Sunday, June 19, 2016

Music 22 - Contemporary Music’s Star Problem

GMA DOVE AWARDS SCREENIt is no secret that the CCM movement has unashamedly copied the world. This is evident in its musical styles, its charts, and its awards. In so doing CCM has also inculcated the secular music industry's tendencies for self-promotion and glorification. In short, CCM has in its DNA a propensity to produce stars instead of servants.
For example, consider the following two examples of actual positive reviews of CCM concerts:

The thing that the band has going on for them is their fans singing along. Man, were those 13 to 16 year old girls going nuts over Matt and company!

Shrill screams reverberated off the sky-high ceiling. The beginning riff followed by an overwhelmingly loud 'whoa-oh' sent shockwaves through the violently undulating teenage sea. Small groups of girls stood in tight circles clapping like cheerleaders, practically running in place with mouths agape in screams as if the Beatles had just stepped on American soil.

Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit the Apostle Paul wrote in complete contrast, For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. (II Corinthians 4.5)

I am as human as the next man. No, I am not a singer or musician but as a preacher who holds a respected position and stands in front of people regularly I know the fight that takes place in my own heart. I want to think the growing crowds in our church show up to hear me. Imagine for a moment how much harder such a temptation becomes to me, as a preacher, if preaching was structured like CCM is structured. Why, surely I might qualify for the Preacher of the Year award. Ok, maybe not that, but at least the Sermon of the Year award. I mean, when I was younger and first breaking into the ministry I should have thrown my name in the ring for the Breakthrough Preacher of the Year award.
For instance, allow me the liberty to re-word an actual CCM CD review that appeared in "Christianity Today". I am just going to insert the equivalent of preaching in lieu of singing.

Tom Brennan deserves high praise for combining multiple interests into a single, cohesive preaching style. His talents are undeniable and promising. Brennan is wildly ambitious, intriguingly varied, and remarkably thought-provoking. He is known for his great opening lines, stunning delivery, amazing production, and enthusiastic storytelling. It seems only fitting that we pay tribute to Tom Brennan, this pivotal Christian preacher.

That does not strike the ear very well, does it? Such a paragraph is clearly not acceptableESEnSNi in reference to the man preaching to God’s people. Pray tell me then why it is acceptable for the man singing to God’s people? The simple truth is that while the world is all wrapped up in self-glorification the Christian is supposed to be living a life of self-denial. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. (Galatians 2.20) Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (Matthew 16.24) CCM's atmosphere thrives in complete contradistinction to these verses.

On the other hand, when you hear a choir sing in a traditional church, or you open up your songbook for a congregational song your attention is first drawn to the song. With CCM your attention is first drawn to the performer himself. There are no star song leaders that I am aware of, but there are lots of star worship leaders and artists and bands, are there not?
Please do not misunderstand me. I do not deny that I have occasionally heard preachers and singers in our kinds of churches whose ministry calls my attention to them first rather than the truth itself. But those are few and far between, and I am pleased to say that there is a growing rejection in the independent Baptist movement of the personality cult of the celebrity pastor. But CCM by its very nature inherently and practically demands it.

sgdkxrPGreatness in the kingdom of God is all wrapped up in being a self-effacing servant. But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant. (Philippians 2.7) In this, as in so many other things, the growing American Christian music industry is moving in the opposite direction from God's kingdom. Which should not surprise anybody. CCM was birthed from and is still nurtured by the world's concept of a music industry. And that is a problem.

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