Gungor in 2009 at a Christian Conference
I met Michael and Lisa Gungor back in 2009 for the first time at the Worship Together Conference in Maryland. He and his wife Lisa led a workshop on song-writing and creativity back then. Gungor’s fire and passion for God was visible, energizing and contagious.
But even back then I sensed certain restlessness in the couple. There was a frustration with Christian music in general. Gungor stated that Christian Music is the only music that is categorized by its lyrical content. Gungor believed that all creativity comes from God. He didn’t like the stage setting in churches, but at the same time he wished that he could distance himself from churches and sing in normal venues.
After the workshop, he gave a beautiful concert with The Michael Gungor Band. His wife Lisa harmonized perfectly with him. The guitar solos were stunning. The lyrics to all of his songs were flashing on a screen. He managed to unite his whole audience with worship and prayer. Back then he sang “Friend of God”,” White Man” and my absolute favorite “Glory is Here”. I could sense angels around me and I was longing to sing this forever and ever in heaven.
It was beautiful. I still get Goosebumps just thinking about it.
Gungor in 2014 in Salt Lake City at LoFi Café
But times have changed since then. Gungor’s wish came true. In Salt Lake City he actually sang in a bar. Most of the Christian lyrics are gone. Instead of singing in front of hundreds of people in churches a handful showed up at that Bar.
Gone is the praise and worship music. Gone is the energy. Gone is the unconventional funky hair. His passion went out of the door. Instead of people raising hands to the sky (Something he obviously doesn’t like anymore according to his blog) people seem to be bored and standing around purposeless in the venue.
Instead of mentioning how much he doesn’t want to be categorized with the Christian genre he now believes that he surpasses all genres.
The Michael Gungor Band doesn’t exist anymore. He refers to his band as Gungor’s Collective.
As I sat on my bar stool and watched Gungor and his band appeared to be lost in their performance I wondered what had happened. The talent is still there, the harmonies were tight and Michael Gungor’s instrumentality and ability is suburb. There were moments of absolute brilliance and when I listened carefully, there were even familiar hints of their former albums in their song arrangement.
But I wasn’t buying it. Gungor did not meet my expectation. It was like the energy was zapped right out of him or maybe out of me. Maybe showing up an hour late on stage did not really help. Maybe he had a rough day on that tour bus. He seemed tired and had circles under the eye. Maybe I needed to hear some familiar songs or have the lyrics flashed on the screen like back in Maryland.
I talked to him a little bit after the show. He is still a nice guy. He laughed and was open to critics. But he said firmly: “I don’t consider myself a Christian artist anymore”. That sums it all up.
I can understand that. I appreciate his honesty. I search for Christian meaning in my life too. I have a great deal of doubts. Usually Christian music helps me to eliminate them. Maybe I just expected a little too much of Gungor.
I grieve the loss of his faith (and mine) especially when I listen to his master piece “Glory is Here”.
Gungor wrote the familiar song: “Friend of God”. Gungor received two Grammy nominations and a Dove Award. He is also the son of best -selling author Ed Gungor (There Is More to the Secret) and the nephew of Mark Gungor (Laugh your Way to a Better Marriage).