The Dangers of Christian Celebrities

Christian artists can become celebrities.  This is … well, unfortunate in some ways.  Is it bad to be a popular Christian artist?  I don’t think so; but it’s also a big responsibility.  Sometimes, I don’t think that responsibility is actually thought about.

Dangers of Music Celebrity-ism

Music, not Content

From what I can tell …. it seems that Christian music artists usually become popular because of their music, not their content, teaching, or life (with a few exceptions that I can think of).  This is not inherently bad, except that I think it reflects something somewhat saddening; as a whole, we are more concerned with what our music sounds like than what it says.

Discontentment with Church Music

This is pretty simple.  One can tend to get discontent with a church’s music, especially a small church, if we are not careful to realize that produced music is very, very different from live music … and that what works for a solo performance may not work well for a congregation.

(this also applies to, for example, celebrity preachers and being discontent with your local church’s pastor because he doesn’t preach like so-and-so)

Non-Participation

When we are so used to simply listening to other people sing, it seems we can get into a habit of thinking that we don’t need to sing when it comes to the corporate singing time at church.  This is pretty unfortunate and unbiblical.  Corporately singing to God is not the same as doing a music CD where it’s a solo.  This wrong view of corporate church music is … well, wrong :)

Loyalty to Man

I have also noticed that when we attach ourselves to a human being, we can begin to get into the habit of automatically regarding anything critical about said human being with an eye of distrust; in other words, we become loyal to a man.  This one, I think, applies to a broader range than simply music.  It definitely is present with “celebrity preachers,” too.  On one hand, we can learn much from the faithful teaching of a man after God’s own heart, and we can find much good song material from a musician/song-writer who is faithful to Christ… on the other hand, we need to make sure that we are following Christ, and not a man. :)

Reminder: Dangers, not Evils

These are simply dangers that I see, not evils.  I listen to solo CCM, solo traditional music, etc.  This doesn’t mean that Paul thinks you shouldn’t listen to non-congregational music 😉  This is just a list of some dangers I have noticed.

The Dangers of Christian Celebrity Concerts

Performances

I will say this right out: I have seen videos of very, very few Christian musician performances that I thought were … well, that I thought glorified God and not the artists.  I think this is one area where the anti-contemporary-music viewpoint has a very good point; the typical contemporary Christian music (CCM) performance seems to follow in the secular rock show tradition of bringing praise and glory and focus on the performer, not God.  What makes it sadder is that sometimes the lyrics (and, I would argue, generally rather weakly) say that the glory should go to God.

Is this the artist’s intent or an individual attendee’s intent?  I have no clue.  From my perspective in looking at it, that’s what it looks like is happening.

Maturity

Here’s a big one.  It seems that the typical Christian rock band/artist is … well, primarily young people.  I have nothing against young people.  I’m young.  But it seems that the maturity level of the typical CCM artist that does shows is … well, not very high.  The phrases that are tossed out, the way they attempt to sort of encourage people to think about God while at the same time encouraging people to look at them in the way they perform (showmanship) seems … well, immature.  Statements like “if you think God is awesome, say ‘God is awesome’ with me!”  This combined with what seems to be a trend of relatively weak lyrics … leads me to the conclusion that this is a music show with Christian lyrics.

Why is maturity important?  Because, fundamentally, Christian musicians are teaching something, or at the very least, portraying God.  Portraying God immaturely or teaching ambiguity, or worse, bad doctrine, is not good.  The lackadaisical way that it seems some young Christian artists approach Christian music that ostensibly is to worship God is … well, disturbing.  Worshiping God through music should be intentional, not incidental.  I simply do not see much thought going into questions like how do our actions on stage direct glory to God and not ourselves? or if I want this to be some sort of corporate worship event and not simply a concert, how do I do that? or what am I saying or not saying in this song? What impression of God am I giving? or what does the way I sing into the microphone say about what I’m concerned about? or how about this convicting one: when I say little phrases about “God is awesome!” … am I being biblical about it and giving reasons, or am I just reiterating clichés that I have heard others use that sound Christian?

