And God Bless All Her subscribers! Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! Who am I? I am a US Air Force Security Forces (law enforcement) veteran. I’ve served 5 tours in Iraq, 1 in Afghanistan and 1 in Africa. I am happily married to the lovely Chi Swanson, who is an E-7 in the Air Force, and will prayerfully be an E-8 soon. We are heading to Japan in a few months as we recently got orders (Misawa, in northern Japan). Although Japan will be very exciting, the transition to another country can be quite stressful. The Lord has impressed upon my heart to write a response to this post ever since you first wrote it, Vicky and I kept putting it off. I knew that it would be a long one, but here goes. Coming from an aspiring indie artist, this is a very poignant discussion. First, let me start by saying that you are sorely underappreciated as a worship leader, a strong Christian leader, and specifically as a strong leader for women in ministry. Because of you, the subject of women in ministry has become a very heartfelt issue for me. I am fully egalitarian in my views on women in ministry! However, that’s another post! But for now, I will be responding specifically to questions 2-5 that you posted.
(2). Agressive marketing
Some of the larger churches in the UK are already engaging in heavy, almost aggressive marketing of their products which worries me. I wonder if this chart will only exacerbate this. Doing well in sales figures can create an odd response within in a spiritual context; the sense that God must be blessing you because you have a ‘hit song’ or ‘hit album’ could be dangerous if it is simply down to guerrilla style marketing. Keeping those clearly delineated may be tricky (Vicky Beeching, 2013).
Industry vs. Ministry —- I recently finished my M.Div. in military chaplaincy, 93 credit hours, phew! I am moving on to obtain a Th.M. with a cognate in Theology in the next year, God willing. With that being said, although I am pursuing a career as a military chaplain, I am a worship leader at heart. And yes, like you, I am quite underwhelmed with many of the worship songs that are currently out on the radio. In fact, I plan to respond to one of your older blogs about how a monkey could write much of what we call worship songs now! Yes, because labels want to make money, many artists will feel pressured to make “hits,” and what was once ministry will now turn into making money to maintain a superstar lifestyle in the guise of “my family has to eat.” My family has to eat too, so If I can’t write worship songs that galvanize congregants to pursue deeper spiritual maturity, I’m missing the mark as a worship leader. On a personal level, I am saddened by Deitrick Haddon’s antics on the show, “Preachers of L.A.” Deitrick is a full-time gospel singer and preacher on the show. I grew up listening to his music, which is radically different than it was years ago!! (http://features.oxygen.com/videos/Preachers%20Of%20LA#fbid=rA3GE4g2g1F). I am not “hating,” nor am I unaware of the many sins and flaws in my own life. I am just frustrated, is all, as it seems Deitrick is a casualty of the celebrity culture that now surrounds preachers and talented Christian musicians.
Deitrick is at the very front, in the center on the top photo. On the bottom photo is a pick of him and his current wife, who he cohabitated with before being married, during the show! But worse than that, tried to justify it! If he would’ve just said something like, “I know it’s wrong, it’s a struggle,” then I would’ve respected him more.
(3). Will it represent diversity, or just the ‘big names’?
Diversity is also an issue. The Christian chart is unlikely to showcase a spectrum of diverse music, but will be ‘owned’ by a few giant Christian music brands with marketing machines behind them. Perhaps that’s ok as that’s how most pop charts work but does that translate well into Christian music in deciding which is ‘best’?
It’s well known that congregational worship music vastly outsells singer-songwriter Christian music these days, so it’ll be interesting to see if any singer-songwriter style artists ever reach the Top 10. Being sales based, there is no way for smaller artists or those recording less commercially viable songs (e.g. not worship) to get a look in as their tiny sales figures will be eclipsed. There’s a beautiful diversity to Christian music, much of it small and grassroots. Will it be represented? (Vicky Beeching, 2013). —- Since late 2008, I have been praying Psalm 32:7 every single day:
Psalm 32:7 TNIV You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
Basically, I have a powerful testimony that goes along with this scripture. Your music has literally changed my life, Vicky! Changed my outlook on women in ministry, songwriting, musicianship, you name it! You’ve taught me that it’s possible to have a teaching ministry as well as a music ministry, and be competent in both areas. In fact, both areas are actually intertwined (Col. 3:16). Colossians 3:16 is my calling card. I want to teach theology, scripture, and a deeper knowledge of God to the Body of Christ through psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. That’s what I was born to do! Be encouraged. Also, when it comes to diversity in Christian music, Brooke Fraser is an excellent example of how there really isn’t such a divide between sacred and secular, as Paul said that all things were ours. In particular, her song “Flags” brings me to tears every time, just as your “Undivided Heart,” and “Listening” have the same effect on me. My current anthem from you is “Stronger than The Storm.” Just….wow! “Turning chaos into glasslike seas…” that line is a perfect example of how we MUST incorporate theology into our worship.
Your ministry fruitfulness must be decided in lives changed—you love the Lord, you love worship music, and you work hard at your craft. It is your passion and your livelihood. Your convictions about the Lord will not allow you to sell out! You feel that you would be discrediting the Lord and his people if you “dialed down” your worship style, lyrical content, arrangements, etc. I get it!!! With that being said, just know that you are reaching people, and your music is resonating deeply with people. If you never show up on the UK charts, your ministry is still phenomenal! Martin Luther said that music was the handmaiden of theology. As people grow spiritually, their musical tastes should grow as well.
A prophet (or a prophetess…;D) is not without honor, except in their own home, town and country —- here I am in northern Utah, far from London. Never been, but want to go, and would love to get an autographed CD from you! Prayerfully, my wife and I will be traveling to Europe once we’re done with Japan. If you feel like Jeremiah sometimes when it comes to technology and church, technology and ethics, or anything else like that, be encouraged. God willing, if I ever get commissioned as an Air Force chaplain, I would love for you to come to these American military bases, lead worship, and teach. There is a thriving Christian subculture within the U.S. military. I met tons of British soldiers out in the desert as well, but very few Christian British soldiers at the time. Although I’m sure they’re out there! Also with the technology and worship, I’m sure that in 20 years, it will be a non-issue for people to text, Tweet and do whatever else in church. When Charles Spurgeon had those Boiler Room prayer meetings during his sermons, people probably objected. But look at the fruit. Who led him to do that? It was a purely Holy Spirit directed move.
As no one knows the direction in which electricity flows, but or where it comes from, so it is with the realm of the Spirit —- Okay, so that was a serious paraphrase of John ch. 3., but you get the picture! I’m working on something called “Electric Spirit.” Don’t know if it will be a sermon series or a song or both, but we’ll see.
I was thinking of a modern analogy we could use for the Holy Spirit’s spontaneity. No one can measure electricity in terms of quantity, we can only measure the quality of its vessels (circuit breakers, devices, wires) that it flows through. The quality, or strength of the vessels is the only thing that limits the electricity’s flow. As long as you’re staying connected to God, and that light switch of prayer stays on in your personal life, the Body of Christ can’t help but to eventually catch on.
New wine always requires new wineskins. Surround yourself with innovative people, and in time, more and more people with understand where you are coming from with everything you’re passionate about. God Bless!!