A Defense from a Christian Radio Veteran
The car can be a sacred space. Sure there are Cheerios crumbs in the backseat. Old water bottles cover the floor. Yet for 20 minutes it is a sanctuary.
No homework to help with.
No meetings to attend.
No meat to be defrosted or loads of laundry to be folded.
Just drive from point A to point B. During that time of solitude God often has a unique opening to speak into a life.
Many people who have been hurt by the church will not darken the door of a building they associate with rules and condemnation. Yet the commute offers a safe place to question, wonder and even discover Christ. In solitude a person can hear speakers and melodies woven together to share Truth.
Approximately 40% of those who tune into Christian radio on any given week are those who do not identify themselves as followers of Jesus Christ. People like *Tracey…
*Tracey lived in an emotional prison. Depression and abuse made her a prisoner of her own home. Daily she fought the urge to end her own life. Her favorite inspirational thought, “Good mothers don’t kill themselves.” That’s what kept her going until one night she bravely left the confines of her home. She got to the car, turned on the ignition with the intention of taking her life. Her son had tuned the radio to a Contemporary Christian Music station. She was captivated… listening to song after song. The message she heard gave her courage to choose physical and spiritual life.
That is the power of Christ moving hearts through Christian radio.
Music makes the heart pliable and open to hear Truth. Quiet refrains of hope and joy-filled choruses tap into the emotions. A song gets stuck in the mind and the repetition of the Gospel leads people to curiosity about the things of God and draws those who know Him into an even deeper faith.
“It is unmistakable. The dominant theme of these songs is God-the character of God, the power of God, the mercy of God, the authority of God, and the fatherhood of God. And the hoped-for effect of relentlessly addressing God directly in the second person is engagement-genuine, real, spiritual engagement of the heart with God.” -John Piper, Desiring God Ministries
The Word of God will not return void whether it is read, heard in a sermon or enjoyed through music on the car radio while juggling breakfast. The Lord is using Christian radio to move hearts so they will worship Him.
That’s Nice, But…
When I tell folks I work in CCM radio I talk I find Christians quite often reject Christian music for their own listening pleasure. Here are my thoughts on the most common objections:
*Christian pop on the radio is just cheesy, bad music. I would rather listen to music of good quality.
The production quality of Christian music has increased exponentially since I started playing music 18 years ago. Those who continue to complain about CCM’s poor production have most likely not listened to it recently. These days you can find God honoring lyrics to styles of music varying from Country to Hip Hop. (By the way, His Radio has three channels for those with different musical preferences: a praise channel, a CCM channel, and a rock, hip hop, pop channel.) CCM (which is easiest to find) is admittedly middle of the road. It reaches the widest segment of listeners. Everyone has different musical preferences.
There is no such thing as ‘Christian’ music; there are only Christian lyrics. It is the words that make a song sacred, not the tune. There are no spiritual tunes. – Pastor Rick Warren, Saddleback Church
I would argue mainstream acceptance does not decide whether a Christian artist puts out high quality music. The God glorifying lyrics themselves will often disqualify mainstream radio play.
*CCM is too spiritually shallow. It’s not for people who are mature Believers.
Christian music is often accused of being light and fluffy without acknowledging the struggles of the Christian life. Much of Christian music is designed to be hope-filled, which sets it apart from the negativity found elsewhere. At the same time Christian music ranges a variety of topics. Laura Story‘s, “Blessings” is a great example of a song that acknowledges a blessing is not the same as a pain-free life experience. Big Daddy Weave‘s “Overwhelmed” beckons the listener to an awe-filled vertical focus on God.
If CCM is too shallow, what type of music is best for mature Believers who want to focus their minds on Christ? (Phil. 4:8)
*Christian music and media are just a money machine driven by duped followers.
Media companies are about money. It’s business. (This is displayed very well in the recent movie Grace Unplugged. I highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it.) There is simply a Christian division at a major company and sometimes good hearted musicians get plugged into the “machine” and play the “Jesus” game. (Think Tim Lambesis.) Christian artists are marketed to us. The singers have a choice about whether they will follow fame and hype or see their music as ministry. They may travel with a tour pastor and have great spiritual accountability. Sometimes they don’t. They sin. So can we.
We can worship the artist and not the artist’s God. That is our responsibility.
Some Christian musicians are excelling both inside and outside CCM (Lecrae, Switchfoot, and NeedtoBreathe.) It is far easier for an artist to be successful in Christian radio than to attempt to crossover. Often, yet not always, crossover= great production+milquetoast lyrics.
*CCM is good for Sunday, but I don’t have to listen to that kind of music all the time.
Sometimes I talk with people who are the most theologically conservative and yet they bristle at the idea of “having to” listen to Christian music. As Believers we live in the comfort of God’s grace, yet as we fall in love with Him we want to make entertainment choices that don’t grieve the Holy Spirit.
I totally get wanting to listen to fun and different music. I stir the cookies and my daughter has taught me some sick living room dance moves. However when I am in an environment where I listen to secular music for a concentrated time I feel it. I am cynical. I am irritable. My heart hurts. When I get to tune back in to Christian radio it feels like taking a shower after walking through a junkyard.
You don’t have to listen to Christian music, but why not?
So what are your thoughts on Christian radio? How has it affected your life? Have a reason you listen/don’t listen to CCM? Chime in below.