Wednesday, 24 February 2010

History Maker?

I received a notification on Facebook the other day asking if I would like to join a group. The group was seeking to get a Christian song to number 1 in the UK charts. The song is called History Maker by a group called Delirious. I suspect it is off the back of the Rage Against The Machine Christmas campaign.

I looked at the group and decided not to join because I ask myself the question, 'what is the point of this campaign?'

I do not understand it. The reality is that if this song does get to number 1 (and I doubt it will), what difference will it make? Are Christians expecting a great revival in the nation based on this campaign? Are we expecting people flocking to church because they heard this Christian song on the radio? Or is it that once again we have sold out to celebrity culture?

I probably sound a bit grumpy, so apologies! The thing is, this is nothing more than a repeat of the Cliff Richard number 1 scenario that happened at the turn of the millennium. It doesn't matter that Delirious are a 'cool' Christian band, because the effect will be exactly the same; apathy from the British public.

Now I could be totally wrong, and I hope I am, but I suspect that even if this does get off the ground it will have little if any affect at all for the sake of the Gospel. I believe the best way we can be history makers is by loving God and loving our neighbour in deeply covenanted and radical ways. History has been made at the Cross, we have been called to declare it and live it out in ways that will bring real and lasting transformation into the communities we live. We can be history makers by bringing the Kingdom of God into the here and now, not by simply singing songs, but by being instruments of the grace and love of God.

The reality is that this is just a song, nothing more, and that is why it won't change anything. The Gospel is the power of salvation not a song. So it is as we live out the Gospel in words and actions where real history will be made.


Alistair said...

Yes, I agree Joe, the best way to be history makers is to love God and love others in radicaly ways. All this campaign is, is 'another' way.

Paul said in 1 Cor 9:22 that "I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some." That's what this is about: going to people where they are at (in this instance - the chart listeners) and presenting Christ.

The campaign is not a massive deal. If it works (which I believe it will), great! Maybe someone will get saved or at least challenged about where their faith lies. That will make it all worth it. The point of the campaign is to get a Christian message to people during a Christian season. It's not about the band. It's about the King.

dave said...

This blog completely misses the point. This kind of negativity doesn't do anything for the gospel either. I'd rather do something positive like download a Christian song than to say it's pointless to do so. You say "I believe the best way we can be history makers is by loving God and loving our neighbour in deeply covenanted and radical ways" and yes this is true. But history is made my effecting pop culture. We are not called to be passive Christians.

Joe Haward said...

Hi Alistair and Dave - Good to hear from you both.

What does it mean to be all things to all people? It is a question I am genuinely asking myself lately. What does it mean to be 'incarnational'?

I completely agree with you both that we are to go to where the people are and not to be passive Christians. We are called to go and be lights shining in the darkness. We are called to be witness to the resurrected Jesus, living as a resurrected people.

My discomfort with this campaign is that I do not see how this is incarnational, radical or witnessing to the living Christ.

When I was in India in September I was with a Pastor who ministers in the slums of Kolkata. He is a wealthy Indian man who now lives in a one bed flat right next to the slums with his wife. Often they will go and stay in the slums. They minister everyday to those in the slums seeking to give education, support, training and most of all, Love. The live out the love of God to those people day in day out. These guys really are history makers brining radical change in the power of the Spirit to the slums of Kolkata.

In the West we have made Jesus easy believing that buying a song is a radical work of the Kingdom. It isn't.
We (including myself) have adopted consumerist, celebrity attitudes rather than a sacrificial, servant, Cross carrying attitude.

Surely as followers of Jesus we can think of better and more radical ways to declare the Gospel and bring the Kingdom of God to earth?


You asked me what I think?

I totally agree with you.

1. Love God First

2. Treat your neighbor as you want to be treated.

3. The Gospel alone is the power of God unto salvation.

Note: About My Blog

I like to read other peoples comments and I rarely respond to a comment on my own posts.
If I want to respond to a comment I usually do it by email.
My gmail address ( is linked to my blog for this reason.

I find this doesn't clutter up the comment area and make it all about me. Other readers seem to not want to comment when I'm in a back and forth (comment) dialog with another blogger.

If I make a comment on your blog and you want to respond, you can send me a email, because I usually don't return to a blog to see if a comment was made after mine. This seems to work best for me.

These are not set in cement rules and your are more than welcome to communicate with me however you want to.

You seem to have your spiritual head screwed on right.
Keep up the good work for Christ
God bless you and your family, Ron

btw, how did you come up with your profile photo?

Neil said...

