I am in my last semester's service as a music director in Maseno university. In my 3years (5semesters) of recruiting new students for the teams -the instrumentalists, the singers,actors and dancers-I have always had a difficulty. Other students have a passion for ministry except they are so hooked to secular music. Normally,I get them cds of contemporary gospel music hoping to play the bad music out of them.I think a worshipper can be affected by unhealthy music. Is that true? If yes, how do I give further help?

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It's hard to get a feel for what you mean when you say "secular music", it seems that you're equating "bad" with "secular". What music exactly do you have in mind? From where I sit, I find the opposite experience. Players who listen to nothing but contemporary Christian music are lacking in innovative techniques and styles. Certainly music can be unhealthy - I wouldn't suggest that a Christian listen to "Megadeath", but there is a spectrum that contains both good and bad.

Hey, I'm a big Megadeth fan! We don't play Megadeth at church, but I am greatly influenced by Marty Friedman, their guitarist during their best and most successful era. I wouldn't be the same guitarist, which everyone at church appreciates, without their influence. Sure, their music isn't the most uplifting I've ever heard - their lyrics are just an honest expression of their frustrations and questions in the world. Incidentally,  Megadeth's front man, Dave Mustaine, and bass player are now both Christians and have set up Christian music projects in addition to Megadeth. Mustaine's autobiography is brilliant and talks about how it was Christian faith that physically healed him and finally brought him out of drug and alchohol addiction.

 

I think Christianity once led the way in music - JS Bach, Handel, gospel etc. But non-Christian musicians took it, popularised it while some Christians demonised it. Now Christian music is always playing catch up to the secular in terms of musical creativity, which is why Christians listen to it. I don't find much musical inspiration in Christian music that hasn't had any outside influence. Yeah, there's a lot of unsavoury stuff out there including some that might draw people into a bad mindset. If people really want to genuinly worship God, they should  know in their heart whether certain music (secular) is a hindrance to this. Take the best bits and let the diversity of all music flow for the glory of God!

The Megadeath comment is somewhat an example, sorry for the implication. Mustaine is a believer? That's very cool!
Oh - I meant Slayer, not Megadeath.

Stevo writes:

 

"It's hard to get a feel for what you mean when you say "secular music", it seems that you're equating "bad" with "secular". What music exactly do you have in mind? From where I sit, I find the opposite experience. Players who listen to nothing but contemporary Christian music are lacking in innovative techniques and styles."

 

I think the 'bad' music she's referring to has nothing to do with style, creativeness, or innovation.  I take the 'bad' to mean the content of the lyrics, and yes, I think this type of 'bad' music can have a negative effect on our thoughts and eventually our actions.  I'm not sure if all are affected by it, but I do know that I certainly can be and definitely was at one time. 

 

As for the second part--certainly most of the popular current CCM is lacking in many ways---just as most of the popular current secular music is.  It has more to do with what is popular and 'sells' than secular artists being more creative than Christian artists.  We have to look for what we personally like in the music world if it's not popular.  It's just that it's a lot easier in the world to find secular stations that will play something off the beaten path than it is to find Christian stations due to the goals of the respective stations.  Many Christian stations will play their more innovative stuff on Friday and Saturday nights only while most major radio markets have at least one secular station to fulfill your musical taste all day long regardless of what you like.

I have a hard time believing that those who think a believer who listens to only secular music ( for those who dont understand the term, anything not christian and we are not talking about instrumental) will lack in anything. God has gifted Christian musicians with as much if not more talent than secular artists. Yes, they were probably influenced by secular artist which is all the more reason not to use secular artists as an avenue. You can get ANYTHING needed by Christian artists. I have said it before and I'll say it again. The word says "The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life are of the WORLD". "Continually sing psalms and spiritual songs". Why would you want to focus on any music that does not glorify our Savior? We are hear to know him and make him known. You can't serve two masters. You can't focus on Him when singing songs of the world. Verah, you are right, garbage in/garbage out. But they have to come to the place you are at in their own time. God will lead them away from it in time. Just don't allow secular into your ministry, that should be the line in the sand. Just keep loving them and treating them with love and respect. I know it's old but it is true, what would Jesus do?

You can get ANYTHING needed by Christian artists.

A truly discerning person can benefit from anything. If you think it's wrong to listen to ballads and music that tells the story of humans and their lives and their struggles, then it's wrong to read history and study current events or any other written thing that isn't directly about God.

 

I think it's better to come to a place where you are discerning instead of painting a broad brush stroke and throwing all "non-Christian" music over that virtual line in the sand. It certainly requires maturity to be truly discerning, but it's well worth it. Not everyone gets there.

 

Verah - I would encourage you to find out what your people are listening to and try to be discerning about what is in the music. Not all "non-Chrisitan" music is wrong. Not all "Christian" music is worth listening to. If you develop a discerning spirit about music and understand what's good and bad, you're way ahead the game and can benefit from anything.

