Control issues

Watching this rewardingly thoughtful conversation develop about how much preaching gospel concerts should include, I wonder if the issue doesn’t boil down to this: when people in sg debate how explicitly evangelistic the rhetoric from the gospel-music stage should (or should not) be, they’re really debating who - if anyone - controls the music’s meaning.

Usually, the more intense calls for a robust preaching of the gospel at southern gospel concerts align with a worldview that sees gospel music as part of a broader need to convert and reform in the name of Christ’s kingdom.

At the other end of this spectrum are those who say the music can and should rise and fall without performers connecting the music to specific theological or ideological aims beyond what’s already in the music itself.

This is closer to my own view, which is that, at its best, southern gospel exceeds the limits of orthodox culture to control what it means or to put limits on the work it accomplishes.

Of course there’s preaching and then there’s preaching, or more accurately, preachiness. When people rail against “preaching,” they may sometimes be talking about things like an overly aggressive or prolonged altar call (more on that in a moment). But my gut says most complaints about preachiness are complaints about ideological or political statements on stage. We’ve all experienced this, when some guy (or gal) on stage purports to be “just telling ya’ll what the Bible says about” this or that hot button social or moral or political issue.

Though some of this may be spring from a genuine if misguided belief in the prerogatives of the stage or the obligations to be a Christian witness, it’s also true that alot of this kind of preaching is showboating and water-chumming, a consequence-free way to appear brave and outspoken about controversial issues … in front of a crowd that overwhelmingly already agrees with you.

The more complicated form of preaching is the more conventional sermonnettes about the redemptive blood of Christ that often end in some kind of call to come to Jesus and here and now, or other rituals traditionally associated with evangelistic crusades or sectarian worship.

What to make of these? Whereas the political stuff often feels ginned up and self-indulgent, this type of rhetoric usually arises from sincere motives but can create a divisive atmosphere at concerts by suggesting that it’s not enough to like the music and be moved by it in a way that’s meaningful to you. You must also believe a particular set of theological doctrines and subscribe to specific interpretations of scripture to the exclusion of other ways of thinking and believing.

To these orthodox believers, southern gospel is weakened by spiritual freeloaders and other non-conformist fans (aka willful sinners) who neither open their hearts to the one “true” meaning of the music nor surrender their right for it to mean something as powerful as it is unorthodox. In this view, it’s not enough to, as I do, find in the music access to powerful psychospiritual experiences and insights that I’ve found no other way of reliably accessing, and that have had over the course of my life a transformative effect on my understanding of faith, spirituality, and belief. For a lot of people, I and perspectives like mine are the problem, and the music matters most for its ability to convert or redeem people like me into the “right” way of understanding and encountering the music.

I confess I’ve never really fully understood the intensely orthodox view that believes God is all powerful and mighty to save and gospel music mainly matters as a tool for redemption and renewal of a faithful remnant, and at the same time, that the music itself isn’t enough, that God and his gospel as these people understand them need help accomplishing their work. If the music is as powerful and pure and as full of redemptive potential as these people say, why is a sermon and an altar call necessary?

Well, I know the answer, of course. Just as I know people will continue to preach from the stage as reliably as rain.

So preach on, I say. But know that if you’re really good at what you do as a musician and performer, you’ll unavoidably be creating experiences that will come to mean things to people you can’t imagine, or contain with a sermon. Indeed, it’s a testament to southern gospel as a form of psychospiritual experience and expression that it can hold these kinds of paradoxes in productive tension.

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Comments

  1. BUICK wrote:

    My 2 cents’ worth (and probably worth less than that):
    If it is a ticketed event, I consider that there is a contract between the artist(s) and the customers. I don’t think I have ever bought a ticket to hear a sermon but I’ve bought countless tickets to go to a concert.

    If it is a love-offering/freewill-offering, then we don’t have a contract. Preach away, if you wish. My approval or lack of approval will be reflected in my offering. Over time, the artist(s) learn what works and what doesn’t. And if they are so convicted to preach that they will do so even when it costs them money, they may truly be called to preach.