I more agree with the first 2 comments. I have joined one of the groups, and I don't see th point of having a go at it.
Granted, it is unlikely that anyone will come to Christ solely, or even mainly as a result of hearing this song, but I don't see that as the point. I think the point is just to get people talking about God at Easter in a different way than usual.
I also agree with you that the best, probably the only way of reaching out is to be incarnational, but how is this not? People are clearly standing up and saying that Jesus is important at Easter.
Yes, loving and serving people is vital, but why is it not possible to buy the song, AND love and serve people-I don't see it as an either/or.

Joe Haward said...

I think it is important that we don't simply jump on every Christian bandwagon and ask questions. I'm simply asking questions about all of this because I don't see how it is something worthwhile for the Kingdom.

This isn't incarnational. It's celebrity. The church needs to think in radical incarnational ways, not in celebrity ways. Surely we must be willing to ask these kind of questions?

Tom H said...

Being an atheist, I would hear that song and have no idea what it was going on about. I won't be listening to a song to be profoundly impacted. I listen to songs so that I can have a good dance.

It seems to me that Christians forget that most people don't have a clue about worship culture. Christians may listen to worship songs to have a spiritual experience. Most of us in the secular world listen to songs for fun! Shock horror. Songs do have an emotional effect on me at times, but quite honestly this campaign seems rather based outside of reality. Another thing that proves the Church has no idea what makes most people tick. IMHO

So yes Joe, I agree with you! :)

Neil said...

Yes, I agree absolutely that we shouldn't just jump on every Christian bandwagon, and we should ask questions definitely. Wouldn't it therefore be more effective to join one of the groups, and express your reservations there?
I see your point about celebrity, but I think that is one of the reasons why a band that has split up was chosen, so it could be about the song. That's why I think it will be incarnational, because if it is promoted properly in the news, plenty of people will be talking about it.
However, this also brings up another point that may be in some people's minds. What is the point of using Christian music at all? I know several Christian musicians who genuinely believe that God has called them to be where they are. In playing pubs, clubs, and festivals they are not just talking about God from a stage, but they spend time with people there as well-willing to share themselves, and their faith.
You said to live out the Gospel in words and actions, and the words of their songs are quite clear. And, I still think the main point of this campaign is to talk about God clearly at Easter-it is what goes on around the song, the news articles and interviews that will be the important things in this campaign.

Joe Haward said...

Neil, what do you think of the comments made by Tom? Because it seems that one of the people that this song is trying trying to reach does not get it... I think Tom is making some very good points about church relevance and how we interact with our culture.

I think it can be good when Christians go into pubs, play music and spend time simply being there, as long as they understand the culture and do not try an import church culture into pub culture (which is different that seeking to bring Kingdom culture into a pub culture). But this is a different thing altogether.

This is proclamation, attractional mission not incarnational mission. And the news, if they pick up on it at all, are very unlikely to promote it the way you would like it to be promoted.

Anyway, I might be completely wrong and be surprised by what happens! And if I am wrong I will blog about it! We shall see...

Anonymous said...

All I want to say is that there are loads of things we can do to share the gospel, and why not do as many of these as we can? When most people will be buying music anyway, why not make something of it? It might have an impact, it might not... If it doesn't work, then at least we spent our 79p on a decent song.

dave said...

To Joe,

I agree that the song will not have the gospel sharing effect that many people will say it may, and Tom, your comment is correct about the effect Christian music has on the secular world (Kanye West's Jesus Walks is a prime example - I used to live with a guy who loved that song but it never converted him in the slightest) but it is good to show the secular world that actually Easter is a Christian festival declaring what God, in the body of Jesus, did for us!! A Christian song in the top 10, let alone a no.1, at Easter will get people talking about Calvery.

Neil said...

What do I think of what Tom said? Well, for a start, I don't think the point of releasing this song is to convert anyone, but to get people talking about God in a different way.
To say that the news are unlikely to promote it in the way I/we want it to be promoted is very negative. Surely, if they are approached in the right way, given a readable press release, they will mention it, particularly the local media. All I would think we really need to get across are that we want a song reminding people about God at Easter, and that Christians are working together.
As for what Tom said about 'most' people listening to songs for fun, I don't know that that is correct. If it were, then political bands would never try to use music in this way, and definitely wouldn't be successful. Also, the fact that a lot of festivals, particularly Glastonbury have a spiritual side that has remained strong over the years. Even if 'most' is correct, there is still clearly a LARGE minority to whom music can mean more than just that.
To finish, what do you think of the previous comment? As I said in my fist post, I don't see it as an either/or.

Tom said...

I guess, the glaring difference between our viewpoints is that I don't take the song seriously or its implications because I don't believe there is an eternal judgement to face from an ultimate Judge.
I think Christians take this far too seriously, but then it would be serious to you because you're worried about my eternal future.

