say you’re pretty spot on! Cheers! 😉

    • micah

      I am going to be very careful how i say this because I don’t want to come off as ignorant and self righteous as you sound…damn it…screwed up already. Your problem seems to be with the last part of the last sentence of the first paragraph, so it seems to be a little unfair to say that the whole paragraph is careless. To then go on to tell him to pray and seek guidance for his philosophy on all of that (assuming you mean the point of the paragraph .aka. choice of venue for music) is one of the most pompous statements I have heard in a while. The problem seems to be the last part of the last sentence of the first paragraph, “people who have achieved wisdom and righteousness superior to Jesus and therefore abstain.” And here’s how you responded, “Freedom is great– it’s what Jesus died for, but not reckless freedom. Not the kind of freedom that leads those who are weak to stumble.” If reading anything in the above post causes you or anyone else to stumble to the point that they grab a bottle…then they should be in rehab. Not sitting at a computer waxing eloquent and exhorting others to prayer and guidance over the last part of the last sentence of the first paragraph of a big ass blog post that “Other than that, I would say you’re pretty spot on! Cheers!”

  • Nathan Finochio

    Hey Adam, I was definitely being facetious, taking a crack at modern church movements whose leadership create spiritual heirchy around prohibition. My dad is a pastor and has chosen not to drink publicly and rarely does privately. I respect his decision. He does not, however, demand that of his leaders and church though. Intellectual dishonesty on the issue of alcohol is something I cannot tolerate. Therefore I speak out against it in the language of my generation: sarcasm. Adam I respect you and your decision. I do not respect a pseudo-spirituality that accompanies it, which I witnessed growing up.

  • jay

    i think I agree…

    We play in bars so that we can play with local bands. We’re all christians in the band and the content is biblical/spiritual, but not congregational…it’s personal… but honestly the bands we play with, and their fans, enjoy it because it’s passionate and genuine… and hopefully good.

    on another/similar note. – maybe one reason they keep asking us to play with them is the fact that we don’t feel the need to do a “the reason we do this….” spiel at the end or in the middle of our set. Not that I’m totally against it, but i’ve heard it so many times… just play music, enjoy the show, play some pool, get to know the bartender, tip the sound guy, and the door guy… and build relationships with all involved.

    I doubt we’re doing it the right way, but it’s definitely fun, and seems to have some good results.


    • Matt


    • Nathan Finochio

      Like Like.

  • Brandon

    Since I don’t know the guy who wrote this or his personality, I’m not clear on what is sincere and what is sarcasm in this piece. That’s not a critique, just what I thought after reading it.

    I don’t believe in worship nights at a bar, though it has nothing to do with alcohol. Worship, to me, is an intimacy between the church and God and should take place in a setting where it is geared to believers (because someone who doesn’t know God would not know what worship was in the first place)

  • Nathan nailed it on all three points.

    If you want to create songs for corporate or private worship, please do that. If you want to create some amazing rock anthem, please do that. If you want to create for both purposes, please do it on separate records (and tours for that matter).

    Excellent job, sir.

    • Nathan Finochio

      Thank you.

  • Brandon

    I think that some of the reason spiritual music needs to continue being played at these venues isn’t to show we can overcome the alcohol. rather to show that people like Gungor or any other artist alike can play at the same popular locations people are used to going to. Alcohol just happens to be sold there. I have never actually had alcohol at a christian show. However, i could see how it would help some people relax and enjoy the music.

    • Brandon

      In addition to my last point, i could also see how alcohol could be a bad idea for some.

  • …but what makes “Christian” music “Christian”? Can “general market” music not mention Jesus? If “Christian” music doesn’t mention Jesus, is it no longer Christian? (If so, then plenty of what they play on Christian music stations would no longer be considered “Christian.”)

    Being a Christian influences the way we see and think about everything, and we still care about many of the things that non-Christians care about, but have a different perspective on them. So if a Christian makes music that isn’t overtly devotional or congregational, they should make sure they don’t reference their Christian worldview?

    Regarding #2, I’ve had conversations with people inside the industry who have also verified that (at least from the record labels’ point of view) lots of Christian music is just there to make money. If we can get better looking people to make the music, then we’ll take them, because it’ll sell better. That’s fairly disingenuous. I realize that’s a blanket statement, but there’s some truth to it.

    • Nathan Finochio

      I feel like what the General Market is missing is Christian commentary without the Christianese.

      For example, the world needs songs about forgiveness in relationships, self-less love in relationships, hope and joy and a plethora of other Christian ideals. Why not load love songs with this redemptive motifs that are upside down, and provoke thought?

      • I agree wholeheartedly. Perhaps I’m unclear about what you mean by “Christian music” when you say “Should Christian music that isn’t congregational or overtly devotional even exist? I don’t think so.”

        It seems that if music written by Christians isn’t either overtly devotional or congregational, then somehow it’s not Christian music – that’s where I’m seeking clarity.

  • Doh! Forgotten disclaimer:

    There ARE exceptions out there in the industry – people who seek to make their music and lyrics excellent, not just polished and Christian. They also realize that this dichotomy between “sacred” and “secular” doesn’t really exist in God’s Word. “The Earth is the Lord’s and EVERYTHING in it.” “All things were made by Him and through Him, and in Him all things hold together.”

    Thanks to the exceptions. Go strong!

    Franky Schaeffer wrote a book called “Addicted to Mediocrity,” which talks about the need for Christians to reclaim their once-held monopoly on the world’s great art.

  • Kristin

    Honestly, in every genre of music, you have the avant garde creatives, the so-so copycats, and the overproduced wannabes.