 

I learned about several important things from "secular" musicians - Chavez Ravine, the plight of work horses, Remembrance Day or the story of Kroc and McDonald's. I heard about the pains of being a migrant worker in the west, the sad life of Sonny Liston, the difficulties of life during the depression, or what it's like to loose a child and the right way to deal with it. It would have never occurred to me to look into these things and understand those particular injustices that people face had I not listened to Mark Knopfler or Ry Cooder or Gillian Welch. I don't see Christian artists writing music that shows much concern for these kinds of things. It's not necessarily a bad thing, I just don't see it.

 

Ah, just my two cents...

Consider "Help" the Beatles song  can you see a christian view:


HELP!
HELP! I NEED SOMEBODY,
HELP! NOT JUST ANYBODY,
HELP! YOU KNOW I NEED SOMEONE, HELP.

WHEN I WAS YOUNGER, SO MUCH YOUNGER THAN TODAY,
I NEVER NEEDED ANYBODY'S HELP IN ANY WAY.
BUT NOW THESE DAYS ARE GONE, I'M NOT SO SELF ASSURED,
NOW I FIND I'VE CHANGED MY MIND I'VE OPENED UP THE DOORS.

HELP ME IF YOU CAN, I'M FEELING DOWN
AND I DO APPRECIATE YOU BEING AROUND.
HELP ME GET MY FEET BACK ON THE GROUND,
WON'T YOU PLEASE, PLEASE HELP ME.

AND NOW MY LIFE HAS CHANGED IN OH SO MANY WAYS,
MY INDEPENDENCE SEEMS TO VANISH IN THE HAZE.
BUT EV'RY NOW AND THEN I FEEL SO INSECURE,
I KNOW THAT I JUST NEED YOU LIKE I'VE NEVER DONE BEFORE.

HELP ME IF YOU CAN, I'M FEELING DOWN
AND I DO APPRECIATE YOU BEING AROUND.
HELP ME GET MY FEET BACK ON THE GROUND,
WON'T YOU PLEASE, PLEASE HELP ME.

WHEN I WAS YOUNGER, SO MUCH YOUNGER THAN TODAY,
I NEVER NEEDED ANYBODY'S HELP IN ANY WAY.
BUT NOW THESE DAYS ARE GONE, I'M NOT SO SELF ASSURED,
NOW I FIND I'VE CHANGED MY MIND I'VE OPENED UP THE DOORS.

HELP ME IF YOU CAN, I'M FEELING DOWN
AND I DO APPRECIATE YOU BEING ROUND.
HELP ME, GET MY FEET BACK ON THE GROUND,
WON'T YOU PLEASE,
PLEASE HELP ME,
HELP ME,
HELP ME, OH

The truly discerning person can tell what is good and bad without the broad brush. It opens you up to learning all kinds of things - like Solomon did. It was he who encouraged us to look at everything around us and see God's wisdom in it.

Nothing is seculer it's God's we either use his creations wisely, unwisely, righteously or sinfully.   If someone is a "Christian Artist"  do we really know what they have produced is for God and that they have really given their life to Jesus.   

 

I was at a Christian event were 11 thousand young people were played a video of a song sung by a "christian" who had a terminal illness and had written the song despite this.  In the video he had oxygen tubes in his nose as he sung.   My wife told me what we were seeing was not right and by the end of the event it came out that he did not have the illness and he had a number of issues to deal with.

 

To get a little perspective here, VVO is in Kenya, and, culturally, may be facing some distinctions between secular and Christian music that we in the U.S. aren't bothered by... here in the U.S., we tend to place a lot of importance on musical "quality" - ability to sing and play well, in-tune-ness, unusual lyrical creativity, etc.  And there tends to be a lot of thought that it is important for the church to be "as good as" the secular music world because one of the uses we make of music in the church is to try to attract the "un-churched" to our services, where we can give them our message.  The story about Martin Luther (?) creating hymns by putting religious words to the drinking songs of his day goes around a lot.

 

Saying that a particular music is "bad" can have two meanings - (a) poor quality, poorly written, played, etc., and (b) of some kind of evil character.  Here in the U.S., there seems to be a lot of feeling that (a) matters, but that the church really overdid it on (b) going back to Elivs, the Beatles, punk, disco, etc.  In another cultural setting, (a) may not be the big deal, but (b) is.

 

Verah is the same person who posted a while ago that she had been kicked out of her worship ministry because she had dreadlocks... here in the U.S., dreads tend to be identified with reggae as a musical style, but in Africa, they are associated with some specific non-Christian religious groups.  I'm not sure what the U.S. equivalent would even be, but I think that in Africa, there is a lot more of a sense that the music we listen to, the way we dress or style ourselves, and things like that correspond directly to what we believe.

 

Verah, maybe you can provide more details (or let me know if I'm off track here).  How did the dreadlocks issue work out? Did you end up sacrificing your individuality for a more effective witness?  The secular music that these musicians are listening to - is it really perceived as "evil," or are you maybe worrying about it more than you need to just because it's not "Christian" music?  Can they listen to this secular music and still do a good job of playing Christian music in a worship band?

 

Charles

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