Oh! The Ease of Christianity
- Monday, July 28, 2003
Downhere doesn’t particularly like carrying the title of a Christian band because it perpetuates the concept of a ‘culture’ it would like to see bulldozed. Suggest the guys could be contradicting themselves by staying on a Christian record label and gigging for youth groups, and the band will agree.
But they’ve got a remedy for such a precarious position. It involves hot tubs, basketball courts and Bibles.
It’s just really easy to be a Christian here,” says downhere guitarist Jason Germain, 25, sitting barefoot on the couch with band mates Marc Martel (vocals, guitars), 26, Glenn Lavender (bass), 26, and Jeremy Theissen (drums), 24, at the Franklin, Tenn.-based home away from their native Canada.
Since relocating to Nashville a little more than two years ago after signing with Word Records, the guys from downhere have made some observations about their Southern, religiously rooted community that they say, frankly, are getting on their nerves.
“It really struck home when [working out] at the YMCA,” Germain says. “I started noticing that in conversations, everyone was talking about church. I was like, “Everyone here is a Christian.”
For these four members whose 9 to 5 is spent performing for a largely “churched” audience and whose little amount of free time is spent with other believers like church family and gym buddies, they are troubled by the lack of opportunity to be “salt and light.”
Germain demonstrates. He’s got evidence, he says. He calls it “field research” — from the hot tub of his own gym.
“I’d sit down beside a stranger and say, “So how was church on Sunday? “They’d be like, ‘Oh, really good!’ I haven’t been let down once,” he boasts.
Martel nods in agreement and adds, “I didn’t grow up in the Christian culture. I grew up in Montreal, where about .5 percent of the population would consider themselves evangelical Christians. Ask somebody how church was on Sunday, and the response would be, “Church? That’s funny, man. You still dress up in a tie on Sunday morning?”
And although the band can be sarcastic about the over-abundant church-going population at home, whether on the road or soaking in hot tubs, the lack of opportunity to live “missionally” has prompted downhere to ponder solutions. And much of the band’s musings on the topic made it onto its June sophomore release, "So Much for Substitutes" (Word).
“God has been showing us that we’d just been talking to Christians, hanging out with Christians and going in churches, and we realized that we needed to branch out,” Martel says.
Part of that branching out for downhere has been simply to make a conscious effort to meet others unlike themselves. “I’ve gone to play basketball a few times at the YMCA and have gotten to know people by doing that,” Lavender says. “It’s easy to get involved by joining a club or team that‘s not part of your church.”
“Or developing a conversation with the guys who work at the gas station,” Theissen cuts in. “I just need to be aware and conscious of the people in my everyday life: The lady who checks me in at the gym may not know the Lord.”
While being aware that those opportunities for contact is key, the guys have found that even more effective in pointing people toward Christ is service.
“Regardless, if you’re from a different place or culture, when you meet someone’s needs,” Germain says, “whether it’s just doing it for your neighbor who needs her car washed, that’s the stuff that really counts.”
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