I remember my first Christian concert. It was 1987 at Reunion Arena in Dallas. We saw Twila Paris, and a couple of other people, but the headliner was Petra. We were on the floor...13th row if memory serves correctly right in front of a towering wall of speakers and I had no idea what to expect. They all came out in silver jumpsuits and big hair (it was the 80s, remember?) and blew our ears out much like Marty McFly at the beginning of Back to the Future. Ever since, I've been to dozens of Christian concerts both for my own enjoyment and as attempts to get my youth group plugged into music that wasn't mired down with messages of sensuality, physical perfection, and the "do whatever you want" mentality of our culture.
But somewhere in all the loud guitars, lights and sold out arenas there runs a danger of something getting lost. With all the T-shirts and shameless plugs for the upcoming album Christian music begins to look a lot like non-Christian music which in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing. But I've been to many shows where the artists didn't speak much or talk about what their relationship to God meant to them. At these shows, the band came out, sang and played for 2 hours, and we all went back to buy shirts and CDs on the way out. But last Saturday, Oct. 11, I experienced a breath of fresh air amidst all the tyranny of contemporary Christian music. I went to Christ United Methodist Church in College Station, TX to see Building 429 with opening acts After Edmund and Addison Road. The experience was as spiritually enlightening as it was pleasing to the ears.
We paid a modest price of $10 for our tickets and were in a church that seated about 1500 that was maybe 2/3 full. So there was plenty of room to get up by the stage and get very close to the performers. After Edmund had done a show the previous spring here in Palestine and our kids were so crazy about them...they are a great band and put on a great show. But when the guys in the band realized that our kids had been at the Palestine, their memories were jogged and they remembered them. It was so nice to see this band who was touring across the country to remember a bunch of jr. high kids from Palestine. Jason Roy, the lead singer of Building 429 served as emcee for the whole show. Many times the headliners stay tucked away until the big finale, but he wanted us to experience God's love and worship him at that concert. So the concert was about Christ, not about them. They also did a few worship songs that were not orignally written or performed by them to lead the congregation in worship. I wasn't really surprised, but yet, I wasn't expecting it either. I mean nobody is going to be able to go to the back table and find the Building 429 CD with the Matt Redman song on it--it doesn't exist. But their heart was for worship and community and I felt that superceded any agenda for record sales.
I realize that record sales are a small portion of what funds these cross-country behemoths as they go from town to town with huge trucks filled with lights and sound equipment and in order for them to do what God has called them to do, they have to make money. However, it's good to know that amidst all the bright lights, record sales, touring, merchandise, and everything else that bands are still doing the Lord's work by lifting people's spirits and leading them to the throne of God.
(Below, my youth group kids with members of After Edmund)
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