A Wake Up Call for Gospel Artists

The excessive commercialization of Gospel Music has threatened a genre that has significantly impacted the African American community for decades. The solution?

Has the message of some of today’s Gospel music strayed significantly from the message of the Gospel itself?

I love Gospel Music. Traditional. Contemporary. Praise & worship. Choirs. Groups. Solo artists. Old and new. From Rev. So-and-So Presents… albums of the 80s to today’s Bishop So-and-So Presents… albums. I have even started to listen to some quartet and Christian hip-hop.

I love music. And I especially love music that exalts the Lord Jesus Christ. But my true love for Gospel Music has broken my heart.

In two ways…

First, I am grieved by the excessive commercialism of contemporary Gospel Music. I can cite various examples of this illicit love affair with the world. But there is an explicit seduction of the world on Gospel artists that burdens me: reality TV. What is this about? Why are Gospel artists joining the ranks of these mind-numbing reality TV shows? Don’t you now know that “reality TV” is an oxymoron?

Of course, Gospel artists are not the only ones joining this parade of worldly foolishness. It’s also preachers, preacher’s wives, and preacher’s daughters. More and more religious personalities are nakedly pursuing fleeting celebrity. We want to be famous, rather than promoting the name, message, kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Please to tell us you are doing this to expand the influence of Christ in culture. If that’s what you think, you are extremely confused. Deceived. Out of touch with “reality” (pun intended!). It is easier for the world to pull you down than for you to pull the world up. And in leaning over to reach the world, the church often falls in. And we are dragging the precious name of Jesus down with us.

Where did we get the idea that Christ wants us to help him be relevant in this God-ignoring society? The Lord commands us to be holy, faithful, obedient, wise, and loving. The Lord does not want us to show the world that we are regular people just like everyone else. The world already knows that! That’s why they don’t respect the church. We need to be different. Light. Salt. Our influence in the world happens by the difference Christ makes in our lives, not by blending in. The world cannot see our good works and glorify the Father in heaven by watching so-called Christian leaders divas argue, boast, shop, covet, date, lust, and complain on TV. Get real!

My heart is broken for another reason.

Not only are Gospel artists fallen in love with the world; even worse, they have fallen in love with Word of Faith theology. Prosperity Theology used to be on the fringes of the Christian landscape. Now these faith teachers are the mainstream. And many prominent Gospel artists have digested their unbiblical teachings and regurgitate them in their music.

As I listen to the new Gospel Music released, I am blown away by how talented Gospel artists are. The music, singing, and production can rival anything “secular” project. Unfortunately, I am hearing more thoughtful reflection in some Pop and R&B music than among those who claim to sing for the glory of God.

I buy a lot of Gospel Music. But I can commend very little of it for worship, private or corporate. Too much Gospel Music has too little gospel in it. It is not God exalting, Christ focused, or biblically saturated. It is fixated with self.

“It’s my season…”

“My harvest is coming…”

“What’s to come is greater than what’s been…”

“I don’t look like what I’ve been through…”

“Praise him till you get your breakthrough…”

“Speak those things that are not as though they were…”

“I’m taking back everything the devil stole from me…”

“Speak it into the atmosphere…” “

“I’m claiming my destiny…”

On and on it goes.

Just because you use biblical phrases does not mean you are communicating biblical truth. Cults play that game. Christian musicians and singers should not.

We need music that teaches truth (Col. 3:16), not just cherry-picks phrases that sound good. We need Gospel Music that proclaims the gospel! We need reverent, bible-rooted music that will lead worshipers to think deeply about Christ. We need musicians to record music that will lead us to sing to the glory of God, not just cheer-lead to get an emotional response.

Don’t look now, Gospel Artists, but the upstart Christian hop-hop artists are lapping you. Now, I am not a big hip-hop fan. And I don’t know any of these artists personally. But I am encouraged by their willingness to rap about God and Jesus and the gospel and holiness and doctrine. They are daring to compose and perform truth-driven messages, not mere foot-tapping music.

Gospel artists, please wake up! We are in a storm. And you are playing the Jonah, sleeping your way to Tarshish when you should be headed to Nineveh. The church – and the world – needs you to wake up and give up music about the true and living God!

About the author, H.B. Charles, Jr.

H.B. Charles, Jr. is the Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida. He regularly speaks at churches, conferences, and conventions around the country and recently released a book titled, It Happens After Prayer. He blogs at hbcharlesjr.com.
  1. Wonderful insightful post and most of all, TRUTHFUL. Thank you Pastor Charles.

  2. I agree with you Pastor.The Lord does not need our help at all.I’m old school gospel if I can use those words it was healing for your soul and it brought through some trying times.Now not all gospel is sounding like the world.The word of the Lord should minister to the whole body.In song and worship & praise.

  3. LOVE this commentary. Hits the nail on the head of everything that’s wrong with our Gospel music artists of today. “Because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’ “

  4. I agree with the commentary for the most part. The only thing I might somewhat disagree with is the mentioning of Word of Faith and Prosperity theology. There are Biblical principles of faith and acting on it as well as Biblical principles of prospering in God’s kingdom. A diet of this alone is the problem. There have been extreme statements that have come from both of these camps. My only reason in pointing this out is because in many peoples’ efforts to point out the wrongness of both of these camps we end up throwing the baby out with the bath water.

