Where the Road and Sky Collide: Reclaiming CCM by Duane W.H. Arnold PhD

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68 Responses

  1. Babylon's Dread says:

    Howling at the darkness…

  2. Babylon's Dread says:

    Fromm, Charles. “Textual Communities and New Song in the Multimedia Age: The Routinization of Charisma in the Jesus Movement.” PhD diss., Fuller Theological Seminary, 2006.

  3. Babylon's Dread says:

    There is a condescending tone on the article. This is good to note because we all tend to do it when we feel strongly about what we are writing and it tends to limit our audience and mute our impact. Finger-wagging doesn’t ennoble our work.

  4. Michael says:

    I think he nailed it…all the way through.

  5. “Then, maybe, we will no longer have to say, “Long, long ago, in a land far, far away there was a time and a place where contemporary Christian music mattered.”

    or … perhaps it just doesn’t matter any more.

  6. Em ... again says:

    i am so far removed from this that i’m reading of a foreign land that i don’t really want to visit, but that doesn’t mean that this doesn’t speak to the times… times that seem to totally depend on commercial value – it seems well written
    i am so far removed that my last experience critiquing Christian-so-called worship music was when we discussed the shallowness of a song titled, “I Believe” (for every drop of rain a flower grows…)

    thot for the Fourth – be careful with matches, eh?

  7. BrianD says:

    Props for an excellent article.

    I would add that Spotify and other similar services can help the listener discover artists which he or she may want to support (the ‘buy from iTunes’ principle still applies). If you’re fortunate enough to afford internet streaming, Spotify, Apple Radio, Google Play, etc. can easily take the place of radio.

  8. Dallas says:

    BrianD, you gave me a new way of thinking about my Spotify subscription. Spotify gives me a good way of not supporting Word FM it K-love. That alone is probably worth the subscription price.

  9. Ixtlan says:

    It is a failed model, but it is also one that is sought after by many, despite the malnourishment that it brings. People like their spirituality light, existential, and easily obtained. It is a reflection of the modern soul.

  10. Randy Davis says:

    I agree with the article. But you will not make CCM meaningful again until churches stop being Los Vegas shows and three ring circuses.

    I’m from a little hole in the road called Toone Tennessee. I started out Methodist and we became Southern Baptists. I went to college at a Baptist school in Jackson, which was less than 30 miles away. I began to listen to CCM in 1973 or just a little earlier. Not bad for a place so far away from the west coast. I liked it because it expressed basic faith in a sound that I understood–I was raised in a revivalist, Southern Gospel culture. (by the way, it was the Methodist who invented Revivalism as we know it.) My point is that it was simple, folk music like. It communicated with me and it helped spread the Gospel in a nonthreatening way. We were doing outdoor events for the first time because music did not need an organ or a piano.

    I was a DJ in seminary at our seminary radio station in the late 70s and early 80s It was some time in that framework that the music began to change. It became slick, highly produced, removed from church and became entertaining. That was when I lost interest in CCM.

    An example. I saw Second Chapter of Acts in Nashville about 1976. They were just ordinary people it would seem. I saw them again in the mid 80s in New Orleans. But then they had become slick and entertaining. It was something that Keith Green railed against as the music became commercial before his death.

    Most of the CCM is formulaic for sales purposes. Some of it is just creepy like Good Good Father. Very little of it is meaningful theologically and congregations can’t sing it. Today, “worship” means that we stand and honor those who sing to us, entertain us.

    Personally I like the greatest hits of the 17th and 18th century. I dislike late 19th and 20th century Gospel songs. My favorite hymn is A Mighty Fortress is Our God. I guess I am pretty peculiar for redneck kid from Toone, Tennessee, where they still have and use an organ.

    If you want the best of both worlds. (you all may already know this, I’m always behind the times.) Look at Indelible Grace and what they do with ancient hymns, many long forgotten. They revive many hymns that probably could not be sung in today’s church.

  11. Erunner says:

    I was saved at a concert in 1976 and the music touched me deeply. Especially Erick Nelson. I like all sorts of music but I won’t let anyone tell me what is garbage and what is not. I’m capable of making that decision for myself. It’s very subjective.

    God uses music to calm my spirit and speak to my heart.

    So often people will slam CCM and then what I hear what they consider acceptable I have to laugh to myself because quite often I don’t think it’s very good on any level.

    I’ve also come to like the hymns.

    As a child of the 60’s I liked all sorts of secular music. Still do. I was told by many I was wrong for listening to it.

    No one will tell me what I should or shouldn’t listen to. Period.

  12. People hang on to CCM and it’s various types like idols. Let it go.
    There is much better secular music that speaks to the human condition

    Disturbed handles this very well

    Question, Christian music and Worship music – are they synonymous?