    Some of this opinion arises from attending a ticketed concert by a soloist probably 25 years ago. She sang for a while and then had a staged raid on the concert by a Gestapo-like gunman who ostensibly intended to kill us for our faith. After the melodramatic raid, the cute little soloist went on to tell how the majority of our ticket price was being sent to help Christians who face this kind of threat every day. I hated it and still fume about it. I paid for a concert and got a cheap drama. If she wanted to send her money to suffering Christians, that is her right. If God laid it on her heart, that is her responsibility. But the left-hand should not know what the right-hand is doing and there was no call for spending 30 minutes (no exaggeration!) trumpeting her giving to an arena full of people who came for a concert.

    Since then, I’ve always felt like there is a bait-and-switch if I buy a ticket to hear singing and, instead, I hear a preponderance of preaching. If the artists feel God has called them to preach, they should be bold and say so. Bill the program as a preaching service with a little music thrown in. But if it is billed as a concert, then SING. That’s the honest thing to do.

    (BTW- I do not object to a moving introduction to a song. But how about this as a rule-of-thumb: if the intro is longer than the song, it’s too long. A 3 minute song should not require a 5 minute intro or the song must not do an adequate job of getting them message across in its own right and you should select a better song.)

    But that’s just my 2 cents’ worth - and I probably owe you some change.

  2. CVH wrote:

    The money shot is this: “If the music is as powerful and pure and as full of redemptive potential as these people say, why is a sermon and an altar call necessary?”

    I’ve attended probably hundreds of concerts since the early 70’s, the majority of which have been mostly music, and at least for me, those are the ones that remain the most powerful both in their impact and in my memory. As BUICK has stated, I’m not paying to hear someone’s personal point of view, whether theological or political. Some groups speak more when they’re in a church setting than a concert hall; some speak more when they’re tired and need an easy night’s work. Regardless, if the audience is paying (whether a ticketed event or by an offering), they deserve to hear what they paid to hear - music.

    The same complaint can be made about some secular concerts. Many, over the last 20 years, have become platforms for artists to spew their views on a variety of subjects. Most audiences, being at least marginally sympathetic to the artists’ views, are tolerant. But that’s the difference between secular and ‘Christian’ audiences: secular audiences will listen at least politely for a few minutes while an artist talks about some humanistic cause; the ‘Christian’ audience almost expects to hear some preaching or sermonizing along with the music. Because many evangelicals and fundamentalists are already culturally polarized, political and religious grandstanding is encouraged and embraced. And the more that happens the more I wonder, where did the supposed power of the music disappear to?

    It must be a subcultural thing; an innate insecurity about the ability of the lyrics to get the message across or a need to ’seal the deal’ right then and there. Both point to a lack of trust in the intellect of the audience and their ability to process the content in their own way, and a lack of trust in God to use the music as perhaps just one step on a long spiritual journey. I don’t know, but it not only cheapens the value of the lyrics, it implies that the very God they’re singing about is impotent to do what he wants, when he wants, inside a person’s heart. And frankly, if I were one of the better songwriters in SG today, I’d be pissed that they didn’t just let the fruit of my years of labor stand on its own merits.

    When I attend a secular concert and they do modest introductions, brief song comments and then just play - it has so much more impact than the average Christian/SG concert. If audiences were better informed artistically, they could appreciate art for what it is; in fact, God forbid, some day they might even demand it. Until then, this trend exemplifies one more sad irony of the evangelical-fundamentalist subculture from which southern gospel music comes.

  3. Michael McIlwain wrote:

    I think that the reason many feel the need to sermonize and give an altar call at every concert is due to the rise of revivalism in the evangelical world from the mid 1800s until the late 1990s. There seems to be a move away from revivalism, but in some circles it is still a major force.

    The revivalist feels the need to get a response and a decision immediately. Before the rise of revivalism there were movements of God such as the 1st Great Awakening that had a powerful time of revival that was due to great, Spirit annointed preaching from the likes of Whitefield and Edwards; however, during the 1st Great Awakening the evangelists were not trying to push decisions to be made. They preached powerfully, told folks how to get right with God and then watched the folks to see if the message took root in the lives of those who professed faith.

