Posts Tagged ‘crystal lewis’

No Biblical basis for CCM?

January 2, 2018 Leave a comment

A Baptist minister told me a month or so ago he found “no Biblical basis” for Contemporary Christian Music. I’m not completely sure what he meant. Did he mean nothing in the Bible justifies it, or that CCM is incapable of communicating Biblical truths?

point of grace

Point of Grace, a group I love listening to.

Thirty years ago, I would’ve agreed with him. But as you grow and learn and mature, things tend to change. Many traditional Gospel songs are set to the tune of Irish and English drinking songs. Fanny Crosby, who wrote many Gospel songs adored by the Independent Fundamental Baptists (the Baptist equivalent of the Amish, I like to muse as an ex-IFBer), was considered wordly in her day. One pastor said a few years ago, “Today’s contemporary music is tomorrow’s traditional.”

I also thought about the many CCM artists who’ve blessed me with their music over the years: Point of Grace, Amy Grant, Watermark, Crystal Lewis, Newsboys, Steven Curtis Chapman, Michael W. Smith, Rebecca St. James and, believe it or not, Petra. My middle son loves Creed.

Years ago at a sheltered Christian college, I worked a summer with a guy named Ray. We teased each other because of our different accents (I grew up in South Texas, and he was from Maine and seldom pronounced his final “r’s”). To me, without glasses, he was a dead ringer for actor Judge Reinhold. We debated music a lot. I told him then I thought Petra was too worldly.

“Man, don’t be knockin’ Petra,” Ray said. “I got saved at a Petra concert.”

I thought about that for a long time, the way you do a first-hand observation that comes in and challenges an opinion you’ve formed in concrete.

Ray left that particular college due to the strict rules. I located him through Facebook a few years ago. Today, Ray is a musician serving the Lord and still going strong as a Christian. I can think of more than a few Christians from then who strictly adhered to tradition–and today, are no longer serving God.

I’ve even grown to like Petra, particularly their versions of “Grave Robber” (a song about 1 Corinthians 15) and “Not of This World.”

Richard Zowie likes all kind of music–except gangsta rap. His current guilty pleasure is KISS. Post comments here or email them to 

The Zowie Family searches for a church, Part 1

Since my wife had just recently been discharged from the hospital with a heart problem that she’s now treating with meds, a low-fat, low-sodium diet and by losing weight, I decided to use my day off last Sunday to engage in a long put-off task–finding a good, local church to attend. I work two jobs, so it’s a challenge having work scheduled around church services.

We had attended one in Lapeer for the past few years but decided to look for something closer (among other reasons). On Easter Sunday, I visited a nice church in Frankenmuth, but it wasn’t a good fit. The preaching and contemporary music weren’t bad, but they had two services due to overflow: 9 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. When we arrived there, I was told that they did not have children’s church at the 10:45 a.m. service, which really soured me. If the day comes that we are still looking for a church and they’re in their own building again and are able to offer normal services and offer children’s church at a decent time, we’ll check them out again.

This past Sunday by myself, I attended First Baptist Church here in Vassar. The people were pretty friendly, and I liked the Bible teaching. The pastor also encouraged anyone who didn’t know the Lord to get that settled, which was also a huge plus. Some snooty Christians treat invitations as something only done in the “embarrassing” circles of Independent Fundamental Baptists.

As someone who’s heavy and is losing weight, I don’t have any dressy clothes in my closet that fit. So, I wore a nice pair of jeans, tennis shoes and a button-down shirt. Turns out, many of the men in the church also wore this style. It reminds me a little of that one church’s slogan: “Dress casual. Jesus did.” Nothing is more embarrassing than to go into a church and see you’re extremely under-dressed.

Overall, I liked FBC in Vassar. There are two other churches in the area I plan to check out, but I definitely liked what I saw. And, of course, it’s only a few blocks away from our house.

I come from a Baptist/Independent Fundamental Churches of America/Non-denominational background. Here’s what I look for in a church:

Teaching of the Bible. Preaching is great, but I really like it when a pastor digs deep into what the Word says and telling how it can be applied to our own lives. Two former pastors, including Don Ohm of San Antonio’s Lighthouse Baptist Church, are great at this. You come away knowing something about the Bible and its historical backgrond.

Separating personal preferences from convictions. In Baptist circles, I’ve seen this far too much as the lines between personal preferences and convictions frequently get too blurred. One pastor decides he doesn’t like Michael W. Smith’s music, and then soon it becomes a Biblical dogma that Smith’s music is not to be listened to. I remember once that the late Dr. Jack Hyles once referred to the “Jesus is the Answer” singer as “Michael W. Smut”. It’s one thing to not like the Power Rangers or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (I personally find the turtles very obnoxious), but if you’re going to tell your youth group they’re “new age”, do research to see what they are about, compare it with the Bible and make sure it’s really harmful rather than just a harmless kids’ entertainment.

Contemporary music. I used to be vehemently opposed to Contemporary Christian Music, until I started learning a few things. First, as one pastor once said, today’s CCM is tomorrow’s traditional music. IFB-ers love Fanny Crosby’s hymns, but my understanding is in her day she was considered pretty worldly and radical with her music. I love songs like Watermark’s “More Than You’ll Ever Know”, Stacie Orrico’s “Don’t Look At Me”, Rebecca St. James’ “Don’t Worry” and Crystal Lewis’ “Only Fools”. Huge blessings, including the evil Michael W. Smith’s song “Jesus is the Answer”. I even like Petra’s version of “The Graverobber” and “Not of This World”. It’s ok to use an amplified guitar in church, kids. And it’s also ok to use drums and a bass guitar. Heck, when I was at a Baptist church in Mexico back in 1990, guess what they used for musical accompaniment? An electric guitar!

Various activities. A church needs to busy itself serving its members, encouraging people, edifying and evangelizing the community.

Children’s programs. I’m not just talking about Awana or Patch the Pirate, nor am I just talking about Sunday School and Children’s Church. There needs to be activities for children during Sunday night services, midweek services and during revival meetings. When kids are stuck in adult services, they get bored. Very. Quickly. Nothing’s worse than for kids to associate church with boredom.

Keeping things fresh and thinking outside the box. Churches that adopt the “We’ve never done it this way before” attitude are doomed–especially with how our society (and especially technology) is constantly changing. Even Pope Benedict XVI has recently encouraged Catholic ministers to use the internet and blog as a way of reaching out to parishioners.

Richard Zowie has been a Christian since 1981 and blogs here about Christian issues. Post comments here or e-mail him at