I know not every Christian thinks I'm going to Hell, but there is an obvious concern about my spiritual health. So whilst I see all this as rather minor, you see this as something connected to the coming of the Kingdom.

Guess that can make it hard to understand each other, but I do understand where you're coming from. I understand your passion for people to understand the significance of what Jesus did in his life and death and what you believe God's love is for the whole world. Therefore I don't dismiss this song, I simply don't get it.

Joe Haward said...

Ok, there are a few things here...

Anon - I want to agree with you but I don't believe this is sharing the Gospel.

Dave - I doubt this will get people talking about the Cross at Easter. I think this is an example of a deeper problem in Western Christianity, but I'll get on to that in a minute.

Neil - Either/or.... The problem is that this leads people to believe that it is Kingdom stuff, and I don't believe it is.
Music has become the biggest thing in Western Christianity. It is the means through which Christians believe God will most powerfully meet with them and that is why this song is out there. The thing is, God never promises to meet with us most powerfully through music (although he obviously can and does meet with us through music). God promises to meet with us most powerfully through the Gospel enacted through Scripture and the Sacraments. Here he has promised to meet with us and so this is how we should be proclaiming the Gospel at Easter. We've become so music obsessed that we've relegated the ways that God has PROMISED to mediate his presence to us.
I just think this campaign is an example of how we have wandered away from what is important in regard to the Gospel...

Tom - I don't get it either! ;0)

Neil said...

Well, that was pretty unexpected. It took me some time to sort out a reply, as I wanted to make sure I thought it through.
You said 2 things in response to me, which are quite different, and to be honest, I'm not sure I completely understand them. The first is the statement that you're not sure that this is Kingdom business, and the second was about how God promises to meet with us.
The first thing I'm not sre about is what you mean by Kingdom business-as I understand that, it is all about doing His will on Earth, as it is in Heaven-both specific commands, and general principles. This would be under the general principles, as far as I can see, and I think it clearly does. First, there is expressing creativity in the song itself; then, there is celebrating creativity by promoting Christian artistry in general (for me, it isn't about a particular song, as I have said); third, it is encouraging Christians to stand up for our faith; and also, it is encouraging unity. All things which clearly reflect the character of God.
As for your other point, I understand it even less. Jesus claimed specifically that He would be with us in Holy Communion, around the act of Baptism, and when we are gathered together, certainly. I have no problem with that. However, being gathered is about coming together, and is just as much about working together as about worship. By enacting the Gospel through Scripture, I assume you mean absorbing it and acting it out. Regarding what I have said about it being Kingdom business, I think that it definitely is doing this.

Joe Haward said...

What I'm getting at is how many Christians understand 'worship' nowadays. And I think that this campaign highlights this understanding.
So many believe the most powerful act of worship is music. And therefore we believe that music is the best form of evangelism, hence this campaign. And this is the problem I have with this campaign because God has not promised to act most powerfully through music, he has promised to meet with us sacramentally. So let us not depart and get side-tracked from how God has promised to meet with us and act. I think this campaign is a distraction to important Kingdom work.

In other words, we're misguided if we think this campaign is going to have any effect. We need to declaring the gospel properly (see my most recent post).

Neil said...

I don't understand where you have got the idea that this campaign has come from a desire to worship, or directly evangelise. I have not seen anything on the forums to indicate that this was the intention behind it.
I also still do not really understand what you mean when you say God 'promises to meet with us sacramentally', especially as you have previously said that He 'can and does meet us through music'.
What place do you consider creativity to have in the Kingdom?

Joe Haward said...

Ok. Our actions will always have a back-story to them. What we do and think is a reflection of so many different factors, like our culture, background, theology etc etc.
This campaign while it may never have explicitly said anything about worship is a direct result of the theology of Christians in Western churches. The campaign has said explicit things about evangelism because people keep saying that they hope it will get people talking about God at Easter.

I believe God can talk with us through a dead dog if he wants to because he is God, but he has not PROMISED to do so. He has promised to meet with us sacramentally. He can meet with us through music, but has not PROMISED to.

I believe creativity to be fundamental to the Kingdom. The Spirit is Someone of ultimate creativity and He calls us to join Him in that creativity. So the in my own ministry I am always seeking to be creative in how I share the Gospel. But I am always doing that in light of how God has promised to meet with us and in ways that are incarnational.

This campaign is not creative really. I think people are passionate about it and believe in it. Maybe it will work in terms of getting the song into the top 10. But is it creative in terms of getting the Gospel out there? Jury remains out on that one...
Like I said, if I turn out to be wrong about all this I will happily say so on this blog!