Making Mechandise of the Gospel

Discussion in 'Music Ministry' started by insuranceman, May 13, 2006.

  1. insuranceman

    insuranceman
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2005
    Messages:
    44
    Likes Received:
    0
    Christ as commodity

    By Nathanael Blake

    May 12, 2006

    Through the passing strange I fell
    To the wide-eyed opposite
    My agenda was hidden well
    Now I don't know where I left it
    -Chagall Guevara

    Modern “Christian music” is neither good music nor good Christianity. Musically it’s bland and derivative, lyrically it’s banal, and the general artistry is slightly below an intoxicated lemur clambering about a toy piano. Of course, most music of any sort isn’t very good, but the Christian variety has managed to secure a reputation for especial atrociousness. The reason is that the industry which produces it isn’t much interested in musical quality. Rather, it is by definition more concerned with spiritual content than auditory standards.

    But despite this focus, the spiritual value of the products of the Christian music industry (henceforth the CMI) remains minimal. The primary reason is that the construct is inherently flawed. Mark Salomon of the band Stavesacre makes the case elegantly in his book Simplicity, explaining why he left the CMI, “Christianity as an industry is a conflict of interest.”

    However, it’s also a profitable industry. And so we get Christian™ bookstores stuffed with Christian™ books (not just Bibles, theology, and devotionals, but Christian™ romances, and Christian™ action-adventure books, and Christian™ westerns…), Christian™ music, Christian™ movies, Christian™ clothing, Christian™ keychains, Christian™ action figures, and Christian™ nightlights. Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s a brand name.

    The fundamental flaw of the CMI is that its stated missions are incompatible with each other and with its structure. The creation of genuine worship and devotional music, which Christians most certainly should do, does not lend itself to the rock star business model the CMI adopted from the mainstream. Adulation of a band, arena concerts, pyrotechnics, awards ceremonies, and tour merchandise are incongruous with worship and devotion to God.

    The common defense of these consists of the other proclaimed purpose of the CMI, evangelism. It’s not that they want to seek fame and fortune in the service of God; but they’re forced to it if they want to “reach the lost” and “minister.” This is ridiculous. Christian music is mostly sold to Christians; Christian concerts are mostly filled with bused in Christian youth groups. As far as evangelism goes, Christian music is the epitome of mediocrity.

    Consequently, the only way a Christian group can reach a non-Christian audience is to cross over into the mainstream music industry. This creates awkward tensions in the genre. For while one of their declared missions demands that they move into the mainstream, any group that does so is immediately assailed as having sold out.
    This tension also devours artistic integrity. The general consensus is that going mainstream requires trimming the overtly Christian content, so there’s pressure to dilute the message; in order to reach the world with Christianity, they disassociate themselves from Christianity. Thus, there is some truth to the complaint that Christian groups sell out when they go mainstream, and the CMI responds by exerting pressure of its own.

    Salomon notes that “the Gospel Music Association – giver of Dove awards, the Christian industry’s weak answer to the Grammys – at one point felt the need to make a standard with which they could judge whether or not a ‘Christian artist’ was Christian enough, that included how many times a band said ‘Jesus’ in their lyrics.” On both sides genuine Christianity is subsumed beneath another agenda; one removes Christ to appeal to the masses, the other mandates token use of Christ to maintain credence with the niche market. Neither encourages honest expression of the artist’s faith.

    So we find ourselves caught between songs where it’s impossible to tell if the subject is God or a girlfriend, and songs filled with juvenile lyrics dropping the name of Jesus in order to make quota. And in both, emoting wins out over anything of importance. The average lyrics run along the lines of “I’m so happy/because you love me/my life is better/since I read your letter” (note the use of “letter” as code for the Bible, so clever). This has moved well beyond the rock star wannabes in the CMI into the very culture of the American church, with modern worship music trending toward the same level of puerility.

    Treating Christianity as an industry, a business with a profit margin, has corrupted the church, and the crowning achievements of the CMI are at the core of the refuse pile. It’s time to end the token preaching to the choir, the coded religious messages, and the charging of money for events that supposedly exist to preach the gospel.

    Get out. Those who want to create worship and devotional music, go back to where you belong, which isn’t arenas, festivals, and clubs, but churches. The rest of you, go out into the world; claiming Christianity and presenting Christian messages in your songs won’t prevent you from succeeding…if you have the necessary musical ability (U2, anyone?).

    Quit pretending that Christianity is a brand name, because there will be Hell to pay for it, in the most literal sense. If Christianity is true, then there are lost souls dying and going to Hell all around us, while the church sits and sells Jesus to itself.

    Nathanael Blake is a senior in microbiology at Oregon State University, where he writes for The Daily Barometer and The Liberty. His weekly Townhall.com column explores campus culture and politics generally.

