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Anberlin on being Christian and a band, but not a Christian band

I came across two articles this morning where rock band Anberlin talks about being Christian, and being a band, but not necessarily a Christian band.
I love this band, and I get where they’re coming from. Like many bands who have been tagged as a “Christian band” they’ve been accused of being a sell out, and their lyrics are always scrutinized to see if they’re really “Christian” or not.
Here, the guys share some good thoughts on the subject:


Lead vocalist Stephen Christian: “I just simply write about life experiences, and when God comes out, then God comes out … But I’m also not going to inhibit that or I’m not going to try to create that feeling just to sell records to more Christians or talk about God less just to sell more records to the general market.” (
Rhythm guitarist Christian McAlhaney: “(O)bviously, from a lyrical standpoint your faith and the way you look at life and all that kind of stuff will come out through your lyrics” but “we don’t feel that Anberlin is the mouthpiece for our faith.” (
Drummer Nathan Young: “People want a meaning for everything; every word, every chord played. We just want every lyric or song title to be positive and it’s not going to give the wrong impression about us and what we are trying to portray … Yes, we are all Christians and we all have faith and that is what we are, but the thing is, we feel that we’re called to go out and play … not churches and not that segregated thing.” (SEE Magazine)
Young adds one more comment that I think music fans need to hear: “When you get to a point where you are getting too big, they are quick to throw out the word ‘sellout.’ For some reason, people think that when a band signs to a major label, they are sellouts and are making tons of money. But the way the music industry is right now, that’s not the case at all.” (SEE Magazine)
Anberlin’s fourth studio album, New Surrender, released last September. For more on the band, visit Anberlin’s website.
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posted January 23, 2009 at 12:38 pm

“I just simply write about life experiences, and when God comes out, then God comes out …”
I love that quote. I want the best from my bands, not just something they think the market wants to hear. I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that bands with this mentality are able to crossover into the larger markets.

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Tim Smithpeters

posted January 24, 2009 at 7:12 am

I am a lead guitarist with a southern country gospel band. Our purpose
is to spread the good news of our savior Jesus Christ and also to worship him in song.

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Jordan Biel

posted January 24, 2009 at 12:42 pm

I agree with the guys. I can’t stand when christians automatically assume you’ve sold your soul if you happen to sing some songs about life or love or whatever. Most of my songs are Christian / worship songs yet some are from the stand point of a non christian – searching for truth / God. Some of my songs are for my wife. If anything, loving my wife through a song is an act of worship to God as He receives glory from us loving one another (and getting out of our church bubbles to speak the truth to the world)
Jordan Biel

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Jordan Biel

posted January 24, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Joanne Brokaw,
would your site want to mention our new website, on your list of “Blogs and sites worth visiting” ??? It’d be awesome! We’re a new site that enables any new artist to create their page and sell their music. and it’s FREE to be a member. all they have to lose is nothing and all they have to gain is more ministry exposure and more song sales.
Jordan Biel

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Dave Weiss

posted February 4, 2009 at 2:07 pm

I feel like I need to keep beating this drum. Why is it that this attitude is commonplace in Country music but for some reason in rock it’s not allowed. Country artists have absolutely no problem placing a Christian song on a secular album and often get number one hits with them but when it comes to rock we need to have this ghetto mentality. I like Anberlin and wish more artists like them would follow the call to be salt and light in the secular music arena. The church should be praying for them and sending them as missionaries not counting the number of times Jesus is mentioned in their lyrics.

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posted August 31, 2009 at 4:10 pm


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posted September 3, 2009 at 11:58 am

Well I’m recently reborn happened to see Aberlin on The Fuse and was thankful that they have a video that’s NOT about shaking your you know what it ,actually has a “message” and this is Gods way of reaching out trough them to a world of oversexed crazed kids so I’m going to pray that we all see more of Aberlin in the mainstream its definitely needed

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posted September 7, 2009 at 9:43 pm

Looking at these comments and the article, I would say that some of us need stop pointing the finger at who is and who isnt a christian and remember that God is always in control and His will will be done. We are merely vessels used to glorify the kingdom.
Who are we to judge how it should be done and who can do it. We have no say, as we cannot see the heart of people or their intention. Our role is to live a devoted life for the Glory of His Kingdom.
The thing about Anberlin is that we know that their band does not define who they are as people. Their band is just a part of what they do. If they have publicly said that they are believers then thats all we can go on.
As christians we need to go out in the secular world and bring Jesus to them through music, work, our lives, actions, words. Know that we are the vessels that speak the message but God is the only one that changes the heart.