  13. JD says:

    The Word set to music, what ever happened to that? Or at the very least, a scripture reference cited for the artist’s inspirational source? How about some lyrics from the book of worship, the Psalms?
    Much like the church trending away from the Word of God and towards an all about me/touchy-feely, artsy, wispy poetry type of “worship”; sermons have become a collection of stories from the exalted speaker’s personal experiences. It’s whatever brings the money in the church door, and what sells, and is worth promoting for profit on the radio and TV.
    The artists, like their leaders, are easily corrupted by the money driving it all. Open your eyes and see the envelope full of money being passed to the guest story teller/musician. Hirelings for entertainment purposes has become the widespread norm.
    Oh, “but we need to pay the electric bill for the A/C and all the colored stage lights and fog machines” they say.
    The rich you will always have with you, trying to ride their camels through the needles eye.

  14. Xenia says:

    For a sustained example of the word set to music you must visit a liturgical church.

  15. Rick says:

    I lived in SoCal in the mid-70’s and remember going to various Calvary Chapels for concerts; often times they held concerts in various public venues such as parks. I saw a lot of what would be considered ‘big-name’ individuals and bands when their music ministry was ministry, before it became big business.

    I remember Tom Stipe of CC saying that he gave messages at some of the open air concerts that the Maranatha Music bands gave; he said he could have read from a phone book and many would have gotten saved. There was something really special during that time–I miss it–while understanding we cannot reproduce it. In a sense, it was manna for a hungry generation.

    I have no idea what is popular in the CCM business today; I have no desire to listen. Much of contemporary worship music leaves me cold (bad attitude on my part). I, like others here, have come to appreciate the hymns.

  16. Erunner says:

    MLD, I have shared how secular music from the 60’s and 70’s played a role in my coming to faith. I listened to singer songwriter music endlessly and I saw artist speaking to the human condition and on their own search for answers.

    Calling CCM an idol may be true for some just as I imagine the stuff others like can become an idol for them.

    The thing is for 40 years I’ve had people telling me what I should and shouldn’t listen to.

    As CCM is associated with Evangelicals I’m never surprised when it’s trashed. That’s par for the course.

    What music God uses to touch me is my business. You can call me shallow or a liar for that. You’d be wrong.

  17. Owen says:

    I grew up (well, from about age 14 anway), listening to CCM radio , from a little station in Lynden, WA ( I could actually pick it up across the border!). I was a new believer, and finding this station was a wonderful thing then, as I was not raised in a Christian household. I would listen late at night in my room when my parents thought I was asleep.
    Some of the music I still listen to now (the ‘oldies” – Stonehill, Norman, etc…) but I have long since grown out of most of the others. As my faith grew they just became too thin.
    I have to agree – nowadays it’s just a commercial venture. Just a business. And I find it very sad. I have sought out artists that are still at the grassroots level (Andrew Peterson comes to mind) Christian music is still a big part of my faith history. But I have had to be a lot more careful.

    JD – I agree, and a lot of my faves are simply the Word set to music. I’ve always had trouble remembering scripture , and music is something that often helps us get things stuck in our brains.

    Erunner – my wife has been instrumental (pun fully intended!) in reminding me how much “secular” music there is that moves me. When I first came to faith and Christian music, I completely laid down all the other albums I had and switched entirely to Christian. Over time, I have relaxed that restriction and have found many of my old faves (and hers) to stil be very enjoyable.

    MLD – as to your question. No, I don’t think they are in general. At least not in my experience. To me , Christian music can (or at least, should) cover a range of topics , with a Christian perspective. I don’t mean political topics, etc…. but matters of the heart that most people could relate to regardless of their faith. Worship music has become (as someone here stated already) it’s own commercial brand.

    Oh, and I will take exception to your comment, MLD, that “there is much better secular music that speaks to the human condition.” If you are talking about mainstream CCM today, I completely agree. But there are still several older artists, and many new ones, more towards the fringes, that not only have great talents but are keeping it very real.
    I will agree that there is a great deal of “secular” music that speaks very well to the human condition. They just usually don’t talk much about the answer (which, of course, is where we come in! 🙂 )
    I use secular in quotes because I personally don’t care for the distinction – to me, music is music. The only difference is for whom it is used. Just my opinion.

  18. Randy Davis says:

    I assume what you mean by the Word set to music, is something like Scripture songs or poetry that runs close to the biblical text. That is exactly what much of the early CCM did. Not all. I think that CCM came into being in a small world where people, like Asia Minor metaphorically speaking, finally heard the Word and were called out of the world into God’s world.