    I am sensing a move away from revivalism in many areas of Christianity from the emergent types, purpose driven folks, and even from some very fundamental, reformed groups. However, there are still many evangelical groups of Christians, especially in the South, that hold on to a revivalistic way of doing things.

  4. Charles Brady wrote:

    Why is the music not enough by itself?
    That’s a simple one to answer!

    1 Corinthians 1:21
    For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

    1 Corinthians 1:18
    For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

    What is “Gospel” music without the presentation of the “Gospel Message” and the invitation to partake of God’s wonderful precious eternal gift!!!!

  5. Glenn wrote:

    Buick,
    I like your 2 cents worth. I also like what Doug says about “in front of a crowd that overwhelmingly already agrees with you.” I’ll bet 98% or better of these people attend church regularly and consider themselves saved, especially those who are attending a “love offering” concert. It’s not like two guys are sitting at a bar and one asks the other what he wants to do, and the other says lets go a a Booth Brothers concert. I also really agree with the comment about someone “suggesting that it’s not enough to like the music and be moved by it in a way that’s meaningful to you. You must also believe a particular set of theological doctrines and subscribe to specific interpretations of scripture to the exclusion of other ways of thinking and believing.”

  6. Hiding wrote:

    It drives me crazy when a songwriter-singer has to explain the entire song before they sing it…The song tells the story??

    I agree totally with Buick…

  7. BUICK wrote:

    #4 - the passage in I Corinthians refers to the seeming foolishness of the content of the gospel. And that message can be conveyed in the spoken word, in drama, in interpretive dance, in singing, in Godly living, in personal testimony and probably various other ways as well. It is still the Gospel and it is still preached no matter what the medium. The Greek term is the “logos” of the cross, the NIV calls it “the message of the cross”, the NASB phrases is “the word of the cross”. I’ve heard and been convicted by the word, the message the fact of the cross via many, many songs. (Just today, I was meditating on the way Jessie B. Pounds expressed it: “I must needs go home by the way of the cross…there’s NO OTHER WAY but this.” Now that, my dear friend, is preaching and it spoke to my heart anew.) So just because someone isn’t sermonizing, doesn’t mean that the word and message of the cross is not being proclaimed. (But I’m sure you already knew that. Maybe we’re saying the same thing in two different ways and I just failed to catch it.)

  8. Jennifer wrote:

    I attended a concert last night and the gospel was presented in song, yet both groups read scripture from the stage. Gospel music is ALL about the message - so what’s the problem with sharing the GOSPEL from God’s word, too? How sad it is when CHRISTIANS complain about the Bible being read at a Gospel concert. I believe that the time is drawing near when Jesus Christ is going to split the eastern sky and rapture the church out of here… don’t you think it’s about time we take a stand for CHRIST and stop letting Satan win! People are dying and going to hell everyday and it doesn’t seem as though CHRISTians are even bothered by the tragedy. Is it just me or are CHRISTIANS are just throwing up their hands and surrendering…. and I don’t mean to Jesus! “the audience is paying for the concert so they need to be entertained… or we didn’t come here to get preached to”! Yes, you paid to be entertained but if that artist that takes the stage fails to present the gospel and offer the opportunity for a lost soul to find their way to the Old Rugged Cross, then they have totally missed their calling and their performance has been in vain! I am thankful that there are artists (Booth Brothers, Legacy Five, Mark Trammell Trio, Annie McRae, Mike & Kelly Bowling, The Greenes… just to name a few) that are not ashamed to present the gospel and open their Bibles and share scriptures about salvation and God’s love. Win the lost at any cost and if your hearts desire is not to see souls saved perhaps you should check yourself… do you know that you know that you know that you’re saved? If so, maybe the man or woman sitting next to you at that concert can’t answer yes to that question.

  9. RF wrote:

    Buick’s the man. I agreed with almost everthing you typed.

    Why would attend a gospel concert if you didn’t already believe?

  10. Wade wrote:

    Buick & CVH… AMEN!!

    For ppl who agree with them be WARNED!!

    The Greenes are only fun to see in concert because of Taranda. Before then OMG… 10 minutes to set up a song was short.

