The emergence of hip-hop within the Church caused the Christian Science Monitor do examine the trend in the article, ‘Shake it out for Jesus’: Churches co-opt hip-hop. Having my own experience with hip-hop and churches opposed to it, I thought I would share some of my takes.
I don’t know if this will cause your image of me to increase or decrease, but I love hip-hop music. I am very white and have no ability to dance, but I enjoy the genre and am amazed by the talent of many artists.
Having said that, I also deplore the glorification of the "pimp" lifestyle that most rap music offers. The vast majority of it demeans women, glorifies violence and is harmful to both the black and white communities. It causes too many black youth to continue to ignore education as the most viable way to leave poverty behind. It reinforces much of the negative stereotypes of the black community in the minds of the white suburban kids buying the CD’s.
So needless to say, I find the emergence of "Gospel rap," "positive hip-hop," or whatever label you want to slap on it, to be a positive step for both the Church and the culture as a whole.
Christianity, unfortunately, has been deemed as a "white religion," despite its roots and the role it plays in the black community. By embracing hip-hop music, the Church has the ability to shake that and several other stereotypes that persist.
It offers those of us who enjoy the style of music, but despise the predominant image being displayed by hip-hop, a chance to seperate the two. I can listen to song with a fresh, new beat without having to worry about muting it really quickly so my 3-year-old doesn’t pick up a "fresh, new" word.
The emergence may possible signify a shift in Christian culture – away from negative stances and protests, to one that is able to evaluate culture and art both for the moral stance of the piece but also for the artistic value.
I can look at the rap of Eminem and see the hopelessness and despair that he offers in much of his music, but I can also understand that he is talented at what he does. I can appreciate the art, while offering an alternative with a better message.
The acceptance of hip-hop music into the Christian culture has begun at many of the megachurches, as well as smaller churches in black neighborhoods. They have seen the advantages of changing the delivery method of the message, without changing the essentials of the message.
Christianity must continue to do this, in order to reach today’s culture. It is not about becoming part of the world, but understanding the culture in order to reach it in the best possible way (as Paul did in the 1st century).