If someone wants to make their music show some sort of corporate “let’s worship God together,” that’s great… but that means you are leading them in worship.  That puts a big responsibility on you, and it’s not primarily musical.

There Are Good Concerts

I know there are some good concerts and artists and ones that really are trying to glorify God and not themselves. By and large, the CCM … industry? … though seems to follow more closely the secular contemporary music industry standards for performances.  Secular concerts have a very different goal.  Secular music concerts draw attention to the performer.  A Christian concert should not; it should draw attention to God.

The Main Questions

First, what’s my goal for my band’s concert?  Is it to receive praise and adoration for myself, or to direct it to God?  For the Christian, the correct answer to that is pretty obvious.  Is that my honest answer?

Second, have we put thought into how to really work towards getting people to praise and adore Christ through our music, and not get praise and adoration for ourselves?  How can we change what we do on stage to better do that?  Have we even given that thought at all, or are we just following the ideas from secular and/or other Christian concerts that seem to work to draw crowds?

This entry was posted in Music Styles and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to The Dangers of Christian Celebrities

  1. Paul says:

    I should comment that, as usual, these are my thoughts and are not authoritative. Disagreement is welcome; critique improve one’s thinking. :)

  2. if I may add 😀 celebrities are also watched very carefully OFF stage. Their personal life is often very open, and they will make mistakes. BUT people watching, particularly non-Christians, tend to jump on every sin and mistake that a professing Christian artist may make. They can unintentionally cast a bad light on themselves. 😛 I agree also with what you said about concerts seem to glorify the person singing rather than the Lord. I’ve seen recorded concerts that… were not something I would have wanted to be at, and they seemed to reflect very much what is done in non- Christian concerts. Not necessarily bad things, but would just make me feel like I was not exactly at a Christian concert. I know plenty of unbelievers that I love dearly, but I wouldn’t want to go to several places with them (including a concert, be it Christian or not :P) I don’t enjoy the fellowship of nonbelievers NEARLY as much as that of Christians (which is as it should be :) and I wouldn’t want to go somewhere that was supposed to be representing my Savior and see people acting like they came for the main purpose of seeing that particular person sing, or just to ‘rock out’ and ‘have a good time’ or ‘escape’ (though a good time is not bad… it’s good… but it should be because we’re worshiping with other believers not ’cause I’m at a Chris Tomlin, or Casting Crowns concert.) If I went to an Owl City concert it would be because I wanted to see Adam Young sing his own songs. (fave band 😉 Going to a Christian concert should be a different experience than going to a non Christian concert. Those are my thoughts. ^_^

  3. BY THE WAY, although he doesn’t write Christian praise music, Adam Young is an openly professing Christian, and has a better testimony of faithfulness to the Lord than a lot of other so called “Christian” artists who try to write “praise songs” that I know of. 😀

  4. (in case you saw the facebook link before … fixed the silly apostrophe error, hehe.)

  5. I actually had someone else comment on it, so I fixed the blog post itself … but forgot that the automatic-facebook-link wouldn’t get updated O:)

    Sometime’s, I wonder what my pinky is up’ to over the’re on that apo’strophe key.

  6. ha, I didn’t realize you wrote this at first =P

  7. hopefully that’s a good thing. 😉

  8. Laurie says:

    I think your comments are very helpful. Thank you! I personally tend to enjoy artists that I can sing along with :)! However, I’m not a big listener to “what is out there” currently as I don’t listen to Christian radio. Some of my favorite “celebrities” are John Michael Talbot, Michael Card, Marty Goetz, and the nice lady and man on “Scripture Songs” cd.s I’ve heard some pretty songs from Sandra McCracken as well.

    • Paul says:

      I’m glad they make some amount of sense, let alone being helpful 😉

      I’m familiar with Talbot and Card, not with Goetz… McCracken sounds familiar but I don’t know why, hehe. I like listening to music and listen to “celebrities” too… just I have to be careful to remember what recorded/produced music is and what church music is, and the difference between music meant to be sung as a solo and music meant (or at least, can be) to be sung as a group.

Leave a Reply