  • Erica

    I don’t understand why, as an artist, he cannot just be. Why do we have to compartmentalize everything? “I just think the guy belongs in the general market AND church worship market, and not a mix of both.” –This makes no sense to me. It saddens me that the church cannot accept creative work for what it is, and there is a need for two separate markets in the first place.
    Life consists of difference facets. Friends, family, marriage, work. These kinds of things get messy, and it’s good to talk, create, and communicate about these things. It brings us closer as humans and helps us identify to one another. It also draws us closer to God as it expresses our brokenness compared to Him. Some times experiences can cause emotions to surface that may not always produce a polished, ‘safe for the little ears’ type of song. God knows that. He doesn’t turn His eyes away. Why should we?
    I honestly think “Christian” music artists should much more creative and culturally ahead, yet in general, they fall short. They try to be safe, clean, and ‘righteous,’ instead of listening to the beauty the Holy Spirit is trying to express through them. It should be creative. It should be new. It should be beautiful. It should be of amazing quality. Because that is what God is. He is innovative, expressive, amazingly full of emotion. He is not part of a genre. He just is.

    • jay

      Yeah I think that’s what this article is longing for:

      “I honestly think “Christian” music artists should much more creative and culturally ahead, yet in general, they fall short. They try to be safe, clean, and ‘righteous,’ instead of listening to the beauty the Holy Spirit is trying to express through them. It should be creative. It should be new. It should be beautiful. It should be of amazing quality.”

      But what tends to happen is Christian artists put themselves in that “christian” genre because of the people they are playing with/touring with – therefore their only audience is the christian audience…. Which might not be the most loving/creative use of their music…. I don’t think it’s a problem with “people” making compartments for “Christian music” and “general market” music…. but “christian musicians” end up making “christian music” and touring with “christian bands” who only appeal to “christians”… therefore their reach and goal is primarily to the believer. which of course isn’t a bad thing… but I would agree that if a “christian concert” is going on in a bar, then they should tip the bartenders generously and tip the sound guy generously and encourage people to buy drinks… because that’s where the ministry is going to happen.. with the non believer.

      check out The Rejectioneers – rejectioneers.bandcamp.com – Guys who love Jesus and love creating music. But it’s not “christian music” as far as the genre is concerned
      or Mazes and Monsters – http://mazesandmonsters.bandcamp.com/

      or The Sea Wolf Mutiny – http://www.theseawolfmutiny.com

      All of these bands are creative and unique and don’t seem to find their way into playing only church gigs – rather they are playing with local bands, because they are good enough, and can draw a crowd of people.. not just a crowd of believers. they build a reputation, relationship with the bands/bars and share Jesus with them through their relationships.

      that’s alot of thoughts.. and probably don’t make a ton of sense.

  • Logan

    I think we are focusing so much on the alcohol aspect of this post when in my opinion the main point was addressing “creativity” and “authenticity” in Christian music.
    I think there is a big difference between ‘worship music’ and ‘christian music’. Please don’t misunderstand my terms, ‘worship music’ to me is music lyrically focused towards God and is easy for a congregation of people to sing along with. This style has to be relatively ‘simple’ and lacks creativity because the prime objective is to lead people in the words being sung. ‘Christian music’ to me is a style that is similar to ‘regular’ everyday music but lyrically deals with issues of Christianity or personal applications to God’s Word etc. This allows for a lot more creativity.
    I think where we make our problems is when we mix up ‘worship music’ and ‘christian music’.

    Hopefully that makes sense, I think this conversation brings up a lot to talk about and it is by talking about this stuff that we grow.

  • Labels lie…. Music is unable to be christian, it is something that is made by a human by way of a gift from God. Music can’t be christian just like the coffee I made this morning can’t be christian. Wether we are christian or not has no place in the conversation. The Bible doesn’t label “fruit” as christian or secular but good and bad. So, what is the diference between good music and bad music??? You tell me……..

  • A few months ago Michael Gungor write another blog, questioning why the Genre, Christian Music- even exists.
    Drawing points that you don’t go into a music store and ask for the Gay section, or the Hindu section. (you would probably be called names)
    Christianity is a religion and not a genre of music.

    Anyway… I enjoyed the read… and I will admit everyone reads things differently… but I guess I took some offense in the response in that Nathan summed this very very very lengthy blog post by Michael into 3 very short points.

    Maybe Nathan is just better at summation.

    Point 1 – I think to eliminate alcohol toting venues maybe be a great idea for some bands. Your Sandi patti’s, Gaither bands etc.
    But I feel encouraged that bands like Gungor and Crowder are working to play in a venue that is NOT a church.
    I have friends that LOVE gungor… and enjoy Crowder, but would never go to a show in a church.
    Having their shows in a non-church venue opens up their music to different people.

    Hell to be honest, I often times wish my church didn’t meet in a Church.
    Does that make sense?

    Point 2 – I am not thinking he is calling out every person as disingenuous, but questioning and causing us to think about the words we say and how we say them/sing them.

    I love underoath. I think they are legit too, I think he is calling out worship leaders… the way we sing, isn’t always we would speak or tell someone, what we are singing.
    We sing with out inflection, not always aware of the sacred or holy things we say… that if we were face to face, we would sing differently.
    (plus I think he is allowed to critique a band that covered a piece of his art… and say he thinks it didnt fit with his original thoughts.

    Point 3 – love it. But how does a Christian find “safe” music if it’s not on a CCM label. <– snarky and attempt at humor.

    Maybe the best thing all of these blogs are doing is they get us talking, and discussing the way we create, and use art for Worship.
    – Kurt

    • Nathan Finochio

      Hey Kurt,

      Loved your response.

      1. I totally agree. My church meets at a club. It’s the greatest ever. When we invite people to the venue they totally love it. It isn’t awkward and ‘churchy’. I think it’s also a brilliant stroke in the way of urban renewal. Church buildings are SOMETIMES a spot and blemish on the community. This way we are upping our aesthetic for the enjoyment of the parishioners (please don’t think that I think the Gospel needs dressing up: most Christians do though.) and visitors, disarming people’s preconceived notions, and contributing to the aesthetic life of the community. We DO NOT SERVE ALCOHOL at our church.

      3. Best. Joke. Ever.


      • What is Urban Renewal?

