The author was heavily involved in rock and roll before he was saved; and after his conversion in 1973, he was the leader of contemporary praise teams in at least two churches. In that capacity, he assisted in moving the congregations from traditional to contemporary music. He was an enthusiastic supporter of Contemporary Christian Music and defended it with the standard arguments: music is neutral; music is a matter of personal preference; the Bible doesn’t say rock music is evil; it’s the heart that matters; Martin Luther and the Wesleys used contemporary music; rock music is necessary for evangelism; God is using CCM to save teens; etc.
In chapter two, titled “My Story,” the author relates his testimony of salvation in 1973 out of the world of rock and roll and his early struggles with putting worldly things out of his life and incorporating the things of God, how he learned to separate himself from rock and develop a taste for spiritual music. He says, “I grew to love the great hymns of the faith and the simple, heartfelt choruses we sang at church. … In contrast, my favourite classic rock music now seemed so profane, so loud and obnoxious” (p. 23). He then describes his gradual descent into CCM and his experiences with it.
After long experience of defending the CCM philosophy, the author was brought to repentance by the Lord for his worldliness and compromise and began to find his way back to a sacred music position, to come full circle, in fact, back to the type of church that he first joined after he was saved.
This book is his personal testimony of these experiences and lessons. He explains how his godly wife discerned the error of CCM long before he did and that she was a challenge and help to him in that battle.
Though this book is not large (141 pages), the author does an excellent job of refuting the arguments used to defend CCM and of laying out the biblical grounds for separating from it.
Speaking as a former insider, the author testifies that he defended CCM primarily because he loved rock music and he believes this is the root impulse after all of the high-sounding arguments are pulled down. He also warns about the sensual dangers associated with CCM.
The author explains that Contemporary Christian Music is not merely music but is a philosophy of the Christian life. This is why it usually brings such rapid and radical changes when it enters a Christian’s life, home, or church. CCM is upheld and accompanied by a philosophy of tolerance and non-judgmentalism that eventually reaches to all areas of the Christian experience.
In a fascinating section in chapter 17, “Down the slippery slope of blended services,” the author describes how he personally assisted in moving churches from traditional to contemporary music. He gives the steps that are involved, and they are a loud warning to pastors who care about these things.
The last couple of chapters contain suggestions for pastors who are struggling with the music issue and who are being pressured to allow the introduction of contemporary music. The author gives some practical tips about how to keep CCM out of the church. He also gives some tips for how to choose sound music.
Following are some excerpts from this important book.
EXCERPTS FROM “WHY I LEFT THE CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN MUSIC MOVEMENT” BY DAN LUCARINI:
[After describing an experience he and his wife had in observing a powerful storm carry thousands of butterflies across a large lake and deposit them roughly on a sandy shore, the author makes the following application:] “In the 1990s, this movement blew into our church services accompanied by powerful forces, and anyone who got in the way was like the butterfly, swept away by its proponents, wounded during the violent journey, and finally dumped on the beach to perish. Some may never fly again, because their spirits were too tattered and torn by the storm’s forces. Others had their souls weighed down by the immorality, deception and divisiveness that accompanied the CCM storm.” (p. 15)
“I realize I am also challenging a very powerful stronghold in the church. CCM is well entrenched now, perhaps even the favoured music style in the majority of fundamental and evangelical church services. CCM has taken deep root in the lives of many believers, and some will find what they read here very painful because it will tug hard on that root. Some pastors will not like what I have to say because they too have embraced this movement. But I believe that the use of CCM in praise and worship is a man-made phenomenon and should be exposed as such because it lacks a strong biblical foundation and ignores God’s instructions for acceptable worship. Using it for worship has produced wrong attitudes and encouraged carnal lifestyles; both are damaging the unity and effectiveness of Christians. I also believe the real motive for adopting CCM for praise and worship was not, as we were often told, to evangelize those from outside the church, but was rooted in a need to satisfy our own desires for our favourite music.” (p. 18)
“In his effort to create a non-judgmental atmosphere, the pastor promoted a ‘God accepts us as we are’ philosophy, with which CCM seems to go hand in hand. This was a pastor who once accepted tickets to a Doobie Brothers rock concert and defended his choice by claiming that if Jesus were alive today, he would be at this concert because he spent time with sinners. This teaching produced a church that attracted people who wanted God in their lives but did not want to change their lifestyles.” (pp. 28, 29)
“Another strong musical influence in my life at this time was Promise Keepers, the well-known men’s movement based in Colorado. Promise Keeper music uses predominantly rock styles, including classic Seventies-style rock. I attended huge stadium rallies where the Maranatha Men’s Band ministered in music.” (p. 30)
“During our weekly practices, the praise band would often switch into a rock and roll ‘jam session’. As the leader, I could have discouraged this but I chose instead to indulge my own appetite for rock and roll. To put it bluntly, I was having fun! As I look back on this, I see how hard it was to restrain the rock music beast and prevent it from taking over completely.” (p. 31)
“There were musicians on the team who wanted to extend the boundaries of acceptability and try edgier material. ‘Edgier is a common term used by Contemporaries to describe music that takes the listeners to the ‘edge’ of their comfort zone, stretching them beyond their pre-conceived notions of appropriateness.” (p. 31)
“As I look back on this, I see how hard it was to restrain the rock music beast and prevent it from taking over completely.” (p. 31).
