The Sources of Contemporary Church Music, an Issues Etc Interview

Thanks to Kari Anderson who posted this on the Faithful lists .. here’s a very interesting Issues, Etc. interview of Mark Eischer, Producer of “The Lutheran Hour”. This interview talks about the Sources of Contemporary Christian Music that is found in many churches, including Lutheran churches that are adopting Contemporary Worship forms. He has done some interesting research and is author of an Article in Lutheran Laymen titled “Two Congregations are the Biggest Influences in Christian Music”.

A few quotes that struck me as I listened to the program:

It has been with us for 40 years, and if you look at the theological roots goes back quite a bit further than that.

Most of the praise and worship songs are produced by people who attend one of two churches.

The picture that emerges is a very narrow source for most of the songs which are sung in churches on Sunday Morning.

What prompted me to research this was a comment from a relative who is a worship leader at a large Lutheran congregation. He said, “It’s been a while since he felt the Holy Spirit move through a service like that.” He’s a musician — not theologically trained, not seminary trained, where is he absorbing this kind of language — “movement of the the Holy Spirit”, a very pentecostal concept … Most people get their theology from the songs that they sing.

What is your concern theologically with Lutheran congregations who may be using these types of songs?

A steady diet of songs which are used in this way I believe is conditioning the congregation to believe in a certain way.

Encourage people to look for Jesus in the wrong place — not in the Word, in the Sacraments, and in the Preaching.

Some of the writers of the common songs are:

  • Chris Tomlin
  • Matt Redman
  • Darlene Scheck
  • Tim Hughes
  • Ben Fielding

And the intro from Kari:

This was on Issues Etc today, and I found it to be a program that a lot of people should hear and share with others that don’t realize or haven’t even considered where most contemporary Christian music comes from, and that it really does or will eventually affect our theology.

Kari Anderson

Listen to the interview .. it’s quite enlightening:


Or head on over to Issues, Etc. to listen to it or other programs.



The Lutheran Layman is the flagship, printed newspaper of the ministry. It has been in continuous production for more than 76 years. It is published seven times per year (bimonthly plus one special convention issue per year). Its purpose is to educate members, donors, volunteers, and employees about the ministry and to communicate election results, resolutions, and other official information from Int’l LLL leadership. Contact Gerry Perschbacher at 1-800-944-3450, ext. 4175.

source on LHM Website


Pastor Wilken mentions during the interview his latest Issues, Etc. journal article talking about the same data, looking at it from how many times the Trinity is mentioned in the top 25 songs used in churches — here is an excerpt from the article. Click here to subscribe to the journal.

How often (outside official statements of faith) do American evangelical churches speak about God in explicitly Trinitarian terms? Apparently, not enough. A survey of the lyrics of the top 25 contemporary Christian songs used by churches reporting to Christian Copyright Licensing International between February and August 2010 revealed a solitary reference to the Triune nature of God. There were numerous references to God, but only one to God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

It should come as little surprise that 58% of Christians in America have a less-than-Trinitarian view of God. According to a series of recent surveys conducted by The Barna Group:

…most Christians do not believe that the Holy Spirit is a living force, either. Overall, 38% strongly agreed and 20% agreed somewhat that the Holy Spirit is “a symbol of God’s power or presence but is not a living entity.” Just one-third of Christians disagreed that the Holy Spirit is not a living force (9% disagreed somewhat, 25% disagreed strongly) while 9% were not sure. (“Most American Christians Do Not Believe that Satan or the Holy Spirit Exist,” April 10, 2009,

Another survey, conducted a year later, confirmed these results:

In total, 68% of Mosaic Christians [Christians under the age of 25] said they believe that the third person of the trinity is just “a symbol of God’s power or presence, but is not a living entity.” This compares to 59% of Busters, 55% of Boomers, and 56% of Elders who believe the Holy Spirit is merely symbolic. (“How Different Generations View and Engage with Charismatic and Pentecostal Christianity,” March 29, 2010,

In other words, roughly 60-70% of self-professed Christians in America do not believe that the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity.

The doctrine of the Trinity appears to be disappearing from the theology of pop-American Christianity.

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