from my notebook

My head is full of thoughts, and I have to write them down.

Archive for the tag “Christian Music”

Contemporary or Relevant

Two words you’ll hear quite often in the church world.  Contemporary was the buzz word in the 90s.  Relevant became the buzz word in the new century.  Many of us have grown tired of referring to our services or music style as contemporary, but since the Christian music community has grabbed on to it so firmly, it is hard to avoid.  And what’s the difference between contemporary and relevant?

I suppose the best place to start is the dictionary.  Here is the common meaning of each word:

Relevant – closely connected or appropriate to the matter at hand.

Contemporary – belonging to or occurring in the present; following modern ideas or fashion in style or design.

And what’s the difference?  Contemporary takes on more general terms applicable to society or an entire generation.  Relevant is, well, relevant. It is more specific to a group of people or situation.

Relevant applies not just to generational differences, but to personalities and preferences as well.  (Remember personal preferences are not always a bad thing.)  We all have preferences, and if they helps us worship and connect with God better, then they are also relevant.

How does all this apply to the church?  It means each congregation of people has its own relevancy.  The music may be traditional and or contemporary.  The instruments may be organ/piano, or a guitar/drum driven band.  (By the way, “blended” is another buzz word I had just as soon see us lose.)

What songs, styles, and presentations are relevant to one group may be completely wrong for another group across town.  For a church to be relevant, it has to look inside and outside.  What methods and styles will best reach those attending and those trying to be reached?  Relevance is all about preferences, just not in a selfish, demanding way.


The Genuiness of Christians and Christian Music

GungorHave you ever noticed how most Christian music tends to sound the same?  I can listen to my daughter’s iTunes mix and almost immediately tell if it’s a Christian band or not.  I mean there is something that I can’t quite put my finger on that makes it discernible.  Michael Gungor wrote recently about a game their band plays to identify between Christian and secular music – Zombies, Wine, and Christian Music.  Here are some of his observations on the subject.

There’s just something more believable about the whispery sexy voice that is singing about sex on the mainstream radio station than the voice that copies that style of singing while putting lyrics in about being in the arms of Jesus. And it’s really not even the style or the lyric that is the problem to me, it’s the fact that I don’t believe that the singer is feeling the kind of emotions in singing that lyric that would lead to that style of singing. It’s that same kind of creep out that you feel when somebody gives a really loud fake laugh. It’s just weird and uncomfortable feeling.

So when you remove the soul from music and transplant the body parts (chord changes, instrumentation, dress, lights, and everything but the soul…) and parade it around with some more “positive” lyrics posing as Christian music, then what you have is a musical zombie.

We call it Christian, but it’s certainly not based in Christianity. It is based on marketing.

One might argue that Christian music should stand out and be identifiable because we as Christians should stand out and be identifiable. Which gives more credibility to Gungor’s comments about trying to fit Christian lyrics into all music types with a disingenuous result.

We shouldn’t blend in with everything else, even though some think that is necessary to reach the world.  Scripture is clear that we are to be different and set apart.  BUT our set apart-ness should be sincere, genuine, and heart-felt in a way that draws people, not turns them off.

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