Former Anberlin Singer Enjoys Career As Worship Leader

October 11, 2017

The alternative rock band Anberlin signed with its first major record label in 2002 and released its first studio album, “Blueprints for the Black Market,” the following year. The band grew in popularity, touring nationwide with Stephen Christian (’14) as lead singer.

Christian said if someone had told him at the time that 12 years later he would hold a master’s degree in business administration (M.B.A.) and serve as a church worship leader, he would have responded, “No way.” None of that was in his original plan.

Music has always been Christian’s passion, but after several years of touring, Christian knew that a professional music career wouldn’t last forever.

“I feel like everyone should have a Plan B,” Christian said. “For me, that was going back to get a master’s degree, because I felt like it would open so many doors for me.”

He decided to pursue his M.B.A. through Liberty’s online education program.
“I could take classes anywhere, which was perfect for me since I was always on the road,” he said. “I could sit in cafés in Paris and log into my class.”

Christian said the flexible online format helped him to juggle tour life and graduate school. He remembers a specific trip to Cuba with the band.

“We were asked to play a Fourth of July show for the naval soldiers stationed at Guantanamo Bay Naval Station,” Christian said. “We had a whole day to ourselves where we could do whatever we wanted to before we performed. While the rest of the band was jet skiing, I was sitting in my hotel room trying to write a paper on economics.”

When Anberlin disbanded in 2014, Christian started looking for new outlets where he could be creative.

“I began writing worship music for other artists,” he said. “But after a while, I wondered why I was giving my songs away when I could do something with them (myself).”

It was around that time that he received a call from a friend about an open worship pastor position at Calvary Albuquerque in Albuquerque, N.M. Though Christian was hesitant at first, he decided to visit to see if it was a good fit for his family.

“Before the trip, I already had another job lined up,” he said. “But God closed the door and made it clear that New Mexico was where we were supposed to be.”

Christian said he and his wife, Julia, have loved being part of their new church and the ministry in Albuquerque. In July, Christian released his first solo album, “Wildfires,” a 10-song worship album. He described the new venture as having an electronic style, with lyrics describing personal experiences and the ways God has spoken to him throughout the years.

“(Worship) is totally different from entertainment,” he said. “It’s not about self-glory.”

Christian said that though some Anberlin fans may be unsure of his switch to the worship scene, he believes he was given another opportunity to use music to reach those who are hurting.

“Before (in Anberlin), it was about giving people hope,” he said. “Now, I’m pointing them back to ‘The Hope.’”

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