This is sequel to an earlier publication which covered certain misconceptions that engender strife and malice among Christian musicians. The feedbacks I have gotten so far from people who have read the first part of this article have been somewhat shocking. Before putting pen to paper I considered the backlash I would get for challenging the status quo within the Christian music community but surprisingly, all I have been getting on my social media platforms are gratitude, thumbs up and encouragements. I have also come to understand that these issues are not confined to the Nigerian gospel music scene. Most of my feedbacks came from music stakeholders based beyond the shores of Africa. The misconceptions discussed earlier include Performance, Artistry, Special Effects, Appearance/Presentation and Entertainment so if you haven’t read it yet, please do. This second part will deal with some other misconceptions existing within Christian music circles.
The purpose of this write-up should never be forgotten or overlooked else we will just spend valuable time, condemning each other on various grounds. This article is engineered to clear the air on common misguided attempts to brandish holiness among musicians thereby stigmatizing certain others. The truth is, whether a Christian musician is actually manifesting traits of an unbeliever or not, it is our duty not to condemn but to uphold in love. The pride and contempt going on in Christian music circles will stifle our work for the kingdom individually and collectively. In an attempt to objectively iron things out, I have put this piece together.
That been said, here are some more areas of misconceptions that exist among us.
Of recent I found out that the word ‘show’ (as in, attending a show) is considered offensive to some Christian artistes. I mean some people actually take offense when you refer to their events or any Christian gathering as ‘shows’ or ‘gigs’. I was in a discussion with a number of Christian musicians when the matter came up and it got so fierce that people’s holiness and spirituality were being questioned right there. Please help me oh; who is that person that said that shows are for unbelievers and should not be attended or organised by Christians? Why do we feel the need to categories a neutral amoral word as ungodly simply because we want to portray the form of godliness, why?!
Is the TD Jakes show ungodly? Is the Donnie McCluckin Radio show unrighteous? Are the hosts of these shows sinners? Have you at any time seen them commit sin in any of these shows? May God help us oh. This holiness we are trying to attain by our own strength is the sin that keeps us from actually being holy. Now a keyboardist tells his church MD that he is going for a show and oga MD assumes he is going to a club.
I will simply end this section in the words of my Pastor “all na show, the question is who you are showing off?” You organise a concert in your church tagging it ‘a time of pure worship’ and invite your church members to come and hear you run scales, scream, sweat and sub while another fellow organises a concert tagging it ‘Jesus on the streets’ where he takes the gospel of Jesus to the hood with controversial genres like gospel hip hop and rock as dreadlocked artistes shout ‘Jesus’ at the top of their voices all day so the world will know who their saviour is; then you have the guts to condemn his event simply because he calls it a show?! My brother, all na show oh, the question is who you are showing off.
Ministry and Ministration
Now to the matter of ministry; ministry is basically service to man for God. For a man to claim to be a minister, he must be in some sort of service. This is the same with musicians; a music minister is in service of God to man. Once he moves from service, he is no more ministering. This definition makes me wonder why every Christian musician wants to be referred to as a minister carrying out ministrations especially when their music career is all about them. All your songs are about you and what God did for you and what you want God to do for you and maybe what you want to do for God …basically you, you, you. I don’t call that ministry; I can hardly even call that gospel music (we will get to the issue of gospel music later). The fact that people fall and roll while you sing, doesn’t make it a ministration. The fact that people scream and cry while you are on stage, doesn’t make it a ministration. You should always look for tangible evidences of service before you consider what you do as ministration. A musician who carries out ministrations is the one who strictly follows divine instruction in service to God. Until God uses you to set captives free, bring the message of salvation, heal the sick, etc, you are yet to find service in the kingdom and you are therefore yet to call what you do ministration. Ministration is beyond putting on a suit and a tie and commanding the congregation to lift up their hands to the heavens and weep; ministrations are based on instructions and followed by evidences (testimonies) even if you are the only one aware of those evidences.
This section will be brief because there is nothing like a worship minister. Yes, there isn’t. Well to the best of my knowledge, the scriptures have not classified worship as a special ministry just as it has not classified intercession as a ministry. Everybody is expected to worship in spirit and in truth because the “Father seeketh such…” Moreover, worship is beyond songs and music so stop going around calling yourself ‘Daniel the Worshipper’ as if you are one of the few people licensed to worship or you have a special gift of worship. I used to make that mistake when I started my journey in music but now I know better. I have even stopped referring to myself as a worship leader when I found out that the actual worship leader of the church is the Pastor in charge of the Church. If ministry is service to man then worship is not a ministry as it is a service to God. You can say you are ministering to God in worship but that’s what every believer does, so please do not single yourself out as a worship minister, every believer worships like you, it is not a title.