  • Krissie

    I just want to speak to the whole disingenuous comment that Gungor kept throwing around… it makes me wonder if he’s had some bad experiences with Christian musicians or those in the Christian music industry that cause him to label broadly the genre as disingenuous… I wonder this because I’ve found myself labeling a broad section of people (one I used to be pretty engrossed in) as disingenuous and recently God has been pointing out to me that I’m characterizing a whole group of people based on a bad experience I had with just a few, and that is something I need to work on.

    My other thought in relation to the disingenuous comments is, what makes it genuine? There is a secular song that I can’t remember the name of right now, but it’s pretty popular, catchy, upbeat – I think it’s in a few commercials right now. Someone pointed out the other day that the song is about a school shooting – I had no idea, I’d never paid that much attention to the lyrics. So I just say that to say, just because there is a perceived disconnect between the style of song and the lyrics doesn’t necessarily equate to being disingenuine, and also that the disconnect exists in some songs in ALL music, it’s not a “christian music” problem.

  • eric

    Or maybe, if you’re an artist who happens to also be a Christian, you shouldn’t worry whether your art is worship or CCM or general market. Maybe you should just be you and let God be God, and then figure out how to be content with that. Whatever you’re passionate about is going to show through anyway… whether you’re writing, speaking, singing, painting, carving, sculpting, dancing, etc.

    I’m all for strategy in evangelism, but at some point you cross the line and lose your identity… and originality.

    • Eric – I like this!

      You say “you shouldn’t worry whether your art is worship or general market” but then you also say that “you should just be you.” Maybe we should give Michael Gungor permission to think and question as that’s part of WHO he is.

      • eric

        I’m down with the questioning. I have no problem with it nor the specific questions Michael is asking. Believe me – Michael can do no wrong… he has my permission.

    • Nathan Finochio

      “just be you.”

      What if “you” sucks?

      What if “you” could be doubly fruitful?

      While I agree with the bulk of your sentiment with respect to Gungor, I find this supposition extremely existential and not consistent with the rest of life: measurement and growth.

      I wasn’t measuring Michael to anything, I was just saying, “Hey man, if you did two projects and marketed them differently, I think your impact and your art would actually be multiplied.” I then I encouraged everyone else to do the same.

      Gungor would KILL IT in the general market. And when he was doing congregational worship it was REDONKULOUS. I’m just saying that now, because of how the markets are, it sort of loses and gets caught in the middle.


      • deWeb


      • eric

        No, I agree Nate. If I came across as critical of you or Michael, that was not my intention and I am sorry. When I used the words “just be you” I was referring to those creating the plastic, cookie-cutter art (myself included).

        As a songwriter, I try not to write for a particular audience. If I do, it severely limits what I’m trying to express. If I’m thinking about which label will most appropriately fit a song as I’m writing that very song, I’m going to end up with something very ‘disingenuous’.

  • Betsy

    I can’t stand going to Christian concerts for this very reason: one second we are exalting God in worship, and two minutes later a sweaty guitarist is flinging a sweaty pick into the crowd. Wait, are we here to glorify God or you? I can’t switch gears.

    I love worship, and corporate worship most of all.

    Gungor’s assertion that artists should do worship or general market music (but not mix them) is right on point. If you’re talented enough to create music for the general market, then do it! (No one listens to lyrics anyway — Foster the People’s current hit is a great example.) and if you’re only talented enough for Christian music, then I agree it shouldn’t exist.

    • I agree – the whole Christian concert/worship/mishmash thing is a little disconcerting however I believe that we can glorify God through all music and creativity.

      Your last point – OUCH but probably truth! 😉

    • Nathan Finochio


  • In regards to point 3, I do know an artist who has exemplified this. Her name is Brooke Fraser (stage name) or Brooke Ligertwood (if you know her from the songs she’s written for Hillsong). She has written excellent congregational songs for the Christian market including Desert Song, Lord of Lords, None But Jesus, Hosanna, You’ll Come etc as well as releasing mainstream albums which have received many awards and achieved well in the charts in New Zealand, Australia and a number of European countries.

    She is an absolute gem and although her mainstream music is influenced by her faith – it is enjoyed by Christians and nonChristians alike. She doesn’t call herself a Christian artist or musician but seeks to reflect her Creator in everything she creates.


    • Nathan Finochio


      Brooke is an inspiration.

      • Nathan Finochio

        You are cool and it appears you don’t have a blog so I can’t stalk you. 🙁

        Oh well.

  • Christian or General Market? Why do either? Who says we have to fit a “genre” anyway? What is biblical or not? How about churches doing general market music in church? The issue missed here is what “art” is and its place. So…

    Here is where the differences in thinking are: There is NO line between secular and sacred.

    Unless we want to continue to live divided and disingenuous, we have to grasp that statement above. That is a main point Gungor makes. The drinking and other issues seem to fit that, too.


  • This is like the age old question that will probably never be answered. Charlie Peacock wrote a book on the subject and Jon Forman and Dan Hasletine also are quoted in the book and follow Charlies philosophy on this. I will say that personally i haven’t purchased or really even listened to secular music since the late 90s (other than when playing rockband 🙂 ). If not for Christian music “genre” i probably wouldn’t listen to much music anymore. To follow that through to its end that means I would have missed out on a lot of great music including Gungor, Carlos, and many others. Are there lots of crap put out? Yes. But thats the same in the secular market from all the gripes I hear about. IF it allows people a chance they wouldn’t have otherwise then I’m ok with that

  • The real question is…can we drink while leading worship? ha.

    • jenny

      Love what rachel said about Brook Fraser. put the titles and genres aside, arent we here to bring glory and honor to God? and isnt everything we do to be as worship to him? whether i’m leading worship at my church or playing an open mic night somewhere, i am not going to shy away from who Jesus is to me. I’m not gonna be a dork about it either… And “Christian music” has largely sucked for a long time. Talk about being creative, we serve the Creator of the Universe, c’mon people! it should be alot better, and many artists out there are making it better. It should be excellent…As for the “alcohol thing” (which clearly wasnt the point, but anyway)we know God doesnt want us to get drunk. but as for just having a drink, i feel like you need to let the Holy Spirit Lead you on that one. it may be “permissable, but not beneficial.” For me, its a no-no b/c i work with youth. #1 killer of young people is alcohol-related causes. So my “right” to drink doesnt matter here. I respect my YP for requiring that while not judging people (at all) who do drink.

