Rewind: Highlights from the Discussion on CCM

Few things elicit as much passion in Christians as worship. In preparation for last Saturday’s show, I posted an article to Facebook entitled, “Let’s Stop Singing These 10 Worship Songs,” which immediately sparked a flurry of likes, shares and comments. Some defended contemporary worship songs, expressing how they had profoundly touched them. Others railed against contemporary worship for being repetitive and shallow.

Many Christians get discouraged by the so-called “worship wars,” but I find them oddly encouraging. Truth is, we Christians get worked up about worship because we care so deeply about the object of our worship. Plus, for many of us, worship is like this portal that transports us into God’s Presence. We cherish worship because we cherish God, as well as our intimate experiences with Him.

For this reason, I was really looking forward to Saturday’s Up For Debate program on Contemporary Christian Music and I wasn’t disappointed. Dr. T. David Gordon, a theology professor at Grove City College, expressed his concern that modern worship music is supplanting the classic, theologically rich hymns. But, John Thompson, a music executive with Capitol CMG Publishing, presented a vision for mixing the old hymns with the modern songs in church worship. And, Christian recording artist Jonny Diaz described what he believes to be the different, but equally important role that both hymns and contemporary worship play.

It was a great discussion and I encourage you to listen to the entire broadcast if you missed it. But, just to whet your appetite – or refresh your memory – here’s a four-minute highlight from the program:

Did you listen to the show? What did you think about what our guests said? Did you agree or disagree? Please let me know in the comments below.

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2 thoughts on “Rewind: Highlights from the Discussion on CCM

  1. Joel Stucki

    I thought the show was excellent. I didn’t agree 100% with any of the guests (but then, who ever agrees 100% with anyone?), but I thought they each made very good points and I appreciated their ideas. Dr. Gordon’s thought on the exclusivity of modern worship particularly resonated with me. I loved how John Thompson pointed out how inappropriate certain musical settings can be for certain hymns (finally, someone else is saying it!). I was also glad to hear Jonny Diaz say that his job is to create the best art that he can, and not to get the most plays on Spotify, or even to “get the message out.” I feel like a lot of artists sell out artistically, with the admirable intention of spreading the gospel to a wider audience, and in so doing dilute the very gospel they want to spread.

    The one thing I do have a problem with is the notion of some music being for purely emotional worship. I have always struggled with this idea. I reject the notion that worshipping with the mind and with the heart are somehow mutually exclusive. We are, after all, supposed to love the Lord with all our hearts AND all our minds. Why separate them? I find that I am the more deeply moved emotionally when I grasp certain truth intellectually, and that my mind is quickened more to that truth by love and wonder. The most profound worship experiences I have had on stage have all occurred while playing great music that required a tremendous amount of preparation and focus. If I am playing or singing something mindless, then my mind wanders, and my heart with it. All my faculties must be engaged in worship simultaneously. So by the time I’ve sung (for example) “you are everything” for the umpteenth time, I am no longer engaged in worship, but just hoping the song ends soon. Whereas the verses of that song, which lend substance to the chorus, are rarely if ever repeated.

    That’s just one example. But we fly through the most meaningful parts of songs in order to repeat the least meaningful parts ad nauseum. That simply doesn’t awake my emotions at all, nor my mind. It shuts me down. I would rather repeat “God in my resting, there in my working…” and allow myself to really chew on that and let it sink in, before proclaiming “Christ in me the hope of glory, be my everything!”

    That’s my take on the endlessly repetitive aspect of modern worship music. Not a blanket objection, by any means. I just think we should avoid separating the heart and mind the way we do, and put more thought into what we repeat and why we repeat it.

  2. Ken Lundgren

    The question posed was, “Should Christians listen to CCM?”. I would like to reword that, “Should Christians listen ONLY to CCM?”. As professor T. David Gordon has pointed out, ( we have 50 generations of excellent traditional hymn music. Why have Christian radio stations, including WMBI, and many churches almost totally eliminated this music? Many of the younger generation have never heard anything but CCM & CWM.

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