Image Credit: Cristina Panicali (cc by nc) for Music Bridges via creativecommons.org
Today’s post is a rant of sorts…
For a while now Kenyan Gospel artists have been receiving a lot of flack in the media for one thing or another. This week’s attack was about their lyrics and the fact that God is love, they are romanticizing a heavenly trait or some bull of that nature. Now the central theme around which these ‘great crusaders’ are rallying around is the fact that the ‘younger’; and I use that term to refer to those who are new to the Gospel music Industry as opposed to the veterans; nothing to do with age. Anyhow, it seems that the younger artists did not receive the blueprint upon which all gospel music should be based. It turns out that the arbiters of all things Gospel music in Kenya; I shall dub them “The Great Gospel Music Council of Kenya” (TGGMCK); have decreed that for music to qualify as gospel, it needs to have at least one Bible verse, preferably in the chorus, so that it can then be used during praise and worship in church. The beat must be “dignified”, it must not encourage anything further than the gentle clapping of hands, tapping of feet and somber lifting of aforementioned hands as appropriate. Never mind the fact that, when David lead the procession to bring the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem, he literally danced his clothes off. Never mind that he was the King of the Nation of Israel at the time. His response to Michal his wife who scorned him for dancing naked before the people responded
2 Samuel 6:21 “And David said unto Michal, It was before the LORD, which chose me before thy father, and before all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD over Israel: therefore will I play before the Lord.” KJV
Now “the great gospel music council of Kenya” (TGGMCK), in all their wisdom, have suggested that songs that do not have a scriptural reference are not in fact Gospel music. They have gone further to suggest that the artists are more interested in mass appeal, than in evangelism. Hmmm ok, do the two have to be mutually exclusive? Evangelism is about fulfilling the great commission;
Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. KJV
True evangelism like true friendship should reach for somebody’s hand and touch their spirit, what passes for evangelism these days is more about ticking some box on a to do list, and not really about sharing the love of Jesus *Cue Heavy sigh* …I digress . Let’s not forget that Christ spoke to everyone He encountered using words and scenarios that each one could understand. If you’ve never been hungry a day in your life, and you approach someone who is hungry with the Jesus is the bread of life speech, and the expectation that you’re making a difference, you might as well talk to a piece of wood, because you have no point of reference. Now if you’ve been through some thangs (yes I said thangs), you know what you wanted to hear at that time, and are better able to speak to someone going through the same thing. Now when God has brought you through some thangs, there are not enough words in the world with which to express your gratitude, your love for Him, and just how Awesome He is *that’s a praise moment right there*, and nobody but NOBODY can tell you what to say to God and how to say it, but He gets it. For those moments my personal favorite is “My Heart Sings” by William McDowell; which by the way fails in all categories required for a gospel song according to TGGMCK
Praise and worship is about a personal relationship with the Father. We are each programmed (yes I said programmed) to praise and worship differently. As such, gospel music is first and foremost, about the relationship that the artist has with God, then about the purpose for which God is using this artist, are they meant to inspire people to praise and shout unashamedly in the Lord’s presence, is their purpose to heal through their music, or is their purpose to bring their audience into a closer encounter with God. What is God’s purpose for the music? As I said before, the music is about the process of refining that is taking place in the artist’s life, which then becomes a testimony which will speak to whomever it needs to speak to. Bottom line is, not every song/ piece of music will resonate with you. If the song doesn’t resonate with you, then it probably wasn’t meant for you, get over it. The person to whom it is supposed to minister, will be ministered to.
Genesis 1:21 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. NIV
The Bible says that God created us in His own image. It always amazes me, that He created each one of us in HIS OWN IMAGE, HIS VERY OWN IMAGE *that’s a Selah moment right there* Meaning we are, each and every one of us, as vastly different as we are, created in God’s own image. It only makes sense that we each have different ways of expressing ourselves to God, and for God. The key thing is that it is done in spirit and in truth;
John 4:23 But the hour cometh and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. KJV
So to all the young Gospel artists I say this, ensure that your relationship with God is right and tight, and then you sing whatever it is that He puts in your spirit to sing. Your one goal in this life is to fulfill the purpose for which God created you. If that means you will offend some sensibilities, and upset the status quo, so be it, obedience to God will always be worth it. Don’t be afraid to express yourself as you ought to just because “the establishment” disapproves, remember the enemy’s greatest weapon against your purpose is the peanut gallery and the voices of criticism, especially from those closest to us. Take the biggest sledge hammer you can find, the box is coming down. And remember that ultimately, the Glory belongs to God alone; you are but a vessel being used for His purposes.
TGGMCK, y’all need to take a collective chill pill. If a particular style of music is not to your personal taste, that’s okay, say so. If you prefer your music sedate, that’s okay too, just say so and stop criticizing artists for the sake of criticizing. Let me be very clear, constructive criticism is a good, in fact it’s a great thing, and if you are teachable it makes you better. Constructive criticism comes from a place of love and not malice, so if you feel unable to offer constructive criticism, please learn to bite your tongue because life and death are in the power of the tongue. Oh… yes before I forget, you might want to step away from the box, that and just say no to all the hate.