A Wake Up Call for Gospel Artists

I love Gospel Music. Traditional. Contemporary. Praise & worship. Choirs. Groups. Solo artists. Old and new. From Rev. So-and-So Presents… albums of the 80s to today’s Bishop So-and-So Presents… albums. I have even started to listen to some quartet and Christian hip-hop.

I love music. And I especially love music that exalts the Lord Jesus Christ. But my true love for Gospel Music has broken my heart.

In two ways…

First, I am grieved by the excessive commercialism of contemporary Gospel Music. I can cite various examples of this illicit love affair with the world. But there is an explicit seduction of the world on Gospel artists that burdens me: reality TV. What is this about? Why are Gospel artists joining the ranks of these mind-numbing reality TV shows? Don’t you now know that “reality TV” is an oxymoron?

Of course, Gospel artists are not the only ones joining this parade of worldly foolishness. It’s also preachers, preacher’s wives, and preacher’s daughters. More and more religious personalities are nakedly pursuing fleeting celebrity. We want to be famous, rather than promoting the name, message, kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Please don’t tell us you are doing this to expand the influence of Christ in culture. If that’s what you think, you are extremely confused. Deceived. Out of touch with “reality” (pun intended!). It is easier for the world to pull you down than for you to pull the world up. And in leaning over to reach the world, the church often falls in. And we are dragging the precious name of Jesus down with us.

Where did we get the idea that Christ wants us to help him be relevant in this God-ignoring society? The Lord commands us to be holy, faithful, obedient, wise, and loving. The Lord does not want us to show the world that we are regular people just like everyone else. The world already knows that! That’s why they don’t respect the church. We need to be different. Light. Salt. Our influence in the world happens by the difference Christ makes in our lives, not by blending in. The world cannot see our good works and glorify the Father in heaven by watching so-called Christian leaders (Translation: divas) argue, boast, shop, covet, date, lust, and complain on TV. Get real!

My heart is broken for another reason.

Not only are Gospel artists fallen in love with the world; even worse, they have fallen in love with Word of Faith theology. Prosperity Theology used to be on the fringes of the Christian landscape. Now these faith teachers are the mainstream. And many prominent Gospel artists have digested their unbiblical teachings and regurgitate them in their music.

As I listen to the new Gospel Music released, I am blown away by how talented Gospel artists are. The music, singing, and production can rival anything “secular” project. Unfortunately, I am hearing more thoughtful reflection in some Pop and R&B music than among those who claim to sing for the glory of God.

I buy a lot of Gospel Music. But I can commend very little of it for worship, private or corporate. Too much Gospel Music has too little gospel in it. It is not God exalting, Christ focused, or biblically saturated. It is fixated with self.

“It’s my season…”

“My harvest is coming…”

“What’s to come is greater than what’s been…”

“I don’t look like what I’ve been through…”

“Praise him till you get your breakthrough…”

“Speak those things that are not as though they were…”

“I’m taking back everything the devil stole from me…”

“Speak it into the atmosphere…” “

“I’m claiming my destiny…”

On and on it goes.

Just because you use biblical phrases does not mean you are communicating biblical truth. Cults play that game. Christian musicians and singers should not.

We need music that teaches truth (Col. 3:16), not just cherry-picks phrases that sound good. We need Gospel Music that proclaims the gospel! We need reverent, bible-rooted music that will lead worshipers to think deeply about Christ. We need musicians to record music that will lead us to sing to the glory of God, not just cheer-lead to get an emotional response.

Don’t look now, Gospel Artists, but the upstart Christian hop-hop artists are lapping you. Now, I am not a big hip-hop fan. And I don’t know any of these artists personally. But I am encouraged by their willingness to rap about God and Jesus and the gospel and holiness and doctrine. They are daring to compose and perform truth-driven messages, not mere foot-tapping music.

Gospel artists, please wake up! We are in a storm. And you are playing the Jonah, sleeping your way to Tarshish when you should be headed to Nineveh. The church – and the world – needs you to wake up and give up music about the true and living God!

For Further Reading:

10 Recommendations for Gospel Artists from a Loving Fan and Concerned Pastor

Gospel Artists, Please, Pick a Side!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Prerich

    Now that’s truth!!!!!

