I have been trying to figure out for some YEARS what the hell is happening to gospel music; it has occurred to me that the issue is the misunderstanding of the purpose as well as a destructive redirection of the overall purpose of gospel music.
ISSUE ONE: SEXY GOSPEL-
I asked my oldest son to look at a certain female artists album cover and asked him if he could tell if this was a gospel artist. He answer was, ‘I can’t tell, but all I know is that she is fine’. The gospel industry has inserted into the pot that is supposed to spiritually feed the people the ingredients of sexiness. Many ‘gospel‘ artists now are indistinguishable from many of the secular artists that are out today.
Sexy gospel promotes an increase of make-up, open shirts, sexy poses and confusing meanings. The industry has twisted their persona into an image-driven, profit-based medium, and the public eats it up like candy. What makes it worse is that the artists seem to accept this and are ever pushed to increase the presence of themselves, thereby decreasing the presence of God in the ‘ministry‘ and the overall message suffers because of it.
Even the songs they sing begin to lose the potency of God’s Word, because in order to keep it sexy, you can’t infuse Christ in the mix. Many songs are more about an indirect association to God and Christ by strategically removing the name of the Lord from the song. They are now just love songs or songs about ‘good things‘ that are designed to ‘cross over‘ to the pop, rock, R&B, country, jazz and other charts that focus not on Christ nor God’s Word, but on profit for the labels.
ISSUE TWO: THE DEFINITION OF THE WORD GOSPEL…
The word ‘Gospel‘, according to its use by The Christ, comes from the Hebrew word, euaggelion (Pronounced \yü-än-ge’-lē-on\), which means
Glad tidings of salvation through Christ, or The proclamation of the grace of God manifest and pledged in Christ.
This is illustrated in the Gospels of God’s Word. Now, the westernized definition of the term ‘Gospel music‘ defines as
Impassioned rhythmic spiritual music influential in the development of soul music and rhythm and blues.
The dilution of the term has allowed the industry to get away with removing the focus of God and Christ from the songs and exploit the ‘good news’ principle that has gained a momentum within the gospel music industry. By the definition, as long as it SOUNDS inspiring, it is a gospel song. As long as the words ‘god’, ‘angel’, ‘heaven’, ‘blessed’, ‘blessing’, ‘pray’, etc… are loosely referred to in the song, this is considered ‘gospel music’, and the masses promote this without question. Any artist can release a project that can have twelve tracks on it, to which ELEVEN out of the twelve can speak about sex, the illusion of love, drugs, exploitation of women, revenge on a girlfriend or boyfriend, infidelity, and/or killing, and the twelfth can have a spiritual buzz-word in it and it will be deemed a gospel song. Which leads me to my next issue.
ISSUE THREE- NO DEDICATION TO MINISTRY
I can name a bunch of artists that have started off in the secular industry, moved over to the ‘gospel music’ world, found out how unprofitable the genre is, and moved RIGHT back to what pays them. They were encouraged because they have good singing voices are strong rhymes to ‘try gospel music‘; thinking that the men and women who have truly dedicated themselves to the Word of God and the praise of ministry through music would be impressed. One album is released and shelved just as quick.
What the artists and the labels that promote them do NOT get is that true ministry through song is NOT AND WILL NOT EVER BE ABOUT MONEY. That’s it, that’s all. Christ tells us to ‘Go into the world and preach the gospel’ (Mark ch.16: v. 15); Christ NEVER mentioned profit, exposure, fame, establishing a fan base or business connections, infusion of sex appeal, or even having a gimmick to relay the message. In fact, His instruction required that ALL possessions that would anchor a man to the world be relinquished. Now, as we know, the world has been built around capitalism, and it is very difficult for ANYONE to get the message out without the assistance of finance, yet it CAN NOT BE the defining factor behind the ministry.
We still have to seek God in what is needed and necessary to fulfill His purpose for our lives; I see more and more that is no longer the case, especially when the term, ‘gospel music‘ has been redefined to allow what is being presented to the people.
ISSUE FOUR: MARK CHAPTER SIXTEEN, VERSE FIFTEEN UNFULFILLED
Many songs that are released by the gospel artists of today have great beats, great singing methods and are fined tuned for a specific audience: those that are saved. Now some may not see a problem with this, yet the amount of lost, faithless, Christ ignoring, people are increasing at a alarming rate. The truth is, the majority of the songs that are flooding the churches, homes, cars, and MP3 players of the faithful Christian would NEVER be considered by the very people that NEED TO HEAR IT! It is safe to focus on the saved; the rest aren’t seen as a viable market. Sure they dilute some so-called ‘gospel songs‘ to cross over, yet if they look like love songs, sound like love songs, walk like love songs and talk like love songs, they will be love songs to the ears of the listener, no matter WHO sings it.
The whole PURPOSE of ministry through music is to convey the teachings of Christ and to plant seeds of love, peace, and all things of God into the hearts of the transgressor and non-believer and teach them the value of God’s love as well as the Word of God. Jesus did not come here to save the ‘saved‘…. (Matthew ch. 9: vs. 10-13)
I will have to do a part two of this one day. Anyway, I leave you with my own testimony because I do not want you to think that I was not a part of this problem. When I first started singing gospel, I mean, REALLY started singing gospel music, I had no real purpose to speak of. I was focused on the reaction of the audience, getting a record deal and being able to say I was a part of something that I had NO real idea of its seriousness. Like so many now, I allowed the Enemy to speak in my ear and tell me that it was more about me. I wanted to create an image, and like so many, plagiarize the Word of God and spit out empty songs based on scripture that I did not really understand.
It took the truth to change my mind and heart. Ministry is about God and God alone; the love, the power, the grace and mercy bestowed upon us all each day. We are just simple vessels used to bring this truth to the people of God through either teaching, preaching, or singing, for example. God can get the glory out of anyone and anything, so His message is not only for those who are lost, but for those of us who know what it is to BE lost. Thank God for the truth.