    I have tried to find out what early Christian music might have sounded like. There are some pagan hymns that I have heard and it is possible that early hymns sounded like the pagan hymns. Or it may has sounded like the music of the Synagogue from which most of the early forms of worship came. But it took a thousand years for liturgical church music to develop. And then it had to go from Chants to harmonized. I think that from a technical point of view, some music is much better than other forms. And I know that some theology is better than others even if we do not know it. So, it is legitimate to grade, or classify music. There are some songs that I absolutely forbade to be sung in our church when I was a pastor, not because I thought it was inferior music, but because the lyrics were heretical. But church music can get lost if we insist that one cultural form of music, say, 18th century European music vs. 20th century deep south Gospel, is superior over the other as a means of offering worship. Music is not about what we like or what moves me, it is about what appropriately offers worship to our Sovereign God. While I appreciate all sorts of music, the music that best expresses the heart is the one what it native to its people.Thus I have often wondered why on the mission fields did the new Christians sing so many western songs.

  19. Owen says:

    I should have added that I do think it’s and excellent article. I don’t think it was necessarily finger wagging so much, more just the writer’s strong feelings about it. But yeah, we all have a tendency toward that.

  20. Mr Jesperson says:

    Thank you for a great article that is very close to my heart. I have been seeing the same problems as the author states, though it took me longer to see it. Some of the names of performers listed were the very ones I started listening to in the early 80’s as I began my journey into adult discipleship. The CCM music industry devolved from the late 80’s on as Mammon took center stage along with the God of Fame for the few select who were promoted by those that had control over the Mammon. Now the scene is a total joke, as was noted, with a few secular record companies owning all the big “Christian” labels and only two national radio stations controlling completely what the whole nation hears. One of these two has been highlighted by Warren Throckmorton recently because it is a “non-profit” where the CEO takes over half a million each year in Mammon and pays the very select DJ’s over $200K Mammon for their work. I see absolutely nothing “Christ-like” here. Only another scam to pull one over on believers who are all too trusting and would never expect someone to take advantage of their $40 dollar pledge drives like that.
    I see the current CCM industry as honestly being completely corrupt. The God served is not Jesus, but rather Fortune and Fame. To be counter-cultural in a way that is like Jesus means to turn our back on these Gods and return our focus back to Jesus. I am a big proponent of telling Christians to stop supporting not only their national radio stations and secular record companies that own the Christian labels, but likewise to not support your local “Christian” bookstore by buying “Christian” stuff that really has nothing at all to do with a true walk of faith. If we stop feeding the monster it will starve! A simple strategy. I also will twist arms to suggest that people stop supporting “the machine” by buying new books published by the big Christian publishers and with celebrity names on the covers who actually did not write the books because they are too busy and most lack the actual talent. Do not support the lie of the current craze started by Billy Graham of “Ghost writing” for the sake of sound Orthopraxy. Our American culture loves celebrities and worships them by eating up their every word and buying their goods. And yet, many of these “words” do not actually come from them but are purchased from third parties at amazingly cheap prices. As an alternative, why not look for good music and books online? Thanks to the Internet, self-publishing has become possible. Buy music from a starving artist or a struggling writer. Help the little guy instead of throwing more money into the big business of “official” religious arts. How about a little “doing onto the least of these” instead of focusing your attention on those who already are receiving way too much?
    One of the reasons I am writing this is because I am a Christian artist too. I do not mention it often because I HATE shameless self-promotion. It is everywhere in the Church and it is the opposite of Christ-like Orthopraxy. I feel strongly about never promoting myself. None the less, I have been putting the 50 plus songs I have recorded up on YouTube for anyone to listen to for free. This has been a hobby, I have never actually earned any money from the countless hours spent in the recording studio. The only fame I care about is Jesus’. The Word is clear what God will do to those who try to lift themselves up. *Matt. 23:12 I will end this long comment by promoting someone else that I do not know, nor have any ties to. I believe that this is how Jesus true Kingdom actually works: we should all promote that which we have no personal self-interest in. If you love progressive rock like I do, look for America Gomorrah’s “Exchanging Truth for a Lie.” It is great music, expertly performed, and with some very good lyrics on some of the songs. No one but me is currently listening to it up on YouTube. I have no problem promoting someone else’s work that is worthy. Buy books and music from struggling artists like this guy and be a blessing. Don’t throw more money away spoiling our already spoiled rotten Christian celebrities!

  21. Paige says:

    Erunner, I truly appreciate both your comments on this thread…. “What music God uses to touch me is my business. You can call me shallow or a liar for that. You’d be wrong.”


    It’s unfortunate that a few commenters here seem to think the only way to do life and worship is the way they happen to have an affinity for. God’s ways are so varied and vast.

    I also was saved at a Maranatha Everlasting Jesus Music concert…. almost 45 years ago, on July 12, 1971. Some of those songs are still the background themes of my life. I particularly loved Pam Mark Halls compositions and muse upon them often.

    Many, many of the memory verses I know from Scripture today are from those songs of the ‘early days’ of Maranatha music. I am sure that when I lose my mind, what I will remember are those songs and some of the beautifully deep hymns I love.

    The non-showy Calvary Chapel of Portland that we have become involved in hosts a monthly open mic event, called Kaleo…. All kinds of music is shared by a variety people who have no ambition to “lead worship’…. it’s really quite wonderful.

