Published October 6, 2009

Paul's Epistle...
"Feel-Good Responses"

Wow. Last week's Epistle about the influx of "feel-good" songs into Southern Gospel music – songs which really don't present the Gospel – opened the floodgates! I received more mail about this than anything I've written in recent memory. Thank you! I was amazed how many of you said you've been thinking the very same thing recently.

I received only one (one!) e-mail that wasn't 100 percent in agreement, and that writer simply said he feels there's a place for feel-good songs. Well, I agree there is a place for them. But if they don't include the Gospel message (as described last week), then let's not call them Gospel and let's not waste God-given resources promoting it as Gospel.

Here are some representative responses:

"Your article about ‘Feel-Good Songs' was definitely right on! My mother and I were just discussing this very thing recently and she was going to e-mail one of the groups about their current song which is a remake of an old secular song. You put it so well in expressing our dismay at this ‘Gospel-Lite' stuff when there are sooooo much better and deeper songs to choose from." – F. F.

"The only thing that separates secular and sacred music is the message. Why would we dilute our message with things that are important but not the most important? The only thing that will help people in their attempt to live the Christian life is our message – not a compromised feel-good song." – D. S.

"We need songs with meat for a lost and dying world in these last days. Songs telling listeners where they can get rid of their load of sin. Songs that encourage the believers to press on toward the goal. Songs that say prayer really works." – E. R.

"As for ‘feel-good' songs, they don't do much to encourage a person to follow Christ. In fact, in most cases, they promote the false religion that life is what we make it without any help or guidance from a higher power. I am afraid some songwriters and singers will find themselves in the same position of preachers you mentioned who have actually led people astray." – J. & R. C.

"This has been one of my ‘pet peeves' lately listening to my Southern Gospel... I hope the artists sit up and take notice." – J. S.

"You are thinking the same way my husband and I have talked about just the other day. We have noticed that many new Gospel songs are not what they used to be... You are sooooo right in your thoughts." – P. H.

"What a tremendous article. I was beginning to think I was the only one with your opinions... Thank you so much for your convicting words and may more great Southern Gospel music come forth after your article has been read!" – V. C.

"I get upset when I hear someone presenting a ‘feel-good' ‘watered-down' version of the Gospel. With anything, even Gospel music, humans tend to transform what was given by God. What starts out as a tool for glorifying God and His redemption through Christ ends up taking a life all its own. It's called idolatry. We forget the purpose of the gift and put our focus on the earthly benefits.... The Gospel is definitely good news that feels good, but there is also bad news for those who reject it. There is God's love and then there's God's wrath. You cannot leave that out." – G. D.

"In my opinion, [Gospel artists] ought to realize that they are to be a witness for the Lord Jesus Christ, and songs that simply make folks ‘feel good' aren't carrying that message." – S. M.

I heard from several pastors. Here are two:

"The compromise being witnessed in our day is very possibly the simple distinguishing of the ‘wheat' from the ‘chaff...'" – Pastor G. B.

"We as Christians need to remember we are ambassadors for Christ. Don't be ashamed of what we sing, but be proud and thankful that God is allowing us to praise Him in song. Be thankful for the great writers we have today and those that have already gone on. If ever there has been a time in our country when we need to stand for our values, it is now!" – Pastor T. C.

I also heard from a few well-known songwriters:

"Thanks for this powerful statement. We all need to hear and heed it. I often feel pressure to write more ‘ditties' since I've tended to focus on weightier matters. But you're right – we MUST redeem the time! I receive your challenge." – Marty Funderburk.

"As a songwriter, I'm sure I'm somewhat biased in my opinions, because all of us writers believe we have better songs to offer than what can be dug up from a secular song catalog! LOL! But even if I didn't write, I would hope that artists would not have to borrow from old country and pop groups to find something to sing about! This is not meant to slam any artist, producer or record label, but for every fluffy secular remake out there, there is a Gospel songwriter with a song that would have been stronger and more reflective of the Gospel. It may take a while to find it, but the search is worth it when we're talking about music that ministers to souls." – Barbara Huffman.

Amen!

Many of you made the connection between this trend in Gospel music with what has been happening in today's churches, as my original article mentioned. If time permits, I'll share some of those responses next week.

– Paul

PS: If you missed the original article, you can view it here.

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