  • wendy

    Carlos, thanks for introducing me to The RR, I’m just not in the good music loop these days, secular or otherwise. That gungor blogpost was a riot! It reminds me of the time I saw the Lost Dogs and my husband and I were the only ones in the alcohol area, the only ones raising our drinks–er–HANDS in worship, the only ones dancing. I am a huge fan, and all these dorks were just sitting there, like they weren’t being ROCKED! It drove me crazy. It totally disrespected the hard road all those guys had walked to get there and preach the real gospel to us. This is all right on and I love that you put yourself out there, forcing us all to look in the mirror, testing our genuineness.

  • I loved the tone of your post and I think I mostly agree with you. One question I have, though, is what makes Gungor “worshippy” as opposed to “general market”? Explicit references to God/Jesus? Redemptive themes? One of my favorite bands, the Innocence Mission, has never shied away from using Christian language or themes, but they’ve always had a strong following among non-Christians. So what distinguishes worshippy music from general market stuff?

    • Nathan Finochio

      Hey John,

      Great question. Worshippy I think would be when you’ve marketed yourself as a worship band in the past, and then change you’re direct congregational approach, but then keep the same branding, so that people show up and expect you to be that old brand?

      As well, worshippy might be when a couple of your songs are congregational and the majority of your songs are overtly Christian, particularly lyrically, and the experience that you put on is sorta shoe-gazing but almost corporate.

      It’s just really awkward for the average church-goer (I believe) who is coming out to these shows.

      • Isn’t that just your take/perception on what another band are doing, where as for the other party involved (the band) they see what they are doing as pushing the boundaries, maybe we should celebrate them getting it both wrong and right (real growth) rather than chastising them for moving at all or promoting some dualist sacred secular divide.

  • I’ve really enjoyed hearing eveybody’s thoughts on this ever since Gungor posted up. It’s so funny, I moved up to Nashville not long ago from Dallas, with a bunch of guys from Little Rock Arkansas that I play music with…and it was really interesting to see how everyone handled drinking…(all of us involved in separate ministries prior to seeking out music together professionally)

    For me, it blows my mind to see some of these churches who would go so far in their discipline as to fire members of their staff if they were seen drinking publicly…really disappointing to me.

    I’ve just come to believe that you should challenge the things you were brought up to hold as fact based on the traditions of your church, family, childhood community, etc. It seems for church go-ers, two strong taboo areas are usually alcohol and music…and for no real concrete reason.

    As far as music goes, i think it’s important to remember that music should be created and considered as beautiful art, reflective of the Lord, who is also creative, and who made us to be creative…example: sometimes i get that same stirring when i listen to someone like Bon Iver, who creates music with these beautiful textures and melodies, that i would get listening to Hillsong or some super rad old dude with a guitar that sings hymns or whatever, and i think there’s really something to that…i happen to think that the spirit moves in beautiful art, and not just stuff that was put out there by Christian record labels.

    There’s a part of me that would hope that a band with a great sound and vibe would be equally liked by listeners on both sides of the spectrum…everyone loves a hopeful message…and music doesn’t have to be dumbed down or reduced to one specific audience for it to be universally loved and listened to…I’d love for my band and other “christian” bands to someday play more events in theaters and actual venues other than churches…but not just to make some sort of statement, but just because people outside the church liked the music and want to experience it live…

    (yep…that all made better sense in my head…haha)

  • Look at Joy Williams from the Civil Wars. Insane inspiration and creative genius. Love going to their shows. Same with Brooke Fraser.

    I love what you’re saying. While I focus writing songs that are used in a congregation setting, I believe creativity is powerful and love the influence people like Joy, Brooke & Jon Foreman have without speaking Christianese.

    Great post! I was at that Toronto show as well!

    • Yes!

      Go Joy, Brooke & Jon!

  • I just have to say that this line cracked me up!:

    “so I don’t have a problem with alcohol and Christians, or people who have achieved wisdom and righteousness superior to Jesus and therefore abstain.”

    sarcasm play…NICE! LOL!

  • Jess

    It’s so, so interesting to me to read about how American christians think about alcohol.
    I’m from the Netherlands and while my friends and I discuss many things, alcohol has never even been spoken about. Anyone who likes to drink alcohol drinks alcohol. We don’t get drunk, we just drink. I definately think it’s a cultural issue…interesting.

  • LucasG

    I went to the 7 tour when it came to Houston. My wife and I had a Tequila Sunrise. Not to pat myself on the back but I tipped the bartender a $10 (knowing that the majority of the crowd would not be tipping that night). I find it interesting that Mr. Gungor (whom I like alot) did not mention from the stage to the crowd to tip your bartenders and servers well? Maybe he was scared to piss off all of the church people at a DCB concert? I think from now on if any pro-alcohol christian musician act ever plays in a bar or club they should remind their fans to be kind and tip generously. Even if it is just for a free water.

  • terrence

    This is such a big question and even bigger conversation! It’s kind of difficult to really follow it online like this.I’d love to sit down in a pub or a Starbucks and discuss these types of issues. I guess the location might be determined by what drinks would be acceptable! Honestly,a Tall Passion Fruit Green Tea is just as good as some Jack Daniel’s (Green Label,to be specific)! I really hope to be able to have these kind of conversations offline soon.

