Stephen Christian, the former singer/songwriter of defunct rock band Anberlin, has taken up the position of Worship Director at Calvary in Albuquerque, NM.
Christian and his bandmates started Anberlin in 2002, after the demise of their previous group, known as SaGoh 24/7. He is one of the main songwriters for Anberlin along with Joseph Milligan, and with the band has released seven albums, the final being in 2014. Many of the albums in the Anberlin discography have peaked in the top ten on various Billboard charts.
He founded the non-profit and humanitarian-oriented band Faceless International, and is the founder of Wood Water Records, the home of Anchor & Braille. Christian wrote and self-published the memoir The Orphaned Anything's (2008). Christian also started the solo project Anchor & Braille in 2007, and their debut album Felt, produced by Aaron Marsh of Copeland, was released in 2009. Felt debuted at number 30 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart.
They released a second album, The Quiet Life, in 2012, with Christian again handling vocals and songwriting. A reviewer on Absolutepunk called The Quiet Life "a chaotic beauty of an album as well as [Christian's] most personal and eloquent effort to date."
On the website BadChristian, Christian writes about what guided his decision to become a worship pastor.
"I had it all figured out, I would stop touring with the band and concentrate more on my family, deepen the roots with my community in East Nashville, and with four part time jobs in my back pocket it seemed as if I was walking into a dream life. None of the individual jobs made a lot of money but they all added up to allow me to work from home and basically choose when and where I worked.
"In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps."
One by one the jobs began to dissolve; one job was outsourced, the next job cut the budget and my pay was cut by 75%, songwriting was going well but even though I got a cut on a record it wouldn't end up helping pay for a mortgage for another year or more, the start-up stagnated, and I found myself out of a job(s).
It was February and I was watching all that I had worked so hard for the previous year slowly dwindle down. By month two I found myself with a lack of direction, going to sleep later and waking up earlier. I was trying to do all that I could in order to keep from dwelling on the fact that I was slowly sinking into the cement I was so sure just a few months ago was solid.
Then it began. I started waking up in the middle of the night with no feeling in my clenched hands. Night after night the burning sensation would wake me from sleep, my disquieting and restless thoughts seeping into my physical body.
I would awaken to the lack of blood in my aching hands night after night, mere hours before sunrise, having managed to fall asleep after my thoughts betrayed me yet again. I had a catharsis: Why? Why am I worrying about this? My children do not worry whether or not their parents will provide a roof over their heads, they just trust. My children don't question if they are going to have food to eat for dinner, they simply live in expectation of what it might be. My kids have never questioned if they will have clothes to wear, the clothes are just there, hanging in the closet.
Who am I then to expect any less from my Father? It was as if in the natural I was living out what I was doing spiritually; I was holding on to my life with both hands, 'don't worry God, I've got this'. So I did all I could do: I let go. I handed it over to God, all of it; my family, my livelihood, my future, my will, all of it. I WAS FREE FROM MYSELF!
Then nothing happened.
I had no call the next day offering me a new job, no new solo record contract, no one put one of the songs I had written on hold. Nothing. And that night I fell asleep, peacefully. I slept through the night too, because my life wasn't my responsibility anymore, it was God's. Weeks went by and nothing, yet I felt as though I was led by still waters and my soul felt restored. The mountaintop may feel so refreshing and reviving but it is in the valleys that God teaches us the most about Himself and ourselves.
Trust. The lowlands had taught me to trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not unto my own understanding; it's one thing to skim over that line, it is another to live it out. I was faithful in whatever little opportunity that was presented, I worked hard at whatever was set before me, but at the end of the day my life was my God's.
A month and a few weeks after I unclenched my hands I received a phone call from my friend in New Mexico, 'Hey man, would you ever consider leading worship here in Albuquerque?" I immediately said no. That wasn't how I envisioned my life, I enjoyed writing worship, but never thought working at a church was for me. It seemed like a foreign mission field in a third world country; I was used to a much, much different lifestyle-one that included a dingy backstage and even dingier band dudes.
The next Sunday at The Village Chapel in East Nashville my Pastor was expounding on Acts 3 where "Phillip, living in a thriving community, much like East Nashville, was called to desert..." My wife and I sunk in our chairs. That one sermon lead us to a peculiar series of events, in which all signs were pointing us toward New Mexico. We conceded to visit Calvary, and we knew in that moment that all things had worked together for good... Weeks later we were packing boxes and moving. I am now the Worship Director at Calvary of Albuquerque and could not be more elated with where life, and God, has taken me.
"He loves you too much to leave you like you are."
Allow yourself to be broken; if you don't and if you are pursuing God then He will break you. It's for your own good. I can promise you that God will meet your needs, but I can't promise you that it will be in your timing, or will look exactly like you wanted it to. I can promise you that God loves you, I can't promise you that he will give you everything you want because there are lessons in life we just need to learn and there is character he wants to build. There is a better life waiting if you will just let go of all you are still holding on to with unclenched hands."