  22. Erunner – my comment was not addressed to you – our posts just crossed each other.
    Let’s try this – it’s like folks who long for the doo wop days. Hey it’s gone.

    What I think people like is the memory of the CCM stuff – the warm fuzzies of their christian youth. If you played most of that 70s stuff in church today, most youth would think you brough hymns in.

    Hey, what did you think of my Disturbed song?

  23. Erunner says:

    Sorry for the misunderstanding MLD. I like music based on my taste and nothing more.

    S&G are high on my all time favorites list and it’s a shame they split. Nothing compares to their version of Sounds Of Silence. That’s my opinion while it’s clear the cover you shared has a ton more views than the original.

    I’m glad Chestnut showed his athletic prowess and too Nathan’s once again!!

  24. Erunner says:

    Thank you Paige!

  25. Nonnie says:

    Often times my husband and I can’t even agree on what CCM music we like.
    I don’t see we should expect this motley crew to agree on what is good or bad CCM.

    I been in different church settings where the same CCM song is played/sung. One in a humble, worshipful, Christ-centred way and another venue that song is sung by performers with guitar licks, drum solos, and a seemingly eternal repetition of the same line over and over and over…..

  26. Randy Davis says:

    There is a Maranatha CD that I bought probably 30 years ago that I have listened to hundreds of times while I prepare sermons. It has chants, confessional songs, etc. I love listening to it.

    I hope you all don’t mind me asking this question and I am not asking it to get people to argue. Just a statement of personal fact. What hymn or song, etc do you most dislike? Personally if I never ever hear How Great Thou Art, I would happy.

  27. E, “I’m glad Chestnut showed his athletic prowess and too Nathan’s once again!!”

    Joey’s the man – 70 dogs and buns in 10 min — 2nd place 53 —minor leagues.

  28. Randy – the worst = “I Come to the Garden Alone, While the Dew is still on the Roses”

  29. Randy says:

    MLD, a lot of people feel that way!

  30. Owen says:

    Randy – “Shine, Jesus, Shine” Has to be one of the most overplayed, oversung worship songs. It’s the only time I have ever gone to person choosing the music at our church and asked (almost demanded) that it never, ever be played again. And I was not alone…..
    So that one gets my vote for the most disliked.

    There are a couple of old Lutheran hymns (can’t think of the names right now) that are a close second. In general I am quite fond of hymns, though.

    I am intrigued – I am always up for trying new music, and I will be trying out American Gomorrah later this evening. Where could I find your stuff?
    I can’t call myself and artist, but I have been a musician for years.

  31. Dennis says:

    I’ve been around CCM from almost day 1, in some form or another. You talk about the rawness and innocence, but there was also an awful lot of really bad music also. For every good Scripture in Song, there were 20 or 30 bad ones, for every Larry Norman, there were lots of marginal bands and for every Larry Norman masterpiece there was a lot of iffy Larry Norman stuff. Ill say that if CCM isn’t relevant its because the people writing it haven’t found a way to be relevant, that doesn’t negate either skill, effort, or desire. Very few Christian artists are willing to gain the education necessary to speak with either a strong musical voice, or a theologically sound voice. We look to hymns for examples, but it’s the same there, for every great Wesley hymn there are a lot of really bad ones. Someone mentioned A Mighty Fortress, but which of the150 verses do you pick out? We also, as the Church, kill off our young before they can believe there is a path to express their faith, we want to institutionalize the music instead of encouraging artists to inform and live within their realm, for example a large portion of Nashville session musicians are Christians, but we look down on them because they aren’t doing ministry. Now if you think we are unique, Rachmaninoff was looked down at by the Orthodox church for very similar reasons, yet his faith infused everything he wrote. He used the sounds of bells, pieces from the liturgy, and the Dies Ires in his pieces, but he was looked down upon instead of embraced. When we start to realize that the arts stretch into the whole of our lives, then we will start to understand what and why CCM was an influence. It really wasn’t about the music, it was about seeing the image and likeness of Christ in everything around us and then expressing and sharing that understanding. Thanks for starting the discussion, it’s interesting because JMT had some similar discussions and I know that the people around Mike Gungor are also asking the same questions, and didn’t we have someone who died a while back asking these questions among his friends the Ragamuffins…….

  32. JD says:

    Randy-Shout to the Lord, the anthem which helped usher in the state of non-worship we have today; also contributing to the rise and fall of pogo worship at the Hill$ong megajerch Brisbane hair-transplant campos.

  33. Mr Jesperson says:

    Owen, thanks for the interest. You can find my recordings by googling YouTube and Audible Waters or Don Bueke’s Carpe Diem Band. There are a total of six playlists I have been populating there. Some songs are instrumentals and others are vocal albums with Don. Volume II is the only list that is complete at this time. The others are being added to as I update old music. There is a variety of different sounds there, including an instrumental Christmas carol album which is currently, of course, out of season.