  • Cole

    Okay, just a few thoughts I’ve wanted to share. First, it’s very self-righteous to believe that you can “discern” whether a song is “Christian” or “secular” by hearing a snippet unless you actually listen to the content of the song. There’s no such thing as a Christian note. Many of the same musicians and producers make music across genres. So, all of the sudden, Bono sings about his faith and he’s automatically less passionate about it than when he sings about a relationship? You could apply this across the board from Elvis (who’s Grammys were all for his gospel music) to Johnny Cash or anyone who has expressed their faith through their music. It’s so presumptuous to assume that people are just making “Christian” music to make money off it. Maybe that’s Gungor’s motivation, I don’t know, if so, that would surprise me, but it seems to be what he’s assuming, that “Christian” artists are out to make a buck. Good luck with that by the way, because I’m sure many of them could make more with one mainstream hit than with their entire CCM career. Guys like Chris Sligh have been offered mainstream deals but choose to operate within “Christian” music world because of their convictions. That’s passion! You can question their decision if you want, but you don’t need to question their hearts.

    Okay, so the drinking thing is really ridiculous. Are the people who attend what is basically a worship event (the David Crowder tour) really supposed to all go over and buy alcohol just to appease the bartender? Why would you want to chemically alter your mental state or mood for this type of concert? And heaven forbid that you actually choose to not drink. Again, I don’t know Michael, and I’m actually a fan of his, but it comes across as arrogantly “holier-than-thou” to look down on the people who pay to come to your concert when they choose to not drink.

    I’ve defended Gungor’s “Friend of God” from those who have that same kind of “Christian music is trite” attitude. If it speaks to someone’s heart and points them to the truth at the same time, I say, go for it!

    • Austin

      I think you need to listen to Gungors music before you could assume he’s in it for the money. What he was saying is that most christian music sounds the same. And it does. Turn to any christian radio station and tell me how many artists sound the same. He wasn’t criticizing christian music artists, or worship for that matter. He was commenting on the state of the industry.

  • Aaron Cook

    That’s what matters.
    Music Markets, alcohol, venues, blogs, comments, me…

    God, may you overshadow our feeble lights.

    Love, be our life.
    Love, be our life.

  • Austin Floyd

    I personally loved Michaels article. He pointed out a lot of true things in the christian music scene. For a while now, most christian music sounds the same. (The mercy me, casting crowns, chris tomlin sound) And that’s not a bad thing. It’s like saying most of hip hop or screamo sounds the same. It’s just a characteristic because of how the genre has progressed.

    But I disagree about the side project thing. If you want to do a christian side project, then do it. Gungor wrote “Friend of God”, which is a very corporate, exciting praise song. But he also wrote “You have me” which is a very intimate worship song that I honestly don’t think people would like if sung at a church, or even a worship night. People complain if they can’t sing along. And also, a side project allows for new styles to open up. Aaron Gillespie of Underoath would never have been able to have the sound of The Almost if he hadn’t started it as a side project.

    And if you want to drink, then drink. Just be sure to follow what God’s word says about it, and make sure you can handle that.

  • Micah

    As of 2009, on average, one in 25 deaths, worldwide, are directly attributable to alcohol consumption. Most of the deaths caused by alcohol are through injuries, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and liver cirrhosis. The statistics of alcohol-related deaths are higher than that of war-related or abortion deaths, annually, but you won’t find many chanting for prohibition, as they do for ending war or abortion. You may drink in moderation until you die of old age, rather than from a disease or a drunken tragedy. You also might smoke and never develop any type of cancer, or never contribute to the development of cancer second-handedly to those around you. But then again, there is a risk. I would assume nearly every alcoholic started as a social drinker. Disregarding any moral or spiritual standpoint for a second, is it seriously worth the risk?

  • I think music is music, all other labels is nothing but marketing strategy. As for drinking, drink up but do not get drunk because that is the only sin associated with drinking.

    I think musicians should play wherever they have a chance to share their music. If Christians are going to bars and do not plan to drink, they should at least contribute in some form. Buy food or a nonalcoholic drink. Leave the bar tender a love offering maybe, but do something.

    • Randy

      Look at as many naked women as you want, but don’t lust, for it’s committing adultery in the heart. Same principle.

  • hey Nathan-

    I appreciate your perspective on this.
    I happen run all the visual content/atmosphere for many of Gungor’s worship experiences. And here’s my humble perspective:

    – a full-on Gungor experience (worshippy, as you call it) involves something much richer and deeper than the current offering in popular modern worship that a typical church-goer is used to. There are moments of revelation and moments of response to that revelation.
    Typically, the “sermon” is the revelation, and the “worship” is the response.
    Sidenote: weird that so many churches have their “response” before the “revelation” … another blog post i guess. 😉
    But anyways… now we’re talking about the “music” portion of worship also playing the role of revelation as well as response.

    – an artist believes they have a message from God & uses art to express it. a worship leader believes the congregation has a message for God & helps facilitate that expression.
    I heard that from a guy named Brett Mabury, brother to Paul, Gungor’s producer. (giving credit where credit is due)

    – Gungor is both artist and worship leader… and doesn’t try to create a “balance” of the two but more of a “harmony” – both things happen in their concert…sometimes at different times, and sometimes they overlap in cool ways.
    “Ezekiel” would be a revelation.
    “Beautiful Things” is a response.

    – also, “Michael Gungor Band” was much more in-line with what is familiar to us in 2011 as “worship leading” … this is why they re-branded themselves as simply “Gungor” so they can explore new sounds and avenues of creating moments of wonder and astonishment involving musical & visual art. i.e., not overtly “response” songs but also “revelation” songs that are still sung in the context of corporate worship.

    They are pushing the known boundaries of what leading worship & revealing hardcore spiritual truths looks like in the Church today. and yes, it’s awkward for many. I get that. They get that, too. But it doesn’t scare them.

    It’s awkward like eating at a nice restaurant & drinking wine after you’ve had McDonald’s & Coke all of your life.
    I’m sure the typical “church goer” thought Keith Green or Tomlin was awkward and “worshippy” when they first came out because they weren’t like the old hymns.

    – also, we’re talking about “shows” here… moments in time & space outside the norm of Sunday morning where the worshiper can be surprised and get lost in an unknown, forgotten world of worship. Reminds me of U2. Are they “worshippy” b/c that one concert I went to revealed more of the heart of God to me than any Sunday morning I’ve been to in a long time.
    It’s not meant to be familiar, but something new and different.

