Can Secular Music Preach?

I have read much discussion on the subject of whether or not secular music can preach. They have tirelessly argued over pastors using secular music in their sermons to drive home a point. Some say ‘what’s the big deal’, others think that ‘the ends doesn’t justify the means’.

Now I will admit that I don’t listen to much christian radio. It is filled with too much cheese and bad programming and not to mention they play the same stupid songs over and over and over and over again.

So…to add fuel to the fire…read the lyrics below and then tell me what you think.

    In this farewell
    There’s no blood
    There’s no alibi
    ‘Cause I’ve drawn regret
    From the truth
    Of a thousand lies

    So let mercy come
    And wash away
    What I’ve done

    I’ll face myself
    To cross out what i’ve become
    Erase myself
    And let go of what i’ve done

    Put to rest
    What you thought of me
    While I clean this slate
    With the hands of uncertainty

    So let mercy come
    And wash away
    What I’ve done

    I’ll face myself
    To cross out what i’ve become
    Erase myself
    And let go of what i’ve done
    For what I’ve done

    I start again
    And whatever pain may come
    Today this ends
    I’m forgiving what I’ve done!!!

    I’ll face myself
    To cross out what i’ve become
    Erase myself
    And let go of what i’ve done
    For what I’ve done

    What I’ve done
    Forgiving what I’ve done

    Linkin Park / What I’ve Done

So…what are your thoughts?



About Jimmy Eldridge

I am a husband, a father, a son, a brother and most of all, a follower of our most gracious savior Christ Jesus. Who are you following?

16 thoughts on “Can Secular Music Preach?

  1. In my secular days I was a Morning Drive air personality and Program Director: “Now I will admit that I don’t listen to much christian radio. It is filled with too much cheese and bad programming and not to mention they play the same stupid songs over and over and over and over again.”

    That’s secular radio as well. And:

    I’ll face myself
    To cross out what i’ve become
    Erase myself
    And let go of what i’ve done

    A human being will not “face” themselves (Romans 3) and they cannot “cross out” their sin. So is that going to be the message?

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  3. Hi Ken,

    It could mean examing myself to see what I am, then giving myself over to God to erase the old man and never remember that man again.

    And…you are right…secular radio does it as well…just doesn’t seem to be as much…hence the reason I listen to talk radio or cd’s.

    Bet you were a good drivetime dj!


  4. Oh, ‘secular’ (hate that word) music definitely has something to say. I love listening to music. I glean so much from it. Look at my posts on John Butler and Evanescence for starters.

    Almost every time I go out and listen to a band (a couple of times a month) I learn something. My mother would balk at this (she subscribes to the “anything with electric guitar and drums is evil” mindset), but ‘secular’ music speaks to me. I learn from it. I would even say God speaks to me through it. It is also an avenue that we use specifically for mission.

    Yes, I listen to some ‘Christian’ bands too, although I’ve recently switched my Hillsong for Petra Praise (vols 1 & 2) and Jeremy Camp and Shawn McDonald. I think I might sell all those Hillsong CDs on ebay. They do nothing for me any more.

  5. I definitely think it can. I thin you have to be careful about how it comes across. Examples – are you glorifying the band? is it coming across that you feel that this song is as important or more so than the gospel? will it help your people respond?

    These are just a few that come to mind.

  6. Interesting post. I rarely listen to Christian music (especially Christian music radio; I agree with your thoughts on that, Jimmy!) on week days; by the time Sunday comes around I’m looking forward to going to church to sing hymns and worship songs to praise God, and to focus on God while listening to the sermon. Using a secular song in a sermon to make a point is all right once in a while, if it’s a really good/insightful song with a really good point! Using a secular song in a sermon just to make things hip and relevant doesn’t seem necessary to me. I think it all depends on the pastor’s motives (just like everything else; really)! I don’t it’s necessary for a pastor to do a sermon series on a particular secular band, use a song that’s by an artist that is blatantly anti-Christian and everyone knows it (an Elton John song may not be such a good idea, for example!), or use secular songs in place of Scripture.

  7. I agree…to do anything just to be cool or relevant is not a good reason. The question I always ask, ‘is this going to add to what’s being said, or distract from it’?

    I tried to listen to some christian radio this past week…I literally heard the same song 6 times in on day. The sad thing….it was an old song…I could almost understand if it were a new song, but this song was at least 10 years old.

    Sure…secular radio does it too…but not near as much as the christian radio station. Drives me crazy.

  8. i think it all depends with the content of the music.
    Take for example an artist like Eminem and others of the same caliber,
    they promote sexual immorality and they have a way of degrading ladies
    in their songs.tthey sing about going to a party where they are the showstoppers and at the end of the show, take a cute girl home for the obvoius reason.Now tell me, what does such music promote?
    i think its good to look at the influence of a particular song.
    on the other hand, christian music takes a defferent perspective.
    we all know that there is a place in someone’s heart that can only be filled by a god or God. this is where the word “worship” comes into play.
    we can therefore say that the christian music is meant to fill this space
    and hence the christian radio stations.