“1 was with pastors who wanted this music in church and who influenced me greatly. I was raised in a military family, which left me with a temperament predisposed to pleasing those in authority. There is a serious leadership issue involved in the acceptance and promotion of CCM in church. Yes, I am responsible for my choices and I’m not trying to place blame anywhere else. But there are many men like me in churches, willing to follow the pastor wherever he leads us (after all, pastor means shepherd). If the pastor wants to change the music, who will stand up to him?” (p. 32)
“I have to admit that being a CCM leader was tremendously gratifying to my ego. The respect and adoration given to me was faintly reminiscent of the rock star power I experienced as an unsaved performer. But I was blinded to this because the gratification was packaged in an ‘acceptable Christian’ format.” (p. 32)
“Now I want to summarize the reasons I had to leave the CCM scene. Firstly, I could no longer accept the premises undergirding the CCM philosophy. … Our key premises were that music is amoral; God accepts all music styles; and no one should judge another’s preference or tastes. As I dug into the Bible to prove them right, instead I saw that they were man-centered, illogical, and misrepresentations of basic biblical principles. … Secondly, when I saw what the Bible teaches about true worship and what it really means to be in the presence of God, I became sickened at the way my generation so glibly used profane and vulgar music accompanied by vulgar dress to offer up worship and praise to a holy God! And no one involved seemed to notice what we were doing. Thirdly, to preserve my marriage and to be faithful to God in all things, I needed to separate from the temptations that were ever-present in the CCM setting: the ego gratification and attraction to the female members of the worship team.” (p. 34)
“Discipleship is not a self-esteem journey; growth means change, change always includes loss, and loss is always painful. You cannot keep all your old habits and pleasures. … The ‘Come as you are, God accepts you where you are at’ doctrine is closely aligned with the tolerance movement that is popular in our secular society. … Jesus did not accept her [the woman caught in adultery in John 8]--he commanded her to change. … The honest ‘seeker’ must conclude that this ‘come as you are’ teaching of God’s unconditional acceptance is at best misleading. We cannot come to God just as we are, with our sin unconfessed or ignored or draped all over us, and still expect his acceptance. We cannot drag our favourite worldly music, dress and language into the church, and expect a blessing!” (pp. 38, 39, 40)
“Acceptance doctrine is so pervasive in some fellowships that Christians are no longer allowed to question another Christian’s behaviour or personal preferences. If you confront another in love, you will be accused of judging them. If you dare quote chapter and verse from the Bible, you will be called a Pharisee. If a church has any practices that step on the toes of anyone’s personal preferences, then it is considered to be a legalistic church. … In this new Church of Acceptance, showing tolerance for worldly affections and behaviours is far more important than exercising biblical discernment. … In this thoroughly biased atmosphere, it is easy to see why a Traditional is afraid to speak out about music styles.” (pp. 40, 41) [The author uses the terms “Traditionals” and “Contemporaries” to describe Christians committed to traditional or contemporary music.]
