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)
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
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.
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?