I think I’m done…

Honestly, I started this blog to celebrate creativity, freedom, and the value of authentic artistic expression among people of faith. I wanted to help create a culture where people could talk openly about music, culture, and worship. At the same time, I wanted to answer questions that I commonly receive about songwriting etc.

Instead, I seem to spend most of my time defending these values instead of celebrating them. I can’t express to you how incredibly boring that has become.
Sure, creativity, artistic expression, and innovation/experimentation in worship (or for fun) may not be the absolutely most important aspects of Christian life, (they certainly aren’t the answer to every, if any, problem of the “modern day church”) but they are valuable, and incredibly difficult to find among faith oriented communities. More importantly, they are what I love, and what this blog is about…
See, I’m not trying to help people write songs for every Christian on the planet to sing. I’m trying to encourage people to pursue what they are passionate about and to shake free from the ridiculous and archaic (not to mention unbiblical) expectations of traditional church culture that burden and alienate sooooooooo many people (myself included).
Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not at all against traditional expressions of worship (btw I consider most “contemporary” expressions still to be incredibly traditional), but I am against the stupid idea that these expressions are any more “correct” or “Biblical”. Our common expressions, even the most traditional, still look relatively nothing like those of the bible… and that’s OK because “it” (whatever “it” is) seems to be more about the level of our authenticity, not the precision of our mimicry. I’m just sick of people telling me what “worship” is and isn’t simply because it doesn’t look or sound like what they do at their church.
So, I’m done…
…not with the blog, but with wasting time defending these values.
Love,
John Mark
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62 comments
  1. awesome. Truth seems to always defend itself, with or without us

  2. josh said:

    I here you man nothing sucks the life out of you like trying to defend your obedience to what God placed inside of you…Carry on man!

  3. Stokes said:

    You got me. I read that thinking you were going to stop blogging, which really saddened me. De-lurking to say I _so_ appreciate your thoughts.I look forward to the day when the Church reclaims her rightful place as the fountain of creativity in the world. When she does, I'll look back to you as one of the guys God used to bring it about.

  4. JD said:

    what is worship to you bro?

  5. Your very response is saturated with the freedom and boldness you believe in. I think you just demonstrated a key to creativity. Sadly, some will never move outside what they already know.

  6. Kevin said:

    I wish my name was John Mark

  7. Ken said:

    I love the truth and I'm exciting with your continued pursuit to remove the traditional constraints on worship.

  8. Keith said:

    I'm with you on this. Strive on!

  9. Right on man. I appreciate this blog more than you know. Helps me know that I may be the one odd man out at my church, but not in The Church.

  10. Al said:

    Cool man. I hear ya. I'm glad. You can never judge another person's worship. Nor should they judge yours.

  11. Ian said:

    A lot of churches teach that church tradition is as sanctified as the Word. That's where ideas like purgatory or the ever-virgin, never-dying mother of Christ come from. Doctrinally, I believe this things to be false, but another area that they are damaging is by devaluing any form of worship that looks differently than what has been handed down. Too many people live in a fear of not pleasing God instead of living in His love through His grace. Why do we always try to put the God of the wind and mountains and stars into a box that fits in our hands?

  12. Eric said:

    I appreciate what you said. Religion sucks if I may say so and I hate the fact that you have found yourself in this defensive posture. You are one of the best songwriters on the planet and your walk is sold. People than cannot see that you are just being successful in the sphere where the Lord has placed you are just short-sighted. I will gladly defend you any day of the week my friend!!

  13. John Mark(s), I am with you, and I love that you are set a part and unorthodox in your leading. I find that worship when it become capsulated and contained in a formula is not worship anymore. And what you are doing is leading; spirit and truth. I am inspired and ushered in with honesty unaffected with any forgery or counterfeit heart.

  14. Steve said:

    John Mark, thanks. This is probably the first time I have ever ready your blog, to be honest. And it seems that the Lord is giving greater revelation to musician's today that are less about writing "good" music, but more about spending time with Him, using the talents that He has given us in personal worship to the King Himself! I would like to share more and hear your heart as well.Steve

  15. I've always liked your blog. And I like what you have to say. Someone once told me that if you go into another worship setting and have trouble with finding a way to worship God in it, there's a big fat chunk of religion exposed in you. So I remember that wherever I go. Whether it's a grandparent's VERY conservative church or a more "openly" expressive setting or music that I don't know or expression I don't understand completely, if I feel uncomfortable because it doesn't fit what I'm used to, I press in anyway on purpose. Thanks for your thoughts.

