Again and again, famous Christian musicians and celebrities step away from the faith. Not all leave Christianity entirely, but they all share the common trend of “deconstructing” their faith. They usually at least step away from American evangelicalism towards a more progressive Christianity. However, not everyone is leaving traditional Christianity. In a recent conversation hosted by Alisa Childers, a handful of contemporary Christian music, or CCM, artists respond to deconstruction and discuss why they still believe.
Check out the full video here. I thought there were a few exciting points worth noting.
Wait, Who is Pushing Back?
Alisa Childers, formerly of ZOEgirl, hosted the conversation. Joining her were John and Korey Cooper, from the band Skillet. Jeremy Camp, a successful musician and the subject of the movie “I Still Believe,” was there with his wife, Adrienne Camp, previously of The Benjamin Gate. They all provided their testimonies as well as many anecdotes from within the CCM community.
Childers provided most of the intellectual side of the conversation. She did an excellent job of explaining the history and concerns surrounding deconstruction and gave a strong foundation for why objective truth and history are essential components of Christianity.
The Need for Truth Over Church Culture
Something Adrienne Camp said struck me. “I was on stage at 18. I loved Jesus, but I was very much defined by church culture. When I started to see all the things in church culture that were so disappointing to me, it brought so much disillusionment because I didn’t know what else to believe then, because that was my experience.” Many Christians only know what they have seen and experienced within their Christian bubble. Not everything in church culture is essential or even beneficial.
Deconstruction can be a good thing for that very reason. Looking through our beliefs, wrestling with doubts, and discerning what belongs are important things every Christian should be doing. The problem starts when people look inside themselves and what they feel, rather than looking to God and what he has already said. As John Cooper said, “Do you think that you are the arbiter of truth, or do you think that there is a God who defines what is right and wrong and moral and immoral? It’s either going to be you or God.
The Need for Accountability
It was particularly interesting to hear the anecdotes about the CCM industry. Although everyone involved made it clear that good people and strong Christians work in it, the problems run deep. The young and optimistic get chewed up and spit out by greed and cynicism.
Even more important, though, is the need for accountability. According to the five people here, no real spiritual or theological accountability exists in the industry. Artists don’t need any theological training or education as long as their music fits the model. Even worse, most lack any spiritual accountability in the day to day life. Imagine you are a 19-year-old talented musician who also loves Jesus. Then you are placed on a stage, away from any stability, given fame and glory, all while living on the road for months at a time. They are right to say we were not created for that. The more I hear, the less surprised I am by these deconversions.
The Power of the Worship Leader
Music is powerful. Some of the biggest megachurches these days are more known for their music than their pastors. The consequences of this lack of accountability reach beyond the artists. As John Cooper said, “Worship leaders today carry more power than any pastor. They carry the juice.” Our culture chews up and spits out the musicians. Those same musicians often write our modern Sunday worship songs. If anyone needs to be spiritually fed and theologically educated, it’s the people writing and leading the songs. Just like pastors and other leaders, we cannot just assume that someone with a microphone talking about Jesus has the support they need.
The Need for a Church Home
Something they briefly discussed is a topic often overlooked among Christian celebrities. Where do you lay down your roots? It’s a given that any Christian who is on the road a lot will not be at any one church every week. As a result, most give up on having any home church. Some give up on the church entirely. This applies to musicians, speakers, missionaries, and any other traveling Christian.
The body of Christ is big. Yet, in my and many other people’s experience, the power of God is felt most in a smaller community. After all, so much of love and community rests on relationships. If our only experience with the body of Christ is nameless faces in a large crowd on an international tour, relationships become very distant.
Pray for the musicians too. They have a lot of unique trials and frustrations to endure. Discuss your thoughts for this post on our Facebook Group here.