  • reese kemp

    How can the church be different from the world when your churches are
    selling the free word of GOD, selling the free gifts of GOD, selling the
    free anointing of GOD, and even try to sell you JESUS if you let
    them!
    And you gospel artist are just the same, how can you be different from the
    world, when you sell you free gifts like the world sells them!
    Music is music, there is not such thing as gospel music, secular music,
    country music, rap music, rock music, etc.etc.etc……those are just
    words people invented to separate music into different categories, like
    you separated the church of JESUS CHRIST, by your many different
    divisions of denominations!
    And the word gospel music is not written anywhere in the bible, there is just good music, & bad music!
    And some of the music you call secular music is better than your so called
    gospel music, because it comes from the heart of those so called secular
    artist, and it’s not phony, fake, and self righteous like many of
    you so called gospel artist are!

    • Yankee Historian

      I AGREE.

  • reese kemp

    How
    can the church be different from the world when your churches are
    selling the free word of GOD, selling the free gifts of GOD, selling the
    free anointing of GOD, and even try to sell you you JESUS if you let
    them!
    And
    you gospel artist are just the same, how can you be different from the
    world, when you sell you free gifts like the world sells them!
    Music
    is music, there is not such thing as gospel music, secular music,
    country music, rap music, rock music, etc.etc.etc……those are just
    words people invented to separate music into different categories, like
    you separated the church of JESUS CHRIST, by your many different
    divisions of denominations!
    & the word gospel music is not written anywhere in the bible, there is just good music, & bad music!
    And
    some of the music you call secular music is better than your so called
    gospel music, because it comes from the heart of those so called secular
    artist, & it’s not phony, fake, & self righteous like many of
    you so called gospel artist are!

  • http://twitter.com/PJ_InHisGrip Dr. Patrick J Oliver

    Pastor Charles you do well to point out the reason why anthroprocentric prosperity is replacing theocentric providence at such a rapid rate in Christendom today!
    This doctrine of convenience is abhorrent & feeds this unbiblical, preoccupation with self belief system and redefines the Person of Christ.

    “Gospel” music seeks to inform the mind with biblical truths about God so that our hearts will rightly respond to His greatness and glory.

  • jwhite4550

    The artists are but leaves of the tree we call “today’s” church. These artists are sitting under the same celebrity seeking ministers that feed the flock of God the same low vitamin, low nutrient, “food.” I pray this doesn’t sound judgmental. This is why our music lacks the “reverent, bible-rooted music that will lead worshippers (and praisers) to think deeply about Christ” as Pastor Charles mentioned in this piece. The truth is: Many of the artists this blog references aren’t aware their music lacks substance because the leaves much like the tree illustration I used previously desire the style instead.

    BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front) The lyrics in our music will change when the message in our pulpits do.

  • BrothaRollins

    On all the catchy & churchy phrases, Pastor please please do a sermon series on those phrases.

  • Harold Miller, Jr.

    Well said! I couldn’t agree with you more!

  • J. Lane Y.

    Thanks be to God that you are contending and defending the faith. The world has crept in because the armor of Christ has been laid down. These evil influences has permeated the church and there are few pastors even addressing the seriousness of it. How did we get this far away from the true and Living God? We need shepherds after His heart that will stand in His counsel and preach His word to His people and they will turn from the evil of there ways. God will not be mocked, we will reap what we sow and now we see the reaping season. Folly and foolishness has filled the minds of believers instead of being filled with the Spirit.

    May God have mercy,

  • K_Phil

    Thanks! I too have been struggling with the theology I have been hearing coming over the airways from Gospel artist. I haven’t purchased a Gospel CD in 2 years because of my disappointment. I spend more time listening to Christian rap (Reach Records and the likes) not to be relevant with the young people I work with but because they are the most authentic (IMHO) and are actually saying something.