    • The bible teaches in the new testament that prosperity is an item of the soul. look at what money does to people. We are being bombarded with so much talk about prosperity in this fallen economy. The truth is, there is hardly any word about Hell, the wages of sin, the bitterness of backsliding, etc. I personally have a problem when secular artists are invited on stage to sing Gospel music.

  5. I was enjoying reading some of the commentary and analizing of the Jay-Z- Kane West song “No church in the wild”. Personnally I love to see these two collaberate on projects and see them both as highly talented hip- hop performers. Some of the commentary on this song goes back to Nov. 2011. Yet, I still here this song on certain clear channel stations. It seems the debate on whats best for our children and our people in general to liisten to in the way of secular music will be around for a while! Just make the best decision for you and yours! Thank Stephanie Imani LaFlora for hosting this form.

  6. Pingback: Music Ministry News - Music Ministry

  7. Pingback: Discussion: “A Wake Up Call For Gospel Artists” | Praise 1300

  8. Black gospel music has, in some ways, become a victim of its own success. Because the black gospel choral sound is seen and heard in movies, televisions shows and car commercials, for example, the wider secular world conveniently “forgets” that the true context for black gospel music is WORSHIP. Black gospel music is the primary vehicle of WORSHIP and PROCLAMATION OF THE BIBLICAL MESSAGE within a worship context. The secular world constantly “rips off” the sound and attempts to strip it of its heart–JESUS and the message of salvation, deliverance and new life. It doesn’t help when secular artists like Joshua Nelson–the so-called “Prince of Kosher Gospel”–appropriate the SOUND of black gospel music, and then disparage Christian faith among African-americans by denying
    not only the message of our music, but its historical context as well. It also doesn’t help when black gospel choir directors have these “interfaith unity choirs”–and then deliberately NOT expose their singers to the powerful Christian texts that are the heart of gospel music.

  9. One of the reasons this worldliness is happening is that many of these individuals may not truly be saved. It’s one thing to be vexed and struggling in the world; it’s another to embrace it. James 4:4 clearly says that whoever is a friend of the world (talking about the world system) is an enemy of God. 1John 2:15-17 not only tells the believer not to love the things in the world, but that if you do, the love of the Father is not in you. 2Corinthians 6:14-18 tells the believer not to have fellowship or communion with unbelievers; in other words, we are not to partner up with them in any way because we’re light and they’re darkness. This doesn’t mean we don’t share the gospel or show love or even help them, but we’re not to have fellowship because they love the world and are slaves to their sin nature. And as for the prosperity gospel, 1Timothy 6:3-13 explains it and warns us to flee those teaching godliness is gain. In addition, the Bible would never encourage us to covet something sinful or that would cause us to sin because Colossians 3:5 calls covetousness idolatry. Romans 12:1-2 tells us not to be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of our minds. The Christian life isn’t just about emotions, it’s about thinking Biblically and without studying our scriptures (2Timothy 2:15) in prayer and by the illumination of the Holy Spirit, we will think wrongly. Examine many of these pastors and entertainers and ask yourself how separate and different they are from the world. Not much, and there’s no Godly repentance towards any of the things they do; divorce, sleeping around, suing one another, gossiping, and exalting themselves above God. 1John 4:1 tells us to test the spirits to see if they’re of God and that judgment starts at the house of God (1Peter 4:17), let’s pray that these folks truly repent and trust the Lord Jesus Christ or that Christ will chastise them back to a walk with Him (and if they are believers, He will), but the elephant in the room of Bible ignorance, worldly behavior, and rank heresy among many in the gospel industry and some churches needs to be called out. After all, if these folks aren’t truly saved, judgment awaits them (Revelation 20:11-15) and that’s not funny, but very grieving.

  10. THERE IS ONLY HOPE IN CHRIST. tHE WORLD DOES NOT KNOW CHRIST AND IF WE WHO ARE CALLED TO BE THAT LIGHT IT SHOULD BE SEEN EVEN BY THE UNBELIEVERS SO THAT THEY WILL GLORIFY CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD. WE NEED MORE PERSONS TO NOT RESPOND LIKE THE WORLD DOES CUS OUR KINGDOM IS OF GOD. ONE OF THE MAIN REASONS MANY TRY TO GO AFTER THE WORLD IS THAT THEY ARE NOT SEEKING THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS WHEREAS HE WILL BE THE ONE TO ADD ALL TO YOU WHATEVER YOUR HEART DESIRES ARE. BUT INSTEAD MANY GO THE WORLDS’ WAY AND THE END THEREOF IS SORROW BUT GOD PROMISES RICHES NOT AS THE WORLD DOES BUT ON TOP OF THIS NO ADDED SORROWS. GOD IS JUST SO GOOD.

  11. This was so well said. I’m sick of this so called “gospel music.” They are trying to be culturally relevant and “cool.” I’m a young African American woman but I listen to mostly all Caucasian artists because they actually sing about Jesus and not about me me me like African American artists. There are a few African American gospel artists who sing about God but they aren’t popular!

  12. On point.

  13. I also want to mention that the major Christian record labels are divisions of secular record companies. They ultimately control everything. The music business is 90% business and 10% music. They don’t care whether you sing about Jesus or Larry, Curly and Moe, it’s about making a profit. Real talk.

Leave a Reply

* Required Information. Your email will not be displayed to the public.