|How would you describe the teen audience you're ministering to these days?|
For the most part, Christian youth are really on fire. But there are a lot of kids who are the product of a generation of parents that decided, consciously or not, that they were just going to check out of their kids' lives. Our song "Hearts of the Innocent" laments what we feel is going to happen to them if we don't step in. We're teaching kids to fail. Half are growing up in homes with divorce, just like I did. Abuse statistics are rising. And the church isn't set apart from that. We as Christians, especially, need to be doing better than that.
What fallout have you seen as a result of those issues?
Kids who are crushed and searching for any other experience to fulfill their lives—like I was before I found Jesus. I was into drugs, alcohol, this, that and the other thing. Something we're seeing that's very universal is that teens are cutting themselves as a way of escaping from grief. We met a 13-year-old in Texas who'd been into self-mutilation for a year-and-a-half before a friend invited her to church and she responded to the gospel. Eleven is just too young to be having this problem. Besides, Jesus took every cut that mankind deserves.
What do you think parents could do better that would help turn the tide?
If we want kids to know they're loved and to pursue righteousness, we need to let them talk about the things in their world that are real and hard. Keep the lines of communication open. They need to know that coming to us will get them help, comfort and direction. I mean, youth are bombarded right now with all forms of media. Every kid in junior high knows more about the Internet than you or I will ever know. They know about video games, television, magazines, music … and have become pretty good at being sneaky about it, too. They need to know we want to help them pursue something better.
What do you think about the debate over musicians not wanting to be labeled "Christian" bands?
We're tired of people trying to compartmentalize everything. What it comes down to is this: Do these guys love the Lord or not? Does the music glorify God or doesn't it? I kind of miss the old days when there was no Christian industry and guys like Larry Norman were just going forward doing their thing, talking about Jesus, and people didn't care. If MTV wants to play a song that shares the gospel, that's awesome. There are some people who say it's crossing over and selling out, but a lot of people who need to hear the gospel are watching MTV. Kutless has always been very open about our faith to our listeners, sharing the hope that we have as five guys completely changed inside and out by Jesus Christ. No one can argue with how He changes lives.
And the whole "rock star" thing? How do you keep it all in perspective?
So much of our environment tells us that we're awesome. With people always complimenting us, I would assume for some people it might easily go to their heads. But we have an awesome home church that treats us as individuals, not as Kutless … and our wives don't let us believe our own press for a second.
Published October 2006