Gospel Evangelists or Cultural Evangelists?
I have a lot of awkward memories from early in my entry to the Christian world. When I was about 18, my Christian friends invited me to the Harvest Crusade. If you are not familiar with the event, it is basically a three day concert of top Christian bands interspersed with short sermons, all leading up to a big evangelistic sermon and invitation to come on down and become a Christian, all this in the grandeur that is Angels Stadium. Pastor Greg Laurie has been doing this for years and I hear that it is growing to different venues across the country.
I went because a bunch of girls I thought were cute invited me, and it was a free concert (I’m sure these were the two pillars that brought many a young man to the event). All I really remember from the event was being bored out of my skull. Band after band came to the stage, but all their music sounded the same to me. There were different genres of music represented, but top 40-style pop and contemporary country dominated the set. All of it seemed bland.
Now I’ve never been a fan of Christian music. I wasn’t raised amongst Christians, hence I was never pressured to disavow secular (Satan’s) music. I do have pretty diverse tastes, ranging from classic rock to indie pop to gangsta rap. Christian music never crossed my radar, except when a friend would inform me that the CD I was listening to was actually a former Christian band gone mainstream, such as Lifehouse and P.O.D.
Generally speaking, and I know people will be offended by my opinion, Christian music tends to be shallower lyrically and less masterful instrumentally than the rock I grew up on. When I began going to church around that period in my life, I was told that I should listen to Christian music because it was more pleasing to God. I don’t know if Christian music is more pleasing to him, but it’s definitely not to me. I really did try to like it, but by the end of the evening, I just wanted to get out of their as fast as I could. Even during the evangelistic sermon at the end, I could not concentrate because of how bored I had become. All the friends I was with were swooning.
After a few years of reflection, I have become more convinced that inviting me to that event for evangelistic purposes was a bad idea. One question keeps ringing in my mind:
Why take secular kids to a Christian concert?
Iron Maiden is coming to town soon, and I’d like to go, but I will probably not take along any of my church friends. I just know they will hate it, and that’s fine. Cultural Christians don’t have to like the same music I do; I will not force my secular tastes upon them. So why do we as Christians expect secular people to conform to “Christian” tastes? Forget about the “should” of the issue, and just answer me this? Do Christians really think it is effective evangelism to take secular people to a Christian concert? I’ve heard plenty of stories from southern preachers about good church kids becoming Satanists because they heard an Alice Cooper record, but do you really think it works in reverse?
In retrospect, I really do believe that taking non-Christians to overtly Christian entertainment events is just dumb. The non-Christian just won’t get it. They probably won’t like the music and the message will just seem strange.
I wonder if such events like stadium crusades are good investments of Christian resources, or just an excuse for Christian kids to get a “free” concert. Why bring people into Christian culture instead of following Jesus’ model and going into their culture?
Am I totally off base here?