I got "saved" at a Carman concert when I was 12. It wasn’t the first time. But it was the first time I asked Jesus into my heart publicly, at an altar call. My friends and I became disciples overnight.
I wasn't, however, a disciple of Jesus—at least not directly. If I was discipled to anyone in middle school, it was to the pop stars of the contemporary Christian music scene.
In the evangelical subculture of my youth, there were three categories of pop music. There was secular music, the avoidance of which was, as with alcohol, a nonessential of the faith. (My parents’ approach was more tight regulation than outright ban.) There was Christian music, the Nashville-industry pop records that we heard on Christian radio during our school carpool and then saved our allowances up to buy. And then there was worship music, which we sang at church.
Back when 19th-century Methodists were debating whether to sponsor seminaries and promote a “learned ministry,” one bishop, it was said, opposed the idea. He connected vital faith and piety with ignorance. Challenged by a critic who asked the bishop whether he was thankful for his own ignorance, he proudly answered yes.