“When we brought rock music (and all its musical cousins) into the church service, we invited along with it a spirit of immorality with which that music is unavoidably associated. It wasn’t obvious at first. We didn’t use hard rock; instead we used more acceptable, watered-down forms of it: soft rock, pop/rock, country rock and easy listening jazz styles. These styles supported the warm and fuzzy, falling-in-love-with-God feelings we wanted to have in worship. They were less edgy but still contained the underlying rock beat that undeniably appeals to our flesh and reminds us of the world’s favourite music. Despite all our efforts to restrain this musical beast, the saints of God are being seduced by CCM styles. These styles are capable of corrupting the morals of any Christian, no matter how strong they think they are. (p. 42)
“Why single out CCM for such intense scrutiny? Can’t these spirits and attitudes infiltrate the church through other means? Yes, they can. But only music has been placed in such a position of great power and authority in so many churches today. The music ministry has taken over our worship services. CCM styles are promoted up front on the platform, right there before us every time we assemble, dominating the hour or so we spend together.” (pp. 44, 45)
“… I believe this aptly illustrates a major problem with the Contemporary’s notion of worship; that God wants to affirm us through worship, to make us feel good about ourselves with the result that we will have this grand experience of feeling higher and higher. … worship is not looking up and feeling good, it is bowing down and feeling lowly. … It is certainly biblical to feel happy in Jesus but I now realize that a good personal feeling is not part of biblical worship. When we try to feel an experience of affirmation from worship, we are not worshipping God. We are worshipping our own egos.” (pp. 56, 57)
“I am now convinced that God will not accept our worship when it is offered with music styles that are also used by pagans for their immoral practices. If I am wrong, why was he so harsh in judging Israel when they sacrificed to him using the pagan high places and rituals? He is a jealous God. If you grasp this principle alone, it will change for ever the way you lead a worship service. … The true heart of worship is the heart that bows before God and submits to his Word, no more and no less” (p. 57)
“It is time to expose the hypocrisy of those church leaders who justify CCM by claiming they use it for evangelistic purposes in their seeker services. Nonsense! The truth is, these churches use it in their services for the ‘saints’ as well. One of the major problems with seeker-oriented music is that it must not only ‘sink’ to appeal to man’s fallen nature, but is also bound to stir up the believer’s sinful nature, his ‘flesh’, as Paul called it. At the seeker-sensitive churches we attended, the music was ostensibly designed for the unchurched but that excuse was really just a smoke screen obscuring our real reason for bringing CCM into the service. The bottom line was that we simply wanted to use our music in the church, not what we perceived as our parents’ or grandparents’ music. We have the same self-centered, self-indulgent spirit of the 1960s and 1970s but now it has been given a veneer of Christian dedication.” (pp. 62, 63)
“The self-indulgent spirit entered the church with the baby boomers. The urge to change church music coincided with our rise to church leadership positions in the mid-1980s. The pastors leading the seeker-sensitive movement are baby-boomers. … The ‘70s boomer group has sometimes been dubbed the ‘Me generation’ and now we are bringing our pervasive ‘Me-ness’ into church leadership and practice. … This besetting sin of our generation will seep into every aspect of church life and ministry.” (pp. 64, 65)
“… we have become preoccupied with perfecting a music ministry that strokes the ego and fulfils the desires of carnal believers, to the detriment of the more serious disciples in our midst.” (p. 66)
“Rock and roll is a musical style that was created for immoral purposes by immoral men, and has always been used by the world to express its immoral attitudes in song.” (p. 68)
“Like other Contemporaries, I was blind to the subtle sexual influences creeping into my worship teams and unwilling to admit that my worship music could possibly be tainted by sex.” (p. 69)
“When you combine the sensual dancing with the immodest dress of the women on the platform [in the praise teams], you place a very large stumbling block in front of the men of the congregation.” (p. 71)
“Does your worship team mix single or divorced men and women together with those who are married? That is an open door for sexual immorality. If you put hot-blooded males and females into a passionate rock music group, there will be strong temptation for sexual sins. CCM styles facilitate an atmosphere where a female’s innate desire to have emotional intimacy with a man can easily be achieved. The problem is, most of the time that man is not her husband. This leads to something called emotional adultery, a problem that can later lead to physical adultery.” (p. 71)
“... we use CCM to create this atmosphere. We dim the lights, we design the music to move people where we want to take them and we create the special mood, the right atmosphere. What is wrong with this? It is exactly what the world does to create sexual intimacy. Secular musicians use the same music styles and environmental methods to draw people into sexual intimacy with them. It is all about bringing sensuality into the public forum and breaking down all of our sexual inhibitions.” (p. 72)
“CCM is stuck with this stigma of immorality, because the music styles carry with them the baggage of the world’s immorality. It does not matter if you change the lyrics. It does not matter if you change the musicians. It does not matter if you change the record labels. It does not matter if you ask God to sanctify it. Rock music and all its children, and by association CCM, can and will corrupt the morals of everyone who practises it.” (p. 73)
“… I lay the blame of splitting churches over music at the feet of Contemporary leaders who insist on the adoption of their music agenda without regard to the conscience and discernment of others.” (p. 76)
“When a pastor accepts the CCM movement, the members of his flock who, like Judy [Dan’s wife], discern a problem coming into the church, no longer have a shepherd to protect them. Instead they have a shepherd who has decided that some sheep are worth losing. But when is a pastor allowed to drive away sheep from his flock? We can all agree that a pastor has the biblical imperative to send away a divisive ‘sheep’ after scriptural church discipline has failed to bring about repentance; but does the Bible also teach that a pastor may drive away the good and faithful sheep because of a new music programme? Of course not, but Contemporary pastors have found justification for it, nonetheless. Many Traditionals have felt the church door hit them on the way out. They have been forced out of the protection of the fold by a pastor enamoured with the power of CCM; and then left to a dangerous journey through wolf-infested wilderness to find a shepherd who will not put controversial music styles above the needs of his flock.” (pp. 76, 77)
“And more and more often, when it comes to a choice between losing long-time members of our church or our pet music programmes, Contemporaries decide that people are also expendable.” (p. 76)
“We need churches that are full of Christians who practise the principles of edification, who sacrifice their personal freedoms, who give preference to the needs of others and who avoid diligently all forms of evil. Then, instead of engaging in the current conflict over music, we would be trying to outdo each other to please and edify. Music ministers would care more about their congregation than the performance and style. Never again would anyone have to leave our church over music. Could we ever agree on a music style that is non-offensive to everyone? I believe the evidence is clear that yes, we could agree on several styles of music that are non-controversial and far enough removed from any contemporary associations with immorality.” (p. 87)
“Decades of rock music in our culture have permanently stamped that music style with the dimension of immorality. Changing the lyrics and substituting Christian musicians cannot remove that stigma.” (p. 91)
“Music concepts may be amoral or neutral, but all music styles have a moral dimension because they are so easily and unavoidably associated with some worldly attachment.” (p. 91)
“When someone says, ‘Show me where the Bible says that rock music is evil’, you could reply: ‘Show me where the Bible says that…’:
* ‘…God is pleased you chose the same music style as Madonna, Hootie and the Blowfish, and the Dave Matthews Band.
