How do financial incentives impact which songs we sing on Sunday mornings? CT worship music correspondent Kelsey Kramer McGinnis explored this question in our May/June cover story, “Corporate Worship.”
For many readers, the article put facts and figures to their own “longstanding concerns” about the Christian music industry, from stadium tours and celebrity musicians to lucrative licensing agreements, back catalogs, and the profit margins of secular investors. Who should get the proceeds from worship music: Musicians? Labels? Ministries? “Is worship music meant to be another genre in the mainstream music industry, or should we treat it as something else entirely?” asked one Instagram commenter. “What does ‘redeeming the culture’ yet ‘staying set apart’ look like?” responded another.
Other readers advocated for the needs of local churches, championing the work of small-scale, independent musicians who can be responsive to the needs of a particular community in a way that conglomerates can’t. “I often minister in very small churches in our rural area,” wrote Judy Hewitt of Griffith, Ontario. “If I want to choose a song not in the hymn book, this is not allowed because they haven’t paid for the license. I find it sad that everything is for sale.”
For another commenter, this particular limitation wasn’t a problem. “The vast majority of the best worship music is already in the public domain,” he wrote. “Sing hymns.”
senior editor, audience engagement
After retiring from a half century of planning and leading corporate worship, my wife and I continue to have a passion for the subject. Imagine our delight when we received the latest issue of CT with a cover story on corporate worship. Imagine our disappointment after reading it. It was a well-written, substantively researched, informative and interesting article, albeit somewhat disconcerting in its content. It was not, however, a treatise on corporate worship. Indeed, it had very little to do with worship. Rather, it was an unmasking of the business side of much of today’s Christian worship music, and the article would have been more aptly titled as such. An unintended consequence of the story leaves one with the erroneous assumption that corporate worship is basically music. Music in corporate worship is important. But, there is a breadth of elements in the corporate worship of God that extends beyond music.
“Corporate Worship” highlighted some concerns I’ve had about the Christian music industry. It also called to mind a more humble response by the late Rich Mullins. As his songs peaked in popularity, he limited his take to that of the average American household and gave the rest to charity. With the numbers reported in today’s Christian music scene, one can only imagine what impact a Mullins-like stewardship might have on the culture.
Grand Rapids, MI
Leaders could help by teaching that offenders do not ask for forgiveness. Forgiveness is a free gift that only the victim can give. It may take years for the victim to come to that place to offer forgiveness. Regardless, the offender does not ask for forgiveness. If this was preached and taught, more people would understand that forgiveness is a wonderful gift to be accepted with humility. It also should not be given unless there is repentance and godly sorrow for doing wrong. Other people should not ask the victim to forgive the offender either.
Behind the Scenes
‘I Am Jesus Christ’ Invites Gamers to Play God
When news editor Daniel Silliman was researching the possibility of an article about the new video game I Am Jesus Christ, he made an unusual find: an ad for an independent Atari game called Red Sea Crossing. It ran one time, only in CT, on page 51 in the October 7, 1983, issue.
That detail made it into Adam MacInnis’s article, which also overviewed the history of Christian video games. When CT promoted the story online, Silliman tweeted a picture of the ad to his own feed.
Later that day, a woman named Christa Stamper replied to Silliman on Twitter with an unexpected addition to the tale: “Fun fact: That is me, my brother, and a friend in that CT ad for Red Sea Crossing, and it was the first time we had seen an Atari. I remember being very excited about getting an Atari and being upset that my mom made me wear a dress.”
Stamper then called her dad up to see what he could remember about the photoshoot. She writes, “My dad, Michael Nason, produced Robert Schuller’s Hour of Power program, and he was hired for this ad campaign. Thank you for the memory and the laughs! What a surprise to open Twitter and stumble upon myself 40 years ago!”
Our social media team also wanted to get in on the video game hype. Content manager Mia Staub and designer Abigail Erickson—known as the “Dynamic Duo” among CT employees—filmed a TikTok of themselves playing the I Am Jesus Christ game demo. It was a hit on the video-centric app and also appeared as an Instagram reel.
Correction: A section in “The Inspiring, Frustrating Elisabeth Elliot” mistakenly described Elisabeth Elliot and her family as members of the Plymouth Brethren church, when this was only true of Jim Elliot and his family.
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