Christian music trends

An interesting conversation with someone involved in the
Christian music scene in the UK
got me thinking. Changing patterns of CD and download sales affect commercial
viability making it harder for anyone not producing the ubiquitous
worship album to survive and necessitating new creative solutions. Which makes me wonder:

Are the days of Christian bands which tour, sell CDs and
spend their life doing concerts at Bible weeks and ‘evangelistic’ gigs over?
Are
they, like Coffee Bars, a feature of evangelical life which fitted a culture
that has now passed? If so, is this because the days of big Christian gatherings,
like Bible weeks, are on the wane or because using music as an evangelistic
tool is passé?

 


Is the problem about the style of evangelism or the style of
music? Doing a gig, inviting people to put their hand up if they want to follow
Jesus and counting the hands doesn’t make people disciples. It seems to me that
the problem is not people wanting to sing about their faith, nor is it the
blurring of the lines of worship, entertainment, evangelism (though there are
some issues here), rather it is in the content of what is considered the
gospel and the essence of what is communicated. Reducing the gospel to simple
headlines when people have some knowledge of Jesus may be helpful but that is
not the culture in which we live.  

Perhaps we will see the emergence of new forms of Christian
music, not dependent either on music sales or the backing of evangelistic
charities. Singers and songwriters whose music critiques and questions, but
whose songs also invite the hearer to consider and respond to the call of God. Excellence
usually requires resources and it will be interesting to see how a new generation
of musicians get support for music that is not a modern ‘worship song’ nor part
of a ‘gospel presentation’ but which is of artistic excellence and invites
people to engage in the story of faith.

One thought on “Christian music trends

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  1. Interesting thoughts here. I’ve never been a great lover of the Christian music ‘industry’ and have often felt very uncomfortable with the hype and commercialisation we’ve seen over the last few years. And yes, the issue of discipleship rather than the counting of hands in response to an appeal is such an important one.

    I do feel, though, that music and the arts will have a significant part to play in the coming years as traditional forms of evangelism are increasingly ineffective. People no longer trust words alone and we won’t get anywhere if we’re trying to answer questions they are not asking! Music and the arts generally (and as a generalisation I don’t mean the pop stuff here!) speaks to the deepest parts of the soul and has the capacity to express beauty in a world starved of beauty, to speak of the mystery and ‘otherness’ of God, and to bring something of the presence of God – especially when it is infused and inspired by God’s Spirit. It is then, in my experience, that people begin to ask the questions we long to answer. ‘What was happening when you played like that’ is one we’ve heard quite a number of times – often by people with tears in their eyes!

    I love N.T. Wright on this subject:

    The arts are not the pretty but irrelevant bits around the border of reality. They are highways into the centre of a reality that cannot be glimpsed, let alone grasped, any other ways.

    And

    The artist is thus to be like the Israelite spies in the desert, bringing back fruit from the promised land to be tasted in advance… Here is the challenge, I believe, for the Christian artist, in whatever sphere: to tell the story of the new world so that people can taste it, and want it, even while acknowledging the reality of the desert in which we presently live.

    Resources are clearly an issue here for those of us who are artists and Christians. These things don’t have immediate mass appeal, and are often not commercially viable, but in the long run I believe they have the potential to bear fruit that lasts.

    Like

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