The Importance of CCM

I confess.

For the past several years, I have distanced myself from Contemporary Christian Music. It’s odd, isn’t it, since I have always loved CCM? Yes. Well, when I left the Church in 2001, I struggled because I had questions the Church couldn’t (or wouldn’t) seem to answer; I was further frustrated when I would listen to Christian Radio and hear Jesus-is-my-boyfriend type songs which did nothing to address the real-life issues I was facing. Even when I came back to the Church, I did not come back to CCM. At that point, I began reading and singing through hymnals and finding the doctrine and answers I had been looking for all along. Not all of the answers, mind you!–but enough that I felt compelled to keep seeking.

Since that time, I just haven’t been too interested in CCM. Even the bands and artists I once loved seemed to be sucked into this empty, pop, I-heart-Jesus-yes-I-do kind of sound. When I listened to the radio, I felt like I was listening to commercial jingles. The songs were trying to sell me a product, rather than teach or minister anything to the Body of Christ.

But I confess.

This is not a fair assessment of CCM in its entirety. I have been listening to radio a lot lately, and what I’ve found are several artists that seem to have something valid to say to the world and to the Church. For years, I have been content to listen to my old cassette tapes and the artists I knew and loved; but suddenly I find myself loving some “new” artists and/or songs.

But whether good or bad, the importance of CCM cannot be understated. I think sometimes we shrug at the notion of music and how it impacts our lives. We assume that music exists solely for the purpose of entertaining us. And I hope music does entertain you sometimes. But far deeper than this, music speaks truths to our souls. Music resonates within us something we usually struggle to articulate. How many times have you been in a difficult situation in life and you turned to music for comfort or encouragement? How many times have you been stressed out and a song has helped you to calm down and put your anxieties where they belong?

And how many of us can quote more songs than we can quote scripture verses?

Our theology, our doctrine, our very perspective of who God is, is shaped somehow by the things we cram into our brains. For a Christian, this is CCM. So when CCM is shallow and empty, so is the Church. When CCM is oblivious to the concerns of the world, so is the Church. When CCM is focused on worship, so is the Church.

And CCM artists have to be careful in that measure. I remember hearing someone quote a popular CCM song and attributing it to the Bible once. We are a society in danger of being theologically illiterate. And if I’m right, and the vast number of Christians in America are getting their doctrinal views from CCM rather than from a pastor or from scripture itself, then CCM artists have a heavy task before them and an enormous responsibility to produce something of substance.

Thankfully, I think far more CCM artists are doing exactly that. I still won’t call myself a fan of CCM, but I have become a fan once again of some artists who use their music to convey some true message to the Church.

What do you think?

Pax Christi.


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