Gospel singer Kirk Franklin recently wrote a tribute to the late Andrae Crouch, who died in January. He made note of Crouch’s soul-stirring music which crossed all ethnic boundaries and made the secular world take note of his talents despite the fact he sang about Jesus.
Then Franklin expressed his disappointment that the Christian music industry (CMI) seems to have lost its focus from the time when Andrae Crouch rose on the scene. According to Franklin, “Our music doesn’t affect people the way it used to. It doesn’t create movements like it did during Andrae’s time. Is it because today’s worship leader is too busy trying to get the record deal, the applause, a higher church salary, and that crossover song? [The guilt is all over my hands, people!]
“Every step we take away from the cross — and the cross alone – every time we focus on sales over souls… the goal gets lower and lower.”
When Australian music journalist Jessica Morris first started reviewing Christian music, she describes herself as “completely stunned” at how the CMI worked. ‘The fact that labels, bands and albums were molded to sell records could mean that they were, at times, selling out. Or worse, faking it. As a young and naive journalist, I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that a band saying they make “Christian music” would be so fueled by the commodity driven market of the secular industry.‘
However, over time she formed the opinion that Christian artists are “signing onto secular labels yet not deviating from their core values; and they are doing it by making music for everyone, everywhere. …It is music that is delivered with a purpose and heart for a cause far bigger than themselves. And the best musicians, whoever the artist is and whatever genre they fall under, proves this by being the real deal commercially, personally and authentically.”
So whose take on CMI is more accurate? To answer that, maybe it’s a good idea to focus on Christian music’s purpose as found in God’s word. Paul commanded the following of believers:
18 …be filled with the Spirit;
19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ… Ephesians 5
Godly music takes place inwardly, springing forth from the Holy Spirit inside of the believer. We speak to ourselves to encourage ourselves in the Lord and to glorify and thank the Lord in our hearts. But wait, there’s more:
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Colossians 3
Christian music also has an outward purpose. When we let Christ’s word abound in us, music is a tool we can use to teach and admonish (gently correct wrongs with encouragement to do right) each other about godly principles with God’s grace in our hearts so that whatever we do is done to represent Jesus in thankfulness to the Father. Do our favorite Christian artists represent these ideas in their lives and in their lyrics? If they meet the criteria, should it matter what record label they have a contract with or who they tour with? These are questions we should ask ourselves.
However, it should be noted that as the Church becomes more worldly in these end times, it should be no surprise if that worldliness spills over into the CMI. Especially since New World Order secularists are actively recruiting religious people who look Christian to influence churchgoers to get on board with their one world religion aspirations.
Czarina Ong, Christian music loses meaning when artists focus on sales, says Kirk Franklin, ChristianToday.com, February 9, 2015.
Jessica Morris, The Problem with the Christian Music Industry, FDRMX.com, January 30, 2015.
Harry A. Gaylord