While driving in my car after church last week, I was listening to my favorite radio station. Once it started playing those annoying commercials, I decided to give my childhood go-to station -- 88.7 WAY-FM a try (I haven't listened to Christian music in years). The song "We Fall Down (At the Feet of Jesus)" by Chris Tomlin was playing. How long has this one been on the air? Since 1998 -- and that's a problem.
Contemporary Christian music (CCM) is the genre of choice of most worship leaders for youth retreats, Christian camps, Sunday morning worship, and Wednesday night Bible groups. The purpose of the selected arrangements is to draw out the "spirit of worship" and "open the eyes of our hearts". While I have no doubt that worship leaders all over the U.S. have the purest intentions, they have missed the mark on this. Is it just me, or haven't they played "Our God is and Awesome God" a million times already? Yes they have.
Church group worship leaders continue to recycle decades old "contemporary" Christian worship and praise songs that repeat the same lines over and over and over. Yes, many CCM radio hits are considered "classic" CCM songs, but no matter what the song is, if you listen to it enough, you will eventually loath it. Calling these old 90's songs "Christian classics" is an oxymoron simply because they used to be contemporary during the time they were written, but now should be resigned to the past.
How many times have you heard the song "The Heart of Worship" or "I Can Only Imagine" in your lifetime? How old were you when you first heard it? That is my case and point right there. Other popular praise songs of the 90's include: "I Could Sing of Your Love Forever" "Open the Eyes of My Heart" "Shout to the Lord" and "Come Just as You Are". While these songs are nice and have been sung by several well-known Christian artists, there is really no spiritual "meat" in them; the worshiper learns nothing doctrinally from any of these praise songs. Compare the lyrics of "It is Well with My Soul" to the lyrics of "This City" (hint: it just repeats "there is no one like our God", quotes a simple scripture, and chants the same two lines through the chorus). The spiritual depth in the real classics, which were written centuries ago and borne out of trials and meditations, leaves much to be desired of our contemporary Christian music.
"Shine" by The Newsboys, "Jesus Freak" by D.C. Talk, and "Dive" by Steven Curtis Chapman began playing on the air in the 1990's and, along with many other Christian hit songs, have stayed on air -- it is the year 2014, right? I can no longer listen to my local CCM stations because of the sheer number of songs I've heard since I was five. Is the Christian music industry looking for new sounds or new artists anymore? It doesn't appear so.
In an attempt to stay "hip", many of the older Christian artists struggle to keep up with the latest pop music trends and, sadly, present whole albumns imitating other pop...