Steve Green at Heather Hills This Sunday!

Steve Green

Steve Green

It’s been quite a journey over the last 8-9 years.  There was a time, not so long ago, when I disdained Steve Green.  Yes, I disdained him.  When I was the official “music checker” at my Bible College, students were forced to turn in their Steve Green cassettes/CDs.  My job then was to make the students copy on to a blank cassette/CD the songs from an album that would “check.”  What that basically meant is that the songs could have no dominant beat, use no electric guitars, and no scooping vocal style.  I believed Steve to be the fitting illustration of all that was wrong in the contemporary worship scene.  When I would do seminars at various churches on music, Steve was always one of the people whom I would name as bearing the blame for the state of church worship today.

And now, this Sunday, Steve will be coming to my church to minister in song.  In one sense, it’s so ironic.  In another, it’s so fitting.

Steve has ministered in churches and on the mission field for nearly twenty-five years now.  He, like me, was an MK (missionary kid), growing up in Argentina.  After going through a period of rebellion in his life, God captured his heart and placed him into a ministry of music, primarily through recordings and concerts.  He has had some measure of success along the way, as the industry defines it.  His website cites: “Throughout his years of ministry, Steve’s music has been honored with four Grammy nominations, 13 No. 1 songs, and seven Dove Awards, Christian music’s highest honor. With 23 recordings to his credit, including children’s projects and Spanish-language albums, Green has sold over three million albums worldwide.”

But his level of fame among the Christian community is not why I invited Steve to Heather Hills.  After all, he is more of a granddaddy on the music touring circuit these days.  There are many soloists and groups that are more popular.  I asked Steve to come to my church because of his deep love for Christ and His Church.  In the Steve Green concerts I have attended, there was such a devotion to Christ expressed in his music and personal testimony that I always left having worshiped God, rather than having been entertained.

I won’t take the time here to lay out my personal journey that has brought me to a different perspective on musical style and men like Steve Green.  I have previously blogged about it, which you can read by clicking here

I will say that my understanding of biblical music and worship has been shaped by the Word of God, not by my own preferences or a guru’s teaching.  I recognize that people have various opinions about musical style and that’s fine with me, as long as they do not make it a test of fellowship.  I have come to learn that worship is about God, not me, and that it is amazing that He accepts any worship from sinful people like you and me.  And I have learned that love expresses itself in this controversial area by restricting my own liberty at times and by not separating from others because they hold to a different position.  In short, it has brought a greater freedom in my worship to God.  I used to find it very difficult to worship God because of the critical spirit I had cultivated in my heart toward certain musical styles and people.  I still think it’s important to evaluate forms in worship.  Lyrics, especially, are so important.  We must worship in truth.  However, I have learned to appreciate a much fuller variety of musical expression in worship from my brothers and sisters all around the world.  I have learned the wisdom of a blended approach in music, with a heart for unity in the church as opposed to division and segregation.

That’s why I asked Steve to come to Heather Hills.  I know he will be an encouragement to the people in directing them to gaze into the beauty and goodness and power of God.  His testimony is consistent and passionate.  It’s amazing that he and I would ever have fellowship, considering my background.  But what is more amazing and wonderful is that we can have fellowship in the Gospel in Jesus Christ.

I appreciate your prayers for his ministry this weekend.

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18 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Nancy Larson on November 6, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    I felt the same as you about Steve Green. My husband came home with one of Steve’s cassettes in the mid-80’s, and I thought he had gone off the deep end! Then we started listening to Steve’s music, and we loved it! When Steve gave a concert at Elmbrook Church in Waukesha, Wisconsin, we were there; and, what a ministry! He gave the clear plan of salvation and the Lord was lifted up! He has continued to be one our favorite male Christian singers. Wish I could be there to hear him, but Minnesota is a little far from Indianapolis!

    Reply

  2. Posted by Bills on November 7, 2008 at 1:07 am

    Your article saddens me. I don’t question your motives, because you probably mean well. But like so many of the so called “young fundamentalists” of our day, you seem to have strayed from the true path. Contemporary “Christian” music, long hair on men, necklaces on men, ad nauseum. This is so discouraging. Where will it end? Are there any true fundamentalists left?

    Reply

  3. Posted by Bills on November 7, 2008 at 1:09 am

    Did you realize that this poor man “ministers” in churches of all stripes, not just Baptist? Just like you, I don’t question his motives, because in all seriousness he probably thinks he’s doing right, but why condone a minister of “Christian” music who seems to have no standards in where he performs?

    Reply

  4. Bills,

    While I thoroughly understand your concern, I do not share it. To be honest, I could probably articulate your arguments as well as anyone; however, the arguments do not stand because they are not based in truth.

    If you believe Christian fundamentalism to be defined in part by musical style, then indeed I do not belong in such a movement. However, you will be happy to know that I still affirm the fundamentals of the faith that first characterized the movement in the early 1900’s.