    If you ever go to see Ronnie Henson… you won’t hear much singing there either!!

  11. Odeliya wrote:

    Agree with the most.The 1st rule ‘Do No Harm’ applies to all who attempt to heal people’s souls just as it applies to those who heal the body.

    Including the Gospel into a concert is great, just make it short, sweet, sincere, to the point and not in typical tiresome preacher-ese, in your own words, don’t over rehearse it. Get the member of the band that is capable to do it right. Many artists have great gift of singing, but that is the only time they should open their mouth in public.

    Everything else they employ their vocal cords for is downright awful and counter-productive.We ought to use our particular gift, not fake one we dont have.

    Good old “Preach always , when necessary, use words” .. Its not 20 A D anymore, I agree with the brethren above- all attendiees have heard the message somehow already. All know it, not many believe it. Every one of my Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and atheist friends can recite the gospel message better then an average Joe that slept thru half of his Sunday school class, I asked.

    And stay out of politics, artists! Maximum say non- controversial stuff about “corrupt politicians on the left AND the right” etc, that all agree on.
    Otherwise you shooting yourself in the foot, people take political views personally , that will hurt your CD sales.

  12. harold wrote:

    Just because someone doesn’t browbeat someone down to the front does not mean they are ashamed of the Gospel. Most concerts present a couple of hours of the Gospel within song lyrics. If songs and lifestyles don’t preach, then nothing does. The “preaching” discussed here is an assembly of words. I would rather see a sermon myself. It is way more inspiring and thought provoking that way.

    And, Jennifer, what exactly do you mean by “saved” - are we talking about a technical “get out of hell free” trip down front at a concert or about a real, kinship with the Christ that groups sing about?

  13. jbb wrote:

    Thank you Jennifer. I agree!
    The gospel in song and the gospel preached go hand in hand. We were getting ready to take a platform in a church recently, and 5 mins. before it started the pastor said “oh, by the way, the deacons/elders met and we want no talking or witnessing, just sing”…Boy, talk about putting a damper on things, and we fell right into satans trap. We did just what they said, and that was wrong.
    We don’t PREACH, but, we do testify. People need to know about Gods saving Grace and how it applies to everyday life. They need to see and hear that if God can use someone that has a “past”,so to speak, that he can use them too. WE all have things that God has delivered us from and that may not come across just in a song.
    I dont’ like to go to singings either and hear a 10 minute monologue before each song, but, there are lost people that set in the pews and we are accountable as Christians.

  14. Rob wrote:

    First, I have no objections to the gospel being presented. In every song there is a mini sermon. I wonder about the lost person who has paid to see a concert and he gets as much preaching as he does singing. Do you think this would turn that person off to attending any future concerts. I feel that most people that pay for a ticket to a concert are paying for songs to be sang and not a lot of words. If you are in a Church and a love offering is taken, then this is a different situation. A recent ticket concert we went to an artist spent at least 15 - 20 minutes or their 45 minute set talking and can you say preaching (he wasn’t a preacher). He spent time reading and preaching twice during the 45 minute set they had. Then after the intermission he had to do a little more during the second set.

    There are a lot of unsaved people out there that need to hear the gospel. A ticket concert just isn’t the place for them to hear preaching. Present the gospel to them in the songs you select to sing.

  15. SM wrote:

    Jennifer #8, I totally agree with you, I always wonder about people who cannot stand to hear a bit of God’s Word presented at a concert. They seem to think that everybody that is there is saved. Have you ever heard Frank Seaman’s testimony, his brother had tried to get him to go to church with him, but he would not go. When he invited Frank to go to a Gospel Concert, Frank decided to go, thinking he could stand to sit thru that, and it would get his brother off his back. The result was that Frank got saved that night at the Gospel Concert. That is a perfect example, that you never know who may be there, and if it is the only time that they have heard the Gospel. I pity the Christian, that complains because he had to sit thru the presentation.

  16. Kevin wrote:

    #11 — Right on. There are two groups that are frequently praised here on this site, that I haven’t bought CDs of in years. People do take political statements personally, indeed. And everytime I see their name/hear their songs, I (unfortunately) think back to the things they said, and I lose interest in supporting their “ministry.”

