14 August 2012

Ponderings -- Rock, Ministry, And Church Problems

The other night I was watching a video on YouTube about Petra's ministry.

From both a musical and ministry standpoint, these guys were a huge deal back in the '80s and early '90s. Many, many people came to know Christ through the work they did. You still see testimonies on Petra's Facebook page from people who got saved (or realised their existing commitment to Jesus had to be deeper) at a Petra concert in such-and-such a place during this tour in this year.

Today we have no equivalent in the Christian music industry. Today, pastors and youth leaders lament dwindling attendence and widespread lack of passion in those who do attend church. Why?

Perhaps a question to ask is what did Petra do differently? How was it that five guys on a stage led so many people to Christ, and today we have an entire Christian rock industry and the youth groups and churches are still shrinking? What was Petra doing then that we're missing today?

They presented the Gospel.

I personally have never had the privilege of attending a Petra concert (unless owning the cassette copy of Captured In Time & Space counts). However, it's widespread knowledge (among the fans at least) that they shared the Gospel, carefully and explicitly, at every concert. This goes back to the earliest days of the band, even before Greg X Volz came on board the first time (and that was a while ago).

However, I have been to concerts of today's 'Christian' rock bands. I've seen the Newsboys twice, plus Flyleaf, Starfield, downhere, and what is possibly one of the most recognisable bands in Christian rock today, Skillet.

Not once did I hear them explain the Gospel. In fact, by and large they toned down the 'Jesus factor' so much that their songs are more likely talking about a girlfriend than the Creator of the universe and Saviour of our corrupted souls. I could go into a long discourse right here on how Larry Norman (sort of accidentally) launched the 'Jesus rock' movement precisely so that more people would hear the Gospel and live in accordance to it.

The fact is, somehow we Christians, both inside and outside the arts, have forgotten somewhere that in order for people to be transformed by the Gospel, they need to hear the Gospel first. How shall they call on Him whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear... unless someone tells them?

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