David Crowder on his 'deconstructive moment'
(CP) Worship artist David Crowder, known professionally by his stage name Crowder, is one of the most prolific worship artists today, known for his prayerful tunes and thoughtful lyrics.
Since bursting onto the CCM scene in the mid-'90s, Crowder has earned three Grammy nominations, four Dove Award nominations, winning one for Rock/Contemporary Song of the Year with "Wildfire," and countless other accolades. His fourth solo album, titledMilk & Honey, topped all four Billboard Christian Music Charts.
But the artist will be the first to admit his journey hasn't always been smooth.
"I got into what I'm doing because I was in a deconstructive moment," the 50-year-old Texas native told The Christian Post. "I was at a place in time where I found a community of believers that felt like refugees, that we were setting down a lot of baggage that we had because of the institutional experience we've had with Church. Jesus is so not like that."
"It feels like in our cultural moment, all of these difficult conversations, our response as followers of Jesus is the most adequate response you can have because it's all based on grace. We're known, seen, heard, loved by a Creator who knows your innermost thoughts. That's a mind-blowing statement. And then, to be able to demonstrate in moments of heightened social turmoil, the grace to say, 'The response right now is, I love you.' And I haven't seen a lot of that.'"
It was his own experience, the "Good God Almighty" singer said, that gives him empathy for his CCM peers — "many of them are my friends," he said — that are grappling with questions of the faith. In recent years, notable Christian singers, from Hillsong's Marty Sampson to Hawk Nelson's John Steingard, have publicly renounced their faith after a period of "deconstruction."
When he talks to his friends who are struggling, the singer asks, "Is this satisfying your approach right now? The way you're going about things, do you feel content that there's a purpose to what you're about and how you've constructed life?'"
"Most of the time, even for me, I'm like, 'No, I'd like to find more,'" he reflected. "It opens up a whole world instead of limiting it. There's just an opportunity for a better future and a more purposeful, meaningful way of existing when you start living in a selfless way, trying to follow how counter-culturally Jesus approached life. It seems like it's a pretty decent way to go about it."
Though it's easy to get discouraged by post-modernism and how it's impacting what Crowder referred to as "pop Christianity," he's optimistic about the future.
"I kind of love the moment; I feel more like an evangelist than a singer, songwriter, artist. I think we carry the best message ever for a moment as turbulent and difficult and confusing as what we're in."
And he's continuing to use his platform to share the Gospel. On March 4, he's releasing his 18-track Milk & Honey (Deluxe) album featuring an electronic-infused remix of "Milk & Honey," live versions of "God Really Loves Us (live from Passion 2022)" and "In The House," and more.
The album is a deluxe release of the original Milk & Honey, which debuted at No. 1 after its release on June 11, 2021.
The deluxe album features the brand-new song, "King," a tune that highlights God's sovereignty despite the struggles of the world. Crowder described the song as "defiant," "sort of like when the Psalmist says, 'I tell my soul to rejoice in you.'"
"It's almost like we have to talk to ourselves and say, 'Hey, despite what it looks like, what it feels like right now, I still have this belief, and what makes that belief plausible is because I'm in a community of believers, and I can look and see how faithful He was to you and I know where you came from. I know your story. And so, therefore, He's going to be faithful in the same way to me.'"
"It feels like it's just a part of the DNA of what the whole album was trying to say in a moment that we all share, we all have gone through together," he said. "And to be able to say things like, 'The faithfulness of God is necessary and true,' it's just mind-blowing."
Crowder and his band are now on tour, something the worship leader said is "like a breath of fresh air" coming out of a pandemic.
"I get to watch the faces of people, and I don't think it's the music that we're necessarily playing, but it's the truth in it. And you can see belief in people's eyes, and their arms go up, and they're like, 'Yes, I believe God is in pursuit of me.' That's my favorite. Watching people back in a room, singing songs together is just pretty powerful," he said.
"Hearing and feeling and knowing that we were meant for community and living life next to one another, and we make each other into a more complete image of God — that's what our hope is for this album," he added.
Reflecting on his years in the Christian music industry, Crowder said he still "doesn't feel any more capable" now than when he first began decades ago. But he believes he's exactly where God has called him to be, sharing the truth in a culture that is desperately seeking answers.
"The process has changed a lot ... it still feels like it's still exploration. I want to approach it differently every time because I don't, I still don't understand it. I don't understand music. I don't know how you can organize just the molecules in the air to resonate and be so beautiful," he said.
"And I think that's why I'm still doing it. Because I just think it's amazing that we have this gift. It gets right to the soul, heart, emotions, and it's terrifying. My job, what I get to do day in and day out, is terrifying to me, and I think in the best way. I think one thing we're missing is the understanding that there's a transcendent Creator that's at work, and He allows us to have the same materials to work with, and we get to form them in a way that either speaks to His glory or to our own. I would rather be a part of His story than mine."