  16. right. wisdom is justified by her deeds. good blog…I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that you weren't, in fact, ending the blog. I think it's a good plan.

  17. Erik said:

    Thanks for not giving up your blog, it has been helpful for a cynic worshiper like myself.Don't the occasional negative comment get you down. The internet is full of tons of "Christians" who think it their duty to troll blogs and speak their minds, often without love or civil discourse. I think the internet is a great information distribution source, but a horrible discourse forum. It's just too easy to hide behind your digital persona and people tend to say things that they would never say to a real flesh and blood person standing next to them.Keep up the good work. Look forward to seeing you in concert in Irondale in a month.

  18. Your music and songwriting – your unique and authentic voice in the changing culture (church culture and culture in general) is making a way for itself without any defense. Just keep doing what you do – it's great! Kudos to you for not letting any of your time be wasted defending the things that some people will sadly never "get."

  19. Richard said:

    You aren't ever going to be able to change the set paradigm of the world by yourself. Do what you do, bro, and write what you write. Have fun, that makes for more interesting reading :).And as boring as it may have been to write, your last post has been knocking around in the ol' noggin for a bit now, and will perhaps influence my own songwriting, so thank you.

  20. hollyet said:

    glad you're not done with the blog, it's nice to read.

  21. Andy said:

    I don't think people should play drums or wear pants in church.

  22. Nanette said:

    "not the precision of our mimicry"…..that's huge. Love reading your thoughts…..

  23. Go Andy! ^^^ And yes i completely agree. I stopped tweeting people so much for pretty much the same reason. Truth will defend itself I don't need to do it.

  24. I enjoy your blog and I'm glad you're going to keep dropping your perspective on us. It is needed, John Mark, but your defense of your perspective is not. You're right, it's a waste of your time and resources. It will take time for folks to key into the things that are changing in the church. Some never will. But your proclamations are part of the change taking place, and possibly part of the impetus, so don't hold them back. We can't really, because it's part of who we are as people who clearly hear a message and have to deliver it. Be faithful and deliver the message! Don't sweat the reception of the message.Peace and Grace,Rich

  25. Love these thoughts. Our only desire as we try to do the same here locally is just that people would be able to connect with God. If we can help them in that, they'll passionately follow Him forever and change lives. It's about His Kingdom Come in our lives. We spend so much time preaching at the wind about the knowledge that we've gained instead of experiencing God in front of people. People know I am extravagantly in love with my husband because they watch our relationship develop and our love be publically proclaimed, not in word but, in action. How much more should our love be displayed for our first love, publically, in action, or song.

  26. Yeah I actually don't pay attention to what anybody else writes. I love reading what you write because I then realize that I am not as free as I thought I was…and so day by day I soar. Thanks!!

  27. i got scared, too! i had put your rss feed on my google homepage only recently.

  28. Love your thoughts on pursuing what you are passionate about. God didn't put the same specific desires in each of our hearts…he is far too creative for that.

  29. I come to this blog to celebrate and am tired of hearing you defend, so this is great. Remember, the people that oppose your values will not be the majority, just simply the loudest.

  30. You pinpoint how everything really is, exactly.Worship is not one certain way, it's the way the God put it in our hearts. So, it's different for everyone.I love you lots, you are very talented.

  31. Kay said:

    Got nervous… thought you were done with blogging! Glad it's that you're done defending. Keep on keeping on- we support you, and we're glad that there are people out there like you who are living out grace.

  32. I'm reminded of the words from one of Jonathan Helser's songs, "..I looked into the eyes of the Lion.." Obviously the song is powerful but it is also my instruction from the Lord lately, when bearing up under Truth gets to be too much. Look into the eyes of the Lion, Friend. His calling on you is clear and true. Rest as a beloved son.

  33. Jacob said:

    Whoa. You scared me there for a second…

  34. meredith said:

    {wiping my brow}….you had me worried. right on about not defending your position anymore. it just ends up feeding the beast. party on in your values…Christ did die for freedom.the world needs more of this type of discussion & to hear from the inspired in order to become inspired. we should do nothing out of obligation, but only out of the inspiration of Holy Spirit & obedience to what the Father calls us. you have such a gift…i cannot express to you how much your music has inspired the very core of who I am. it put words to the very thoughts & emotions the Lord was taking me through at the time.(cue: journey's "don't stop believin'") you rock. and thanks for the rock & roll.

