Christian Hip Hop: Entertainment or Ministry?
Christian Hip Hop has gotten tons of attention during the recent years. Thanks to rappers like Lecrae, Da T.R.U.T.H., Trip Lee and Shai Linne, Christian Hip Hop artists have earned their right to the ears of many discriminating hip-hop heads. Let’s face it, for quite awhile, Christian rap wasn’t the best. So-so rhymes over subpar beats were good enough for the usual youth group conference back in the day. But now, the lyrical ability of many of the mainstream Christian artists are way better than the majority of cats in the secular rap realm. And as for the beats; just on another level. Needless to say, I’m very proud of the way Christian rap is going at the moment. It’s lyrical, edifying, theological (for the most part), and worthy to bump very loudly in your car. No problem.
But with all the success in Christian rap, competing heavily with its secular counterpart, there is the tendency to view it the same way as secular rap: purely entertainment. When people listen to secular rap, it’s all about the beats and the cleverness of the rhymes. But should we consider rap that speaks about the things of God in the same way we do the secular stuff? Is Christian rap just rap for Christians? Does it have any place in the world besides entertainment? While seeking to answer these questions, we should consider this: Jesus Christ is a big deal. The biggest deal ever. Considering what Scripture says about Christ, the Chief Shepherd, God with us, The Almighty Father, The Head of all things, the Lord of lords and the King of kings, this speaks volumes about the main subject of Christian Rap, Jesus Christ. Which means that Christian rap is something more than what secular rap is. When it’s done right, Christian hip hop should communicate a true representation of Christ from Scripture, present the gospel; forgiveness of sins and salvation through Christ’s redemptive work, and strengthen the faith of believers. Brethren, that’s ministry. Quite a higher purpose and standard than just beats, rhymes and catchy hooks.
However, some don’t have this mindset towards Christian rap. Some believe that it’s just some young people throwing Jesus’ name in their rhymes to make it sound “Christian”, but it’s not. Some think that Christian rap is “of the world” and is just another trick of the enemy to Hellenize the church with worldly culture. And to a percentage of what’s considered Christian rap, I agree. Sadly, for the sake of being “real” some rappers have introduced profanity and other unwholesome words into their rhymes that muddy the waters of our pure art form. And though it may have shock value and get people’s attention, anything we do that compromises the holy standard that we’re called to is not a good idea at all. (1 Pet. 1:14-15) But I believe that our witness not only lies in our bold rhymes, but how we revere God. Some of us are light on the holy attribute of our God which allows our own brethren to speak evil of the good we proclaim. This shouldn’t be. Instead, we should represent the Lord fully on our music. Not just by being “unashamed”, but by maintaining a holy conduct. This validates our ministry as well as the authentication of our message. Paul tells Titus: “In all things, show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond approach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.” (Tit. 2:7-8). I believe that if we approach the mic with the same reverence for God as a faithful preacher does when he goes to the pulpit, people will see our intentions matching up with our message; and instead of criticizing Christian rap, they’ll embrace it and support it seeing it as useful for the edification of the Body. This is my request from you as well. As you seek beats that you can use to get turned up for the Lord, remember that this is not just rap, this is ministry. Use it wisely, use it reverently, use it to His glory.