Wednesday, February 22, 2006

CCM perspectives

Matt Brown, you've done it to me again. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I'm going to re-post what I wrote as a comment on Matt's blog, however incoherent it may be and let the games begin.

This started with a commentary written here, by a guy who I don't think I know, but appears to be from our old stomping grounds. Read his thing first. Here's my commentary:

Yeah--in an effort to be profound, this guy hasn't thought things through all the way. Is Zondervan publishing based on a malicious platform because they publish "christian" material _and_ make money? What about Christian travel agencies that book tours of the holy land?

The problems start with this statement--and I'll comment as we go:

Certain concepts are intrinsic to the operation of the CCM industry, namely that Christian music is a ministry,

Yeah--let's make sure that's dispelled. Companies do exist to make money. Christian radio stations sell advertising, for example. Slapping a "christian" label on something does not preclude its ability to compete with a business model that allows it to survive.

and Christian musicians are ministers (in the church leadership sense)

No. Some, maybe, but the real smart ones--I mean the ones who desire to minister in the church-- avoid being signed all together. Once signed, the label can take much more control about where the artist goes and "ministers" and this is usually at the expense of the many smaller congregations scattered around the country who could go NUTS to have an artist come to their church. Problem is, their venue is too small, so the label sees a loss. This isn't anybody's fault, it's just a reality of the business. If an artist commits to a label, they know what the consequences (good and bad) will be.

who are accorded the same privileges and responsibilities as pastors.

And we cannot blame the artists for this. This is brought to bare by others who bring these kinds of presumptions to the table.

In a broader stroke, let's assume that a Christian artist (CCM artist) is a Christian. What does THAT mean? It means that they can sing about anything they want. Just like I can play jazz piano in a club. Just like a (Christian) doctor can practice in a hospital. He doesn't have to go to a "Christian" hospital to work, he just needs to be a Christian doctor where ever he is. He isn't less of a Christian because he doesn't use his gifts on a mission field. The one place that could use Christian artists/musicians is the music industry. The reason Christian artists can sing about or write about anything they want is because that is the reality of life. We don't go through life without some interaction with the "secular." So why should it be ignored in the music?

The point is that CCM artists can sing about God, about biblical things, or they can sing about how they felt when they broke up with their love, or how their car broke down--the difference is their world view--their perspective on life, their view of broader heavenly context.

So--what am I saying--I don't know it's late and I need to go to bed. In a nutshell:

CCM labels are in it for the money: duh.
CCM artist=ministers: no--not in the same way a called pastor is--not all the time.
CCM can be about anything and fall under the umbrella of "kingdom perspective" and not be inappropriate.

For more on this read Charlie Peacock's At the Crossroads: Inside the Past, Present, and Future of Contemporary Christian Music.