  34. Glenn says:

    98 percent agreed my friend. So many interesting/varied opinions, bits of history in the comments here, much appreciated! I am deeply thankful to live in an age with indy options, music computing, the web and lots of sidewalks, coffeehouses, bike rallys, prisons and jails. Music tastes vary, fads come and go including “worship fads”. When math dictates (individually or in a large group) both spiritual gifting/calling and artistic integrity take a hit. Nada. I will starve happily before math in terms of money or audience is given lordship status in my life. Food, clothes, water, housing, a solid faith community are enough. The rest is optional. Math, numbers focus? Math was never our savior, still ain’t. -Glenn

  35. Papias says:

    Every time a discussion of CCM occurs, I point to the heavier side of the genre, if some of it would even fit into the CCM umbrella or not. Artists not being played continuously on AIR1 or what have you, but making music and touring, sometimes not even known as Christians by Christians.

    Blackie Lawless from WASP turned back to the Lord and has put out several albums since then, including “Golgotha” last year. The title track is a bit log, but you get the gist of it within about a 1:30 minutes into it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lq5UQ8gWU-A

    On the other hand, Stryper has put out several albums since reuniting, including last years “Fallen”, which is probably their hardest and most outspoken album ever, with the lead track Yahweh… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHOrDJHRaPE

    There are TONS of artists that are making good music that will not be played on CCM radio. You have to seek them out, although these were both available at my local library.

  36. Scotty Mac says:

    The article resonates with me, having excited a bit of passion on the subject. I’ve lurked on and off on this forum for 10 years, and probably haven’t made 4 posts, so please excuse any lack of proper protocol.

    I started listening to contemporary Christian music, (before it was termed such) back around 1970-71 or so. There was a syndicated radio program hosted by Scott Ross, from Freeville, NY. He featured obscure artists and such, and made commentary that was fresh and welcome at that time in my life. He introduced me to the music of Phil Keaggy.

    Like others, I gravitated toward Larry Norman, Andre Crouch, 2nd Chapter of Acts, and many other early CCM musicians. I attended many Saturday night concerts at CCCM between 1973 and 1976. As an aspiring guitar player, I loved watching these singers and players on stage. No one argued that they were as good as what was happening in the secular world…clearly they were not. It didn’t matter. They were singing about God, and many of us were learning the basics of our faith through their music.

    By the end of 1976, I was working full time in Christian radio. How exciting to see new artists coming along and the industry growing. Except for a few years off to finish my degree, I continued to work in Christian radio and media until 1997. By that time, I found the whole industry so disgusting that I could no longer be a part of it.

    An excellent musician like Bob Bennett was played heavily in the late 70s and early 80s, but the industry demand for the young and the beautiful would marginalize guys like Bob, even though his music was still just as good or getting better.

    Promotion was everything. Money was everything. Celebrity-ism was everything. I recall reading an article in the 90s by one of the members of a popular CCM group who tracked the changes in the industry. In a moment of transparency and honesty, he related the time when the group realized how much money could be made in their work. After a season of success, the band broke up.

    It didn’t take any real brains to see the industry promoting the young, good looking artists. I used to wonder if there were any old and ugly musicians around. Well, yes, there were. But they were largely being ignored. The CCM industry was largely being driven by teenage and 20-something demographics. Who wanted to listen to a balding 45-year old singer?

    As the CCM industry morphed into the ‘Worship’ industry, the same ethics and dynamics of promotion seemed to continue. Honestly, it is difficult to watch any of it anymore. I still play guitar and on occasion, lead worship, but how tough it is to want to do any of the music that is currently the ‘thing’.

    There is no way that I believe that all of music and intentions were good back then, and now, not so much. Actually, technology currently allows much excellence in music by people who would have been denied access to it by the industry gatekeepers back then.
    Just don’t look for it anytime soon from the mainstream sources who promote celebrity worship music, or celebrity teachers.

  37. Xenia says:

    During the few years that I taught at an evangelical high school, I noticed that the students liked to label themselves by the genre of CCM they enjoyed. You would think some of these kids had only a passing knowledge of Christ but were experts on Switchfoot or Five Iron Frenzy, the latter adherence allowing the edgier kids to identify with ska. It was all about the relative coolness of their particular brand and the edginess of the corresponding T-shirts. When these kids left home and were allowed to listen to “real” rock music, they dropped these bands like they were a hot Skillet. And all this nonsense was encouraged by the local youth leaders.

    For a few years I attended the local evangelical music fest (Spirit West Coast) and it was the most brand-driven, commercial gathering I’d ever seen. The high point of the festival each year was when the News Boys threw boxes Capt’n Crunch over the audience.

    If all this is fading away I am glad but I hope it is replaced by something better.

