"True worship is real life in which God is glorified in every sphere of experience," Peacock concludes, cautiously emphasizing each phrase. "The church is not meant to be a retreat from culture."


by Melissa Riddle for Crosswalk Music

Twenty years into an award-winning, critically-acclaimed music career, {{Charlie Peacock}} is at last somewhat relieved. No, we're not talking about a trip to the chiropractor or a dose of something to smooth his ruffled feathers. At the ripe young age of 41, Peacock is in great health. Thank you very much. And he has a lot on his mind.

With the publication of his book, At the Crossroads: An Insider's Look at the Past, Present and Future of Contemporary Christian Music (Broadman & Holman 1999), Peacock has finally spoken his peace, relieving, if only in the writing, the tension that has been building since he first sat down at the keyboard as a new Christian. His is a philosophical, a theological, a musical tension.

"The tension has always been there," he says. "It has taken years to get to a point where I could articulate it, where I didn't feel so lost.

"When I came to Christ, I was already playing the clubs, and I had no idea there was this other parallel universe of Christian music. When I found out, immediately there was a tension. The early part of my Christianity was really about sharing Christ, sharing the good news. But when I got involved in Christian music endeavors, when we at Exit [Records] started interacting with Word Music, it was basically about working with the church. That was very confusing for me initially. The question became, 'How could I do what I do vocationally and still continue to take the music to the lost?'"

And like a gripping tension that starts in the neck and snakes its way down through the shoulders and into the back, the incongruent natures of music as a mission to the world and music for the church began to weigh heavily on Peacock. Eager to resolve the questions for his own peace of mind, he began to explore the Scriptures, to understand the history, to learn from the wisdom of others and to journal his own thoughts on the subject.

"One of the reasons I started re:think in 1995 was because the tension had gotten to me. I felt it was literally time to re-think this whole music thing. I knew I was doing good work, serving the church and helping others do good work, but as for the call, really answering the call to be God's people everywhere and in everything, I didn't feel like I was doing that. The question became how do I do that? The answer was re:think. That was stage one in my life. I don't know where God's going to go next with that, but that wasn't the end answer."

At the Crossroads is, perhaps, stage two for Peacock. Eventually his questions and God's answers led him to a deeper understanding of what his calling meant. He shares what he learned in his book. "The book is basically a critical analysis of the past, present and future of contemporary Christian music. It's not a tell-all kind of thing, but rather my analysis of where it has been and where it is," Peacock explains. "Essentially, Christian music began with an insufficient philosophical underpinning, and it has kind of ridden along on that for all these years. Here I'm suggesting something more comprehensive upon which to base our music, our artistry, and not for any other reason than for faithfulness to Jesus."

By comprehensive, Peacock believes it is time to altogether re-envision the mission of Christian music, to recognize it as being "God's people in God's place under God's rule," encouraging believers to look beyond the Christian subculture and live as salt and light in the real world. He challenges those who would neatly box up Christian music, judging its validity by whether or not it directly serves the church, to consider how all audiences could be receptive to music that expresses faith, if only it wasn't labeled and consequently dismissed. "It's time," he says, "to work toward a model that is absolutely faithful to the Christian mission to be salt and light in the culture, as well as to provide the church with good and truthful music."

"True worship is real life in which God is glorified in every sphere of experience," Peacock concludes, cautiously emphasizing each phrase. "The church is not meant to be a retreat from culture."

Peacock readily admits that in arriving at his understanding of this "comprehensive kingdom perspective," he's not always chosen the best path. "Any person who expects to lead at all has got to be the chief repenter. You've got to be willing to be humbled by your own circumstances, your own poor choices. And I certainly have been." His book bears witness to his own journey as an artist and the struggles and challenges therein.

But his choices have also earned him a reputation as one of the most creative, most innovative artist/producers in Christian music, an artist's artist and a man after God's heart. Along the way, he released ten solo albums, won eight Dove Awards (three for "Producer of the Year") and produced the likes of {{Bob Carlisle}}, {{Margaret Becker}}, {{Phil Keaggy}} and {{Out of the Grey}}. With re:think, which sold to EMI in 1997, Peacock has introduced a uniquely diverse roster of artists-{{Sarah Masen}}, {{Switchfoot}} and {{Darwin Hobbs}}-who share his vision and philosophy of music and who, Peacock believes, have the potential to shake and shine a lot of salt and light around the world. And he's not finished with his own music. In May 1999, Peacock will release a new album which promises to explore further the call of God on his artistry to be "everywhere and in everything."

Over fifteen years in the head and heart and over fifteen months traveling to paper, At the Crossroads is as close to everything that's on Peacock's mind as we could hope to get for now.

For those who believe Christian music is important, Peacock's crossroad is an essential path for us all.



-Excerpted from At the Crossroads by Charlie Peacock

Three reasons why Christians should stop labeling music and other things "Christian":
--Christians would be forced to decide on their own...[and] would mature;
--They could no longer hide from the world inside comfortable subculture surroundings;
--Non-Christians could no longer write off Christians and their work without encountering them directly.