Ahead of the 11th annual Amplify Music Festival, which took place in Bentonville, Arkansas, over the weekend, evangelist Nick Hall spoke to The Christian Post about debates over worship music styles, including disagreements over Christian music (CCM) and Christian rap and hip-hop, and why he encourages believers to make room for all expressions as long as they are not veering away from the truth of the Gospel in an attempt to be relevant to the world.
The two-day evangelistic event, held August 18–19, featured musical performances by a range of Christian artists representing many styles of worship music, such as Christian contemporary music, Christian rap and hip-hop, and Christian Irish folk-rock.
Among the Christian musicians who performed at the event were Grammy Award-winning and 23-time Dove Award-winning vocalist Chris Tomlin, Dove Award-winning band Casting Crowns, Christian hip-hop artist and rapper Lecrae, and Northern Irish folk-rock Christian ensemble Rend Collective.
In an interview with The Christian Post late Thursday afternoon ahead of the event, Hall said one issue of disagreement that exists among many Christians is the debate over Christian music genres. Despite some genres being frequently labeled as “too worldly,” Hall contends that “God accepts” a multitude of forms of worship music.
“I think that for as many different people as there are on Earth, there are as many different styles and expressions of creativity and humanity. I think creativity points to a creator,” said Hall, founder of the evangelistic ministry PULSE.
“I think, for some people, they may like heavier music. For some people, they may like jazz. Some may like classical music. Some may not like music at all. I think that the idea is to relate to and connect with as many people as possible and experience the hope we have,” Hall added.
“I’m also very excited that in heaven, there’s going to be a lot of people that aren’t like me. Because if it were just people like me, it would be very boring. I think diversity is the spice of life. I think there’s something beautiful about seeing other people’s styles, cultures, and, you know, personalities come out. I think Christian music should make space for any expression that wants to point to the hope we find in Jesus.”
Hall noted that far too many believers become preoccupied with arguing their points about what the best or correct worship music is, and they tend to lose sight of the purpose of worshiping in song and through music, which is to honor, glorify, and serve the Lord.
Hall said arguments can start when one faction of believers attacks another faction for being too “attached to the ways of the world” by bringing secular styles of music into the church or evangelistic outreach events.
“I think that if you try to please everybody, you’re not going to do anything. There are some people who don’t think you should have a guitar or drums [in worship settings]. … Most of the hymns that we think of as some of the solid ones were written to the bar tunes of their day to try to reach the culture,” Hall said.
“I think that using the tools of culture to point to what matters is the work of evangelism. I understand that some people may not understand that. Some people may not like it. But I can say that the Christian hip-hop scene is full of some of the most sincere and devoted Christ followers that I’ve ever met.”
The debates about worship music today are no different from similar concerns raised among and within denominations throughout church history, Hall added.
“I think the problem with Christianity is that it involves people, and people are broken. I think anytime you give people power, money, and fame, it can tend to have people put their hope in power, money, and fame. We can worship people, or a program, or a structure, instead of worshiping God, the One who made it all,” Hall said.
“Those things are always going to be there. I think it’s the job of every one of us to consistently come before Jesus and humble ourselves and keep accounts with God, to measure ourselves against the Word of God, and to make sure we’re not drifting into trying to be relevant at the expense of truth,” he continued.
“I think the truth is always relevant, and we have to keep coming back to Jesus, what He said, what He did, and proclaiming the Gospel.”
Whenever a Christian is overly focused on views that are not directly coming from the gospel, they encounter a major issue, Hall added.
“I think we all probably have different opinions. But I think that anytime Christians are louder about other things than the Gospels, there’s a problem,” Hall said.
“When we’re loud about our views on different issues, such as politics or views on vaccinations or masks, there are a thousand things we can be loud about. When the general public knows us more for what we’re against than what the gospel is for, I think we have to ask ourselves if that’s the Christianity that Jesus started and called us into,” he added.
“Does it look like him?” We just want to make sure that we’re following Jesus and continuing the mission that He started 2,000 years ago.”
Christian speaker David Hall emphasizes the importance of being anchored in the gospel message through various expressions of faith, such as meditation, prayer, Bible study, disciple groups, evangelism, compassion, care, helping orphans and widows, and fighting for justice.
He believes that if Christians are with Jesus and worship Him, it should result in a change in their lives and advance the mission of Christ. Hall hopes that attendees of the Amplify Fest will enjoy the various genres of Christian music performed and will not argue about which one is favored by God.
He also urges people to respond to the gospel in a variety of ways, such as through text messages or technology, to guarantee that everyone is engaged and may grow from the event.
Hall believes that the gospel will be presented and that people will be asked to grow closer to Jesus, resulting in hundreds or thousands of individuals trusting in Jesus.