Was God Asking Us to Walk Away from the Church?


When we first started Emery, we decided that we’d be okay with any label people decided to place on our band.  People described us as rock, emo, screamo, hard-core, post-hardocre and the most unique label of all? christian. That last label changed us forever. (here’s our take on “secular/christian” music). We quickly found that through using the word “christian” to describe our band, we were able to play some really great shows at churches. On one particular tour, we actually played all churches. It was great in almost every way.  The people were nice, the venues were clean, the sound was pretty good, our hosts bought us hotel rooms, and the food spreads were killer. The only weird thing was, it felt completely wrong.

One night, halfway through this “church tour,”  I walked out into this giant field and started crying out to God from sheer confusion,  asking what in the world was going on. I felt like a whiny, complaining cry-baby, considering I was getting to do everything I had ever wanted.  Nonetheless, these shows felt completely awful. I was hoping I could just suppress these feelings; forget about it, and get back to the provided bowl of skittles with all the red ones picked out.  But God wouldn’t let me shake this.  

We weren’t real.

Playing at church felt like we were just baby-sitters for kids, allowing their parents to drop them off and go on, comfortable with what would go into their kids’ ears.  That felt wrong on so many levels.  First of all, just the thought of parents dropping their kids off with some serious cash at church and entrusting them to some dudes claiming they are christians just wasn’t cool.  

Secondly, the majority of these kids and their parents only seemed to care that we were christians. The music was just for entertainment and “cool effect.”  I am the biggest fan of our music, so this all was killing me inside.  I had to ask if we were lying to ourselves. Were we doing this for money?  Was this all just too easy to pass up?  

Should we quit churches all together?  Was God asking us to walk away from church?

I gathered the guys together and told them what I was feeling.  They all cussed me out. Mainly Josh because he looks like Jesus. Just kidding. They were all feeling the same way.  It was a tough decision to make, but we dropped off that tour.  We immediately realized that churches weren’t the problem;  God had simply called us to do something different, and we hadn’t been listening. Many bands are supposed to play churches, using their talents and songs that way. It’s totally right for these bands, and we believe they are listening to God.  We just were called to leave that scene in order to go towards the uncomfortable unknown.

From that point on, we decided to play bars and clubs and we knew that every gig we played, it would be because we chose to play there.   There would be no more “just playing shows.”  We could still play a church or christian festival, but it would be our choice and it would be real and not just to have a good gig.

Six albums later and it’s still one of the best decisions we ever made as a band, because it was what God wanted for us.  Weird huh, that some christians aren’t supposed to play churches.  I do miss the bathrooms though compared to CBGB”S. That was a whole other hell.

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