Award-winning Christian artist Tauren Wells says his new music is uniquely a representation of who God made him to be and maintains that, unlike secular music, his songs offer people the hope of Jesus while talking about the difficulties of life.
Wells released his latest album, Citizen Of Heaven, last week, while he’s out on tour with TobyMac for the Hits Deep Tour. Along with the release of his new music, the multitalented musician has a new role as a preacher at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, under pastor Joel Osteen. He also has the honor of being a supporting act for TobyMac on the road.
The following is an edited transcript of Wells’ interview with The Christian Post where he talks about the differences between his music and contemporary Christian music, secular pop music, as well as his goal as a father to raise children who will grow up to have a true relationship with God.
Christian Post: Your music stands out from your CCM peers, how do you describe your unique style?
Wells: Thanks for pointing that out. We are who we are and if we allow ourselves to be who God created us to be, I think we are extremely effective because no one else can be us.
So many of us are chasing this moving target that is the expectations of other people. I'm trying to lay those expectations down and be who God has called me to be. I think there are people out there that enjoy it, that know that I'm not out here trying to be a superstar.
I want to do things with excellence and I want to represent Jesus with my creativity and the tools that we put in my tool bag. So I like coming on a tour and dancing and having the lighting program, like a pop show, and the band smacking and giving people an experience to soak in and enjoy while I turn their eyes from me to Jesus. That's the hope, that's the goal.
I think that's what makes what we do as artists who share our faith differently than other artists. Because if you go to mainstream pop show, what you're getting is who's on stage. But my goal is to point people beyond the people on stage and that's what we hope that we're doing.
CP: Pop-star Billie Eilish took home a number of Grammys at this year's award show, and many people resonate with her music, which is pegged as “dark” as she talks about depression. You have a song on Citizen of Heaven titled "Trenches" that also talks about hard times, but your song takes it another step further. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Wells: I think that's so good. I think that that's what God created musicians and songwriters and poets and painters and writers to do, is tap into human emotion and somehow articulate what we're all feeling, but what we all might not be equipped to talk about or to express.
So it's a really special thing that we get to do. I think the difference between Billy and me, for instance, is it's one thing to write about your feelings, it's another thing to not settle at the level of your feelings. As if that's all there is to experience. What I do is, I write about how I feel but I also write my response to what those feelings are.
I think what the church has missed a great part is that feelings are OK. That we have permission to feel.
So much church says, 'No, you got the joy of the Lord, it's your strength. No, we got the Prince of Peace, it's peace that passes all understanding. He's gonna guard our minds and all of that is absolutely true.
But we are not always there and to ignore our emotions and our feelings is to ignore the way that God designed us and made us. He gave us our feelings as an indicator for our soul to know what's happening beneath the surface of our lives. But what this music that is charged with hope and charged with faith does, is it calls me higher than my feelings.
It brings my faith perspective into my depression. It brings the Gospel into my struggles and brings peace into my anxiety. So it's one thing to say, "I feel anxious." It's another thing to believe that Jesus is enough to give me peace in my anxiety. And although I really feel it and it's real, it's not telling me the whole story.
That's the heart of "Trenches." "Trenches" is this picture of Jesus that we desperately need. That He's not off sitting on some pedestal. He is in the trenches of the human experience. That is what we believe about God. That He became a man and He was grieved with what were are grieved with, He was hurt by the things were hurt by, He was tempted by the things we are tempted by. There is no temptation that is not common to man.
He has experienced our pain and became sin for us. He's not off far and away, He's right there by our side, fighting for us in the lowest moments of our lives. It's the greatest hope. The hope is that I'm not alone.
CP: You have now stepped into the calling of a preacher at Lakewood Church. How's that been for you?
Wells: It's been amazing. It's a new challenge. It's easy to get one message and preach it all over the place. It's different when you got to come with something new every month. Now, I don't even want to think about what it's like for guys that are preaching every single week or each and every week and then doing a leadership talk. I'm like, "How do you produce that much content?"
I'm not there yet, but I am starting to get the hang of speaking once a month in my same local church, which is a lot different than traveling, and kind of repeating some of the same things. So I'm enjoying it. I love talking to people and breaking it down to where it's not so churchy and all this language that people can't get there with you. So I love it.
CP: You recently tweeted about not raising your kids to be religious, can you talk about that?
Wells: It's a journey and it's an imperfect journey, and we're trying to figure it out. But I don't want my sons to turn 18 and go to college and realize I taught them how to be good rule followers. All that's going to go away at a certain point when they start to feel their independence. I want them to be Jesus followers, not rule followers.
There's really no trap like religion. It gives you the sense that you're good, but you're not. You're checking off the boxes and looking the part and doing the thing, but you know in your heart there's distance that you can explain.
My kids are super young, they're 6, 3 and 2, so I feel like time is going to teach me a lot. I heard somebody say, "The more you think you are in control of your kids, the younger your kids act.
The older they get, the more you realize, 'OK, I'm not in control.'" Trying to help a kid along is like trying to move around a 600 pound gorilla, it's not going to happen. When they're 30 and 35 and 40, I will know if any of it worked.
CP: You're on tour with TobyMac who recently suffered a great tragedy. What has it been like for you to be a supporting act for him during this time in his life?
Wells: I like how you said supporting act, it's a time where I think that support means more than ever. That it's really important and it's such a blessing to be able to be out here on this journey with him.
I'm just amazed by his leadership and his authenticity and his ability to absolutely feel the worst pain that he's ever felt in his life and still say, "I'm more passionate than ever to show people who Jesus is." I don't know how I would respond, but I don't think it would be like that. I don't think you would see me for a while.
He said that this tour is now more important than ever because of the tragedy that he and his family have gone through. So we are just lifting him up and Amanda and the rest of the family, the other kids. But yeah, there's nobody like Toby.
Citizen of Heaven is now available. For more information on Wells’ new music and The Hits Deep Tour, visit his website.