Do you remember the first major concert you attended? I do. It was in the 1980s and I was around 9 or 10 years old. I don't remember a single song sung, but the retina-scorching hot pink jumpsuits of the husband-wife duo of Farrell and Farrell have been burned into my memory for the rest of my days.
My next concert memories are of The Imperials, The Bill Gaither Trio, and Sandi Patti, not necessarily in that order. As my high school years approached I added to my concert catalog Petra, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, and Steven Curtis Chapman.
I was well into my 20s before I heard anyone outside the world of Contemporary Christian Music. My husband-a musician himself at the time with a wider-developed repertoire-and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary with tickets to see Sting play the World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colo. It was a pretty amazing night.
Since then we've seen and heard Alanis Morrisette, Over the Rhine, Jason Aldean, Jewel, and a handful of others. Not all of them were equal, but they were all certainly memorable and enjoyable in their own way.
One October evening, at a conference dinner with singer/songwriter/producer/friend Charlie Peacock, we were all laughing about some of our first concert experiences. I believe I won for the most obscure Christian music concert attended ever. Charlie, who wrote a book on music, commented that when we become Christians, we tend to throw away our secular music. Then, when we became more mature Christians, we throw away our Christian music.
I still laugh in thinking about his comment. As one who cut her spiritual teeth in the '80s, the only rational (or maybe just religious) response to music seemed to be to forsake what the world was putting out and hunker down under the safety net of CCM. Later on, as I grew in my understanding of Christ in culture, I began to appreciate the art of music as well as the message, regardless of who was producing it. Honestly, there is as much dangerous theology on radio stations supposedly "safe for the entire family" as on those that aren't listener-supported.
We don't limit our kids to the local Christian music station, but neither do we give blanket approval to all the other stations. The key for us comes in listening to the music with our kids. By doing so, they know we care about what they care about, and they learn to discern not only which lyrics are better left in the jewel case (my age is showing again), but also which music has better artistry to it, period.
This Sunday, we're taking our kids to their first major concert. The venue is Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The band, U2. The six of us are really looking forward to it, and I'm confident that this will definitely be one concert our girls remember for a long time, if not forever. But I hope they'll also cherish the experience of attending it together as a family and discussing it afterward (we're driving the eight hours back to Oklahoma City the next day, so we'll have plenty of time). And hopefully it will be pivotal in their lives as they go on to make musical judgment calls throughout their teen years and beyond.
And one day, when they are sitting around a table with friends laughing about their first concert experiences, instead of winning the award for most obscure concert ever, perhaps they'll win the award for coolest ever . . . concert (and parents).