Culture > Music

Music: CCM at the crossroads

Music | Charlie Peacock tells the truth in love to the contemporary Christian music scene

Issue: "Fighting Potomac fever," Feb. 27, 1999

A friend of mine has spent the last several months in Nashville with a Christian rock band. The group has clearly defined its calling: "to share the love of Christ through our lifestyle and through our music so that Christians might come to know Him more and be made more like Him and so that non-Christians might come to a saving knowledge of Him." Yet the contemporary Christian music (CCM) industry concentrated in Nashville almost certainly can provide them little help in following their call, especially as it relates to reaching unbelievers. In his new book, At the Crossroads, Charlie Peacock-CCM insider for 16 years as recording artist, songwriter, and producer-suggests why, offering an insightful, humble analysis of the CCM industry and asking how it can meet the needs of artists such as my friend, eager to use their musical gifts in service to Christ in the world as well as within the church. "The crossroads is always about choosing between the kingdoms of the world and the kingdom of God," Mr. Peacock writes. "For CCM it's also about choosing between subjective ideas having to do with music, the church and the culture, and God's objective kingdom ideas concerning these same things." An understanding of calling is the basis of Mr. Peacock's commentary. Our primary calling is to bear witness to Jesus and, under His rule, to be "salt and light in every sphere of existence." Our secondary calling is vocation, "through which we can use our imaginations, express our creativity, and mirror His holiness" with the gifts and abilities He has given us. The CCM industry, Mr. Peacock believes, has not been faithful to its primary calling. Its narrow focus on producing solely music with Christian lyrics, appealing almost exclusively to a Christian audience, prevents it from helping talented musicians to become salt and light in the mainstream culture. Certainly the edification of the church is a valid and important ministry, but it cannot be the sole one for all Christian musicians, any more than it can be for all Christian businessmen or plumbers or educators. Mr. Peacock urges the CCM industry and Christian musicians to acknowledge the fullness of God's call, trusting Jesus to accomplish His work, knowing that it can be done in His power. Mr. Peacock's criticisms ring true, not only because of his long affiliation with CCM, but also because of his evident love for the people involved in it. He readily acknowledges the difficulties that a change in focus will entail. He lavishes praise where it's due, and he's actively following his own advice with re:think, the record company he founded in 1995. At the Crossroads is a must-read for anyone interested in Christianity and the arts. For any believer, it's an important insight into the difficulties of living Christianly in an increasingly secular world, as we listen to "an insider agonizing" over the industry he loves.

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