When Kirk Franklin stomped on the music scene in 1993, gospel music took an unusual turn. Franklin shocked older generations with his new explosive style and excited younger audiences with music that opened more than the doors of the church. This raises the question, is church music drowning out the sermon?
Today, gospel music appeals to listeners of almost any music genre. Younger churchgoers now enjoy nontraditional gospel songs from artists like Mary Mary, Trin-I-Tee 5:7 and Yolanda Adams. Because apart from the lyrics, the music sounds more like the secular songs played on the radio.
However, as Gospel music groups and choirs tour, record albums and become popular, some people attend church only for the music.
Nyala Dupree-Walker, 20, a junior political science student from Oakland, Calif., said music ministry was one of the main reasons she was attracted to Ray of Hope United Methodist Church.
“Their music ministry is very strong and influential,” Dupree-Walker said.
She said going to a church just for the choir is not a bad thing.
“People go to church because they long for something, and for me, music fulfills that something.”
Others, like Jennifer Holloway, 19, favor the preaching portion of a church service.
“Most of the time, I want the preacher to get to the [sermon] so that I can go,” said the freshman animal science student from Fort Lauderdale. “[Music] might be more popular, but I just want to learn and get influenced by the word.”
While Holloway favors preaching, she said it would be hard to attend a musicless church.
Harold Edwards II, percussionist at Love and Faith Ministries agreed.
“[Music] sets the atmosphere and makes [people] more receptive to the preaching.”
Claudine Boussicaut, minister of music and art at Ray of Hope said the redundancy of preaching might force churchgoers to pay more attention to the choir.
“Someone may receive the same word Sunday after Sunday and that’s all they get … so they turn to the music,” Boussicant said.
“They’ve got to get something out of the church service.”
However, Boussicaut does not see music and preaching in a contest for popularity. She said music complements worship.
The Rev. John F. White II of New Mt. Zion A.M.E. church said he does not think music is becoming more popular than the preaching.
“Music is God’s word through song and preaching is a proclamation of God’s word.”
Contact kalifa hickinson at Kalifa@earthlink.net.