    Funny & sad how so many of our Sunday mornings aren’t like that anymore. =(

    In coming years, Gungor won’t be as awkward or shocking. They are creating space for a new (yet old) approach to worship… one that a huge portion of the Church has forgotten.

    that’s why they tag themselves as “post-modern liturgical rock.”

    That’s my 2 cents at least.

  • Hey guys, thanks for the dialogue. Here are my answers.

    1. This comes down to our definition of worship probably. To me worship is an offering of your body (Romans 12), which by extension would include everything that you do with that body (work, play, sing…etc). For me to make honest music that comes from the deepest places in my soul, God is going to be involved. This is because that is what I think about. That is the source of my greatest joys, pain, belief, doubt…etc For me to pretend that I have more angst about other things like money or girls or drugs or whatever other topics might be considered more “general market” would be dishonest. So is the music worship? To me it is because I offer it to God. I also hope that it can become an expression of worship for other people.

    I actually don’t believe that the terms “general market” or “Christian” when applied to music really mean anything but are simply marketing words to target a certain demographic. I had a lot of angst about being associated with the Christian music industry for awhile. Then I realized it’s just an imaginary idea, and I really don’t have anything that I can do about it other than make honest music. So that’s what I’m trying to do. The marketers and categorizers can say whatever they want about it. My job is simply to do the work of making music that is honest and comes from my heart.

    You ask why I don’t do a general market record…but what does that even mean? Does that mean that I should make music about things I don’t care about? I’m not even on a Christian label… I don’t even think any Christians work at my label. People just put me in the Christian category because we sing about and perhaps more specifically TO God. That creeps some people out. But I value honesty more than marketing channels, so I don’t complain anymore about it.

    So why have concerts in places that have bars? Because they are music venues… That’s where people go to listen to music. That’s what I do…I make music. The lyrical content happens to be “worshippy” as you put it. But at our shows, I don’t do anything to force that on anybody. People are free to sing or not to sing.
    I also like the idea of bringing these sorts of experiences that we have in worship into the world. At clubs, we still have the Christian pretense thing of having more wisdom than Jesus (I loved that comment by the way), but I actually think it’s a little better than it would be in a church. If 70 percent of people in the bar like to pretend they don’t drink alcohol, how many do you think would put on even deeper pretenses in a church?

    I like bars because there is something disarming and human about them. If I could go to a worship concert and have a glass of wine in my hand, I would find that to be a holy thing. Actually with all of the talk of alcohol abuse, what safer place is there to drink than with our brothers and sisters who could help us stay accountable to not abuse a good gift?

    2. “Can you decipher the authenticity or reasons of the heart by genre or sonic?” Of course not. A lot of people think that I was downing hardcore music in that blog. That wasn’t my intention. All I was saying is that the particular song that I heard felt like some sort of Frankenstein creation that just wanted to be “Christian”, and I don’t like the assumption that Christianity has to be sweet. I want to hear a “Christian” hardcore song that screams “what the f@#% is going on?!! Where are you God?!” Maybe those exist, but I don’t personally want to hear a guy screaming about kittens and fluffy Jesus clouds.

    3. “Should Christian music that isn’t congregational or overtly devotional even exist?” That is something I agree with to an extent. I don’t understand why singing about anything is any more Christian than singing about any other thing. If Christian faith doesn’t touch the whole of a life, what is it worth anyway? The only exceptions to that in my mind is the music that is intentionally made to help people pray and connect with God. “Positive” music doesn’t equate with “Christian” music in my mind.

    Ok, there’s my answers. Next time, at least tag me on twitter or something so the “public response” actually gets to me in a more timely fashion. 🙂 Appreciate the conversation though. Peace,


    • This…this…this…

    • Yes.

    • My goodness. Yes.

      And I’m glad that it actually is a dialogue now.

      The internet is weird.

    • Todd Scimeca

      Hey Michael,
      Glad you’re doing well. My family loves your stuff and we try to
      use it in church as much as I can when leading in song. Everyone
      loved Kieth green but not everyone knew how to take him. I think so
      many Christians live a passionless blah of a life that when
      confronted with anything of conviction they are even upset with
      that. Worship is our response to Him. I personally think it is neat
      that you have been playing in those venues as well as in church. I
      think beautiful is beautiful whether it is in a bar or a church.
      People hear Him drawing them back to Himself when we are true to
      our passions wherever we may be. Besides didn’t they put some of
      the hymns to bar music back in the day? Didn’t the Lord Himself
      with his first miracle create the best wine ever tasted? We should
      ask ourselves why does it bother us so much worship in a bar? If we
      are lights we should shine. I have often gotten a more chilled
      response in church when pouring myself into worship than when in
      public, go figure? I equate the experience with walking in on
      someone being intimate. We are not always comfortable because we
      live a compartmentalized life void of passion. In trying to
      “manage” God we have made it safe to enter his presence
      and leave exactly the same. I’m not sure if this was our intent but
      it is what has occurred largely in church When confronted with Holy
      we change, He does not (Even the hills melt like wax at the
      presence of the Lord). In our effort to be seeker friendly we have
      forgotten who we are singing too and what we are singing for…I
      don’t know about you but I’ll take those who don’t pull their
      passion to make it easier for people to swallow any day of the
      week. When I see someone showing how they feel about something I
      don’t want to cover it up, or tone it down, I want to celebrate it.
      Thank you for being genuine. We use to attend your dad’s church
      back in Tulsa (Believer’s Church). You were a teenager just cutting
      your teeth leading worship from time to time. It is great to see the
      passion has only gotten deeper as time has gone on. Continue to
      pursue Him He is the re-warder of those who diligently seek Him.

