I grew up on Carman, DC Talk, Audio Adrenaline, and The Newsboys. They were fun until I discovered secular pop music, which absolutely crushed any CCM I’d heard in terms of creativity and ambition. I never looked back. I can barely listen to CCM any more. What good is Carman after hearing The Eels? Audio Adrenaline after The Smashing Pumpkins? The Newsboys after Radiohead?

In recent years I’ve experienced a spiritual re-awakening, and have been re-exploring CCM. It hasn’t changed. Nearly every CCM artist in every style is immediately derivative of secular pop music from 5, 10, or 20 years ago. I have heard the music of literally hundreds of acclaimed CCM artists and have heard two that are innovative. Two! Of hundreds of the best-loved artists! One is P.O.D., whose music is stylistically ambitious but flawed. The other is Danielson. All others in all CCM styles are boring ripoffs of, usually, the most boring secular music.

Of course, there’s a good reason for such extensive creative poverty. Today’s Christian artists are in agreement with Counter-Reformation edicts of the 1500s, which espoused the idea that music must be mind-numbingly simple so as not to distract the general public from God-focused lyrics. One cannot praise God with creative and intelligent music, and certainly not with wordless music, they say. More importantly, Christian artists are on a mission. They want to reach as many people as possible with the gospel, and therefore must play to the lowest common denominator.

As a result, millions of people are enjoying and moved by the tunes of Rich Mullins, Third Day, and Casting Crowns. And there’s no doubt that meditating on such edifying lyrics can affirm and strengthen one’s Christian walk. Even I have to admit I’ve had a few tearful, soul-alive moments singing CCM worship music in church. Is there really something with wrong with CCM, or am I just an anal, pseudo-intellectual music geek?

Both are correct. The above paragraphs prove the latter, but there is something wrong with CCM. Or rather, something lacking. I believe there should be room for both simple, singable praise tunes and creative, complex, passionate worship music. For that, I can turn to contemporary Christian composers Arvo Part, Henryk Gorecki and John Rutter, but there’s nothing in CCM (modern Christian pop music) to inspire the worshipping hearts moved by innovation. We are an unserved minority.

By the way, there are hundreds of Christian artists writing creative secular music. Sufjan Stevens is one. Many others aren’t known as Christians because they don’t make it part of their music.

I love and study music, but I’m no musician. Please, (quite literally) For The Love Of God And All That Is Holy, will a few passionate Christians start daring to write original Christian music, please? You won’t sell like MercyMe, but I’ll buy your CD.

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