Monday, November 15, 2010

Chris Tomlin - boring?NO/Why we need to stop begging God for stuff, and praise Him more.

Sorry. I'm very far behind on blogs. Been busy!

This Sunday at EIC, we're going to introduce a new-ish Chris Tomlin song, 'Our God'.

I find Chris T an interesting phenomenon. The thing is, he's a little bit boring. (IMO only!)
The Hillsong and Planetshakers and Jesus Cultures and Israel H's of this world seem to be creating cooler, more energetic, more passionate music.

But every time we do a Tomlin song in our AM services, BANG, it just connects with people. The young ones, the middle aged ones, and even the young-in-heart-not-body ones.

I think it comes down to two factors.

1. Lyrics.
This guy's lyrics are pretty cliche. They aren't usually very clever. But they are always, always right. He constantly hits the same theme, song after song. His theme is GOD'S GREATNESS.

In todays world, half the worship songs seem to be inwards focused and almost a little bit selfish. (i.e. Holy Spirit Fill ME, touch ME give stuff to ME)
There is nothing wrong with that; Jabez asked for God's blessing, and he got it.  (1 Chronicles 4.10)
But I believe that our asking God for stuff has to be well balanced with our relationship with him.

X-rated I know, but if I suggest an intimate moment with my wife on a friday night, but haven't spent time time with her all week, haven't told her daily that I love her, haven't helped around the house, haven't listened to her problems, haven't prayed with her about tough situations in life ect, she will say a resounding NO WAY. And right she is.

Intimacy is a reaction and a reward for successful relationship.

So if we want intimacy with God (and who doesn't!) We need to work on our relationship with him first. Chris Tomlin clearly understands this.
And his lyrics totally reflect his remarkable attitude and focus on GOD.

His lyrics are love songs to God. Here are some snippets:

Indescribable, Uncontainable,
You set the stars in the sky and you know them by name,
You are amazing, God
Incomparable, Unchangeable,
You see the depths of my heart and You love me the same
You are amazing, God

Name above all Names
You are worthy of my praise
My heart will sing
How Great is Our God

Water you turned into wine
Opened the eyes of the blind
There's no one like You, God
There's none like You

You are the everlasting God
the everlasting God
You will not faint,
You won't grow weary

Song after song, it's straight up love songs to the Savior.
And these are the songs that build relationship with God.
We tell Him we love him. He starts working in our lives. Intimacy is achieved.
Our lives are changed from the inside out.

2. Music

E's a clever lad, Tomlin.

His music is a little boring. To me.
To Stan and June, honorary elders at our church, from a very different generation from me, his music seems very forward, and out there.
To our African and Samoan congregation members, his songs feel very lacking in groove.
To some of us white folks, we find they have a nice touch of groove.

So his music sits nicely in the middle. It won't offend anyone. It won't alienate anyone. Everyone can sing along, in unity. It might not be your favorite style, but I have yet to hear complaints about it.

So to sum up -

Chris Tomlin is writing really great worship music. We shouldn't write him off, just because he may not totally cutting edge.

And, most importantly, nothing to do with Chris Tomlin, we need to build relationship with God, before we can expect intimacy with Him.
We should also be careful to provide a sound that doesn't offend the majority of church goers.

Songs we choose on Sunday should reflect that.

Thanks to the Coach for his help pushing me and sharing his years of experience with me.



  1. A good well-rounded view of Chris Tomlin there Ben :) I myself am usually all too willing to jump on the negative Chris Tomlin bandwagon. Though I still maintain that his recording of How Great is Our God (not necessarily the song itself) sounds like it could be by the Backstreet Boys. But you know, I've been a lot more keen on them recently...

  2. Never underestimate Da Tomlin. "Our God" is a unity-driven anthem man. Everyone should be fists in the air on that chorus and bridge... well 9am might be tough. I'd almost prefer to just have everyone yell those words in unison before singing it, just to get our minds in check.