Contemporary Christian Music :: By Chris Hobeck

What Is Contemporary Christian Music? Contemporary Christian music (abbreviated CCM) is a brand of music that has as its centrality the evangelical Christian message about Jesus.

According to Kevin Max of the Christian group dc Talk, CCM grew out of The Jesus Movement of the late sixties, “a time when music, poetry, and an open expression for Jesus Christ turned a new generation onto God. It merged rock and roll with the gospel message…It infused the church with the arts. It shook up conventional worship. And due to its “in your face” approach, it had a backlash. The rest of the world called these over-zealous young people “Jesus Freaks” as a derogatory term.

Some of the most popular groups today include: Steven Curtis Chapman, Michael W. Smith (Smith and Chapman are in a constant, but friendly, contest for most popular male CCM artist; the way I see it, Steven is winning), CeCe Winans, Point of Grace, Nicole C. Mullen, FFH, Mark Schultz, Caedmon’s Call, Amy Grant, Nichole Nordeman, Ginny Owens, Rachael Lampa, Avalon, Selah, Newsong, Third Day, ZOEgirl, The Newsboys, Jump5, Plus One, dc Talk (made up of tobyMac, Tait, and Kevin Max; in my opinion, the best music group ever to exist), Crystal Lewis, Jars of Clay, Rebecca St. James, Joy Williams, Salvador, Stacie Orrico, Jennifer Knapp, Audio Adrenaline, True Vibe, Out of Eden, Anointed, P.O.D., KJ-52, T-Bone, Delerious?, Sonicflood, Petra, Piller, the O.C. Supertones, The Benjamin Gate, Sixpence None the Richer, Watermark, Relient K, Chris Rice, Kirk Franklin, and Carman (the man for whom I am most indebted for being saved today). These groups range in style from “pop,” praise, gospel, southern gospel, rock, rap, hip hop, Latin, country, “contemporary praise” (praise and worship music with a distinctive pop/rock influence), and two even two Christian “boy bands” (Plus One and True Vibe)!

What Some People Say Is Wrong with CCM

“Christian music artists don’t keep the emphasis on Jesus.”
I’m currently looking at my CD collection, roughly two dozen CDs. I do not see one artist in this album that does not “talk about Jesus,” as Tait puts it. As part of dc Talk, he was part of the Supernatural album, possibly the favorite in my collection. It has about the best Christian rock method of putting the gospel, and my Christian walk, from the opening song, “It’s Killing Me” (about a friend that you continually try to tell about Christ) to “The Truth” (why do you think I called this site what I did?) to the awesome song: “Red Letters” (about how Christ changes the lives of everyone He encountered, and actually isn’t too much of a rock song until the end).

“Christian artists fall prey to the secular world.”
There are many people who say that CCM artists/bands fall prey to the secular world; they cite evidence that a member of Anointed (I think it was them) is accused of groping a dancer on tour. Obviously this is wrong, and I will not condone it, but that’s just one incident. Look at all the shootings and crimes that go on in the secular music industry. Compare at least a dozen per year (secular industry) with maybe half a dozen in the past decade (CCM). What’s the difference that would cause such a disparity? I would say that Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the presence of the Holy Spirit are all answers to that.

“What about Creed and P.O.D.?”
The way I understand it, Creed (an alternative rock group, I have not listened to any of their songs except for stuff I have to listen to on the radio with my dad) has two members that declare themselves to be Christian, but the group officially says that they are not Christian and have no plans to become Christian. That is fine; I do pray for the other members to become saved. One of the members of True Vibe used to belong to the Backstreet Boys, and one of the members of ZOEgirl, just before she became a member of that band was about to sign a secular contract.

Now, about P.O.D. Oh, my. They too are an alternative rock band, and have toured with people like Ozzy Osbourne. They have been to the “OzzFest” near where I live before. However, this in no way says that they are not Christian. I know of no secular band that would have a song titled “Selah” (an exclamation of praise in the Psalms), and “I Feel So Alive” is SOOO blatantly obviously a song about a salvation experience.

I’ve heard guys on the basketball team I manage sing that song, and it’s all I can do not to laugh out loud (not at their singing, although…) and tell them that the chorus isn’t written about a girl or a drug high, but the resurrected, living Lord of Creation. Also, how else are those people that go to concerts like OzzFest become even remotely exposed to the saving influence of Christ? Jesus walked around with tax collectors, prostitutes, and “sinners” (so labeled by the “righteous” Pharisees) because, as He so well put it, “it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”