  17. Glenn wrote:

    Hey Wade,
    By choice, I don’t want to be close to a Greene’s concert, but thank God, we can hear Taranda on CD.

  18. Michael Booth wrote:

    Hey Rob who was it?

    Michael Booth
    Booth Brothers

  19. Michael Booth wrote:

    Ron

    Actually I should have asked if you were refering to me. Reason is that I have a pattern of using scripture twice in the first half and again in the second. Yet i have never spoken 15-20 min in the first half. That would be impossible because in a 45 min set we would sing ten songs avg of 4 min per song.

    The thrust behind the bible reading is to point people to the ultimate source of help. Though I love Gospel music and it does have the Gospel in it, however music could never produce the intimate relationship with the Father as the Bible can.

    I think we could all agree that in a crowed of a thousand ticket buyers for a Gospel concert, there are likely to be many that are not in the Word or lost or so on. A few people are doing great possibly. Our goal at a concert is to point them all to the Word. Hoping that the music and the Word working together will produce a life of peace and trust in the Father.

    I’m learning by reading all that is being said. Some of it really makes since (sence?). I have a great burden for the people in our paths to completely understand the TRUE Gospel. What I cannot understand is how someone would have a problem with a Gospel message after all of the singing. We sing about twenty two songs in our solo concerts and THEN present the Gospel.

    Guys people that go to concerts die ok….. Some go to heaven some go to hell. At the very least I can say I tried.

    Michael Booth

    sorry for the spelling and such it’s late And Im…… Well uh kinda dumb.

    I love you all in the Lord Jesus Christ!!!!!

  20. Lisa wrote:

    Quote from Michael Booth:
    “The thrust behind the bible reading is to point people to the ultimate source of help. Though I love Gospel music and it does have the Gospel in it, however music could never produce the intimate relationship with the Father as the Bible can.”

    …and I have no problem with that. The Scripture is undiluted (as far as any version can be…) But to hear a particular spin on it, e.g.: “if you’re not speaking in tongues, then you’re not saved” is not only problematic, it can become alienating. I’ve had folks of more formal denominations decline to attend a concert because they were skeptical of the “preaching” involved. (quotation marks were theirs, not mine.)

    I’ve had the pleasure of seeing you perform live, (in The Booth Brothers) and you do a marvelous job. Hearing Scripture can’t bring one to harm. Ever. Keep it up!

  21. lovelife wrote:

    Kevin, that is “unfortunate”, as you put it. So if your pastor was to say something you didn’t agree with or didn’t share your same views, would you stop going to church? I’m not speaking of things that are clearly laid out in the scriptures. When it comes to politics, I have my views just like others do and I really don’t give a flip if some artist says something on stage that does not reflect my view, however, if their particular thing they are talking about at the time is not in line with God and the Bible, they better do a “heart” check. I don’t agree with the healthcare issues or the way the war is handled, but, I won’t stop going and listening to someone I enjoy just because we might be on different sides. I might just miss a blessing.

  22. Rob wrote:

    Michael, was not talking about you, I was speaking generally of another group. Like to hear the Booth Brothers if and when they are around. For sure you’re doing something right with the number of awards y’all keep winning. Congratulations.

  23. Tim wrote:

    Well spoken Michael and thanks for the encouragement at NQC.

  24. Soli Deo Gloria wrote:

    It’s a paradox. The Gospel must be preached; however, southern gospel singers are generally about the least qualified people to present the true Gospel. And I don’t mean in the “we’re all sinners and therefore all unqualified” way. I mean that the vast majority of Gospel singers who “preach” have not a clue what they’re talking about. They are utterly underprepared, un-studied and in some cases wholly ignorant of what the Gospel says about anything (let alone political points of view).

    I would rather hear no preaching at southern gospel concerts than the preaching I do hear, and the reason is simple- the preaching I do hear is generally misleading at best, and dead wrong at worst.

    And that’s the problem: Preaching is necessary; however southern gospel preaching is generally worse than no preaching at all.

