Christianity,  Music

What happened to contemporary Christian music?

Joel Hartse asks “What happened to contemporary Christian music?” in a recent column for Christianity Today. He notes the unprecedented explosion of Christian rock during the 1990’s (with an interesting focus on some of the alternative bands) and how that heyday is long gone now. He gives three explanations for the decline:

1. The Christian music industry is not the same.
2. The bands are not the same.
3. We are not the same.

I wasn’t nearly as shaped spiritually or theologically by this music as Hartse apparently was. I just liked the music. But if you were a fan back in the 90’s, you’ll still probably find this interesting. Read it here.


  • Matt

    Hmmm, before I read it, I was guessing it was mostly due to the reclamation of theology of a God centered praise in CCM- yielding more praise and less rock.

  • Greg

    I was not listening to CCM at this time. I first encountered Christian music in the late ’70s. Keith Green was really hitting his stride. Don Francisco was good as well though many did not like his style. Later Petra came along. I also remember Michael Card’s stuff fondly. I was strongly challenged by this stuff. It had a large part in my early Christian development. As the ’80s wore on though, I found the music getting increasingly shallow. The lyrical content was no longer hard hitting. There was no challenge to walk the talk. Or maybe I just didn’t listen to the right groups that were doing this. Also, having kids during this time probably shifted my priorities quite a bit. Lost interest completely by the ’90s and have not recovered it.

    • Strider

      I agree with Greg completely. I was a big Keith Green, Don Fransisco, John Michael Talblot fan who turned CCM off when Cynthia Clausen started singing , Swingin’ in Solomon’s shoes’. I turned it back on when Michael W Smith and Third Day came out with their ‘worship’ albums. I credit the Passion Movement with saving Christian music for me but honestly, when i am in the US I listen to Classic Rock stations. The Doobie Brother’s ‘Jesus is Just Alright with Me’ makes anything written in the 90’s look biblical!

  • Paul Abella

    90’s CCM had some stuff to be quite proud of…The OC Supertones were amongst the very first into the third wave of ska (and they did it well enough that I had plenty of secular friends that owned that first OC Supertones disc)…I always thought The Prayer Chain was heads and tails above the rest of the CCM rock guys, and I appreciated the fact that if CCM was, for the most part, nothing but a blatant rip off of secular rock music, that at least Starflyer 59 had the chutzpah to try to sound like My Bloody Valentine.

    Save for Caedmon’s Call, however, the rest of the CCM thing was utter dreck. And trying to make myself get into it, I spent way too much time at the True Tunes store trying to convince myself that most any of it had any musical value at all.

  • Ryan

    I still love Five Iron Frenzy, and they’re back together for a new album that sounds great. I’ve mentioned them before, but Smalltown Poets who caught the tail end of the 90’s are also back at it, first with a Christmas album last year and now an EP. Not sure about many others, but I can happily say that Michael Card is still going strong. : )

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