    • Faith7188

      I know this post is two years old, I still hope u see this response. I just found your music– have been wearing it out. I make no mistake in knowing it is pure worship. It speaks to me in my very core of a very real and unpretentious love of a God who gave all for us despite the fact that we don’t deserve any of it! I would go worship with u anywhere man

  • I love the dialogue on here and really appreciated Michael’s response. I was at the show in San Francisco last month and I loved the fact that it was at a “real” venue (The Warfield) and not a local church. I listen to a lot of “worshippy” stuff, but there is something so palpable about experiencing music in a venue like the Warfield, Slims and other “secular” venues in my area. Though neither Michael, JMM nor David Crowder forced the audience to do anything or sing anything, it was as tangible a worship experience as I have had in a long and I thank you for that.

  • Brownkid

    I don’t really see much discrepancy between nate’s approach and michaels approach. Honestly they both are agreeable and speak similar language. I agree with everything said here but I want to nitpick one small detail in this: Underoath. I can’t stand the fact that they get so much credit yet weren’t even good nor a respected band in that scene when it comes to the bands that actually developed that scene. Not to mention they don’t have one single original member left and none of them are Christian because they “grew up” if you’re gonna mention bands from that scene talk about the ones that actually matter. Zao and No Innocent Victim did more for that scene than underoath will ever dream of. Lets mention those guys, and lets also destroy that moniker “screamo”, that is the most brainless term ever and its completely inaccurate. ~maranatha

  • Nathan, I guess I don’t understand the confusion about Gungor needing to be “less Christian or more Christian”. In my opinion, Gungor is one of the MOST Christian bands I know. Just because their music is not always congregational, or their subject matter isn’t always “praise and worship” in the typical sense, does not make them “less Christian”. They have explored MUCH deeper themes of Christianity — they have woven in themes of creation and fall and redemption and consummation in ways that I’ve never heard another Christian artist do. In my humble opinion, their music is like a seminary course being compared to children’s Sunday School. No comparison in the depth and breadth of their music and lyrics. Hard for me to understand how they could possibly be more “Christian”.

  • I’m Tim Tebow and I approve of Gungor.

  • Nathan Finochio

    Really love the way you are processing Michael.

    Some people are asking where our discrepancies lie, and the truth is that there really aren’t any chasmic divides here.

    It seems our main place of agreement lies in recognition of the lines created by other people: general market and Christian market. Our outcomes are different: Michael has decided to ignore those lines out of the integrity of his heart. I am thankful that he is a man of conviction. I loved his thought, “Should I make music about things I don’t care about?” So good.

    For the sake of discussion, I want to iterate my underlying premise: that Christians should do general market music. By general market, I mean music that is not overtly Christian with Biblical or Christian language. This does not preclude Christian motif (redemption, forgiveness, hope, joy, relational reconciliation, etc).

    What I propose is that great Christian talents write songs about Jesus and write songs about the Mississippi River; that they write songs about the Cross and also about parents.

    Again, for the sake of discussion, I would say: Come on Mike, I’m sure you care about double-stuff oreos. What touring musician doesn’t? I want a song about double stuff oreos pronto.

    This all comes out of my observation that Christian musicians double-stuff themselves into musical expression without ever really thinking about it, and the default is typically Christian music. Meanwhile, they’re favourite songs are expressly NOT Christian. They’re songs about the Carolinas (thank you James Taylor and Ryan Adams) and bandit outlaws (thank you Paul McCartney) and a life of prayer (thank you Jon Bon Jovi).

    I think some of this lack of desire for Christians to sing about anything ‘worldly’ is because Western Christians are neo-platonic and Gnostic: material is bad, spirit is good. But secretly, in the dens of our homes, we watch television and movies, laughing our suppressed and sober souls into oblivion. Clearly we care about things other than Jesus. I care about double-stuffed oreos. And if Michael isn’t going to write a song about them, I will. I will because I have to be honest, and write honest music. It would be dishonest of me to not write a song about my soul’s delight in double stuffed oreos. Jesus knows how I like to eat the icing first and the cookies last.

    My point is that there are a great many things to write about.

    My primary expression and love is music that is directly to God. But there are 24 hours in a day. And for that 20 minutes that I’m not bursting into laudation, missal in hand, maybe the world would like the Oreo song.

    • Jaycee

      You over think shit.

      • Andy

        Or you think to simply. perspective.

  • josiah

    I think some wisdom should be applied when we are using social media because it can be very divisive. Carlos you said you are good friends with michael and Lisa and a public criticism or questioning, rather than picking up the phone to have a conversation can be damaging to the body of Christ. It does seem to me that your approach is very similar when put together the two sides of the conversation.

  • I think perhaps instead of all this talk of where which music fits with what audience, perhaps a bit of time could be spent considering whether the audience fits the music.

    The drinking debate is such a red herring here. ( God doesn’t prohibit drinking, He just doesn’t condend drunkenness. Simple.)

    I think it is presumptuous for church audiences to think that all music in order to be worship music must be sing along to to be appreciated. You don’t paint on the canvases hanging in an art space do you?

    Nobody would turn around to Mozart and tell him “Love your work mate, but this isn’t the right location for that Requiem thing of yours”. I mean, his music is a masterpiece, nobody is going to interrupt that and ok “now everyone joins for the second chorus”.

    No, you observe and absorb and let the art speak to you.

    Same goes for any of the arts. What makes people think that “worship” must be particapatory to be Christian? Or even church-worthy? Do you think that when we get to Heaven that we will always be singing God’s praises? I know it sats it in Amazing Grace but that doesnt count. Im sure there will be times where we are silent and God will sing. My goodness, I hope that happens.

    Creativity is something that churches should nurture, and audiences in general could learn a thing or two about receiving that art in the spirit in which its given.

    Not to rant but Gungor’s music is the best album I’ve found this year. I don’t care if they were playing in a dingy alleyway, I’d still want to be there to listen and appreciate. It’s touching stuff.

    And you guys are doing yourselves a disservice by thinking that art should be relegated to THIS location and THAT audience and THESE conditions. Good music will be good music no matter where it is played and I think it’s the audience that needs to approach the art / worship experience better, not the other way around.

    John E

    (P. S. Michael Gungor if you are still reading this, please come to Australia!!)