  25. RDB wrote:

    There’s a pretty common sense balance in between preaching and singing. If the talking goes beyond what is a reasonable intro for a song like maybe 5 minutes max a few times in a night. Working scripture into a short intro or break between songs is not going to turn off 90% of the people. Where things go wrong is simply use of time. If there isn’t a good chunk of music being done, which is what all but .5% of the people came for in the first place, then you’re going to annoy them if you boil up 1/3 or more of your time yammering at them and they’re going to use up all of their Christianity not to be extremely annoyed with you.

    The only way they’ll forgive you is if your singing is worse than your talking. Then they’ll probably just leave at intermission.

  26. Odeliya wrote:

    #21
    I believe you misunderstood what Kevin meant; he didnt say he wouldn’t listen to a pastor or even stop enjoying the music if the performer’s political views are not aligned with his.

    That’s not it. Its about CD sales/concerts.

    So you said that “if some artists views are not in line with God or the Bible they need their heart checked” Would you, may i ask, still support their minsitry by buying their CDs? If yes, you in the small minority.

    The fact is ,the majority of people wouldn’t, especially given the huge selection of artists, concerts and free media playing SG, like internet radio, etc. Most people will make a choice to buy different CD and go to a different concert.
    It’s just the way things are.In secular world and in non secular. It’s the human nature.

    Gay clergy, abortions, Obama,Bush, war, health care - shut up about it, artists! Remember,there are a lot of very liberal and very conservative Christians out there, and many in between :)

  27. Michael Booth wrote:

    Thanks Rob!! Hope to meet you some day soon.

    There are some very valid points being spoken and since it is about the Gospel I would like to jump in on this.

    I’ll put some thought and prayer in for a bit first. Be back soon.

    Michael Booth

  28. Lewis Wells wrote:

    I think an important distinction needs to be made about “preaching”.

    The greek word used in 1st Corinthians is “kerygma” which means “that which is proclaimed by a herald or public crier, a proclamation by herald”. It refers simply to a communicated message. That can happen in song, testimony, the reading of scripture, or through what many erroniously feel is the only form of “preaching”, a man, speaking loudly and commandingly, about the gospel message.

    Keep in mind that when the epistles were written, there wasn’t a burgeoning Christian music industry or Christian music ministry, and it isn’t like Paul was writing to the early churchs on the heels of the big Harvest Celebration with Gold City, Signature Sound, with the Forky River Boys Quartet opening the concert.

    If I attend a concert, no matter the atmosphere (whether church, auditorium, ticketed event, et cetera), I generally want to hear music. I don’t mind applicable testimony and set-up, in fact sometimes it enhances the message communicated in the song, but I agree with some others that if a 3 or 4 minute song takes a 10-15 minute set-up to work, the artist probably needs better material or material that speaks more clearly on it’s own merit, and it’s possible that for every person who takes pleasure in that 10-15 minute set-up, you’ve lost the ears, and therefore the hearts, of several others.

    My biggest concern, having dealt with some people over the last couple of years who are from spiritually abusive backgrounds, and still involved in them to varying degrees, is when artists, and Christians as a whole, fall into ritualistic thinking.

    Eating is eating, whether done with a fork, a spoon, with the fingers - it all has to go in the mouth. The message is the message, whether communicated through song, speech, written word - it all has to get to the heart.

  29. Kevin wrote:

    #21 - I’m paid to go to church (musician), and find that over the years I seldom agree with the majority that any pastor says. But, thankfully, I find that my spiritual needs are met through other avenues. Churches, by and large, can be the most unchristian of places. But, I sure love the music and theatrics! So, to answer your question: no, I wouldn’t stop going — I need the money!

    “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” - Gandhi

    But, back to the point — I’m still not buying CDs of groups that abuse the stage with political agendas. I’ll just wait and hear their one hit on a Gaither Homecoming release!

    Thanks for caring enough about me to respond, though. :-)

  30. Charles Brady wrote:

    So I guess Soli Deo Gloria what you’re saying is that southern gospel preaching is foolishness……..

