No one invented music. God, who created music for His purposes, has enabled many to write vast numbers of compositions, varying in style, sound, and, arguably, substance. There is, it appears,something for everyone. But is there?
Years ago, many a Sunday School teacher used flannel graphs as a means of illustration. Bible stories came to life using characters and scenes made from felt. Children’s attention (admittedly longer years ago) was kept by the teacher through both words and flannel graphs placed on the easel. Those days are pretty much gone.
The same is true for Christian music. The days of God’s amazing grace never end; it is as much needed now (or more) than ever before. Songs of amazing grace-and other life topics-are in danger of a lesser audience. Not because grace isn’t needed (by grace you are saved-Ephesians 2:8), but because the ones we’re trying to reach are not going to, for the most part, respond to a style of music foreign to them.
I like (some) classical music. I appreciate the discipline required to perform with excellence. Having played the piano since being in kindergarten, I admire those who have a passion for this style of musical expression. Not all would share my view. Some were raised on jazz, blues, country, bluegrass, folk, and even contemporary Christian music. The 70’s and 80’s brought names like the Gaithers, Andrae Crouch, the Imperials, 2nd Chapter of Acts,and Janie Grein, to name a few, into our lives. Their songs-and styles-gave rise to contemporary Christian music.
As much as I loved the music of many a yesterday, we have a new audience. They’re hungry for God and long to know Him, in part, through hearing the Truth in the music they listen to. Not every musical style causes me to want to worship God (I don’t need music to get into God’s Presence to worship Him). But if this present generation of children, teenagers, and early twenties is going to be reached, the songs of old need a makeover-extreme in some cases. We see this with Amazing Grace and many of our Christmas songs. Same words; a more relevant style.
It’s time to replace our “flannel graph” music with styles which relate to today’s audience. Change need not be synonymous with compromise. The message of God’s amazing grace (and the rest of the Bible) is timeless. So, too, is change, if the Church is going to stay relevant in reaching this generation for Christ.