Is Christian Music dead ?

A good question… especially for those of us in the Nashville music scene. IS Christian Music Dead?… Parents and fans alike often ask us… has Christian music become just a secularized shadow of its previous self ?

Not even close. Christian Music is alive and well and maybe stronger than it has been in three decades…. read on to find out why or IF, it even matters !

For parents, understanding that media is “THE” language of our youth is critical. Our kids, eat, drink, sleep and play with ear buds glued to their ears. On average, kids are consuming over 60 hours a week of media in our homes. It is their primary form of relating to the world around them. Not books, not conversation, not sunday school…music.

If we miss the media reality, we may miss entirely the ability to connect with our kids as parents and ultimately as generational Christians.

Living and working in Christian media now for almost two decades, I can tell you the radical shift in technology and economics has emptied hundreds of office buildings and studio’s in Nashville. It’s been hard, incredibly difficult to predict, prepare or survive the financial realities of the past decade if you’re an independent or niche’ label group, media company or studio. There just isn’t much business around and what there is, can only work on a severely reduced budget.

But is that all bad ?

I don’t think so… It seems a major change has slowly occurred in the industry from the inside out. Labels and Media Groups who have made the sacrifices to survive are not here any longer for the cash, or the fame or the influence of success. They are by in large not working with artists bent on making a name for themselves or launching into mainstream fame from a Christian music stepping stone. They are around because they feel called to be here and they genuinely care.

They care about the mission and vision that God gave them to perform. They care about the next generation of kids and Christians and they are willing to do whatever it takes to reach them with a message of hope, and faith and creativity. It’s as if God allowed the storms of our business environment to weed out many of the secular influences of the past which reduced the quantity but not the quality of the music and media now being recorded and produced. What a great reminder. God always is redeeming, always restoring and always has a plan…no matter what it looks or feels like.

It reminds me of a guy in the bible named Gideon. Who started out with reluctant passion and faith, and an army. When God finished preparing him for greatness… he had 300 men left. Feels like what I’m seeing in Nashville and Colorado Springs and Dallas Texas. Small but fervent bands of like-minded and servant hearted musicians, label executives and producers all focused on the “message’ and the ministry behind the performances.

Reading the histories of the very first Christian musicians from California in the sixties, I am reminded of their simple and heart-felt desire to spread the hope of Jesus with their un-polished music. They drove in VW Buses and beat up cars all over the United States with trunk loads of vinyl and eight tracks / Cassette’s and new testament bibles. They were relentless, and inspired and pure and powerful. They were “Jesus People” and they changed the world and launched the industry we know now as Christian Contemporary Music (CCM).

Seems God is helping us return to our roots… to re-connect with our creator and His plans for our music and media and creativity. And I for one am grateful and excited to see how it all turns out. But know for certain, the pulse of authentic Christian music and media is beating strong and true today, more so than in thirty years.

Peace out, and may God richly bless you as you ” seek to keep your kids on the road and in-between the lines of life! ”

brad.

Faith or Fame for your tween? Beware the Disney parable…

Watching Miley Cyrus saturday host SNL sobered me a bit as I realized how much she really has changed. In just over six years she had gone from a fun and energetic, wholesome child star to a jaded and worn young woman. From the grocery store checkout rag’s to the primetime interviews… Miley’s family has been the focus of countless millions as they have been literally torn apart by her quote “successes”.

What happened ? It appears that somewhere in all of the success and stardom her values shifted dramatically. Her youthful innocence was replaced with something much different. Something darker and more destructive has touched her family, ironic as it seems… this destruction of family is one of the common denominators with most if not all child tv pop stars.

Why did it happen ? Somewhere along the way… her parents lost their ability to influence her more than the environment she was allowed to live in. Miley’s parents were affected by her success as much or more than she was… and it destroyed their home. The roots of their values, beliefs and faith were not deep enough to withstand the tsunami of her exploding popularity, wealth, influence and stardom.

What can we do to prevent similar loss in our families ? Stay close to God’s word, and to each other. Simple, but profound. By staying close to God’s word, we stay close to “reality” and in doing so, maintain perspective on who we are and how much life is not about us. When we skip that step, we start to immediately drift into another reality. One dominated by the influence of media, popular culture and the despair of a self-absorbed life. When we stay close to God, our roots of faith grow deep and wide… preparing us and our families for whatever may come.

Where do we go from here as a generation? As parents of faith, our first duty is to be intentional about our faith and guard our own hearts and mind. Time with God is irreplaceable and powerful. It restores our hearts and minds and prevents us from the presumption and deception of living  lives without the influence of the Holy Spirit. When we model our faith in our homes, we’re leading our kids to find a source of life and purpose much deeper than ourselves.

Our kids, our pre-teens need us to maintain our connection with our faith and our values. When we falter, we open them up to being influenced by someone else, for purposes that will ultimately destroy our lives. I Peter 5 describes the Devil as a ravenous lion, its true. He has plans to steal, kill and destroy us and our kids. The first line of defense comes on our knees and in the word of God.

I grieve for Miley, her family has been swallowed up by the very thing they so desperately wanted. Fame. As parents, we need to exercise some caution in our life choices… no matter how awesome the opportunity.  When we pause and pray before acting… we include God in our choices and in doing so we avoid the devastation of our very lives. I’m confident the opportunity to star as Hannah Montana seemed perfectly harmless on the front side, but in the end it led to a path full of pain and loss.

For all of us its the same…, we are in need of a savior, and in accepting His help, we must learn to accept His will. When we choose to let God pick… we’re protecting our families in ways we will never truly appreciate until eternity.

As a media executive in the pre-teen and teen world of music and television, I’ve seen this mediacentric scenario many times before. But it’s not exclusive to media…many parents want to live out their hopes and dreams through our kids and we never hesitate to encourage them to pursue their desires to the fullest.

From the performance pressures of little league to dance class to those pushing for academic scholarships… we as parents are risking the same outcome as the Cyrus family when we don’t offer a healthy life perspective, one full of faith, balanced in activities and content with whatever God provides.

God protect us from getting our own way ! Here’s to encourage us all to carefully steer our kids through their tween years knowing that we must model our faith and hope in something more than ourselves… Keeping it on the road and in-between the lines of life.

Peace out,

brad.