Worship/pop/indie/experimental duo Gungor, have been making music for a little over 10 years, and throughout that time they have seen their music go from corporate church songs to artful deep compositions. With Michael and Lisa Gungor's newest album, One Wild Life: Soul coming this week, they spoke to BREATHEcast about their view of worship and evangelism.
Michael revealed when making songs he would try to create music that was spiritual or worshipful. He began to ask himself the question, "'How do you separate worship from just your normal life'? Worship is just sort of this open endedness, this openness to God. Gratitude and offering of yourself. Why does that get separated from any music?"
The question is one of familiarity as many Christian artists who focus on one kind of genre or type of music often feel stuck in their route. The Bible states music was originally created to glorify God, so should it matter how and what that music sounds like?
"There's something about those early days of worship's meaning, that we feel called to in a way," Michael lamented. "There is a difference between us and a straight pop act where I just try to entertain people. There's nothing wrong with it, I enjoy it....but I'd rather make music that tears a heart open."
"I'd rather devastate a heart than magnify" he joked.
Gungor's focus on music is they want to open hearts, and make listeners a bit uncomfortable by diving far into real emotions. The music is not necessarily for the church, but can be applied to a believer's life with God.
"We were told there's only one way to write for the church...that's just what was. These were the songs you write for church, and then there was this other music that weren't church songs," Lisa shared.
Lisa did not know what to do with the songs she had been writing but said they "didn't fit in a certain box."
From there, Gungor has been on this journey trying to blur lines between what worship and non-worship music is, while trying to make both something uniform. "Intertwining the worship music with regular songs."
In the past they would write songs depending on the situation. They used the huge Acquire the Fire events, Battle Cry for example. Michael said they would write songs in vein of, "What does this event really need?" instead of taking already written songs.
Those Battle Cry events were a huge evangelism catalyst for teens and young adults who were either not saved, or were people who needed strong encouragement in a Christian setting.
Michael sees the lines between music and evangelism as different from one another. Using the statistic that 83% of Americans self-identify as Christians, he asks, "What does it mean to be a Christian?"
Referring back to music, sometimes people will say 'It's not Christian enough' or 'You have to mention Jesus more'. This is something that makes him laugh, "Like people haven't heard the name of Jesus at this point in America. You've all heard of Jesus."
"I think the idea of evangelism needs to be rethought in a society like ours at this point. If it means spreading the heart of the gospel which to me means love, enlightenment, connectedness, serving the poor, and loving your enemy; all that stuff is part of what Jesus taught, and spreading that love into the world," he continued, "Then certainly yes, music is a powerful way of kind of reminding us and letting us experience the heart and transcendence of the gospel and the kingdom of God."
He said this experience can found in even the most mundane of things such as food, music, art, film, relationships, and nature, "anything you experience can become this sort of sacrament. This sort of touching point of grace that people can experience."
The singer said in his own life music has had times where it became a connection point to the divine. That's the kind of music Gungor hopes to make.
"We hope that people can engage with this music in a way that is little bit more intentional, devotional, transcendent, and becomes sort of this place to encounter a reality in a raw and open and honest and hopefully emotional way."
Read interview part one with Gungor where we talk about the creation of their new album One Wild Life: Soul. Here is the final installment of this interview where Michael talks about asking questions and theology.Check out our album review of One Wild Life: Soul here.