A Shout to the Lord…on American Idol???

My friend Bob Kauflin and his pastor Josh Harris discuss the recent use of Shout to the Lord on the television program American Idol. Here are a couple of excerpts:

First from Bob–

In the positive column, someone watching ”Shout to the Lord” on American Idol might be led by God’s Spirit to download the song, or even to start going to church again. They might hear the Gospel and be gloriously converted, all due to hearing “Shout to the Lord” in one of the most unlikely places. For that potential, I praise and thank God.

But there’s a dark side. There’s something paradoxical about worship songs being sung on prime time TV by people who don’t know why Jesus came. Does the world see any difference between what’s taking place on American Idol and what we do on Sunday mornings? Has worship become part of the entertainment culture? It’s unsettling when Christian songs or worship leaders are acclaimed by the masses. Jesus said in Luke 6:26, “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.” He also said, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Mt. 15:8). Both verses temper my unbridled enthusiasm.

So I had two more thoughts. First, we need to do everything we can to sing and promote songs in the church that clearly, biblically, passionately, and faithfully proclaim the one and only Savior – his work, his words, and his worthiness. Along with songs that express our love for the Savior, we need to sing songs that “teach and admonish” (Col. 3:16), that celebrate and rehearse the foundations of our faith and fill out our vague conceptions of God with clear, theologically informed biblical truths.

Second, we we need to live in such a way that it’s clear being a Christian is more than giving money to worthy causes and being emotionally moved as we sing songs of every genre together. We want to do all we can to ensure that those who walk into our meetings see clearly that we’re not a local version of American Idol.

From Josh–

As I’ve read various comments people seem to fall into two different camps. Some Christians are upset—because they left out Jesus, because non-Christians were singing a song of “praise”, because it was all about money, because it’s another example of Christianity being “censored.” Other Christians are elated—because they put Jesus back in, because a praise song was heard by millions of people, because they see this as incredible evangelistic platform.

I guess I’m not really at home with either group. With all due respect, I don’t think that having a song like Shout to the Lord sung (even though I like it) is going to usher in revival. This reminds me of the fervor before the movie The Passion of the Christ was released. People spoke about this movie as if it was the ultimate opportunity for the gospel to advance. I don’t think it was. Was I glad that it was released? Sure. But I think that it’s too easy for Christians to think that any moment in the media spotlight on TV or in film is a bigger deal than it really is. We should welcome any opportunity for media to help spread the good news about Jesus, but I don’t think we should put too much stock in that vehicle. The gospel is going to advance as it always has—steadily as it is clearly proclaimed by believers in their words and modeled by their lives and actions. The gospel advances as local congregations receive and live God’s word for their neighbors to see.

What do you think?


5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by hannah anderson on April 16, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    I felt the way that I feel every time “Amazing Grace” is sung in the secular public.

    While the truth of the song always resonates with hearts that have experienced grace, it cannot alone warm hearts that are not already inclined toward God.
    At least it hasn’t for the past two hundred years.

    Thanks for posting.


  2. Hi Brian,
    interesting quotes. In my www perusing, I have found that many of the Christians who are geeked because AI contestants sang STTL, are excited because they seem to look at Christianity as an activist movement–and so, they are excited when any “positive” stuff happens, or they are angry that important things get left out–like Jesus words, etc. The inconsistency is too clear to point out.

    It is an interesting to note that in Acts 16, Paul becomes “annoyed” by the true statements of the demon-possessed slave-girl. His annoyance works in line with the purpose of God, and God releases her from demon possession. Perhaps there is a pattern here? When we come in contact with those who would speak some element of truth about God, but they do so for wrong reasons, and from an unbelieving heart, perhaps we should do our best to reveal the power of God to them–our rejoicing or our sorrow would be dependent upon what they did with God’s powerful gospel.

    Somewhat of an aside–and part of my quirky mind:
    IMHO, the people who are either “upset” or “elated” for the reasons Josh mentioned above are often the same type of people who said “Yeah, that Kathy Griffin owes us an apology for her Emmy comments”–similar to this: (‘http://www.miracletheater.com/theatertakesstand.html’). Instead of confronting Kathy Griffin with the power of the Gospel of God, they wanted her to apologize to the Christian victim rights board–I’m not sure who heads that up (perhaps Paul Crouch Jr.–see miracletheater’s website). When, what she needed to do was to turn in faith & repentance to Christ–which would be apology enough…

    Maybe if Chris Sligh had been singing this…oh that was the other season…


  3. Posted by sam h on April 30, 2008 at 12:34 pm



  4. Posted by Christian Markle on May 16, 2008 at 8:33 am


    I have not fully formulated my thinking on this yet but I will offer a few scattered and jumbled thoughts:

    1. STTL is not my form of praise song. While I appreciate the content of th words the song {read music and style} has an appeal that I am not comfortable with.

    2. The medium of music is very complex and when worship is the goal I believe both performances fell short for a number of reasons the first being the unregenerate cannot worship God — even the plowing of the wicked is sin, right? This is not to say that God does not use the sin of others to feed the hungry (pun intended). But God is seeking for true worshipers who worship in spirit and in truth (John 4)

    3. I am planning a message on Ephesians 5:19-21 for this Sunday, and neither of these performances can be categorized as fulfilling this passage. Vs 18 demands spirit filling (regeneration required), vs 19 says it needs to be in our heart and to the Lord — again regeneration required as well as purity of motive.

    4. In summary, I think at the very least a mixed message is communicated in these types of performances. The surface looks and smells good, but the heart is far from God. They feared God and worshiped idols. These are biblical themes that are not encouraged in the Biblical text. While I believe our response aught to be calculated and even utilitarian (ie how might I use this in a conversation to truly exalt my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ), I believe it is a mistake to encourage or be excited about these types of situations.

    For His Glory,
    Christian Markle


  5. Christian,

    I would agree as do the commentators I quoted in the article.

    One who is lost cannot worship Lord in spirit until the moment of regeneration.

    My understanding is that a couple of the performers are professing Christians and encouraged the rest of them to join with them in singing the song.

    As you said, a mixed message in every sense of the word.


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