  31. Michael McIlwain wrote:

    Charles, I don’t think that Soli Deo Gloria is saying that southern gospel preaching is foolishness, it’s just that so many who try to share are unprepared and have a shallow understanding of what they are talking about. One does not necessarily need a seminary education, but one does need to have some idea of orthodoxy. Look at what has happened to Joel Hemphill. He is espousing outright heresy today.

    A good example of how the gospel can be shared at concert can be found at an concert I attended in Grenada, MS in 2003. Crossway was there that night. This was right after Matt McFarland joined them. The group sang for a while and then Paul gave a testimony about his father and his death and how the community around his hometown was powerfully impacted due to his father’s strong Christian faith and example. God was given all the glory in this situation. Paul took about 7 minutes to share this testimony and then the group went back to singing. They had a time of sharing some old hymns and the closed with a song called “Alleluia.” Crossway’s part of the program was worshipful, edifying, and had the gospel presented. There was no preacy-ness or hysterics - just great singing and some testimony. I would prefer to see more groups do what Crossway did that night than to hear someone rail about politics, make jokes about Bill Clinton or President Obama (even though I never voted for either man), or make some simplistic theological statement that takes the Biblical passage out of context.

  32. Catoe wrote:

    Solo Deo Gloria is dead on it. If the Gospel is not going to be presented accurately, I say leave it alone. When the history books are closed on the 1900’s we’ll see unbiblical presentations of the Gospel leading to more false converts than anything else.

  33. Lewis Wells wrote:

    #31…Not intending to sidetrack the comments, but have you read Joel’s book?

  34. lovelife wrote:

    #26: No, I would not support an artist if they were promoting or saying things that were not in line with the Bible. I do realize that there are those, singing and preaching, that are putting on a form of Godliness. My point was more about agendas like healthcare, the war, and other political agendas. I’m not blasting anyone.
    Kevin: Is that the only reason you go to church is to get paid? I’m just going by what you said and believe me, I’m not criticizing you. I agree that Christians can be unChrist-like and downright mean. I was raised in a ministers home and a Christian home. I have seen the devil come out in alot of christian people, but, I’m thankful for my roots. It’s made me realize I have to not focus on people and focus on God. I go to church now because I need it. I need God and I need to assemble with other Christians. Trust me, there have been times I’ve come home from church and wondered why I went, but, through my spiritual growth I have realized it’s not about me or “them” it’s about HIM.
    God Bless

  35. Mike McIlwain wrote:

    #33, Lewis, I have not read Hemphill’s book all the way through, but I have read enough to realize that he espouses a different Jesus than what is revealed in the scriptures.

  36. NG wrote:

    JD wrote the following in 1994 in his book “The Life and Times of JD Sumner”

    “Many singers think to be popular in . . . Southern gospel music, you have to preach and cry and testify. It is my belief that when a man buys a ticket to get in, you’re infringing on that man’s rights to try to cram your ideas of salvation down his throat — because you might be wrong and his own previous beliefs might have been right.

    “My wife passed away in 1992. She was sick. If I had done the norm, I would have gone on stage every night and got the sympathy of the people — got a lot of them to pray for her and sold a lot more records.

    . . . “I never brought up Mary’s illness on stage, not once. I sang to the people who came to hear us. I tried to entertain not make them feel sorry for Mary and me and perhaps go home crying.”

    , , , “You can’t fiorget the message of the song. I heard Earl Weatherford sing “What a Precious Friend is He.” . . . When he finished, Earl said “What else could I add to that song?” He was right. He didn’t have to preach about it for twenty minutes. The song said it all. . . . That’s the way we’re suppose to reach the people.”

  37. Kevin wrote:

    #34: Hello! No, money isn’t the only thing motivating me to go to church. I love worshipping God, and enjoy fellowship with the other sheep, too. :) Even the meanies can be entertaining to observe! But, being a paid church musician has just been a part of my typical church experience for years. The point was in response to your inquiry: would I leave if I disagreed with a Pastor. I would just pray for the sermon to end soon so we can get to the next song! :)

  38. Lewis Wells wrote:

    #35…In my experience, most who’ve read his book, even if/when they don’t agree with it’s premise or teaching, freely admit that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to argue with the scriptural points he presents, especially when considered against historical events that demonstrate how orthodox methods of belief on the Godhead were arrived at. Most of those in this grouping, when asked why they disagree, can’t really say except that it challenges so much of what they’ve been taught and accepted.