It will shock you that most of the songs we sing in church are not gospel songs. Yes I said it!!! They aren’t. Now don’t get me wrong oh. They are good songs about God and how great and awesome he is and has been but they are not necessarily gospel songs. This is the same for most ‘gospel’ songs out there today. To make my point crystal clear, let me define the gospel in simple terms.
The Gospel (translated as good news) refers to the love of God for mankind that made him give up Jesus to be born, suffer, die and resurrect for our salvation and freedom. It also refers to the hope of His second coming. If this is the gospel then any music on any concept outside of this is not gospel music. This will disappoint a lot of ‘gospel’ artistes, I know, but it is a bitter truth. I for one have stopped referring to myself essentially as a gospel artiste because not all the songs I have written are actually based on the gospel. Recently, a facebook friend of mine told me he was anticipating my upcoming album with the project salt and that he was expectant of ‘Christ centred songs’. I laughed to myself because I knew exactly what he was talking about.
With this spreading ‘New Testament Grace’ Revival going on in Nigeria, the last thing you want is to be left out of God’s work geared towards revealing Jesus to the world. Find your place in this gospel of the kingdom and preach it to every nation for a witness before the end comes.
Mainstream and Secular Music;
I am currently working on an article titled ‘this Music of the Kingdom’ where I am dealing with the gospel and how we musicians are expected to position ourselves to take it to the ends of the earth. The church does not need the gospel so if you are writing songs only for the church to sing and hail your lyrical and syncopational ability, im sorry but you are yet to find relevance in the great commission.
Recently, a popular musician made a daring move from gospel music to mainstream music, a move which shook the gospel music scene for a while. Some people prayed that God would arrest him and bring him back into the fold while others simply said “don’t mind him; he is just chasing money instead of singing for God”. Thankfully some of us are still praying that God will continue using this young man even in this new field and never let him cross the line he is walking so close to. Dear celebrity musician, if you fall tomorrow or pretend to fall or act like you want to fall or just bend even without falling, your wonderful fans will leave you as fast as they came and they won’t stop there, they will condemn you like they never knew you. Ask uncle Kirk how it has been for him since he started taking pictures with Kanye. This music of the kingdom is not about your fan base but about the great commission.
By definition, Mainstream music is not the same as secular music. It is simply the detachment of music from a subculture in order to have such music disseminated by mass media thereby yielding a pervading effect. Secular on the other hand, simply means without God; when you say an event is secular, you mean the event does not regard issues of divine nature. Mainstream music simply refers to music accessible and accepted by all. Mainstream music does not necessarily need to be secular; it can be based on the gospel and also be made accessible to the unbeliever. Mainstream music is not necessarily without God, in fact, it can be based on God but played or sung anywhere and by anybody.
Now, don’t get it twisted; those people that write songs with the intention of playing them in clubs because they want to ‘preach the gospel in the club’ are on their own oh. When you compose a club banger with the excuse of preaching to the clubber without realising that your song is probably taking more people back to the club they were running from than taking people out, your gospel music is counterproductive.
Mainstream songs written and performed by Christians don’t encourage evil; they don’t even need to bring Jesus to the unbeliever in the club. They ultimately bring the sinner to Jesus. We live in a world where the name Jesus is in fear of extinction, radio stations are sanctioned when they have more than 9% religious content and people are compelled to only say God and not Jesus in order to be politically correct. It is for this reason gospel musicians go into mainstream music. We just have to find a way to get this gospel of Jesus to people, especially the people who fight against it. Let nobody look down on anybody who goes into mainstream music as an unserious Christian musician. If God has called you to be where you are, stay there and function but keep yourself from antagonising musicians who dare to go the extra mile for the gospel.
In Conclusion; even though this article unlike others I have written, is a risk on my reputation among ‘holy’ musicians, publishing it is important to me because understanding these concepts and expressions will help artistes attain excellence and ensure that some musicians are not considered holier than others simply because these others pursue excellence in their art. I am also using this article to enjoin us to leave our personal ambitions and focus on the Kingdom mandate which is the gospel to all the nations. I pray that we accomplish that which God has put before us with our music.
Greetings from the PROJECT SALT, God bless the preaching and teaching of his word through music in every corner of the globe, Amen!
Other Works Published:
My Burdens; a Poem
The Theology of Gospel Music
The Upcoming Stunt
Secrets of Sights and Sounds
Wait for Healing; a Poem
You can reach me via email; firstname.lastname@example.org or on social media platforms; @bigdanmcdon