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posted December 21, 2009 at 2:16 pm

As Jneo says, God draws ones to him HOWEVER He doesn’t change thier hearts, you have to do that on your own. When you decide to draw close to God, He will definitely draw you to Him. I know what Lesly means to say, but it is their choice to reflect christian ideals in thier songs, not to be a ‘christian band’. if they were hardly anybody would listen to them (it’s for the good Lesly!) As long as Anberlin’s life reflects what is taught in the Bible, and at least turn other people’s mind to the life saving message of God and Jesus Christ…more power to them. If they were hardcore Christians they’d be doing mission work directly form the bible. Fullstop. However they are not. They just want to make clean music. People should stop saying their posers. It’s great that they’re not singing dirty lyrics and degrading girls in their music videos. WHOLESOME IS SUPPOSED TO BE A GOOD and ACCEPTABLE THING, PEOPLE. Bad is not good, and good is not bad. What happened to the days when Good was Moral and Upright and Uplifting. Thanks that you all are among the appreciative few!!!

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posted February 22, 2010 at 11:32 pm

I’ve grown up in church and have always heard this argument. What is rarely brought to the forefront in these discussions is that it is more like ministry based vs not being a ministry band. The guys are christians, plenty of general market (or as church calls it, “secular”)bands are comprised of christians. But they just want to play music and perform. A lot of these bands actually represent Jesus’ message by actions. I’ve seen them (as i toured with them for 3 years) and other christians in entertainment fields be great representations to people who legitimately have questions or want to dig into christianity. Anberlin pretty much always tours with general market bands, An average of 12 bands a year (not including warped tour). That’s a lot of people to show christ to. I’ve heard so many bands say that Anberlin or a certain tour was the best they’ve been on. Because the guys are legitimate, hospitible (which is rare), down to earth. It shows. And the fact they dont have random girls on the bus. It all speaks volumes to bands who may come into the tour thinking “oh these guys are gonna be pansy christians, no fun, bashing me for partying” and they end up loving them. These are the people that need your support and prayers.

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posted January 18, 2011 at 5:10 pm

@lesly. I’m sorry lesly( the post at the top of the page) but i must disagree. I for time considered starting a band without the Christian title. so many people are listening to such depressing music these days and we need more bands who are consistantly positive in they’re lyrics. Sadly when a band labels themselves as a Christian bands many of the people that need to hear more uplifting music will turn a deaf ear to the band. Right now Anberlin is able to reach a vast audience promoting uplifting messages and often times Christianity.

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posted September 19, 2011 at 11:22 am

I look at the music industry and its various vocations like every other job or workplace. If you are a christian, does that mean that the only job you should have is one where its sole purpose is to worship God with every act, sale, or word both written or spoken? Christians are called to honor God in all they think say and do. We are called to live out our faith in our daily lives. But that doesnt mean that all of our vacations will come under the definitions of “Full Time Ministry.” If you own a printing company, should you only print bibles? If you drive a truck for a living, should you only transport meterials used to build new churches. If you are in a successful band, should you only write music that can be used in worship on sunday mornings? i dont think so. No matter what your vocation, honor the Lord. And to honor the Lord, is an act of worship.

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Gina Davis

posted October 19, 2011 at 6:03 am

Just another band with members professing to be Christian!? Pretty sad that these guys fall into the class as apostate Christians. If they are not true John 3:3 servants then each still holds their eternal burn notice. Such a fear of being tagged a Christian band!? Praise God for the true C bands that are obeying God and being witnesses to our sad,lost,hurting,deceived and hell bound world.
Hope these guys wake up,look up,hook up,get freed from the eternal cook up and start living for Jesus and doing what God calls them to do!
John 3:3=Happy eternity Revelation 20:15=The eternal burn
John 8:51 2Timothy 2:19
Live ready Anberlin,we will each face God,one day, for our personal day of judgment!

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Chad From Ohio

posted June 3, 2012 at 10:32 pm

I am impressed by Young’s comment, “Yes, we are all Christians and we all have faith and that is what we are, but the thing is, we feel that we’re called to go out and play … not churches and not that segregated thing.”
The part about the segregation is great! I am a Christian who happens to be a bass player, and I truly feel what he’s saying.I played in several bands before I gave my life to Christ, and I’ve been a victim to that segregation while doing so – at the hands of the church. Now that I am serving God, I play bass for the worship team at my church when they need me, and that is that. I am a lyricist/songwriter/bass player with nowhere to go with it but it doesn’t matter because I’m also being called to be an author. When and if I become successful at it, I hope to aggressively fight the segregation between the church and the world, and hope to bring the two to a co existence. HA! Like that will ever happen, lol!