    Unfortunately, fundamentalism has, in my opinion, lost both its way and its identity by doing the very thing that you have in your postings here. You have added to the list and made the additions a test of fellowship. Unfortunately, so have many thousands of others, each creating a list with their own unique flavor. This has resulted in a fragmenting of a once noble movement to the point that its identity today is barely noticeable and hardly definable.

    I am fully aware of the churches in which Steve Green ministers. I am not aware of his yoking together with apostates or heretics. However, you should know that I myself would not hesitate to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ without compromise in any setting. Steve has been faithful and clear in his message. Our fellowship is in the Gospel.

    There is much more that could be said, but it usually is pointless without agreement on the interpretation of several important biblical passages. Most of what I would say to you and others like you I have written on this blog in previous days. You can read them for yourself to understand the biblical basis for my position on music, fundamentalism, and a whole host of related issues.

    I would encourage you to study passages like Romans 14-15, and to do a biblical theology of worship and music throughout both Old and New Testaments. That is what has shaped my belief and confidence in this area.

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  5. Brian,

    I’m excited about your new opportunity at Heather Hills. Although, I will miss seeing you every now and then.

    In any case, I hope you find great encouragement in enjoying the Body of Christ a bit more than the narrowly defined fundamentalism of our past. Don’t get too discouraged when you and your friends get demonized, judged, or misguidedly confronted. God is being glorified as you make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:2,3).

    I look forward to seeing you again someday!

    Rick

    Reply

  6. Posted by Josh Richards on November 8, 2008 at 8:30 am

    Good for you, Brian. I hope to be there this Sunday.

    With all due respect Bill the fundamentalism that is so exclusive that it eschews a guy like Steve Green is something that not surprisingly many young fundies have had their fill of.

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  7. Hi, Brian.

    As you’d probably guess, I’d not have Steve Green come to TCBC. However, I’ve been to one or two of his concerts in the past, and I was appreciative of his desire to minister. It’s always bugged me when musicians are criticized for wrong motives. No man can see another’s heart, but every indication I’ve ever received from Steve Green and his music suggests that he is a humble man who genuinely loves the Lord.

    As for fundamentalists, though most would avoid Green’s ministry for stylistic and/or associational reasons, I think most are more thoughtful on the music issue than in years past. That doesn’t mean that Green is embraced, but some of his more doctrinal and conservative pieces have been used by a number of fundamental churches and recorded by fundamental musicians, including a ministry as conservative as SMS. Mercy, “Lamb of Glory” even graces the Majesty Hymnal. 🙂 Anyway, he’s not generally being anathematized.

    On the other hand, even if we leave musical styles out of the conversation (and I’m not comfortable with all of his musical styles), what concerns me more is his participation in ecumenical events such as BG Crusades and Promise Keepers. It’s hardly extremist not to embrace one (or even to eschew one) who promotes fellowship that broad, IMO. I’m not praying imprecatory prayers against him, and I have high regard for his considerable talents and desire to serve the Lord with them, but I think there’s ample reason to avoid such close fellowship or cooperation.

    Hope you have a blessed Lord’s Day.

    Reply

  8. Posted by Bobby on November 10, 2008 at 8:12 am

    Isn’t using words like “demonize” a little demonizing?

    Reply

  9. Good Morning, Chris!

    I hope you know I have a great deal of respect for you. As far as I can tell, you are a pastor who is passionate about the Word and people and a thinker who articulates those thoughts well.

    It wouldn’t be a surprise to you to know that I do not subscribe to the “secondary” separation that a large portion of fundamentalists hold to. I thoroughly understand the arguments and the biblical texts from which those arguments are made; I just don’t buy into the interpretation of those passages.

    Having said that, both Billy Graham and Promisekeepers have evolved quite a bit from the days when Steve was involved with them. I highly doubt that Steve would be comfortable linking arms with Roman Catholics as seems to be the trend in cutting edge evangelicalism today.

    The concert last night was a great blessing as we had expected. I personally enjoyed the interaction with Steve–just getting to know him and his team. They are dedicated to the Word. In fact, during the intermission last night, Steve was talking with me about a passage of Scripture that he was wrestling with. He loves the Word and is a serious student of God’s truth. I have every confidence that as all of us continue to study the truth, God will bring us all toward the unity of faith that He so desires.

    Thanks again for your gracious words.

    Reply

  10. Having said that, both Billy Graham and Promisekeepers have evolved quite a bit from the days when Steve was involved with them. I highly doubt that Steve would be comfortable linking arms with Roman Catholics as seems to be the trend in cutting edge evangelicalism today.

