GMA President Frank Breeden - What Drives You?
- Monday, January 31, 2000
Let Me Be Frank With You
By Frank Breeden, President of the Gospel Music Association, GMA Today January/February 2000 Issue
Are you involved in gospel music so the world will be a better place? Congratulations. From the look of things, it appears that your goal is being partially realized, assuming that gospel music can take some small part of the credit. Violent crime has just reached another record low. The rate of gun death in the United States has reached its lowest level in more than 30 years. Even in the light of high profile tragedies such as Columbine, youth violence is significantly down. Unemployment is at a 30-year low. Statisticians tell us that girls in the 15-17 year-old age bracket are experiencing lower pregnancy rates than at any time in the past forty years. Advances in medicine continue to raise the quality of our lives, conquer major diseases and promise to make more of us centenarians.
What if this trend continues? What if violent crime continues to plummet?
We "professional" Christians have developed somewhat of a vested relationship with depravity. Societal ills have created a huge and valid demand for most of the goods and services we have offered to the culture. The ongoing war between good and evil has kept many of us dutifully engaged and gainfully employed. And of late, we appear to be seeing some of the positive results for which we have labored. How prominent should these positive outcomes be in our motivation for being involved in Christian endeavors?
Selwyn Hughes, the Welsh evangelist, devotional author and international speaker recently spoke to our CMTA board about this very subject. He put the question directly to us: "What drives you?" Keep in mind he was speaking to a room full of leaders who oversee a $800 million industry. He then convincingly answered from 2 Corinthians 5:14 that the primary constraining, or driving, force in our lives should be the love of Christ. Elevating any other motive higher than this qualifies it for status as an idol.
As certain key social indicators turn more positive, we face an interesting dilemma. If our "drive" comes primarily from producing desirable outcomes, what happens when significant outcomes have been achieved? Now is an excellent time to be checking our motives. Failure to do so could provide for some embarrassment on at least two fronts.
First, we might find ourselves fighting a straw man, a non-existent opponent. We Christians have become so accustomed to the darkness that we bemoan any mention of a social sunrise. At the end of a millennium, for instance, apocalyptic engines are predictably in overdrive. Merchants work overtime to "street date" the Second Coming. Meanwhile, back on the earth, people are beginning to adopt the positive concepts consistent with the gospel message and are actually showing signs of improvement.
Secondly, if we are merely another cultural movement wrapped in religious ideology and pushing a particular social agenda, we will suffer the embarrassment of invalidating the uniqueness of our message. As "spirituality" becomes even more popular, and positive cultural messages produce the desired social benefits and results (see above), Christianity will be relegated to the level of a commodity. No longer will Christ be seen as "The Way" to God (John 14:6), He will be seen as "a way" to "a" god.
Are we in the business of trying to move cultural indicators up or down? Do we write "good" songs to counteract the "bad" songs? Will we ultimately win this "war" when we can boast that our music sells more than any other genre? Clearly, there are attendant social benefits to the gospel and its message embodied in the music we produce, perform and promote. Hopefully, these questions will help us all think and rediscover the unique, inimitable message that drives our very being, including our involvement in gospel music.
Our one motivation should be the love of Christ. Regardless of how well or how poorly things go in society, our musical renderings of the greatest story ever told will never lose their relevance and uniqueness. Societal conditions may very well continue to improve. And if they do, as properly motivated Christians, we would do well to wipe that Jonah-just-got-a-look-at-his-cruise-itinerary expression off our faces and rejoice. Ninevah seems to be responding. Can we handle it?
Reprinted from GMA Today March/April Issue, courtesy of Frank Breeden and the Gospel Music Association
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