Some thoughts on the American Idol/Shout to the Lord mashup. . . .
1) Is it okay that they would sing a Christian/worship song on American Idol or any t.v. show?
2) Is it good for the kingdom/evangelism/seeking folks that they would do this?
Probably, . . only God knows that. Here's a verse to guide us on this one. . . .
Philippians 1:15-19 (New International Version)
It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.[a] 18But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
So, yes. . . . I"m glad that "Christ was preached" (sort of) regardless of all of the surroundings. I really am. And, perhaps for some folks it will spark an interest in God that they didn't have before after hearing that song.
3) Was it a big deal that they left out "Jesus" during the first show?
Well, . . . . . they're not professing to be Christians, so they can do whatever they want. I'm sure it was put back in on night #2 because a) someone from Hillsongs publishing called up and wanted things put right b) many churchgoers called in to express a complaint. The folks in t.v. are bound by public opinion. . . . . it's actually how they get paid, so it got changed. That was a good thing! so. . . . .the answer is, no.
4) So, Aaron,. . . .what's your stupid problem???????
I'm glad you asked, Aaron. . . . . :) I don't have disdain or hate for A.I. or the performers,. . . it was a great night! That being said, . . . here goes.
a) It matters to me not only what is sung, but who sings it and in what spirit it is sung.
Let me ask you this. . . .would it matter to you if Ozzy Osbourne got on stage and sang "O praise Him" instead of David Crowder?
In one sense, no. . . it's just a song. In another sense. . . the song loses it's meaning depending on who's mouth is singing it. Should we care? Well, if we think it matters that we should mean what we say/sing? then, yes. I told some of you guys last night after the "lyrical correction" :) that it didn't matter to me what lyrics were sung, if they didn't mean it. It might be similar to how some of us felt when Mandy Moore (she, of the mickey mouse club) covered "blowin in the wind" by Bob Dylan (for instance). The song loses/gains meaning sometimes, depending on the performer.
For me, the larger lyrical issues pertain to all of those folks singing those lyrics of which they know nothing about (I'm generalizing, I know, some of these folks are following God). "Tower of refuge and strength". . . . "Power and majesty praise to the King" "nothing compares to the promise I have in You". Those are precious truths of the word. I'm glad they were communicated. . . . . but, the performance cheapened them a bit for me.
This is a great reminder for those of us on worship teams, that authenticiy is not an option. Even if we don't "feel" 100% connected to God every weekend that we lead. . . . it's important that we're authentically seeking Him (a reality that He, himself brings about, and we should pray for). It's important that our motives are for Him and His Glory.
b) As the CCM sub-culture collapses, art from a Christian perspective will be folded into culture at large, this is good, . . . .as long as the Church retains her distinctiveness from the World.
This isn't; us vs. them; But, as the church, we are a people called out, Holy, set apart for God. So, it's important that we're clear about what we believe, and in love, share our faith, hope, and Love.
c) As a songwriter for the church, I can feel the excitement when our songs reach a wider audience. However, it's also important that we realize there's something biblical/unique/special that happens when God's church sings to Him together, for one purpose. . . . .
As part "b" above continues to take shape. . . . it's not inconceivable to me that one day, the Church's gathering would be de-valued to the point that we would just "watch American Idol with the kids, they sing the same songs. . . . why should we go to church?". It actually happens already, as some church services are not attempting to speak truth to people and challenge them to a deeper relationship with God (through Word and Song), but are trying to just make their services feel like the world.
So, I'm going to remain in the middle on this one. . . . in tension. I really love the fact that folks were exposed to those scriptural truths. It's great, that for one night,. . .the mission of the Church, and the mission of American Idol were partially aligned
There was, however, something that didn't feel right about the way it was done, and the cliche/pigeon-holed "church" moment that they were trying to create to bring in the "Christian audience" to their show.
Now, have churches been guilty of "creating these moments" where you feel a bit manipulated? Yes, . . .and I didn't like it then either :) .
Let's close with this scripture.
16 I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign LORD;
I will proclaim your righteousness, yours alone.
17 Since my youth, O God, you have taught me,
and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
18 Even when I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, O God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your might to all who are to come.
19 Your righteousness reaches to the skies, O God,
you who have done great things.
Who, O God, is like you?
20 Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter,
you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
you will again bring me up.
21 You will increase my honor
and comfort me once again.
22 I will praise you with the harp
for your faithfulness, O my God;
I will sing praise to you with the lyre
O Holy One of Israel.
23 My lips will shout for joy
when I sing praise to you—
I, whom you have redeemed.
24 My tongue will tell of your righteous acts
all day long,
for those who wanted to harm me
have been put to shame and confusion.