By Mark Joseph
www.rockrebel.com

For several decades now the Gospel Music Association (GMA) has given out its Dove Awards to artists who make excellent Christian & Gospel Music, recognizing artists who should have been honored at the Grammy's had Christians not retreated from secular music. To be sure, having a GMA and a Dove Award may have made sense at one point, but it no longer does. The only remaining question is whether or not the current regime that comprises the GMA will have the foresight to adjust to the new reality that is rushing upon them: a generation of artists, executives and fans who are tired of being marginalized and pushed into the religious section of popular music and seek to roar in the middle of the marketplace of ideas. If they continue to resist adjusting to the obvious, they will fail to serve that emerging community.

Perhaps the decision by PAX Television, a natural ally of the GMA, to not carry the broadcast of this year's ceremony will be a wake-up call to remind the GMA of the obvious: ''Christian music'' will most likely never influence the culture en masse but Christians working in each and every genre of music can start a second rock and roll revolution.

What if the GMA were to add two letters to its title, making it the Gospel In Music Association (GIMA) and honor those songs and artists who most ably articulate the Gospel message in each genre of music? Not only would that allow songs and artists who are not a part of the CCM industry to be recognized, it would also crush the silly notion that music written by Christians should be categorized as Christian or Gospel. Instead Christians would be encouraged to be a part of the genre that reflects their music style, be it jazz, rock, pop or hip-hop.

A revamped GIMA would be very busy supporting Christian artists if it chose such a path. Collecting revenues from various record labels, church denominations and supporters, a GIMA could send pastors to provide spiritual support on the road for the artists who let their music be heard in the mainstream music industry.

A GIMA could analyze and evaluate lyrics to help discerning young people figure out the worldview of various artists songs to see if it aligns with a Christian worldview and is worthy of their time and treasure.

A GIMA could also work with various Christian denominations to encourage the creation of a not-for-profit association to help provide funds for artists who are focused on serving the Church to do so with a set salary provided for, allowing these artists to tour churches and perform, without having to hawk CD's and t-shirts at the back of Church sanctuaries.

In short, the GMA could move out of the "business" of "Gospel Music" and instead into the business of supporting the majority of artists who belong in the mainstream of American music and the smaller group who should get out of business and into a ministry catering to the needs of fellow believers in church settings without the temtpations of the commercial music industry.

Charlie Peacock, author of the recent book At The Crossroads, would do an excellent job as President of a Gospel In Music Association. There are other good choices as well. In any case, the time for change is rapidly approaching, and what happens next will show fans and industry watchers whether the GMA will change with the times, allowing music made by followers of Christ to truly impact the culture without the stigma of "CCM."