Typically what they do, though, is exchanging hard rock for soft. They end up dabbling with soft rock. Since the music doesn’t include drums and doesn’t have a bass-guitar-driven thump, everyone is satisfied that the church isn’t going contemporary.
But the rock is still there. It’s just more subtle.
That is why it is important for churches to listen to someone like Pastor Graham West, who had a background in writing and producing pop music and who understood the essence of rock as well as anyone I have known. His series on “The Rhythm of Rock” is available as a download from the catalog at the Way of Life web site.
I greatly appreciate the wisdom God gave Pastor West about music, and he can help IFB churches if they will listen.
Pastor West warned about beat anticipation, which is used widely in Independent Baptist churches that are “adapting” CCM. It is a form of syncopation that produces a sensual swing effect, and it is at the heart of modern pop music.
(Pastor West explained that syncopation in itself is not necessarily wrong, if used in moderation, but as another music expert said, in pop music syncopation is “a fundamental constant presence.”)
There are many aspects of rock syncopation that create its danceability. Pop music uses syncopation to create a jerky, dancy feel. The music skips, stutters, pulsates. John Makujina in Measuring the Music says, “Rock’s danceability is due predominately to its emphasized syncopated rhythms, which invite the listener to supply the missing beats either mentally or through a series of physical gestures.”
The essence of rock is much more than a back beat. The Rhythm Bible lists over 1,000 types of rhythmic styles that are used in pop music. In the video series Music for Good and Evil, I deal with six types of pop syncopation: the back beat, the silent beat, the staccato beat, the swing eighth, the break beat, and beat anticipation.
Pastor West warned that when beat anticipation and other forms of swing rhythm or pop syncopation are introduced to a church, even in the softest forms, the people become addicted to it and crave for more, just like a drug addict.
Sensual music is that powerful. As Steven Tyler of Aerosmith says, “Rock music is the strongest drug in the world.”
Pastor West said:
“Once you begin listening to soft rock, you begin sliding down that slippery slope to the more aggressive forms of rock. Soft rock begins to orient the whole way of perceiving music around rhythm and away from melody. Your musical interest will change. Hymns will seem dull in comparison to your newly acquired tastes. It’s a progression I’ve seen over and over again in the lives of Christians. It’s a downward spiral. It happens in the lives of individuals; it happens in the lives of families; it happens in the lives of churches.
“THERE IS A GRAY AREA OF IGNORANCE ABOUT THE POWER OF POP SYNCOPATION. And the devil, taking advantage of this, being not only the master musician but also the master of subtlety, comes along to a strong fundamental church or a Bible college and he offers his wars of CCM rock ballads.
“It sounds great. There’s no drums, no wild electric guitars, no obvious back beat, just the piano or guitar and the singer. And it’s ALMOST the same as the songs that they used to sing, except the rhythm kind of trips a little bit. But that’s O.K. because it’s exciting, and the young people love it.
“The problem is that when the rhythm does that little trip it means that the music contains a basic, distinctive rhythmic feature of all rock & roll since its inception in the 1950s.
“In this way, before you’ve even known it, you’ve been deceived by the subtle strategy of Satan. This is the blind spot that Satan is using to his advantage. He knows that once a church accepts rock ballads, complete capitulation is almost inevitable.
“In the case of vigilant, serious-minded Christians, he has to start them up at the very top of the slope with very gentle rock so that the conscience doesn’t scream out, ‘This music is wrong!’ Just as long as he can get your started, he has won, because just like a drug pusher he knows that his users will want more and more of that sensual rhythm” (Graham West, The Rhythm of Rock).
Dan Lucarini, a former contemporary worship leader, also explains how that the slide toward CCM begins with soft rock. In the excellent book Why I Left the Contemporary Christian Music Movement, he describes how that he led churches from a sacred music position to a contemporary position, and it was all about incrementalism. He did it in gradual steps, the first being the adaption of soft rock.
“The rock was softer, but it still contained the rock rhythm that undeniably appeals to our flesh.”
Independent Baptist churches that have committed themselves to the soft rock slope will eventually be led to full blown CCM, if not in the church services themselves, then in the private lives of the people, if not under the watch of the present administration, then under the next generation.
We dealt with beat anticipation in the free eVideo The Transformational Power of Contemporary Worship Music, which is available at the Way of Life web site. Every pastor and every person involved in music in the churches and every parent and every teenager needs to listen to this presentation. It is filled with music and video clips that illustrate the points.
We are in a great battle for the heart and soul of Bible-believing churches, and in a majority of cases the devil is laying the groundwork for the destruction of their character within one generation, and a major reason for this is the ignorance of pastors about the transformational power of contemporary music.
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