High school in the ’90s was an exciting time to be in the Christian subculture.
These were bands with explicit religious messages and music that didn’t actually, you know, stink. They stood on the shoulders of Amy Grant and others who desired to create music that connected to everyone, even though their lyrics were meant for the religious.
Our youth group would do what every other youth group would do: buy a bunch of tickets and call it an outreach event. I always had a blast, yet my friends at school never wanted to come. I intuitively knew this but I never thought about it until recently.
I live in L.A. It’s the city of indie bands and wannabe rock stars. There are concerts literally every night on the Sunset strip. I rarely go. Not because I don’t love music, but because I don’t want to spend $15 to $30 to watch a band I don’t know for 2 hours play songs I don’t care about. I don’t like sitting in a crowded room being forced to stand, watching the groupies raise their hands to lyrics that haven’t touched me yet. I’m not a hater—I’d just rather spend my time doing something else. Just like my friends in high school.
Reminds me of how the whole world feels when they come to most churches.
Someone asked me once, ‘Why does Mosaic do music…differently?’ Well, in most church services there is music that everyone knows but the 5 people who don’t usually go to church. So they feel totally left out. At Mosaic we like to do predominantly original music that is broad enough to create a kind of on-ramp for the spiritually curious. In this way it’s new to everyone. So on any given Sunday everyone is on the same page, whether you’ve been a part of Mosaic for 5 years or 5 minutes.
This kind of music is harder to write, and even harder to lead, because it actually has to connect to the human spirit, not just the Christian one. Writing Christian music in some ways is like cussing while doing standup comedy. Swearing gets you the cheap laugh. Worship music gets you the cheap ‘amen’ from the subculture that already agrees with you.
We need a new generation of worship leaders that do what their title actually suggests: not creating emotional experiences highjacked off of other people’s talent but actually leading people to live lives that show how valuable God truly is.
We need worship leaders that are actually leaders. We need musicians who write music not just to give voice to the religious, but to give music to the voiceless– those who have limited ways of dialoguing with God, who have never been to church, who are not a part of our little worlds but are a part of the world that God’s Son gave His life for.