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Rock and Roll – The Bridge Between God’s Church and Culture
The Church needs to dialogue with today’s generation. Rock and roll provides a base from which this dialogue can begin.

Rock and Roll – is it the bridge between God’s Church and culture?

We’ve heard it before. We’ve read it in magazines. We’ve seen it on T.V. Rock stars with a message. A potentially dangerous combination. Long haired, scruffy musicians shouting out to the masses that they believe in something.

… music is here to stay, and so churches must learn how to work alongside it.

In response, we go to their concerts, put in our earplugs, get blinded by the latest technology of lights and ultimately, want to believe too. Why is it that we fill stadiums around the world to conquer world hunger and solve an environmental crisis when some musicians get together, yet we struggle to fill one stadium, even with free admission, if some of the world’s presidents and prime ministers were scheduled to speak? What is it about rock and roll that positively stirs our culture? I believe it’s because musicians have been given the ability and gift to bring people together and help the public see beyond its differences perhaps with greater ease and influence than most world leaders and politicians – even church leaders.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that churches should start throwing their worship leaders behind their pulpits. Or, that churches should place all their time and focus on worship music. There is a great need for great leaders and speakers in our churches. I’m not trying to validate myself or the musicians who may be reading this either. I am simply identifying that music and the creative arts have perhaps greater influence in our culture than many churches realize.

Today’s vast accessibility of music has contributed to its increased influence in the lives of today’s youth and current generation. Whether good or bad, I believe music is here to stay, and so churches must learn how to work alongside it. So how is rock and roll a bridge between God’s Church and culture?

The Church has the opportunity and responsibility to listen to the needs and questions of its current generation and culture – often expressed through its current music. Mind you I am well aware that there is also current music which in no way taps into these relevant questions. Instead, it continues to regurgitate the very food that made us sick in the first place.

Within any progressive and relevant art form, the artist should attempt to identify and ultimately express the unspoken emotions and questions of the times. It is therefore important for the Church to keep its ears to the ground in order to discern which artists are truly expressing the culture’s spiritual longing from those artists who are not. The Church must be willing to learn from the criticisms of artists toward governments, public attitudes, and even criticisms toward itself. It is a humbling thought, but I do believe God can use those outside the Church to be a catalyst for change within the Church.

There is an I-don’t-care-what-the-world-thinks-of-my-attitude within rock and roll that, whether sincere or merely acted, I admire and believe connects well to a very self-conscious culture. It seems rock stars aren’t afraid to stand up to corrupted governments, promote peace in the midst of war, or confront a global issue. A culture searching for identity would certainly be attracted to an attitude such as this. And so a door is opened and a bridge is built.

I can carry this attitude of rebellion into the world’s influence and current philosophy, particularly individualism, and still remain culturally relevant. I can choose to live by biblical principles (i.e. not conforming to the pattern of this world), choose to put others before myself, choose to live in this minority of lifestyle and still remain relevant. This lifestyle remains relevant, although not always agreed with, among our culture because it is seen as a step toward believing in something or someone – a step toward identity.

In my opinion, the greatest emotions and questions of our culture are connected to identity. We’re beginning to realize that the collective and global identity we intended to create is not what we really wanted after all and we’ve begun asking ourselves tough questions. Who are we and what are we supposed to do with our world?

It’s based on the very questions and needs that the world is now shouting and singing from stadiums throughout the world that the Church can initiate dialogue and begin to lead.

Geoffrey Fifield is the singer and songwriter of The Contact.

Originally published in More Radio, August 2007.

 

 
 
 
 

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