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Is most con­tem­porary Christian music on the level of the song “How He Loves,” which explains that “Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss”?

After nearly four years of expe­ri­encing vig­orous dis­cus­sions about various worship prac­tices within Chris­tianity, I’d say that many stu­dents would answer “yes.” Since we focus on tra­dition here, it makes sense that stu­dents some­times single out con­tem­porary Christian music for ridicule.

I am sym­pa­thetic to people who dislike CCM. Some­times, it seems like churches pick songs for their ser­vices based on pop­u­larity rather than doc­trinal import. Fur­thermore, the lyrics of CCM songs are often poorly written, and some worship bands play the music as if they were playing for a rock concert.

Still, CCM is an acceptable option for Christian worship prac­tices, and all Chris­tians should rec­ognize that there is the­o­log­i­cally rich music within this genre.

Con­sider the CCM song “We Will Dance.” A big part of worship is cel­e­brating and mag­ni­fying God’s name. The song says, “Sing a song of cel­e­bration / Lift up a shout of praise.” Worship should also point to doc­trine. The song dis­cusses the Christian hope of the deepest pos­sible com­munion with God: “Oh, we will look on His face.” It reminds us that this expe­rience will be cor­porate: “We’ll join in the song of the Lamb.” Chris­tians have the duty of waiting for this coming of Christ with expec­tation since “the time’s drawing near / When He will appear.”

I first heard this song when I was five. I had an emo­tional response to the song, of course — it made me look forward to the glories of heaven with greater antic­i­pation than I had ever expe­ri­enced. But, even at that age, it also instructed me. I greatly enjoy studying the­ology and doc­trine, and songs like this put me on that track.

Some Hillsdale stu­dents object not only to the lyrics of CCM but also to the instru­ments used to play it. But while some of us might prefer a piano or organ, Scripture does encourage us to use whatever instru­ments are available (see Psalm 150). This extends to praising God in whatever styles are around.

I’m not saying that everyone should be singing CCM at their church ser­vices. Rather, in our dis­cus­sions about worship, we should think of CCM as a legit­imate way of wor­shipping God from which Chris­tians of all tra­di­tions can learn.

We do need to discuss the flaws of some of the music within the genre.

In the early days of Vineyard, the songs were often simple. Song­writers fre­quently took the lyrics directly from Scripture. These songs were beau­tiful expres­sions of God’s majesty and worth that helped the Chris­tians singing them to think about who God is and delight in cel­e­brating His goodness. Now, the songs are often expres­sions of per­sonal emo­tions about God that do not reflect spe­cific doc­trines. We should think about ways to make it better.

Nev­er­theless, Chris­tians don’t need to reject this genre. Those who gen­erally dis­ap­prove of CCM should thought­fully evaluate the best examples of the genre, rather than focusing on the worst. CCM has its glories, and we should appre­ciate them also.