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What’s the Danger of a Christian Ghetto Mentality? The Christian Music Scene….

This is a short reflection recorded in 2015 at ELF in Poland – I think its subject matter is more important than ever.  This was not a scripted or pre-prepared interview…I was asked the question live and this is the unedited response.  What do you think?


“Rather than being salt and light in the culture, we end up inventing our own culture, which itself becomes infected by the wider culture. And I think we are the ones who should be doing the infecting.”

Is there such a thing as Christian music?  Should there be?  Are there Christian buildings?  What is the relationship between church and culture?  Should we go for the Benedict Option? 

Watch this at your peril!


Or this still astounds me…..


I’m not saying we shouldn’t have songs which specifically mention Christ but the question is whether there should be a whole sub-Christian genre which just mimics the world but says it is different?

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Or should Christians be involved in ‘secular’ music and be salt and light in that world?

Like Callum and Rory MacDonald of Runrig?


Or Mr JS Bach….


Persuasive Music

ELF Poland – Day 1 – May 29th 2015


  1. Sorry for not engaging with your substantive points, but I’ve long wondered whether Callum and Rory of Runrig are Christians. Can you confirm then? How wonderful.

  2. For the past few months I have been listening to Premier Praise and have been astonished by some of today’s Christian music: Lauren Daigle, MercyMe, Rend Collective, Elim sound, etc. I for one am glad that this culture exists, but yes I feel that we really need to go beyond the boundaries of this ‘ghetto’ and try to share this culture with the secular world.

    1. Good luck with that whole “share this culture with the secular world” thing.

      I gather you understand it’s been tried before?

      1. I think that we have to keep on trying no matter what. There seems to be a ‘hidden’ beauty to the Christian faith which, if someone is not willing to share/evangelise, they will never truly find.

  3. I liked your reference to Stryper. The song (album) you used sold over 2,000,000 copies to mostly non believers. It was in the American charts for 3 months . It made the band, with its openly Christian lyrics, a force to be reckoned with in the heavy/glam rock world of the 1980’s, more normally associated with theatrical satanic imagery.
    They enjoyed this until they brought out an album in 1990, which had no christian references at all. It bombed. Apparently the music press, including the Christian press, reported that it was a reflection of them losing their Christian faith.
    It would be nice to think that a largely secular fan base was sensitive to what was perceived as a weakening Christian faith, but this may be taking it a step too far.
    However, the 1990 album was lauded by many critics as their best ever, so perhaps the success of their Christian lyrics had been irritating the establishment after all. Result!
    (The worst part of being an old rocker is having to accept that despite our best efforts we were all just part of the establishment)

  4. I find more profundity in Bob Dylan’s music, not just his so-called “christian” albums (Slow Train Coming, Saved, Shot of Love), than in most of the vacuous “praise” music pumped out by the commercial CCM scene. I once asked a good friend and New Testament Greek scholar why their were so many English translations of the bible and his answer was “its guaranteed profits for the publishing house, so they all want their own version”. I feel the whole ‘christian music ghetto’ also thrives on the money it makes, and in truth starts to look an awful lot more like the world than the world’s music itself.

    On a wider point of being in the ghetto, have we become so wedded to our church buildings that the only places we want people to hear the gospel is in a church meeting? A totally alien, uncomfortable environment that means nothing to the unbeliever? I always say the clue is in the word ‘outreach’. But even when I preached at a church meeting on this very point recently (to much vigorous nodding and ‘Amens’) The subsequent prayer meeting was spent imploring the Lord (note, not us!) to ‘bring them into the church’! The weakness of the church in the west is not just its lazy approach to doctrine, but its abdication of missionary zeal.

    Pray God that he will wake us up! To quote Bob Dylan:

    “When you gonna wake up, and strengthen the things that remain?”

    I wonder where that line was cribbed from…?

    1. The worship group I attend meets in a community centre and has done so for the past 5 years. Not only that but they hold weekly meetings in other public buildings and even put on events in the nearby park. I think people are more likely to attend acts of worship in places that are not architecturally recognisable as a ‘church’.

      As to Christian music, my faith used to be very weak but having listened to modern praise songs I definitely feel that the lyrics have helped me to better understand God’s love (e.g. ‘Hallelujah for the Cross’ by Newsboys, ‘Greater’ by MercyMe, ‘O Lord’ by Lauren Daigle, ‘Victor’s Crown’ by Darlene Zschech, etc.). But I know that this will not appeal to everyone.

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