* ‘…you should vigorously defend the favourite music style of this world.’
* ‘…it’s OK to use the same music style as the sex and drug culture.’
* ‘…God waived that “abstain from all appearance of evil” clause just for you.’” (p. 96)
“We took teens to concerts given by popular CCM artists. These were not the ‘radical’ heavy metal or hip-hop artists, but the middle-of-the-road performers who seemed to be good role models. But we noticed that the artists, probably under the influence of their recording companies, imitated secular artists in music, concert performance techniques, dress, hairstyle and merchandising. Everything seemed to be geared to making money by winning fans. The poor teens were manipulated in the same way as when they were listening to their secular teen idols. They were hooked in the beginning by safe, careful lyrics and moderate music but the artists always progressed to an edgier, rockier and harder music style with a lifestyle and image to match. And the teens followed along. The CCM artists became role models for different kinds of immorality: indecent dress, rebellious images, improper crushes on married men by young girls, lustful interest in sexy females by adolescent males.” (p. 117)
“Traditionals are initially assured by the Contemporaries that the two styles can co-exist peacefully. In reality, what happens over time is a steady slide down the slippery slope, away from all traditional music into the latest, ‘edgiest’ contemporary styles.” (p. 119)
“I found it unbelievable that a pastor who was dead-set against rock music, and preached that he would never allow a drum set in his church, would then allow musicians to sneak the drums and rock music in through the back door of accompaniment tapes.” (p. 120)
“Now we will look at the progression of a blended service. It usually started very carefully with the inclusion of one or two Maranatha Music-style choruses in a Sunday evening service ... Then we might see the introduction of accompaniment tapes by soloists, most of which would include a muted but very contemporary-style drum and bass track. ... The first two steps were not enough to satisfy us. They simply whetted our appetites, and gave us the boldness to push for more contemporary music. Next we looked for musical authenticity in the contemporary choruses. Most were not written to be played by our organist or pianist. They were written for guitars. So we brought in one acoustic guitar for the choruses. ... After we grew used to that, it made good sense that two guitars sounded better than one, and we may as well add the bass guitar too, along with its amplifier. ... When the drum set finally appeared on the platform, I believe the church reached the steepest and most dangerous part of the slope. More than any other instrument, a drum set is the key instrument of contemporary music styles. Drums are used to drive the beat, rock’s true differentiation from other music styles.” (pp. 120, 121)
“With blended services, we have created two sets of musicians with different skills. Now began the competition for the hearts of the congregation: the battle of the bands, so to speak. … Contemporary always prevailed over Traditional, because it fed the sinful desire of our flesh. Add to that the veneer of respectability given to CCM by the leadership, and many believers gladly traded the old music for the new. … the blended service is not a long-term solution … Rather, it is quite simply a transitional phase to gradually move a church service from all traditional to all contemporary. … even this separation of services [in those churches that attempt to have two different services, one traditional and one contemporary] will not remain sharp for long. Soon it will blur, and the blurring is almost always towards contemporary shades.” (pp. 122, 123)
“Contemporary always prevailed over Traditional, because it fed the sinful desire of our flesh.” (p. 122)
“Some have tried to solve this dilemma by holding separate traditional and contemporary services. ... But even this separation of services will not remain sharp for long. Soon it will blur, and the blurring is almost always towards contemporary shades.” (p. 123)
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