  38. Xenia says:

    Wearing an edgy T-shirt with a shocking graphic does not make one a “radical” Christian.

    Ignoring the popular trends in culture (even “Christian” culture), willing to be uncool for righteousness sake, caring for the poor and unlovely without praise from others, spending serious time in prayer…. that’s “radical” Christianity. It should be the norm.

  39. Xenia says:

    I really hate the use of “radical” and “extreme” as regards to what should be the normal Christian life.

    I pretty much think the Christian kid (or adult) who is mocked by the cool Christian kids with their music collections and Christian gear for not conforming is probably the real “extreme” and “radical” Christian.

  40. Dan from Georgia says:

    Another voice in the wilderness cacophony here…

    I will choose not to slam CCM, even though there are plenty of targets. Many people find what they need in CCM. Some don’t. At this point in my life, I don’t. Someday I may though. The problems with CCM are numerous, but I have numerous problems. CCM will change or evolve or devolve or disappear over time. There will always be a remnant of good musicians out there worth of listening to. Some will be in the CCM camp, some will not.

  41. Mr Jesperson says:

    #34. For the regulars here let me point out here that Rez Band was mentioned in the article, and Glenn Kaiser was the preacher in that band. Apparently, he answered a comment I made earlier. Must be more than coincidence. When I was young, I made the conscience decision to set aside secular music and change up my choice of styles. I had been into the soft sounds of things like “Air Supply.” I bought “Mommy Don’t Love Daddy Anymore” and I was soon hooked on the hard edge sounds of Christian rock. I saw Rez Band three times, the last time my church booked them. The only casualty was a ceiling tile that was taken out by one of their pyrotechnics. Small world this is. We got a comment by a Christian Rock pioneer.

  42. Mr Jesperson says:

    One other comment I will make. Back around 1990, I had a friend that was renting a room in a house that had one of the 10 best home recording studios in the garage. The owner of the home was on the church worship band and his name is Billy Spoon. You can find has soft rock sounds on Spotify, I believe if you look for his band. He was involved in recording music for the CCM industry. He said something that I have not been able to forget about his opinion of the industry, “There is absolutely nothing ‘Christian’ about the Christian Music Business. It is all business!” His comment about the central role of Mammon has stayed with me ever since. I was working as an accountant at that time and so understood exactly what he meant with this bottom line of all business.

  43. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Doesn’t the expectation of being a ‘christian’ business / industry carried a little far? Why do we expect music to be Christian (actually music cannot be christian or secular – music is music – words / lyrics make the difference)

    In n Out Burgers is owned by a Christian family (or they were) and they print Bible verses on their cups. Are they a part of the Christian Burger industry?

  44. Papias says:


    If “In n Out” started as a ministry and then morphed into business, you would be upset.

    Cause they would still call it “In n Out”, but it would taste like McDonalds.

  45. Bob Bennett says:

    Thanks to Scotty Mac for the kind mention. And thanks to Michael for posting this. I’d love to make contact with the writer but don’t quite know how despite some cursory Googling. Perhaps my thanks and appreciation could be passed along if you (Michael) review these comments this far down. The article, to my mind, is very thoughtful and should be required reading for every church musician with a guitar or keyboard close at hand. Even if I didn’t “have a dog in the hunt”, I’d feel this way. Michael Card has a wonderful quote from his late mentor Dr. William Lane inscribed on a wall of his recording studio. Once heard, I never forgot it: “Let the excellence of your work be your protest.” It’s for others to judge if I’ve “protested well”, but I’m reasonably content with reaching the few that might still care about my type of songwriting and musicianship … even as I try to convince my creditors that I actually _am_ employed. 🙂

  46. Michael says:

    Bob…I’ll PM you on Facebook with contact info…

  47. Dan from Georgia says:

    Bob Bennet and Glenn (Kaiser) I am assuming!

    You guys rock! Thanks for your wonderful music!

  48. Michael says:

    You assume correctly . 🙂

  49. Owen says:

    Lovin this thread…..

    Xenia – extreme and radical were terms that I suspect some in Jesus’ time may have applied to Him… but I agree with your statements. I know my teenager has an affinity for latching on the the next edgy thing to come along….

    Rez Band is still one of the staples in our house (at least, it is when my wife isn’t listening 🙂 )
    My young son is an aspiring harmonica player, and has made a few attempts at “Great God in Heaven.” When he and I need to rock out, we put on “Love comes down”….

    In my younger years, I studied and played Michael Card’s album “The Life” , the breadth and depth of the music still moves me. The talent, the poetry that were put into it.

    Mr. J. – thanks for pointing me to your music as well – I’ve had a bit of a listen, will try to make time for more. Nice guitar work.

  50. Dan from Georgia says:

    I miss Rich Mullins’ music and the man himself. Yes his music was generally considered in the pale of CCM, but when I saw him in concert his in between-songs talks weren’t what you would call “family friendly” talk. He took a few of our evangelical sacred cows out to the back of the barn, so to speak. Not something many of the current CCM artists would dare do.

