This is rather extreme and, of course, and somewhat impractical, although I do remember deleting many songs from my hard drive and throwing away a few CDs.
Eventually I started to become more discerning and realised that there was some great music out there that, while not being from a Christian artist, was certainly saying things which I could agree with. During this time when I would painstakingly search high and low for Christian artists that I liked I remember constantly being confronted by friends, including fellow believers, who would write off Christian music and ask why I even bothered to listen to it?
While the arguments we had then where not particularly well informed or particularly focused on what I think now are important issues, following a quick search of the internet even for general terms such as 'Christian contemporary music' and you'll quite quickly find articles and blog posts where people are actively disputing and criticising contemporary Christian music and in some cases Christian music as a whole.
One example is Alan Atchison's article "Christian Music…Why Does It Suck? What Can Be Done?" Talking of how narrow a band of topics Christian Contemporary Artists are generally covering referring to them as "...cheesy, regurgitated catch phrases..." he also questions the motivations of the industry, pointing out how much money is spent in the United States on Christian music records.
As you would expect articles with divisive titles will receive a wealth of comments, as a way to see what others are saying. Some useful insights that are contributed in the comments including the observation that there is a strong distinction between writing music that is intended for congregational worship and music which is intended for performance.
Many contemporary songs that Christian circles have started using in services, while great and uplifting songs, were written by songwriters for professional performers to sing. Is this a good fit for the enthusiastic, but often untrained, member of the congregation to lead the church in singing? What about the poor people in the pews trying to keep up? I don't mean to be blunt, but church can be a painful place for musicians.
At this point I think it is important to point out that this is by no means new question, the place of artistic, virtuosic, music in the church for example the council of Trent, in the 16th century discussed the use of complex polyphonic writing in church music and it's tendency to obscure the text. From these events the legend of how Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli saved polyphonic music in the church arises.
Returning to the topic at hand of Contemporary Christian music the other criticism that appears to be common in reader's comments is in relation to the previously mentioned shallow lyrics. As one commenter puts it "Brandon Heath said the best: "it's Your love, Your love, Your love. It's Your Love, Your love, Your love..." I think a problem that people often feel with Christian Contemporary music is a feeling that it lacks a sense of authenticity.
This cuts to the heart of what content artists choose to deal with and how invested they are in what they are saying. "Are they just in it for the money?" "What do they believe in?" "Do they believe what they say?" are some of the avenues in which listeners often judge whether they see someone as being "Authentic" shouldn't Christian artists naturally appear authentic? Or are we doing something wrong.
All this being said there are some great bands out there that carry a strong Christian message and show glory to God, to be clear, it isn't all bad. These are some critiques in a hope that we can build on what we have.
There are still songs that I found in my youth that I listen to from time to time that tell of a saviour, who died for me, of the sin in this world and my life and the forgiveness I have in him who has overcome death itself.
"Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength.
Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness." - Psalm 29:1-2
Sam Gillespie is an Undergraduate Composition student and a computer programmer based in Sydney
Sam Gillespie previous articles may be viewed