  • I’d like to consider myself a musician and someday I hope to share my music with others.Reading all this has given me a lot to chew on. Thank you all for sharing!

  • Jaycee

    i havent had a chance to read all these comments, but this conversation is INSANE! i heard about the gungor band when he came to Grace church in St. Louis one sunday morning (he has been there multiple times since)…. it happened to be the SAME sunday morning i prayed to hear some decent “alternative” Christian music…..music that rocked like the secular music i listened to. Tool, Megadeath, Metallica, Floyd. i can’t believe you guys are splitting hairs on gungors decision to play at bars! i spent many many hours at bars listening to bands, never once stiffing them…whatever that means, i’m a fabulous tipper. i’da given anything to hear a band that made me remember my relationship with Christ….as my alcohol habit had helped me forget Him.

    Whats cool about gungors music is that he uses The Bible for lyrics.

    Lastly, few Christians know anything about substance abuse, i’m currently dealing with it and i recommend the book The Heart of Addiction, A Biblical Perspective by Mark Shaw. Maybe it will change your opinion of gungor playing at bars.

    • John Mushenhouse


      May I recommend the word of God and prayer. We have a high priest who understands and will help you with your problem more than any book giving worldly advice under the guise of being biblical.

      • John,
        I don’t disagree with your “logic” but I disagree with your approach. Many people have a hard time “digesting” scripture and need it broken down for them. This is no different to listening to your pastor’s sunday sermon. You hear the Word from him in a way that’s easier to understand. When you grow in Christ and in the Word then it’s easier to understand. You don’t feed a baby steak just like you wouldn’t take milk as your only source of nutrition. I think it would be wise to say that If Jaycee took this book, sought Godly council, included prayer, and read the word that this would be the best approach at battling addiction.

  • Andy

    Why are we searching for a reason to drink or why you shouldn’t drink.. when the answer genuinely comes from the heart. Do you feel convicted if you drink? If you do, I would respectfully step away from it. In return to that, please don’t toss your conviction on someone else. Thats the amazing thing about the Holy Spirit!

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  • Tim Reynolds

    I think you guys need to follow this guy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0jFQ21A6GRA

    Go and worship Jesus in Pakistan.

    No wonder this unknown artist has 16 million hits to his MySpace page (more than all major Christian artists combined) while you brothers are fighting this way.


  • sarah

    were you being sarcastic in this article? I honestly can’t tell. So tired of the “hipster christian” movement and it’s pompous attitude. I’d rather hang out with a dorky, yet genuine “old school” christian. :/ (if you weren’t being sarcastic I apologize).

    Michael Gungor and his wife used to be my worship leaders when I was in college, back before anyone knew who they were. Amazing artist, amazing heart. He leads you right into the presence of God. The more creative and artistic the christian music, the better.

    Also, there is another artist- Chris Falson- that regularly plays his quasi-worship/christian/ yet not really music in bars all across the world, and people get saved just by the anointing on it. God will use anyone anywhere. Stop trying to put Him in a box.

  • Evan Savage

    Why should worship be confined to the church? Last time I checked….the Apostles didn’t have ‘A’ church to ‘Go’ to. They were the church. unfortunately we have grown accustomed to this western dilution of church as a ‘place’ of worship rather than a ‘being’ that worships. The Church is the body of Christ….we are to be in constant worship in our every day lives. So why not play in a bar? Christians should take a load off and drink a little….quit being so uptight. Imagine how drunk the people were at the Wedding in which Jesus contributed to the drinking? If you study ancient Jewish weddings, you would understand how much wine they must have gone through for them to run out….trust me, it was a lot.

    Last time I checked, Jesus didn’t just preach in the temple, he preached at the tax collectors house, on a mountain that was inhabited by a possessed man, in a boat, in Samaria (that’s a no-no). So why shouldn’t Gungor go into the world and worship like it’s nobodies job? David worshipped so hard in public that his clothes came off.

    Let’s all be honest. Worship music is terrible. It’s a step below….yes below….country music. Not to get on Chris Tomlin….I’m sure he loves Jesus….but he is a factory for happy Jesus tunes….it’s easy when you repeat chord changes and modulations but just change the key and the relative melody. It just sounds so disingenuous. Or how about when lyrics start out like this…”sittin at the stop light watching all the cars go by….” and no, that’s not Rebecca Black. Can worship music “get you in the mood?” Sure. Does it promote a life of worship? Not really sure. After all, the lyrics are someone else’s praise to God and not entirely our own.

    What happened to worshipful passion like we see in Psalms? All I see in worship music today (by worship music I mean CCM) is the promotion of consumerism. All we do is consume the worship rather than act out the worship. It’s a lot like church….all we do is consume Church and sermons, yet we don’t live church and sermons.

    What I love about Gungor shows is that 1)They kill it. Arguably the best publicly Christian Band of all time. Michael….You are an educated musician who has lived up to musical integrity and really put out a killer product….a product that can rival any secular bands…Your show blew my wife and I away. We never had been to a concert of faith (see what I did there) of such awesomeness and it is our top rated show to go see. Incredible. 2)they don’t perform worship…they promote worship. They get up there and sing and play TO GOD….not promote others to sing a long and kind of sing to God. They Show us what worship looks like and it only makes us want to go out and Worship like that. It’s not a sunday morning service….It’s an example of what worship looks like….and yeah….dancing is involved.

    Gungor…we love you…..Keep praising and keep being of voice of exhortation to the world of CCM.


  • Faith7188

    I absolutely love Gungor’s music. It speaks to my heart where I live and some of my best private praise and worship sessions were to his music walking a trail, with my headphones on. Why do Christians complicate things so much? Jesus would have gone into bars– would have gone anywhere to minister to people. ANYWHERE. I don’t care if he wants to sing in bars; I think its cool– ballsy but very very cool. He sings from the heart and the human condition of feeling like we are so not worthy of the love of God but yet we have it. Love love love it! I’d go to a bar to listen…Might even have a margarita– just one =-)