When church music directors lead congregations in singing contemporary Christian music, I often listen stoically with teeth clenched. But one Sunday morning, I cracked. We'd been led through endless repetitions of a meaningless ditty called "Draw Me Close to You," which has zero theological content and could just as easily be sung in any nightclub. When I thought it was finally and mercifully over, the music leader beamed. "Let's sing that again, shall we?" he asked. "No!" I shouted, loudly enough to send heads all around me spinning while my wife, Patty, cringed.
I admit I prefer traditional hymns, but even so, I'm convinced that much of the music being written for the church today reflects an unfortunate trendslipping across the line from worship to entertainment. Evangelicals are in danger of amusing ourselves to death, to borrow the title of the classic Neil Postman book.
This trend is evident not just in theater-like churches where musicianswith their guitars and bongo drumsoften perform at ear-splitting levels. It's also true of Christian radio, historically an important source of serious preaching and teaching. Several stations recentlymany acting on the advice of a leading consulting firmhave dropped serious programming in favor of all-music formats. For example, a major station in Baltimore has dropped four talk shows in order to add music. Family Life Radio, a first-class broadcaster, has adopted a new program split of 88 percent music "to appeal to the 35- to 50-year-old demographic." A respected broadcaster recently dropped Focus on the Family on the grounds that it had become too involved in "moral issues." Does anyone really believe the Bible is indifferent to moral questionsor ...1