Beyond a Trickle-Down Liturgy

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I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of trickle-down liturgy. What I mean by that is music that is designed and marketed somewhere, makes it on Christian radio or other media, and then becomes familiar enough that people start singing it in church.

Now, to be sure, there’s a place for that. But a lot of the “industry’s” best stuff just all seems to sound the same. And it seems to say the same thing, over and over again.

But Christian music doesn’t belong to an “industry,” and it ought not to come only from far-away experts, focus-grouping lyrics and tunes. Music is an act of spiritual warfare, a sign that King Jesus has defeated the enemy powers and is gifting his church.

That’s the reason that, so often, the best and most evocative music in the history of the church is that that springs from the embedded and organic life of people in church community together. That’s true whether we’re speaking of canonical Psalms or revival-time gospel songs or the best of Christian hip-hop. And it’s why I’ve always loved the “outlaws” of Christian music: folks like Michael Card and Rich Mullins, who are in the world of Christian music but who don’t quite obey all its rules.

That’s also why I’m so excited about God is doing through Sojourn Music. It’s a very contemporary form of hymnody that springs from the real worship of real people in a real place, in covenant together. And, due to technology, we can all benefit from this gifting.

I’m really excited today that Kristen Gilles’s free worship album The Whole Big Story, recorded with the Sojourn Music band, is available. Here you’ll find excellent musicians, singing about weighty topics, ranging from Christology to eschatology to the Christian’s experience in this time between the times.

I especially like the song “Rising Tide,” which will not surprise those who know me, given it’s gritty, twangy sort of feel.

Listen to this album and let me know what you think. And then, if God’s so gifted you, write a song or two!

Only when we see how lost we are, we can find our way again. Only when we bury what’s dead can we experience life again. Only when we lose our religion can we be amazed by grace again.


About Russell Moore

Russell Moore is Editor in Chief of Christianity Today and is the author of the forthcoming book Losing Our Religion: An Altar Call for Evangelical America (Penguin Random House).