Hip Hop has had profound influence in our culture and has dictated fashion trends, movies, slang, hair styles among other things. Like many Gen Xers who have grown up listening to hip hop, I have always loved it as an art form despite the fact that my parents never quite understood it and thought it would be a fad that would quickly die out. Well here we are 30 some years later and while my taste in subject matter has evolved I still love Hip Hop and it is here to stay. The good thing is there has been an emergence of good quality Christian Hip Hop artists who could go toe to toe in freestyle battles with many secular artists.
Churches do well at promoting national recording artist like Kirk Franklin, Yolanda Adams, and Fred Hammond while not fully embracing those in the Christian Hip Hop Community. I feel we may be reaching a tipping point in our culture where churches must adapt in order to reach a lost generation that is out here. Without a doubt we have a crisis of an absence of young men, particularly in African American churches that skew heavily female. Men are becoming detached from the church at alarming rates and their values are being shaped by artists like Drake, Jay, and Lil’ Wayne. These individuals define “masculinity” for men and although misguided they carry cultural clout. Because of this it may be time for churches to consider appealing to a different audience and discover ways to incorporate hip hop but for the Kingdom Agenda.
Ideas could include hosting concerts at the church on Friday or Saturday nights but bringing in artist like Lecrea, Trip Lee, or Flame and afterwards have the pastor provide a message catered to men which includes the invitation to discipleship. Churches could also look at cultivating talent currently in the church and allowing those who are gifted at rhyming to also take part in the worship service with the standard church choir. Skeptics of this should consider that music wasn’t even part of the early church in Acts. Scripture is silent on this which should provide Christians some liberty in this arena on the style of music they wish to adopt.
Whether you are a fan of hip hop it is God given gift and just like singing, God can use it for his glory. Many prominent Christian hip hop artists have powerful testimonies. Some have led pretty normal lives others have been involved in gangs, drug dealing, or fast living before their conversion. God has given them a platform to challenge the messages and values that are being promoted by mainstream artists. One illustration is one of my favorite tracks on Bizzle’s Album titled Liar which he speaks to the mindset of the industry by stating-“If the money is right I will rap about whatever” and “They write down mess and give it to the youth watching kids go to prison why they sittin’ in they Coups”. Next Sunday look to right and left and ask where the men are. Are they watching TV, too tired from last night’s partying, or are they playing golf? One thing is for certain far too many are not in church; however they aren’t a lost cause. Churches must always have a mission of looking to have a redeeming influence on our youth and young men.