Have you heard the one about the Civil War soldier who couldn’t decide whether he wanted to fight with the Union or the Confederates? So he wore Confederate gray pants and a Union blue jacket to war. And he was shot by both sides!
I imagine this is how Gospel Music artists often feel.
Many Gospel artists feel their gifts and work are unappreciated by the church and disrespected by the world. They really don’t know which side to fight for. But, with all due respect, this local pastor and passionate fan begs you to pick a side!
No, I am not trying to coerce you to commit yourself exclusively to the church. At this point, I think it would be best for everyone involved if you just pick a side. Any side.
I point my finger at the choir loft fully aware that I have four fingers pointing back at the pulpit. For the sake of ministerial success and prominence, too many pastor-teachers are theologically running with the rabbits and hunting with the hounds at the same time. And the contagious disease in the pulpit is affecting those in the band pit and the choir stand.
Yet there is still reason to point a finger at influential Gospel Music artists.
BET recently announced it would no longer air its popular, Celebration of Gospel. But this is not a sign of persecution. It is the world’s platform. Let them do with it what they choose.
The gospel has a platform. It is called the church. But many Gospel artists really don’t desire the validation of the church. They want the approval of the world, evidenced by a show where R&B singers who have no public or clear commitment to Christ sing duets with Gospel artists.
One prominent artist complained on social media after the BET decision. He claimed that Gospel Music is dying because the church will not support it. He’s right. But it is not for the reason many artists think. Christians are not cheap. But they increasingly refuse to support music that is targeted to the world, and not the church.
The argument is made that the gospel is for the world, not just the church. Therefore, Gospel artists should view the larger, secular music industry as a mission field to penetrate. But this argument does not acknowledge that the church is the pillar and buttress of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15). In a real sense, the gospel does not make sense without the church that makes it make sense.
Writing and performing music that ministers to the church is a special calling and solemn stewardship. We need musicians who will teach and lead the church in corporate worship.
Unfortunately, many church musicians and choir directors look to the latest Gospel recordings for worship music. As a result, corporate worship has become a glorified Sunday’s Best competition, rather than worship in spirit and truth. Singers want to be stars more than they want to exalt Jesus.
Imagine this. I stand in a chair. You stand in front of me. As we lock hands, I try to pull you up and you try to pull me down. Who wins? It is easer for you to pull me down than for me to pull you up.
The world has pulled Gospel Music down. In leaning over to reach the world, the church has fallen in. And I do not say this in reference to musical style. I am talking about the content, focus, and purpose of today’s music.
Praise God for the exceptions! Listen to them. Buy them. Encourage them. Invite them. Sing them. But the church should ignore the Gospel artists who are obviously more concerned about making money, becoming famous, and having their music affirmed by the world.
If that’s what you want, fine. Go get it. But let the church be the church!
For God’s sake, please pick a side!
What do you think? What do you think about the state of Gospel Music? How can we encourage better music for corporate worship?