The cover of the August 1996 Atlantic Monthly announced a Christian cultural revolution: “Giant ‘full-service’ churches are winning millions of ‘customers’ with [their] pop-culture packaging. They may also be building an important new form of community.” Author Charles Trueheart described what he calls the “Next Church”: No spires. No crosses. No robes. No clerical collars.
Back before pop diva Lisa Loeb became a household name, she and Elizabeth Mitchell performed together at Brown University. While Mitchell didn’t achieve Loeb’s fame, she possesses no less talent—and on her album for children, You Are My Little Bird (Smithsonian Folk ways), she demonstrates how the simplest music-making can be the most moving.
John Nelson is a world-renowned conductor noted for his commitment to contemporary sacred music. He was born in Costa Rica to American missionary parents. He attended Wheaton College and the Juilliard School of Music.
If, as Karl Barth said, God may speak through a blossoming shrub or a dead dog, I reckon God may be found at rock festivals. At least that is my hope every spring as the Chicago winter finally eases its grip and I begin planning rock music outings.
The world’s most popular rock band lives in constant contradiction. As U2 itself put it in the 1988 hit “God Part II”: “I don’t believe in riches, but you should see where I live.” The group at times proclaims Christ with power and passion, but it seems equally capable of cunning calculation.
Christian music these days is pushing across the boundaries of what many churches and denominations used to regard as acceptable. The introduction of new styles of music in worship—often styles associated with secular popular culture—symbolizes the extent of a given church’s cultural relevance and outreach. For that reason, it’s increasingly important for churches to become not only more inclusive and diverse, but also more discerning and discriminating in their musical offerings.