  51. Owen says:

    I remember those talks well, Dan… in some of his later interviews he also hinted to some of the issues with CCM. I still play many of his songs. Love the hammered dulcimer – watcing him play it was amazing….

    I think Andrew Peterson has kind of picked up where Rich left off.

  52. Dan from Georgia says:

    Owen (51)…thanks for the confirmation…it was waaaay back in April 1997, just a few months before he passed, that I saw him in concert in New Hope, MN, and I thought my memory was playing with me. I too still listen to his music from time to time, and still admire how gifted of a musician he was on stringed instruments, as well as with his lyrics!

    I have some of Andrew Peterson’s music as well, and you can tell he is heavily influenced by Rich.

  53. Erunner says:

    Rich Mullins and Andrew Peterson are two of my favorites. I also enjoy Robin Mark and Godfrey Birtill from Ireland and the U.K. respectively. Also Caedmon’s Call, Fernando Ortega, Mark Heard, Audrey Assad, JJ Heller, Sister Rosetta Tharpe (tragic life), Johnny Cash, The Violet Burning, Brian Doerksen, Downhere, and so many more. I’ve also used Bob Bennet and Glenn Kaiser on my blog where I have used all of the above and so many more. Putting music on my blog weekly for eight years exposed me to so many good artists.Many most haven’t heard of.

    There’s so much good music out there; especially internationally. So much for us all to choose from.

  54. Mr Jesperson says:

    Thanks Owen for the compliment. It is with a heavy heart that I have to post up the following. In my first post here I was intending to comment about some of the scandals that have broken recently with a few of the Christian Rock pioneers. I did not get around to it as the post was getting too long as it was. If I had written what I intended, Glenn Kaiser would probably not have posted here at all and certainly would not have appeared to have said nice things back to me as I think he did. I have nothing against the man, personally. It is just I became aware of the scandal a couple of years ago and have been looking into it. I have a friend who lived under Glenn and John Herrin’s leadership (the drummer) at JPUSA for a number of months. I have I think all the Rez Band albums and subscribed to the Cornerstone Mag for many years, right until the time it was shut down. I really like the image that these two men put up for themselves. However, it looks like was a front and the reality is something so much darker.
    Just two weeks ago, I watched “Spotlight” and was furious about what Cardinal Law and others did to little children in Boston. That got me reading the blog over at G.R.A.C.E. where I read about other protestant scandals that were investigated, with more of the same. It does not appear to matter if it is Catholics, Baptists, missionaries, a conservative college, or even a Christian commune like JPUSA, the response is all the same. No one wants to actually repent. They all want to cover their reputations and then blaspheme Jesus by using Him as there excuse for the cover up. They also mentioned JPUSA with the other scandals. There are two lawsuits pending against JPUSA, their elders including Glenn and John and their denomination. There is a video put out where three adults claim that John molested them as children. They claim that over half of the former children that they contacted reported they were molested by someone over the decades. I have looked into all of this and talked to my friend who was a visitor of the community for maybe 6 months in the 90’s. I find the accusations credible. Indeed, considering the overcrowding and the fact that day care and programs for drug addicts and ex-cons were both taking place in the same building, it is ridiculous to claim that all of this is a lie. The reports I have seen are disturbing considering Glenn’s attitudes and actions. At this point, I cannot call any leader that deals with molestation this way “a brother.” As much as I used to like Glenn, the reality is not the public persona. I hate having to say this, but I have zero tolerance for covering up child abuse. I think all the church leaders who have worked the coverup belong in jail instead of in power somewhere. For more information on specifics, you can start education yourself here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slowchurch/2014/03/01/jpusa-a-tragic-history-of-sexual-abuse/
    There is also scandal concerning Larry Norman with Randy Stonehill and other early artists exposing him as fraud using Jesus to create some fortune and fame for himself. There is another video put together with these old Christian artists pointing fingers at Larry. It is called Fallen Angel and some excerpts are up on YouTube. It is so sad that there is so much false crafting that goes on of public images. Sometimes I just have to get a fresh view of Jesus Christ. This world is such a dark and deceptive place. My conscience will not allow me to take my head and stick it in the sand and pretend this horror is not real.

  55. Josh the Baptist says:

    Hey Mr J – We have discussed both of those cases here before. You could probably find the threads using the search function.

  56. Erunner says:

    The documentary No Place To Call Home detailing the JPUSA abuse is available on youtube in its entirety.

