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Contemporary Christian

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Contemporary Christian

Contemporary Christian music
Stylistic origins Jesus music, Christian music, pop music, rock music
Cultural origins Late 1960s, United States
Typical instruments Vocals, guitar, drums, bass guitar, keyboards, piano, synthesizer
Derivative forms Contemporary worship music
Christian rockChristian hip hopContemporary worship music
Fusion genres
Progressive Southern gospel
Other topics
Gospel musicUrban contemporary gospel

Contemporary Christian music (or CCM—and occasionally "inspirational music") is a genre of modern popular music which is lyrically focused on matters concerned with the Christian faith. Today, the term is typically used to refer to pop, rock, or praise & worship styles. Artists representing the genre include MercyMe, Casting Crowns, Jeremy Camp, Third Day, Matthew West, tobyMac, Chris Tomlin, Brandon Heath and Aaron Shust. Historically, Amy Grant, Jars of Clay, dc Talk, Steven Curtis Chapman, Newsboys and Michael W. Smith have also belonged to this genre.

The industry is represented by the Billboard Christian Albums, Hot Christian Songs Hot Christian AC (Adult Contemporary), Christian CHR, Soft AC/Inspirational, and Christian Digital Songs charts. On the iTunes Store, the genre is represented as part of the Christian and gospel genre.[1]

Other sub-genres such as Christian punk, Christian hardcore, Christian metal and Christian hip hop, although not normally considered CCM, can also come under the genre's umbrella.[2] Contemporary worship music is also incorporated in modern CCM. Contemporary worship is both recorded and performed during church services.

Several mainstream artists, such as The Byrds, Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Elvis Presley, Creed, Lifehouse and U2, have dealt with Christian themes in their music, yet are not part of the CCM industry.[2]


The genre became known as Contemporary Christian music as a result of the Jesus movement revival in the latter 1960s and early 1970s, and was originally called "Jesus music". "About that time, many young people from the sixties' counterculture professed to believe in Jesus. Convinced of the bareness of a lifestyle based on drugs, free sex, and radical politics, 'hippies' became 'Jesus people'".[3] However there were people who felt that Jesus was another "trip".[4] It was during the 1970s Jesus movement that Christian music started to become an industry within itself.[5] "Jesus Music" started by playing instruments and singing songs about love and peace, which then translated into love of God. Paul Wohlegemuth, who wrote the book Rethinking Church Music, said "[the] 1970s will see a marked acceptance of rock-influenced music in all levels of church music. The rock style will become more familiar to all people, its rhythmic excesses will become refined, and its earlier secular associations will be less remembered."[6]

Though there were Christian albums in the 1960s that contained contemporary-sounding songs, there were two albums recorded in 1969 that are considered[by whom?] to be the first complete albums of "Jesus rock": Upon This Rock (1969) by Larry Norman initially released on Capitol Records,[7] and Mylon – We Believe by Mylon LeFevre, released by Cotillion, which was LeFevre's attempt at blending gospel music with southern rock.[8][9]

Pioneers of this movement also included John Michael Talbot,[citation needed] Keith Green, 2nd Chapter of Acts, Nancy Honeytree,[citation needed] Barry McGuire, Petra,[citation needed] Andraé Crouch and the Disciples Evie, The Imperials and Love Song, among others. The small Jesus music culture had expanded into a multi-million-dollar industry by the 1980s.[2][10][11] Many CCM artists such as Amy Grant,[12] DC Talk,[13] Michael W. Smith,[14] Stryper,[15] and Jars of Clay[16] found crossover success with Top 40 mainstream radio play.

Beginning in July 1978, CCM Magazine began covering "Contemporary Christian Music" artists and a wide range of spiritual themes until it launched online publications in 2009.[17][18]


Contemporary Christian music has been a topic of controversy in various ways since its beginnings in the 1960s.[2] The Christian college Bob Jones University discourages its dormitory students from listening to CCM.[19] Others simply find the concept of Christian pop/rock music to be an unusual phenomenon, since rock music has historically been associated with themes such as sexual promiscuity, rebellion, drug and alcohol use, and other topics normally considered antithetical to the teachings of Christianity.[2] This controversy caused by evangelical pop music was explored by Gerald Clarke in his Time magazine article "New Lyrics for the Devil's Music".[20]

Some writers from the Reformed Presbyterian tradition assert that the inclusion of CCM in a worship service violates the second commandment and the Regulative Principle of Worship because it adds man-made inventions, lyrics and instrumental music to the biblically appointed way of worshipping God.[21] An example of exclusive psalmody is the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing), in which there is only the a cappella singing of the psalms.

Contemporary Christian musicians and listeners have sought to extend it into settings where religious music traditionally might not be heard. MercyMe's song "I Can Only Imagine" was a crossover success despite having a clear Christian message.[22]

Paul Baker, author of Contemporary Christian Music, addressed the question, "Is the music a ministry, or is it entertainment? The motives, on both sides, were nearly always sincere and well intentioned, rarely malicious."[23]

"The responsibility of the church is not to provide escape from reality," according to Donald Ellsworth, the author of Christian Music in Contemporary Witness, "but to give answers to contemporary problems through legitimate, biblical means."[24] Thus, when lyrics are biblically-based, CCM can relate to issues faced in modern society with modern music.

Many studies on church growth show that churches have grown in size after changing the type of style.[25] James Emery White, a consultant for preaching and worship within the Southern Baptist Convention, made a statement about how many churches that changed styles to using more contemporary Christian music, appeared to have a quicker growth.[26]

See also


Further reading

  • Alfonso, Barry. The Billboard Guide to Contemporary Christian Music. Billboard Books, 2002.
  • Romanowski, William D. Eyes Wide Open: Looking for God in Popular Culture. Brazos Press, 2001.
  • Sears, Gordon E. Is Today's Christian Music Sacred? Coldwater, Mich.: [s.n., 199-?]. 32, [1] p. Without ISBN
  • Young, Shawn David, Hippies, Jesus Freaks, and Music (Ann Arbor: Xanedu/Copley Original Works, 2005. ISBN 1-59399-201-7.


es:Música cristiana it:Contemporary Christian Music pl:Współczesna muzyka chrześcijańska

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