There was a time when we didn’t have “Christian music.” We had Gospel music - traditional church music, so to speak. We had sacred music, still protected and esteemed among the stain glass sanctuaries of the world. But Christian music - or contemporary Christian music, better yet - had a real live beginning.
You can find lots of opinions on who the first CCM musicians were, and who knows which one is actually right, but there is at least some consensus that Jesus Music came from the Jesus Movement.
The radical, life-changing conversions among young people in the 1970’s gave birth to modern songs of testimony and gratitude. It was a mix of styles and personalities and musical approaches, but it was huge. It changed things.
It’s with those early hippies-turned-Christians that you’ll find the seeds of modern worship music. New choruses and expressions started popping up in churches and home groups and campgrounds and eventually, spread like wildfire. From these humble beginnings came Maranatha and Vineyard and Integrity’s Hosanna Music. These loosely thrown together organizations began collecting, organizing and sharing these songs to other churches. Songs started in little local churches started to become nationwide hits among believers It was a welcome change for some and a scary prospect for others. It even started something called the “worship wars.”
It’s seems way different now.
Now, it seems like so many songs come from the other direction; an publishing entity has some of its employees write and produce a worship song with highly skilled musicians and then distributes that song to the churches. Feels like most of the big hit songs we sing come from a writer’s room and not local churches.
There are churches writing songs, of course - most of them are big, with the same sort of equipment and process as the publishing entities themselves.
We need well-crafted, well produced songs that show up on our doorstep and we need big churches that are doing big things in the worlds they inhabit. And good thing, because we’ve got a whole lot of that already. But I think there’s another revolution coming.
I think in the next 20 years, we’re going to see worship leaders writing little songs with hardly any production value and no discernible demographic target that somehow will end up blessing churches across the world. We’ll never lose the top-down-Christian-music-industry, and we shouldn’t. We need that. We won’t ever lose megachurches either. What I foresee isn’t the destruction of anything, but rather a new, vibrant addition to the already strong output of songs for corporate worship.
I don’t want to miss out on seeing first-hand how God grows us in creativity and ministry. If I’m right, and there’s a revolution coming, I wan’t to be a part of it. I want to write these kinds of songs.