  35. Shannon said:

    Yeah, no kidding. That last sentence was a breath of fresh air. Keep on keeping on, bro!

  36. dude, your blog is by far my most favorite to read, and I genuinely get something out of it. So don't worry about those Deusches that are giving you all the crap. Keep the good stuff comin

  37. kcampos said:

    Ahhh the frustrations of a blogger, welcome my friend πŸ™‚ Keep doin your thang man, don't get discouraged. Get your touring butt out to Phoenix too, this is getting ridiculous πŸ˜‰

  38. kcampos said:

    2 smileys in the same comment…I'm retarded.

  39. Susan said:

    I'm not a post-er, but I thought I would post so that you know that there are those of us out here that just genuinely love to hear your heart and your passion. Your writing inspires me and challenges me and causes me to seek even more intimately my beautiful King.

  40. Robin said:

    WHAT A SHOCK. DISAGREEMENTS ABOUT FAITH AND PRACTICE. MUST BE SOMETHING THAT JUST RECENTLY STARTED. LET ME KNOW HOW IT TURNS OUT. (DAD)

  41. This is why I follow your blog (haven't followed very long yet) because you are authentic and challanging. I personally can't wait for the day when "every knee will bow and every tounge confess that Jesus Christ is Lord", when a mess of worship erupts from the Earth and different styles clash together – in authentic worship! πŸ™‚

  42. Cathryn said:

    LOL…. i'm cracking up at your Dad posting…. toooooo cheeky!dude, Greg Garrett used to say, "i'm a proclaimer, not an explainer". Some things are just downloads- and as you are hashing it out and fleshing it out, it brings people life…. don't worry about the disagreements …. it's not worth the energy… but please have no doubt, what you do share is breaking ground for some… I've loved reading the process (sorry i haven't posted much, just been busy down here in Austin, and i read a lot of good blogs)- but yours has been really rich! So amen to quitting the arguments and a bigger Amen on deeper Conversations- PS… ya gotta come down and do some venues here in Austin, i keep ribbing stephen about it.. but this place really needs some juice. People are open to a lot here, some too much, but it always is kinda cool seeing HIM show up – Bless you dude!

  43. I'm right with you on all of this JMM. I want you to know your posts have helped inspire my creativity as well as helped me minister to people about real worship. i'm stoked about your KY and TN visits. I'm bringing friends who need to experience the reality of worship, who need to see that there are many ways to express their hearts to God, because I have confidence in the proven annointing on your ministry. la la la bamba

  44. Shazeroo said:

    John Mark, I m so grateful for your commitment to being an artist and not conforming to blandsville ideas of what musical expressions of worship should be. Please please keep being yourself…I often listen to you in the same playlists as Ryan Adams and you sit well in that kind of epic lyricist company. Keep running the race.

  45. Morgan said:

    For a minute I thought you were going to stop blogging and it made me sad! You don't have to defend anything – people who want to hear truth will hear it, and it's not your battle to convince the ones who don't hear it. I, for one, hear you and still want to hear more! Thanks for being a constant undercurrent in the worship scene of freedom and simplicity.

  46. Joe said:

    I want to start one of these just so I can keep up with your blogs friend. That says a lot about you and not so much about my attention span. Keep it up. You are a voice for so many more than you know like Elijah was when he was hiding out and God showed him that he was not alone. Raise up and father these. I would love to help. =)

  47. lorijo said:

    I appreciate your thoughts and I like your blog :]

  48. Luke W. said:

    This blog really inspires me as a musician and a Christian. I am so glad I ran into your music and your blog. This is great. And I want to say thanks for being different but not for the sole purpose of just being different, if that makes since. Keep it up, you're an inspiration and the few of us, or so it seems, that want to see change in the church can start something is we simply do not give up or give in. Thanks for being transparent with us all.

  49. Kansas said:

    Whew! I just subscribed! The first thing I read when I opened up my reader was "I'm done" and I was like NOOoo!! I love your work and your attitude and probably everything you do. God bless!