    The common perception of what he’s teaching, or rather the common misperception, among those who haven’t read his writing or heard his teaching is that he belittles the role of Jesus Christ in salvation. He doesn’t.

    I may not agree with all elements of his teachings myself, but I think heresy is too strong a word to attach to it. Of course, you’re entitled to your opinion on the matter.

    I’d suggest reading the entire book before passing conclusive judgment. I, too, was ready to put it down early.

  39. Soli Deo Gloria wrote:

    #36- “It is my belief that when a man buys a ticket to get in, you’re infringing on that man’s rights to try to cram your ideas of salvation down his throat — because you might be wrong…”

    If you “might be wrong” regarding salvation, you have no business in a southern gospel group.

    JD Sumner was likely wrong regarding salvation, which should have disqualified him from presenting the Gospel. He was right not to preach, but wrong to keep singing.

    Mr. Sumner is an example of what was and is wrong with southern gospel regarding this particular topic. Citing him in defense of not preaching during southern gospel concerts is not even remotely persuasive.

  40. yeah... wrote:

    I had to chuckle…using J.D Sumner to teach us the ways of the Gospel. Imagine! My, my. Michael Booth, keep on posting here, will you? Your heart and thoughts are being revealed, and they are needed here in a big way. Well done, Michael. Thanks.

  41. BUICK wrote:

    #39 & #40 - can you be more specific about why you say what you did about JD? And I do not mean just rumors and innuendo. Do you KNOW something that would cause you to say that “JD was likely wrong concerning salvation” etc. or are you just passing along unsubstantiated gossip?

  42. Soli Deo Gloria wrote:

    #41- Anyone who fears they might be wrong about salvation is, by default, wrong about salvation. Salvation is not ambiguous and subject to interpretation. There is one exclusive path to salvation. Perhaps the over-glorified ticketholding audience member should be sharing the Gospel with the unsure gospel singer.

    Regarding Mr. Sumner generally, I have no idea whether he was a believer, nor did I make any representation in my previous post one way or the other (though I can tell that’s where you want to go with this). From an objective perspective, the guy produced a lot of seriously rotten fruit over the course of his life (see his above quote, for example).

    I pray he was a believer; however, whether he was or wasn’t is secondary to this discussion, which is whether he should have been preaching the Gospel in any way. Based on the objective evidence, I do not see how the answer to that can be anything but a resounding NO. And that goes for lots and lots and lots of gospel singers, past and present.

  43. yeah... wrote:

    #41, I shared no gossip, just to set the record straight. But, anyone who spent any amount of time around JD in earlier years has their stories to tell. Me too. And that’s why I said that using him as an example of whether or not one should speak the Gospel in a concert was kind of funny. I still believe that when it’s done well and properly, it’s a good thing. However, I also agree that some are more gifted in doing so than others.

  44. Wade wrote:

    #42… have not posted in a while but after reading that… SERIOUS EYE ROLL!!

    Get over yourself!

  45. Wade wrote:

    #42… Funny that you make that post and your others on a thread called CONTROL ISSUES. Bet ya got’em. You might need some medication for that OCD!

  46. Robert wrote:

    To me it is as simple as this.
    You are a singer and feel God has given you a gift to spread His word through music. A church calls and books you. You don’t go to the church and preach.
    You are a preacher and feel God has called you and gives you the gift to preach His word. A church calls you to come preach their revival. You don’t go a sing their revival.

  47. Stinky wrote:

    #19 Michael Booth, Have you ever heard the song Can The World See Jesus in Me? A Promoter I work with had your group there,you agreed to come back,it was advertised with your permission. Your Booking agent (Harper) cancled because the promoter had another group on the concert.I can understand you wanting the entire program yourselves but you broke your word to the fans and the promoter. You should have come as you agreed to and inform the promoter that next time you must have the stage alone. The Booking Agent said take it or leave it. So he left it. Don’t forget the promoters and the fans that got you where you are, they can also take you back to where you were.

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