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Chad From Ohio

posted June 3, 2012 at 10:52 pm

Okay, it is apparent that by now reading the majority of these comments – no one has a firm grasp on what a Christian is supposed to be like, or at least what we’re indeed supposed to strive for. Christ. That’s it. It’s one thing to not want to be segregated by the church and so called “cut off from the world,” however we have to be sending a good message. Simply because Anberlin are all Christians and show people love is not enough in terms of serving God, though it is nice to hear that the random girls don’t show up on the bus and such. The bottom line is that as followers of Christ we must love everyone as we love ourselves and as we love God, and at the same time we must grab hold of Jesus and not let go. Seeking our purpose comes next. I understand where Young is coming from with the segregation comment, I do, but along with that we have to understand that we are not of this world in terms of taking part in the sinful things that we once did. HOWEVER, JESUS IS A FRIEND TO SINNERS, SO THIS DOES NOT MEAN TO STAY AWAY FROM THOSE WHO ARE NOT SAVED/ARE SAVED, BECAUSE WE ARE ALL SINNERS AND NONE BETTER THAN THE OTHER. Jesus did not hang with the Pharisees, He hung out with the poor, brokenhearted, lepers, prostitutes, and yes even the demon possessed. This doesn’t mean that we should party with them and such, but we as Christians do have to watch where we go and with whom we provide company to in most situations…due to the dangers that follow. Anberlin saying that “IF” God comes out through their music then it will just happen, may be a bad sign in terms of what they are or are not ashamed of, but again, not my call to make. They do not answer to me so why should I concern myself with it? God’s knows the hearts of all and including mine, and will deal with each accordingly. The only thing I can offer as advice to Anberlin is, “serve Christ in the way that you feel you are called, but do not be sucked into the fisad that being enveloped in the world is a good thing.”

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Ben Lloyd

posted June 6, 2012 at 3:50 am

I totally agree with these guys – faith is to be lived out, not just talked and sung about. Good on them.

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posted January 24, 2013 at 7:19 pm

even if they werent being faithful in their music ( not that im getting the impression that they arent faithful) it wouldnt be our place to cast judgement on them ( 1Corinthians 4 )What they do with their gifts is between them and Yahweh.

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Alex Cuellar

posted August 13, 2014 at 2:43 pm

I think people are confusing two different circumstances.

Situation 1:
The band is afraid of being labeled as a Christian band because they feel the world will label them as that and they will be scrutinized by the secular world with their messaged of God. And so they say these things to make it clear to the public in a good hearted way, that they are not a Christian band and don’t want to be. So they can stop people from shoving them in the Christian music genre of lyrical limits and restrictions.

Situation 2:
The band started out writing songs, some about love, some about life, and some about God. Other bands don’t write ANY songs about God. Any many people try to label Amblerlin as a Christian band. Amberlin doesn’t want this cause THIS would mean for the band that they would ONLY write songs about God. (If it were true). And there are other things they want to talk about along side songs that talk about their savior.
They are just Christian guys who started a band but made a promise that their music would be positive and uplifting and full of life, and sometimes some of these songs will talk about God, but also ALL of the other life experiences.


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posted July 16, 2015 at 1:21 am

I think it is vanity to impose upon these folks that they must be 100% Christian everything–all the time. Look in the mirror.. are you 100% Christ-like in ALL things ALL the time? And I guarantee that you aren’t on their size stage every day either. And you do not have the same size following ready to kick you every time you fall.

Consider, if you will, that these folks may be doing the best they can in a stressful lifestyle. So what do they need? Obviously, they need people in forums proclaiming in relative anonymity, the name of Jesus. Really? These folks are living it folks! And maybe none of us have noticed, but it CAN be tough out there at times. Pray for them people! It is by the spirit that they are going to be strengthened. Trust me, as a musician, logging on here and seeing what my Brothers and Sisters say about my weakness sure beats me down..

I would tell you all and the world that I am a sinner saved by Grace Through Faith in Jesus Christ and, oh yeah I am a sinner. I am thankful that Jesus cared enough about me that even if I was the only one; and knowing that it was my my sins alone driving those nails; Jesus would have done it just for me alone.

Instead of kicking these folks while they are down, let’s encourage them back up with edifying words and genuine encouragement. Let’s pray that the Spirit strengthens them. Let’s send them out to shine some light in the darkness.. without monikerizing them. The world are supposed to recognize us through our fruit, not our T-shirts.

Sometimes the seed doesn’t take root immediately. In my own experience it has been that someone had to sow some seeds, then someone else would come along and water that seed. Someone else later came by and tended the seed. Guess what happened next? The seed grew, yup and newly energized.. well it thrived. Some weeds grew up and the seed starts to wither. Ouch! Someone else comes along and did some weeding and the seedling resuscitates and grows again. My point in this is.. who is to say what part in anyone else’s life these folks play. Maybe God’s plan for them is merely to cast out seed. It is after all the Holy Spirit that softens and moves on your heart not the guys in the band.. right? Let the Holy Spirit do the convicting. Lift them up in prayer and let the Spirit do his job.

God has a plan for their lives, let’s pray that they are strong and embrace HIS plan.

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