Monday, July 18, 2011

Bait and Switch

A guest post from Fr. Scott Adle:

Here is an odd essay about growing up Christian, then getting out once she found out exactly what the relevant churches were doing -- the bait and switch.

This, by the way, is considered the ultimate sign of quality CCM, even amongst Christians: the ability to pass as secular. Every band’s goal was to have teenagers stop their grooving mid-song and exclaim, like a soda commercial actress who’s just realized she’s been drinking Diet, “Wait, this isChristian?” The logic was that the more these bands fit in with what was playing on the radio, the more someone like me would feel comfortable passing their album on to my non-Christian friends (supposing I’d had any), giving them a chance to hear the gospel. . . .

Despite all the affected teenage rebellion, I continued to call myself a Christian into my early twenties. When I finally stopped, it wasn’t because being a believer made me uncool or outdated or freakish. It was because being a Christian no longer meant anything. It was a label to slap on my Facebook page, next to my music preferences. The gospel became just another product someone was trying to sell me, and a paltry one at that because the church isn’t Viacom: it doesn’t have a Department of Brand Strategy and Planning. Staying relevant in late consumer capitalism requires highly sophisticated resources and the willingness to tailor your values to whatever your audience wants. In trying to compete in this market, the church has forfeited the one advantage it had in the game to attract disillusioned youth: authenticity. When it comes to intransigent values, the profit-driven world has zilch to offer. If Christian leaders weren’t so ashamed of those unvarnished values, they might have something more attractive than anything on today’s bleak moral market. In the meantime, they’ve lost one more kid to the competition.


  1. "developing a taste in music that ran the gamut from Christian rap to Christian pop to Christian rock"

    LOL this lady just wrote the jr high/high school section of my biography. I'm pretty sure I've still got an All Star United CD around somewhere, and also The Waiting. Those guys totally should have been bigger than they were.

    Didn't keep any Carman. (But if I ever regret it, the plastic brain of my youth has retained every lyric.)

  2. Rebekah,
    I agree with you about The Waiting and the first ASU album. There are actually some talented musicians and artists toiling under the stereotype of "CCM," and that's a ghetto about as hard to break out of as any.
    Thanks for the tip to the article..

    Pr. Tim Winterstein

  3. It's also important to note that the author nailed the problem with the natural progression following the bait and switch -- ending with there being less and less to switch to, only bait. This is more (anecdotal) proof of something that has been stated by several times on this site -- that changing what you do in the service ends up changing the message you teach and therefore what the church believes. If mass appeal is what you want, you end up learning a lot about the world and what appeals to it, and less and less about the gospel and what the church has done and taught for millennia.

  4. Love The Waiting.

    Some of the most talented artists that were stuck within the CCM ghetto have also been some of the most honest, even harshest, critics of the industry. See Steve Taylor, ASU, Rich Mullins...

  5. One never really knows if things are causal or coincidental, but in the past 24 hours I have heard of two LCMS pastors, both CCM and contemporary worship boosters, who have left the ministry.


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