Being a member of a Christian rock band is not for the meek.

They often face condemnation from mainstream music fans convinced that Christian rock bands are hopelessly squishy, on a secret mission of heathen conversion or both. And their fellow Christians, many of whom still believe rock ‘n’ roll is the devil’s business, are often even less receptive.

Nashville-based indie-pop outfit Jars of Clay and Orange County, Calif., hard-rock stalwarts Stryper, both appearing at the Christian rock-themed Ignite Fest in Zion this weekend, have transcended the Christian rock label as well as anyone. In secular terms, Jars of Clay (who also play the Riverside Community Church in Peoria on Friday night) are Christian cousins of Death Cab for Cutie, although, as Jars guitarist Steve Mason politely points out, it may be the other way around: “People reference our first record as being a precursor to Death Cab.” For a band as cred-challenged as Jars of Clay, the distinction matters.

Stryper may not have a contemporary analog — it’s more like a combination of Skid Row and Styx, if those bands favored a black-and-yellow mise-en-scene and tossed Bibles into the crowds at their shows. Interviewed separately, Mason (whose band is touring to promote its October 2010 collaborations disc “The Shelter,” and its AIDS/African water crisis charity Blood: Water Mission) and Stryper frontman Michael Sweet (touring to support Stryper’s February covers disc “The Covering”) discussed the unique difficulties of being Christian rockers in a secular world.

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