Youth love music. To work with kids at all in anyway is to know something about their music, and what music they are listening to and why.
Often, Christian teenagers must wrestle with the question of what kind of music they will listen to, and in particular, how “Contemporary Christian Music” (CCM) fits into their mix.
I’m not talking here about what music we use in worship. That’s a whole different can of worms. For now let’s just consider the music will be for our private listening enjoyment. My kids at church are often surprised when I tell them, "I don't listen to Contemporary Christian Music."
When it comes to youth ministry in the LCMS, there seem to be at least two differing approaches to this. One, (what I would call the “mainstream” LCMS way of thinking) seems to be “Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater”. In other words, that CCM has a generally redeeming value, and just needs to be “Lutheranized”. Case in point, the following quotation from our synod’s “official” youth ministry website, “thEsource”:
Contemporary Christian music is a useful tool in the lives of Christians. It's generally positive, edifying, and helpful as we seek to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. However, it is important to realize that because Christian music speaks about God, and in some cases for God, then by definition that music is implementing theology and engaging us in theological discussion. When we speak about God, we are obligated to try and get it right.
In The Listener's Lounge, thESource provides case study examples of popular Christian albums and new releases, and provides a Lutheran examination of the content. How do your favorite artists stack up? You might be surprised. Check it out …
Sometimes, even this level of critical scrutiny seems lacking.
The band above, Fusebox, is one typically used at LCMS gatherings (they were at our Wisconsin State gathering this summer, and at the National Gathering in Orlando). From what I can find on their website, they are not Lutheran. Then why are they featured at Lutheran youth gatherings? Am I being too parochial here? Some would say so.
On the other side, there seem to be those who do not advocate CCM at all, even harbor a disdain (or at least a suspicion of it).
“Higher Things” magazine generally seems to have this approach. Here’s one example:
From the Bible Study Leader’s notes, relating to an article on CCM:
“…saying something false about our relationship with God is considerably worse than not saying anything about Him at all. “Secular” music which talks of other things in this life don’t hurt our relationship with God, unless a particular song specifically advocates or tempts a person to sin (and such songs do exist, so we should be careful). But the music which claims to teach us about Christ causes us to let our guard down, and we are influenced falsely to trust in something besides Christ’s coming to us in Word and Sacrament.” (i.e. Theology of Glory, Works Righteousness, etc...)
Now, I certainly am open to discussing this, but I tend to agree with the Higher Things approach. No Theology is better than Bad Theology, in my opinion.