Ahead of the 11th annual Amplify Music Festival held 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 urges believers to make room for all expressions as long as they’re not veering away from the truth of the Gospel in an attempt to be relevant to the world.
The two-day evangelistic event, held Aug. 18-19, featured musical performances from a variety of Christian artists, each representing different genres of worship music, including Christian contemporary music, Christian rap and hip-hop, and Christian Irish folk-rock.
Christian artists who performed at the event include: Grammy Award and 23-time Dove Award-winning singer Chris Tomlin; Dove Award-winning band Casting Crowns; Christian hip-hop artist and rapper Lecrae; and Northern Irish folk-rock Christian group 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. Some may not like music at all. I think that the idea is to relate 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 was 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 and 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 back as some of the solid ones were written to 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’s 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.”
Hall said that in the same way, Christians should not be overly focused on arguing about worship music and proving points that often have nothing to do with Scripture. Christians, he added, should also avoid missing the Gospel message by becoming overly preoccupied with the specific theatrics of worship music.
“I think that every expression of faith, whether it’s meditation, prayer, whether it’s Bible study, disciple groups, evangelism, compassion, care, helping orphans and widows or fighting for justice — I think all of these things are expressions that we see from the ministry of Jesus. But, if it’s not anchored in Scripture, I think it’s really easy to make our faith about anything, and not the main thing,” Hall said.
“Music and anything that’s emotional, I think it’s really easy to worship [other things] and take our eyes off of Jesus. If we’re with Jesus and we’re worshiping Jesus, and we’re anchored in Him, that should result in a change in our life. It should result in us advancing the mission of Christ.”
Hall said his prayer for those who attended the Amplify Fest is that they enjoyed the various genres of Christian music performed and won’t argue about which one is the most favored by God. But rather, he hopes the festival will lead them to become “anchored in the Word of God.”
“The Word of God lasts forever. The Word of God is not going to turn void. It’s the one thing that God promises to bless. I hope that our worship and all of our activity is dragging us back to being people who love the Bible and live out the Words,” he said.
Hall also shared his excitement about this and other opportunities to spread the Gospel and offer altar calls.
“I always try to give people an opportunity to respond. At Amplify, we’ll be inviting people to meet with people at a prayer time, to meet with people if they want prayer, but we’ll also be inviting people to respond in different ways via text message or different technology, especially for those that are live streaming the event, or those that maybe don’t know anybody there,” Hall said.
“We want to make sure that everybody is connected and that nobody falls through the cracks that’s looking for a community and a place to connect. There will be people we pray for on-site, to talk to on-site. And then there’ll be a lot of people that are being texted with and sent emails and phone calls happening afterward and inviting people to plug back into churches and small groups and even recovery groups, if that’s needed,” he continued.
“We just want to make sure that no one’s alone and that people are able to grow from here, and Amplify’s just the start.”
Hall said he also hopes attendees will be able to grow closer to Jesus following the event.
“I’m a firm believer in the Gospel. I think every time we share it and invite people to respond, it’s such good news that people can’t stay away. I really anticipate there’s going to be hundreds if not thousands of people that are going to put their trust in Jesus this weekend,” he said.
Nicole Alcindor is a reporter for The Christian Post.
Free Religious Freedom Updates
Join thousands of others to get the FREEDOM POST newsletter for free, sent twice a week from The Christian Post.