Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you!
In the final installment on the topic of authenticity, I will be exploring the perspective of motivation as it relates to the pursuit of ministry versus industry.
A friend of mine was waitressing here in Nashville when she first moved to town and was seeking to witness to one of the waiters on staff who was clearly searching for answers to some of life's greatest questions. In the process, he made it abundantly clear he didn't believe in God. As she got to know him better, she asked him what he did beyond the job they shared. Much to her surprise, he confessed to being the lead singer of a Christian rock band. Really?
Unfortunately, this is more common than one might think. I've personally witnessed examples of artists/bands with a blatant disregard for what is even marginally considered to be "biblically acceptable" behavior by the Christian community at large. Drug use, abuse of alcohol, and sex outside the confines of marriage are fairly commonplace. Obviously, there is a crisis of integrity pervading an industry fundamentally established to glorify the name of Jesus Christ through music, yet many within the industry are complicit in obscuring these realities and are willing to sacrifice spiritual integrity for the sake of the bottom line. In fact, some entities are wittingly sending wolves into the midst of the flock seemingly with little regard for those who are most vulnerable - the youth.
Now, I'll ask a few simple yet challenging questions: what is your motivation in performing Christian music? Are you fulfilling a calling in your life to minster the gospel or seeking to become famous? Are you serious about your spiritual walk or are the moral lessons of the bible considered merely suggestion? These are critical questions to ask yourself as you move forward in music ministry. Harkening back to the last installment of this series, I presented the case that Christian artists/bands are to be considered ministers of the gospel and, as such, will be held to a higher standard regarding personal conduct. Unfortunately, many irreligious musicians are drawn to the Christian industry because it's less competitive and easier to land a record deal.
A non-believer will rarely feel convicted when seeking to take advantage of the Christian industry, so the gate keepers must be prepared to keep a watchful eye in order to protect the flock. After all, the artist is simply pursuing the dream of "making it" as best they know how. Yet it seems reasonable to expect those with a lack of conviction for ministry to be authentic and pursue their passion for music outside the confines of the Christian industry. Conversely, it seems reasonable to expect a certain level of authenticity from those who truly feel called to minister through music. Discipleship and accountability are essential in maintaining integrity in the industry and must be reintroduced into the process. Once you are faithful in the little things, God will increase your influence and use you as a radically transformative agent in a world so desperately in need of a Savior. So ask yourself this: am I willing to be conformed by the world or will I transform my surroundings through exceptionally artistic and authentic Christian music? The choice is yours. But first you must answer the question: am I authentic?
David Coleman is the President of CLG. CLG is based in Nashville, and is a distributor of music, video and other Christian-related products to the Christian and general markets.