  50. Chris said:

    I just read this post now, so I apologize for getting into the discussion late.For one, I completely agree with you (thus being John Mark, referring to the original post) and you have my fullest support.I'm the arts chair on the student cabinet of the Bible college I go to and I'm trying to get people to see the same thing to which you wrote about.I'd get into the whys a lot more which I'd be more than happy to do, but I have a paper I need to write for Thursday that needs to get worked on.:P

  51. John Mark,I don't think you need to put yourself in the place to be the "apologist" for styles of worship music/worship expression. You are most comfortable, it seems, to simply lead people in worship and ask questions. Let us "argue" and "defend." You simply write songs, express praise and worship and challenges of the soul/spirit/mind/heart through those songs, and lift your voice and guitar. The fact is, if you were to say that the tree out your window is green, someone will take issue in that statement somehow. To you, it is green, to someone else it is more greenish red. It doesn't lessen what you see or feel or experience. Don't get hung up with what another sees as different, just receive their word/feelings/opinions, ask God to lift out Truth from what is shared, and move on.As a pastor, I know how easy it is to focus on what others say about what I share from God's Word, how it has played out in my life and experience. Their experience and life is different from mind. The challenge for us, as Christians, is to allow God to lift up the "middle" ground that can be common for us, but we don't have to give up our own understanding/experience just because someone else's is different from ours.I'm rambling so I will now stop. Except to say that you have raised questions and expressed ideas that, for most of us, have pushed us a little further along the path of discovery. Thanks and God bless.

  52. John, this post reminds me of a quote by Charles Spurgeon – "The word of God is like a lion; you don't have to defend a lion, all you have to do is let the lion loose, and the lion will defend itself." We as believers, especially passionate ones, have a tendency to want to defend every aspect of Christianity to the world around us, but we fail to realize that God commissioned us to go into all the world and PREACH the Gospel to every living creature. Proclamation and explanation are two different things, and I believe that once we take ourselves out of the picture, God can truly put His Word to work in the hearts of those to which we are called to minister. This is an incredible blog and I thank God for believers such as yourself that are willing to minister in whatever capacity God requires. God Bless!

  53. Jeremy said:

    Don't cop-out! If you consider a defending of a value to be a waste of time, then to you it is not at all a value. What you're passionate about is not what you cheer for but what you suffer for. How passionate you are about something is measured by the degree of difficulty you are willing to endure to accomplish the goal. To pursue a life of writing Biblical songs for the Church body in hopes that Christ would be made to look glorious and then neglect the responsibility of defending that work is like marrying your wife and then refusing to give her a sloppy wet kiss because you're tired of explaining to people why you do it all the time.

  54. I'm not saying I'm going to stop saying what I'm saying. I'm not going to stop "kissing my wife" as much as I'm just going to try to stop answering every single person who disagrees with me when I do it.

  55. Javier said:

    John Mark,I am a freshman Biology major at Trinity University in San Antonio. I just stumbled onto your blog kind of by accident, but what you're saying really echoes some of what God has been teaching me this semester.As a biology major I am constantly told that the earth is a product of genetic drift and random chance. This has been a huge challenge to my faith in my first two semesters of college. But I have my own experiences to lean on, Ebenezers if you will, to look back on and know that God has helped me thus far, so that no matter what bit of speculation a biology professor tries to project as truth, I know that I can rest in the security of what God has done for me.This is kind of beside the point, but I say it because it just gives the background into how I approach my experience and biology and how I'm trying to relate it to what you are saying in this post. Looking at biology and the infinite complexity of the earth, I can't escape the notion that one of God's chief characteristics is his CREATIVITY. Every day I sit in class, I am amazed by the complexity of earth and struck by just how illogical it seems to believe that life could have spontaneously arisen from a primordial soup. I believe we serve an extremely creative God, one with a sense of wonder and beauty and delight. Why else would he have created the stars, songs, and sex? I love the question Ian asked: "Why do we always try to put the God of the wind and mountains and stars into a box that fits in our hands?" Such a good question.Anyways, thanks John Mark for bloggin' away. I don't know if anyone will see this comment, as it's about 5 months late but those are my thoughts. Keep it up dude. You're up there with Tim Tebow this semester for me as far as professional encouragements go. Hopefully I can see you when you come to San Antone or Bryan or Dallas at the end of the month.Grace and Truth,Charlie(I don't know why my name says Javier.)

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