We start our tale at this Thinklings meta-blog piece titled "Point/Counterpoint: CCM and Modern Worship Music." It is about a recent Chuck Colson article where he (among other things) admits to hating a lot of modern worship music. Specifically, he mentions singing through interminable verses of "Draw Me Close to You."
Stepping up to defend contemporary worship are Sam Storms and many Thinklings commenters. The problem? Colson's article is not really about contemporary worship. That was only the introductory paragraph or two. Colson really wants to talk about this:
What is the job of Christian radio, after all? To give people what they want, or—as with any ministry—to give them what they need? Music is important in the life of the church and can inspire us to focus on Christ. But it cannot take the place of solid teaching.The article is about christian radio and media abandoning teaching and instruction for entertainment programming (largely music) that yields higher ratings in their core demographics. And I agree with Colson, this is not a good thing. We're seeing a Joel Osteenation of Christian radio. The ratings are going up, but spiritual content and communication of Biblical truth to the audience is dropping fast.
My mom is a major christian radio listener. Or she was when I lived at home a few years ago. I found some of the programs to be to childish. Mostly these were children's programs like Adventures in Odyssey so that was ok. But others were religious broadcasters too obsessed with politics (Dobson) or themselves (Hank Hanegraaff). But the talk element, while imperfect, was still important. As Colson puts it:
Sure, skits and catchy music are good tools for drawing people in, and good Christian music on the radio can inspire us. But these things aren't an end in and of themselves; they should engage us in learning and applying truth.Exactly. A lot of listeners out there have had long days and want some emotional relief. Granted, music gives them that. But on the other hand, while this music may give them some empathy, it doesn't help them solve their problems. It is like a bandaid or duct tape, a temporary fix. If the listeners are overworked and too busy, perhaps someone should do a show on that and how to live more simply. Good ministry here is not just more music. It is more music and targeted topical commentary meeting the spiritual needs of listeners.