    Brian,

    Your going to make your own decisions, and this one was already made, so in some ways I’m not sure what we can accomplish now. That being said, I am wondering what you have in mind when you make the statement I quoted above. Has Green distanced himself from PK or BGEA? I hadn’t heard that if it is so. PK hasn’t changed their platform and partnering requirements to any significant degree since green recorded for them back in 1994. In fact, Green still seems to be comfortable with the BGEA, at least- his online itinerary reveals he was at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove back on October 18. Did you make this statement I quoted based on information I have missed, or does it just not matter?

    Reply

  11. Greg,

    As you may have guessed, I’m not a spokeman for Steve Green. I don’t know if he has distanced himself or not. I am not aware of his participation in PK events or BG crusades since his early years.

    For the record, I believe it was 1997 when PK changed their doctrinal statement to appease Roman Catholics, put a Catholic man on their board, and used a Catholic evangelist in their meetings.

    As far as I can tell, Steve did one of his concerts at the Cove; I have no problems with that.

    I’m not saying that Steve is a fundamentalist, or that he and I would have the same associations in all cases (who does?); I’m saying he does not associate with apostates or false teachers. Doing a concert at the Cove is not an associational problem. It is his concert, done his way, with his message. He is a dear brother who loves the Word, studies it faithfully, and uses his musical abilities to edify the body of Christ.

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  12. By the way, Greg, I hope the skin grafting is healing well for you. I’ve been praying for your recovery.

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  13. Thanks for the prayers.

    A quick search confirms that 1997 was the year Roman Catholics were added to PK in a prominent way:

    http://tmatt.gospelcom.net/column/1997/10/01/

    However, Christianity Today also notes that same year, Green was singing “Let the Walls Fall Down” at their events. He certainly seems to be doing nothing to distance himself from PK if you check his online bios and such.

    That being the case, then, would you still support your statement that “…he does not associate with apostates or false teachers”? Or does associating with RCs in this manner have some other explanation? Because the appearance seems to be that in your haste to forsake the trappings of something you perceive to be dead, issues like this aren’t of importance. Again, if that is where you stand, so be it. But I don’t think you should try to present it in such a way where you have Green actively separating from Rome when there is no evidence of such an action.

    Reply

  14. Posted by john b on November 13, 2008 at 1:53 am

    It amazes me that someone would consider his music style in the same league as what is commonly considered as “contemporary Christian”. His music from a musical aspect is quite vanilla. As such, he registers not a blip in the CCM today.

    Disclaimer: His popularity or lack thereof in no way is a measure of his talent and foremost his devotion to God.

    Reply

  15. Greg,

    Again, I am not a spokesman for Steve. I certainly would have chosen differently in 1997 if I had been him and had the knowledge I do now about PK back then. I don’t know what he knew or didn’t know at the time about the Roman Catholic inclusion in PK back in 97.

    However, I do know him today. Having talked with him personally about the Gospel, I am very confident in his theology and approach to ministry. While he hasn’t written any resolutions against PK or BG like some might, he also doesn’t seem to be actively involved with either organization. Perhaps I’ll have the opportunity to talk with him about these subjects in the future and can update you on his thoughts.

    BTW, I believe Steve has gotten a bad rap from the fundamentalist community over the song “Let the Walls Come Down.” This has been trumpeted as a call to ecumenism by many in fundamentalist leadership over the years. However, the “walls” in the song’s lyrics clearly refer to culture and tradition erected in pride and fear that have prevented the unity that God desires in the Church. Steve is the LAST person that would ever call for an abandonment of doctrine or the Gospel. He is passionate about that.

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  16. John B,

    Twenty years ago, Steve was THE male singer in Contemporary Christian Music, receiving numerous Dove awards. Sure, he is not as popular today as others, but he is well-known and loved by thousands of believers who were alive during that period of time. They certainly do not consider his music to be “vanilla.”

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  17. Brian,

    I don’t disallow the reality of what you say about his positions. That being said, when “walls” are mentioned in the same year PK added the RCs, it would seem that at best, it was a song greatly taken advantage of by those who planned PK rallies to set a tone. It’s not unlike popular songs used at sporting events or political rallies, where the lyrics themselves may not have to do with the athletes, actions on the field, or candidates positions, but the sound bytes are still used to promote and excite to that end.

    Anyway, it doesn’t seem like we’re going to make much more headway. I would wonder, though- in the second paragraph of your response to me (“Having talked to him personally…”), could someone not have a similar conversation and reach a similar conclusion talking with a Billy Graham or a Luis Palau, for example? Sound theology is important- but so are actions that don’t undermine that sound theology.

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  18. Posted by Steve Davis on November 22, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    Hi Brian:

    I wish I had been there. I’ve been listening to Steve Green for years and have been often blessed by his music. I know you’ll take a lot of hits over secondary separation issues but I just encourage you to follow the Lord’s leading in our life. I wrote recently on the worship wars on SI and my journey through all this. http://sharperiron.org/2008/09/15/weary-of-the-worship-wars/.

    God bless,

    Steve Davis

    Reply

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