We began this series hoping to define the call of the Christian musician. Ultimately, a Christian musician is called to make music faithfully, in any context that reflects a grateful servant's response to the gospel. Last time we saw what that looks like in the context of the church.


But what if a Christian musician feels called to minister beyond the local church? How do we deal with the increasing number of bands and artists who see their role as affecting the broader culture with their music?


It's certainly happening. When I read through my monthly issue of CCM Magazine, I'm amazed at how well received Christian music seems to have become in the secular marketplace. I'm also often struck by the significance we seem to place on worldly success. Somehow our favorite Christian artists seem more important, more relevant, more fruitful when they've rubbed shoulders with secular stars.


I'm glad that Christians are being recognized, but should we automatically celebrate when Grammys are being presented to Christian artists and born-again bands are a regular part of the MTV rotation?


I'm not sure. Certainly, God's idea of success is starkly different from the world's. Worldly success is achieved through different means, and not always for the right reasons. Some famous crossover Christian artists are vague enough in their lyrics to minimize any impact.


Others have lived a life of compromise in direct contradiction to the uncompromising message of their songs. In the end, worldly success is no sign one way or the other that the gospel is being preached and the Kingdom of God is transforming our culture.


Certainly, some musicians will be called to serve the church by using their music outside the church. They will present a clear, compelling argument for a counter-culture called the Kingdom of God. Their lifestyle, perspectives, and actions will all point to another Kingdom and another King. And because they know their need for the local church, they will remain involved in a church that will bring them accountability, support, encouragement and oversight.


Most Christian musicians, however, will discover their sphere of ministry to be the local church.


In the midst of the cries for Christian musicians to fill the marketplace, I have another vision. What if Christian musicians everywhere began to flock to the church to sing, to play, to lead, to write, to create, to serve? What would happen if the ranks of contemporary Christian music shrank to one half, one tenth the size? Would God's work be hindered? Would the positive impact on the world really be that much diminished?


I believe that within local churches today are men and women with the gifting of a Bach just waiting to be encouraged, trained, and deployed. I believe there are Christians writing songs today for the purposes of self-glorification, financial greed, and idolatry, when God has actually called them to write and play for the glory of our Savior.