While reading up on the band I came across this interview that they did in Christianity Today a couple of years ago. While providing some background on the history of the group, lead singer Isaac Slade offers an interesting take on the band's purpose. Here's a segment of Stan Friedman's article:
"Critics have credited the band's success in part to their catchy hooks and melodies, but the power of Slade's lyrics also has been key to catapulting The Fray into the national limelight. How to Save a Life is filled with songs that tell stories of depth and emotion that go beyond the ever-present angst—and Christian—bands. The band members' lives were largely formed in Denver churches where they helped lead worship, and in the Christian school three of them attended. Slade, 24, and guitarist Joe King, 25, were several years ahead of drummer Ben Wysocki, 21, at Faith Christian Academy. Wysocki and guitarist David Welsh, 21, played in the same worship band.Within Christian circles there is often an expectation placed upon musicians to be more upfront and vocal about their faith than we expect from those in other professions. For example, we don't expect lawyers who are Christians to refer to Jesus in every opening argument, but we are often dismayed if a singer who is a Christian doesn't use the name of Jesus in every song. I am not at all saying that singers who are followers of Christians shouldn't refer to God in their songs. I would be disappointed if they didn't.
The band avoided Christian record labels, saying God called them to the secular market instead. "I feel he would be disappointed with us if we limited ourselves," Wysocki says. Slade says he used to "write all Christian lyrics" until he had an epiphany while working a shift at Starbucks: "None of my friends outside the church understood any of my songs; we had a different set of vocabulary," he says. "So I went home and threw away all those songs." He adds, "If I handed somebody a double grande mocha latte and told them, 'Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life,' they might throw it back on me.
"If we grow up in the church, it's easy to think it's our Christian duty to preach to every single person because God is the most important thing. And he is, but I'm a musician first. This is my job. We're not pastors. We're not preachers. We're not even missionaries." Slade likens his job to any other. "If you're a painter, paint, but you don't have to have Jesus in every picture. Paint well, and if you paint well enough, they might ask you why you do that."
But what I am concerned is the desire of some of us to place Christians artists in a box and relegate them to the Christian subculture that we've created. There may be some that have a calling from God to minister to and encourage those that are already part of The Church and that is a great thing. However, there are others that have a calling to reach those outside of the Christian faith. In order to do this effectively they need to speak a language that the broader culture will understand and do so in a manner that points them to God.
As in any profession, musicians that are believers in Jesus need to work at their craft with excellence and seek to let their light shine wherever God leads them. Simple things like working hard, showing up on time, completing assignments and being a friend to co-workers are all things that honor God in the workplace. On the other hand, musicians have a platform that many of us don't possess. They have a voice that is heard by millions and opportunities to influence culture. Whether they are explicitly Christian in their lyrical content or they seek to raise questions that will cause people to seek spiritual answers, Christian artists should seek to live as God would want any of us to live. As Jesus said in Matthew 5:
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."No matter if I claim the title of pastor or missionary or singer or plumber, my role as a Christian is to follow God each day and live in a manner that pleases Him. We are to seek ways that honor him and opportunities to make Him known by always being prepared to share the reason for the hope that is within us with gentleness and respect. (I Peter 3:15)