How Popular Culture Affected Contemporary Christian and Worship Music

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It is important to note that Contemporary Worship Music (CWM) is often seen as a sub-genre of Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) however both intertwine and throughout history have developed along a similar path. Popular Culture’s influence on both types of music can be grouped together because artists can be easily found to cover both of these genres. Only in the last few decades has CCM and CWM become a world wide industry. Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) is a genre which is constantly changing and adapting its sound and approach to the music industry.

Sounds adopted from Popular Music

In the 1950’s and 1960’s, white evangelical leaders condemned rock and roll music. If one jumps 50 years later the CCM industry is a multi-million pound industry which is still growing to this day. It is important to add that this isn’t the first dramatic change in approach in the 20th century. Black Christians in America had a development in the earlier decades of the 20th century with the growing influence of popular culture on their worship. Afro-Pentecostalism incorporated European hymnody, black spirituals, blues and jazz. Afro-Pentecostal artists were at the forefront of establishing and advancing what is now black gospel music. This immersion of black gospel music acted as a precursor for what was about to happen with Christian Worship Music. In the 1980’s the Vineyard Fellowship, led by John Wimber began worshipping with influences from rock music and the worship band would use standard rock instruments as their basic set-up during times of worship. By the late 1980’s and early 1990’s this musical format began spreading across America and later on across the world.

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In his dissertation on the history of christian worship music in modern america, Wen Reagan states that the answer to how rock music made its way from being condemned to an intrical part of CCM and to church services is based around five different categories: ‘historical, demographic, theological, economic, and technological’. The Jesus People Movement in the 60’s was countercultural to the hippie movement and were reaching out to hippies who brought their guitars along to services and after they had established this, young people began writing new songs for the church with their influence of rock music. Reagan also states that ‘The emphasis lay on the exciting freshness of new songs and the belief that God was providing a new message through the music.’ This ‘freshness’ was attractive and even the evangelicals who had condemned rock music were softening their views when they saw this vibrant new music emerging. In the 1980’s as the Vineyard Fellowship, led by John Wimber, emerged ‘Songs had no set ending and could be adapted to respond to the energy of the congregation and the cadence of the pastor.’ In the 1990’s,

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