    Copyright © 2006 Townhall.com

    I find myself in agreement with Nathaniel Blake. I just listened to young man from my church who is leading a Christian rock band. The music he sings is shallow and has very little Christian content. While there are many good contemporary songs most have little content and the individuals or groups which sing them are not in it for ministry but for financial gain.
     
  2. SpiritualMadMan

    SpiritualMadMan
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2003
    Messages:
    2,734
    Likes Received:
    0
    As you have stated most are shallow...

    But, not all...

    As for that young man in a band with visions of stardom in his eyes...

    How old is he isn the Lord?

    Who is Discipling him? Teaching him?

    As for shallow lyrics...

    Have you read all the Lyrics Ordained Minister Bob Hartman wrote for the Christian Rock Band Petra?

    And, have you researched to find out the number of Christian Rock Bands who regularly give time, talent, and funds to Christian Benevolence Ministries?

    And, did you know that every Concert where Petra was top billing they gave an uncompromised presentation of the Gospel and an Altar Call?

    Petra was/is not the only Christian Band with that Level of Ministry Outlook...

    Unfortunately, it takes money to operate any ministry. So, it is inevitable that a business will be born around it...

    And, if we decry stadiums and auditoriums then what do we say about Billy Graham Crusades...

    He does make some valid points...

    But, I can't agree with *all* his conclusions...

    SMM
     
  3. insuranceman

    insuranceman
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2005
    Messages:
    44
    Likes Received:
    0
    His father is the minister of music in our church and has been his teacher. He has a good relationship with his father. The young man has great talent. The group just went to Nashville for an audition. This did nothing for them but encite visions of grandeur.

    He ,unfortunately, has not been taught that the message is more important than the sounds he can bring out of his guitar.

    He is enrolled in a Christian college majoring in music. Hopefully, they will have some influence on him.
     
  4. SpiritualMadMan

    SpiritualMadMan
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2003
    Messages:
    2,734
    Likes Received:
    0
    Sounds like a good time for Discipleship?

    What an oppurtuniy to make a real difference...

    Is the college close enough for him to stay in fellowshup with your Dad?

    Even more important than the message is the Humility of Lifestyle that *must* go with Ministry..

    Without which, IMHO, the Message will not take root...

    SMM
     
  5. rbell

    rbell
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Messages:
    11,103
    Likes Received:
    0
    Once again, we don't make a distinction between music we might listen to for entertainment, and music in which we would use to exalt God in corporate worship...and we should.

    And, I'll say it in yet again another thread...there are hucksters and louts in music. There are also some in preaching. Do we "throw out" all preachers?

    Some of us have stumbled upon a concept--discernment. I don't use music in worship simply based on that it "sounds cool" or "hey, the kids will love this!" In addition, I disciple all thirteen of our musicians.
     
  6. SpiritualMadMan

    SpiritualMadMan
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2003
    Messages:
    2,734
    Likes Received:
    0
    All good points rbell!

    As for discipling Musicians...

    VERY tough job. :D

    SMM
     
  7. Joshua Rhodes

    Joshua Rhodes
    Expand Collapse
    <img src=/jrhodes.jpg>

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2003
    Messages:
    3,944
    Likes Received:
    0
    insuranceman - welcome to the board!

    I think this, like all blanket statements, is incorrect. There is just as much "good" as "bad" out there. As a musician, I strive to write songs that are not shallow, and I'm often harder on my songs than others. Most of my songs have in fact been written for worship, and have been written because a song that said what I needed to say (in the way I needed to say it) couldn't be found. Would I automatically slap them on a CD and ship it to Nashville? No. But if I thought they could minister to another, I'd gladly send charts and a recording.

    There are others in the "industry" that are writing good material, thought-provoking material, words that bring you to the cross and the Savior of the world. Find them and support them by singing their songs, and maybe even buying their music. That's the way to change the tide.
     
  8. insuranceman

    insuranceman
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2005
    Messages:
    44
    Likes Received:
    0
    I agree with you. I am not unaware of the fact that there are some very good modern songs being written. What disturbs me the most is that with a lot of the CCM the message is overwhelmed by the loud instruments. And then the musicians themselves who have moved from ministry to money as the sole reason for their "ministry".

    I have checked into several popular singers about coming to my church. It is not unusual for them to require a minimum of $3000 up front for one service before they will come. This does not include their usual mileage reimbursement which I would have no problem in providing. If this is "ministry" why do they charge to minister? Providing a love offering would be no problem. If an evangelist demanded this amount of money most churches would reject him as being greedy in the ministry yet if muscians do the same we accept it as normal.
     
  9. whatever

    whatever
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2004
    Messages:
    2,088
    Likes Received:
    0
    Isn't it illegal to post the text of a copyrighted article like the one in the OP?
     

Share This Page

Loading...