  9. Linkin Park actually has several songs that have spiritual messages. I used another of their songs for a sermon of mine once.

  10. Pastor Tom,

    I have to admit….I listen to Linkin Park quite a bit…love their music. You are very right that a lot of their music has a spiritual message to it.

    I jokingly tell my kids that one song they do called “One Step Closer” reminds me of them…especially when they get to the part of the song that goes..”shut up when i’m talking to you”. 🙂


  11. I don’t think it can, in the service that is. Maybe outside but not inside the Church service itself. Why add the distraction of having to explain an artist now to the service? Because if you use an artist you might have youth, or even adults who may confused how you can use an artist who doesn’t really care about morals in their own lives. There are plenty of artists who sell an image to sell records. And what about artists that publicly say they hate church and don’t want their music used to sell “religion?”

    The sad thing is there is still a great Christian music undergrand that isn’t sold out to the labels as most of it is now. And we have a wealth of music that has long been overlooked by the Church including Christian radio. I know because our Christian radio station went from a good variety to eliminating every original program for “nationwide” Christian radio.

    I just don’t think the answer to the problem is to compound the problem by introducing secular into sacred.

  12. I personally, don’t classify music as Christian or Secular. I have CD’s that would be classified secular and would play a song in church, if it was fitting.

  13. Now, honestly, using Linkin Park as an example is brilliant; but I have found among bands such as Nine Inch Nails, Godsmack, and Tool messages which, if not directly Christian in their message, certainly point in the right direction….

    Godsmack’s Shinedown: “…but I still believe in immortal love, and I know there’s someone above; Shine down, don’t take it away from me (no?), and I know that you know how, Shine down, just …let me feel it…”

    Tool’s Right In Two speaks of mankind as if they are senseless monkeys who disregard angels and Father’s ways, arguing with and killing each other over pieces of land, while Eden has enough to go around.

    Nine Inch Nails, although never implying or stating God, except in illustrative mockery of Christianity, promotes and fully expresses faithfulness and devotion – especially since he’s come off drugs.

    Heck, even with Manson’s old Fight Song…..”I’m not a slave to a god that doesn’t exist, and I’m not a slave to a world that doesn’t give a shit…”

    I, being a ‘Christian’ ……am a faithful follower of the Father because of what he has accomplished through his Son by means of his Holy Spirit………and yet, I am not slave to a god that doesn’t exist, for my God is Life itself.

    I’ve been getting greater spiritual healing and edification out of these songs than I do with Christian radio and bands – in fact, the only reason I listen to Christian music is to keep peace with the brethren, and the few songs I like are the ones which are not cheesy, but use innovative and original lyrics, and not some parody or cheesy comeback to a popular ‘secular’ song…..

    honestly, what does it say to the world when “Christian” men and women sell out to the crowds by singing 200 different versions of the same “worship” song, sell their product to the Christian sub-culture at the same price as the avaricious world does to its own, presenting their bodies in the same clothes and implicitly sexual positions, using the raspy, slightly seductive voices? Praise God for letting us see these women? Well, only if God was a pimp. Christian music is a disgusting unwed breeding of “Christian” and “Art,” yet somehow being neither.

  14. Hm, it really depends. Is it a secular band full of non-Christian people? Or is it a group of Christians playing music that’s not specifically Christian? If you’re talking the former, then no. If you mean the latter, then maybe.

    Let’s just say you mean the former, considering your quote of a Linkin Park song. I think that anybody can speak the truth, but not everybody can speak a saving truth unless it syncs up with what the bible says. God can use a secular band to point somebody in the right direction, because God can use anything to His ultimate glory, but I wouldn’t go substituting worship with System of a Down or Radiohead (though both are fine bands).

    Personally, I stopped listening to most Christian music simply because it feels dishonest to me. Mind you, some secular music is dishonest too, but at least they aren’t being crammed down my throat and being called worship after being added to your hymn book.

    Honestly, I don’t know how many Christian artists are honestly expressing themselves and how many are simply going along with what their record labels are telling them to write. Even the small time artists who aren’t working for major labels write dishonestly as they try to pen stuff that they think their future audiences will want to hear.

    That’s why if I ever started performing, I wouldn’t consider myself a “Christian artist.” I’d be an artist… who just happens to be a Christian. I’d write what I feel, I’d express my happiness, my anger, my sorrow, my hopes and despairs… and all in hopes that somebody out there realizes that a Christian is allowed to feel all those emotions and not just some blind joy for fear of being accused of not being a good enough Christian.

    Anyway, I’m probably exceeding the blogger who proposed the question now… it’s off the soapbox for me.

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