  • Robert Earl Houston

    If I can add this to the discussion – in most cases the “artists” (I never have cared for that term) don’t write their own music. The writers are the ones who prepare the songs and unless the artist has a lot of clout, very rarely are the lyrics they composed held up to scrutiny. In the church, that’s why it’s important for the local minister of music or choir director to scrutinize the lyrics. I preached for a pastor in Chicago and his M.O.M. had to submit the lyrics, in advance, of what the choir was going to sing and if he didn’t approve, the song wasn’t sung. Period. I’ve been to music workshops where a good melody was presented by the lyrics were so bad that the song would not and will not be taught by my at my local church, unless serious editing was going to be made. I suggest that all songs begin with the writer – most of whom sit in our pews – they need to be discipled and taught or they need to submit to discipleship or teaching. I agree that this over commercialization has bred a plethora of “one hit wonders” that create “church basement mix-tapes” with the goal of being rich and famous instead of being used by the Lord. However, the good news is that momma and ‘em were right – the cream still rises to the top. Thank you for this discussion – it’s long overdue and well needed.

  • The Turk

    Great article Pastor Charles,be that watchman on the wall.The Bible clearly warns the Church to ‘love not the World neither the things in the World” and “the friendship with the World is the enemy of God”.There is no way to spin appearing on these ungodly shows that are so flesh driven.The current ‘Fame Seeking’ culture has crept into the Church and taken over.Yet they still try to justify it by saying”Ah, well we are going to do this reality show to glorify our God and reach the World for Jesus”,Puhleeese give me a break lol.I mean do what you do but call it what it is, pure entertainment. Don’t try to cloak it in spreading the Gospel message.Gospel artist are making more money than ever before but I wonder at what cost.Peace to you.

  • tina

    ooh wee Rev., you shol’ said a mouth-ful, and i’m not mad at you!…

  • sabrina

    I just spoke to a friend about your blog and he said that the true gospel will never be “main stream”. I agree. All is well as long as the message is prosperity and blessings, but the gospel of the death, burial and resurrection (thus repentance) will never be “main stream”.

    In pursuit of the “American Dream” we can easily allow our ambitions to curtail our calling to spread the gospel. This is not only a warning to gospel artist, but to all Christians.

    • Yankee Historian

      Nor SHOULD it be. The main focus should be reaching people for the sake of bringing them to Christ. That is never going to be a popular message, and so those looking to capitalize from it — or looking to compromise the message in order to make more money — are only doing more harm than anything else.

  • Steven

    I’m a gospel music fan. I love the passion, soul and musical setting.

    I would love to see in a related post some of your favorite artists/songs in the gospel genre that stay true to the word and yet keep the feel of gospel music.

  • Nicole

    Miss you HB in L.A. this is so true!!!!! You need to come back to St. Rest and do a “real” revival! !!! Keep keeping it real! God bless you!

  • amj31579

    Thank you Pastor for speaking the truth.

  • bro. love

    My heart has been DEEPLY burdened by this same thing, to the point of tears. I praise God that someone who is a respected leader of integrity that has the ear of the people has stood up to say what many of us say all the time but have very few who will listen. I praise God for using you as a willing vessel to communicate such a needed message. My prayer is many will see this and heed it!

  • PastorCGB

    Pastor; as we continue to listen to the various artists and even the radio stations there is now a difference between what is Gospel Music and what is Inspirational Music. In my area, WPPZ 103.9 identifies itself as an “Inspiration Station”. While another local station identifies itself as the only “All Gospel Station” in the Delaware Valley. My heart is grieved as well as it pertains to the actual doctrinal themes in the music. Sadly, it’s a definite sign of our times that perverts the hearts of listeners.

  • DeaconDJ

    SHOUT THIS FROM THE MOUNTAINTOPS PREACHERMAN!!!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100005183820913 Shawn Smith

    … it’s all bout the money y’all …all bout the money…what about those artists who use so called Gospel music as a stepping stone to become secular?
    This is why I luv me some “Pastor Charles”—he leads by example and there are NOT enough of us Christians with conviction to speak out no matter the consequences
    Peace and Blessings y’all

  • http://www.facebook.com/erik.d.cummings Erik D. Cummings

    Good word, my brother!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1613522817 Scharmaine White

    Preach H.B.!

  • Jo Ann Johnson

    Thank you, Pastor!! What a timely and needed word for the body of Christ.

  • M Ann Howard-Mitchell

    Amen…so glad to hear you Dr. H. B. Charles speak on such an important matter.

  • Lanee Battle

    Amen!