  57. Gracias, amigo, for saying poignantly & pointedly what many of us have been thru. I too was there when the Jesus Music ministry was mutating into The Christian Music Industry. It was 1982, at a SESAC award dinner, that I gave an uninvited, impromptu tirade to that effect. (which made my name mud in the new industry) Yeah, we all try to redeem the times. But God knows…

    Back then, we hit the streets, played in parks, birthed coffee houses, street papers, tracts, art, dance, gorilla theater– whatever vehicle our hand found to express our Cargo. We’d as soon play a bar or prison as a church. Cuz it was a Jesus Revolution– a God-sent, spiritual awakening reclaiming a generation of lost kids. And we ate, slept, drank & sang Jesus.

    My point? I’m thinking the music didn’t beget the revival, but a God-sent fire begat such fiery music! Or more clearly, such on-fire, fanatic musicians. We weren’t caught up in vehicle– but the Cargo. Not in the music, but the Message… or more clearly: the Messiah! Hence the revolution.

    Historically, every Spiritual Revival produces it’s own Cultural Renaissance. So, yes, I agree with your ideas for changing the musical landscape of our glittery gospel ghetto. But we all know, the biggest idea would be to fall madly in love again with the Real Jesus! Right? Oh that He might revive our hearts… & revive our arts!

  58. Michael says:

    As I told Mr. Jesperson privately, we covered those stories when they happened.

    This thread isn’t about those scandals,nor is it going to be.

  59. Josh the Baptist says:

    A lot of this sounds like “Hey kid, get off my lawn!” to me. We all look back to our time as the glory days. The things that Arnold suggests in the article actually happened…in the mid-90’s. I was on the road full-time for 7 years playing mostly coffee shops and other venues set up by Christian music lovers. They were everywhere, all over the country. There were indy labels putting out different kinds of music like Tooth and Nail and 5 Minute Walk. Here’s a blog dedicated to the era : https://medium.com/chrindie-95/chrindie-95-an-introduction-9ffe411a257b#.102hwgp80

    Christian radio is lame, but so is mainstream radio. The real music has always been harder to find, now, thanks to the internet it is fairly easy. There is great Christian music being made right now. Best ever. Even better than my adored 90’s. Its just not on the radio so much.

  60. Erunner says:

    Michael, if you want to remove my link to the documentary that’s okay. I posted it in response to Mr. Jesperson’s post not thinking it would be a concern.

    A few comments though. I found the link you provided a few years ago and it generated zero comments. The other is that readership here has changed a bit over those two years so this will be brand new information for them. I think child abuse is a vital topic here as your past coverage of these incidents has shown.

    Maybe it could be revisited in the future? That’s your call.

  61. Erunner says:

    Josh, as I mentioned above there’s a lot of what I believe are talented artists out there whose names aren’t well known. Many are from years past but there’s some out there today as well. I’ve come across so many artists I find to be quite good whose names aren’t out there so much. A few are such as Audrey Assad and jj Heller. At some point for all of us it comes down to personal taste.

  62. Michael says:


    We covered it more than that, as we had someone who had lived there write something for us.

    We may revisit it down the road, but this thread was written by a guest and has been widely circulated around the internet.
    I want to avoid the PhxP rabbit trails if possible.

  63. Erunner says:

    Michael, I hear you and I’m sure it was through here I came across the documentary initially. Heck!! I’m treading water with my comments on the music itself! 🙂

  64. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I don’t know what all the hand wringing is about for artists who are not heard in the mainstream – as if they are entitled.

    My wife and I last winter sat under the London Bridge at Lake Havasu and listened for an hour to a guy sing – I never heard anything like it before. He had his guitar case out collecting dollar bills. I spoke to him for a while and asked if has had recording deals or been on shows – he just shook his head and said “there are just too many of us – you can’t get your foot in the door.”

    I dropped a 20 in his case and walked off – hey, the numbers game. I am sure it was the same reason I couldn’t get a tryout to be the Dodgers’ 3rd baseman in the 70s. 🙂

  65. Papias says:

    “I am sure it was the same reason I couldn’t get a tryout to be the Dodgers’ 3rd baseman in the 70s.”

    That and the fact that Ron Cey pretty much had that position covered…. 🙂

  66. Papias says:

    Josh – your #59 is true, which was the point I was trying to make back on #35.

    There is good new music being created by Christians, but that doesn’t mean it gets played on Christian radio….

    I miss the days of the Metal Show on KYMS… you would hear stuff there that you didn’t hear anywhere else.

  67. Owen says:

    MLD #64 – I don’t know that there’s much hand-wringing among the artists themselves, at least not the ones who are just in it for the music and the message, and those artists don’t feel entitled, eiher, IMO….there are good reasons they aren’t heard in the mainstream.

    I liked your story of the singing guy you and your wife met, and it’s very telling to me that whether or not he could get his foot in the door, he was still out there singing…..

  68. 70's Throwback says:

    Started leading worship in the late 70’s. We did not even know what to call it back then. We just new it was something real and gripping. As many have stated, the state of CCM is a ghetto. As many of the churches today. If a church website says anything remotely close to Real, Relevant, and Relational, I run the other way as fast and far as possible.

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