The next time you’re in a Christian bookstore — if you can still find one — walk by the music department and check out the variety of CDs in the contemporary section. While music labels have severely cut budgets and curtailed new artist development, new titles and new bands arrive each month and — partially thanks to social media that is part of the technological wave undermining those very music departments — find their way to an audience.
I owe my Christian heritage partially to bands and soloists like the ones you see on those racks. I’m not saying I would not be where I am today were it not for the whole CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) scene, but truthfully these guys mentored and shaped my faith in a variety of ways.
Today, I am more than happy to share new artists with others, though my greater passion has switched to books and online resources.
Oddly enough, it’s only recently that I connected the dots between my desire to “spread the word” about Christian print and music products and my blogging. Shortly after discovering CCM, I started writing record reviews for both print and secular publications. Then I started a radio show. Then I got into the Christian bookstore industry, though I came at it sideways as someone who was more of an alternative to traditional retail than someone who later became a part of that industry.
As a worship leader, part of my mandate was to introduce local churches to new worship leaders, new worship styles, and most importantly new worship songs. I came directly off leading worship in several churches into blogging, where I now get to reach the greatest audience and create awareness for the broadest number of causes, opinions, events, movements and resources.
And I write book reviews here. Which means I’ve either come full circle, or I haven’t gained any ground at all. In person, I probably have a credibility gap because I treat every book as if it’s the best thing I’ve ever read. But that’s what passion is; I think some people don’t allow themselves to be infused with passion about different things, places, ideas, institutions, events, etc.
I say that I only connected those dots recently. Part of that was the realization that I was also a passionate evangelist for a soft drink. I don’t know if you can buy Brio in the U.S.; heck, I’m not even sure if it reaches all of Canada. I tasted it for the first time more than two decades ago at an Italian restaurant in east Toronto. It’s sort of similar to Coke or Pepsi, maybe a bit more bitter. It goes great with pasta, lasagna, or pizza. Non-alcoholic. As you can see, we’ve purchased it over the years in a variety of formats.
When the conversation comes up — which it doesn’t very often — I can be counted on to recommend people stop by the local grocery store that carries the plastic bottle second from the left. We buy it even if we already have a few on hand, so that the grocery store’s computer will show the inventory as active. I order it in Italian restaurants that carry it.
The difference between Brio and the stuff I write about here, is that in the latter case, I make the conversation happen. I like Brio, but I don’t overflow with it as a topic like the drink itself does — it’s highly carbonated — when you pour a glass. In the case of my faith — especially in the case of Jesus I — I do in fact overflow and will steer the conversation in that direction.
Shouldn’t we all?
While I enjoy connecting people to life-changing resources, our ultimate goal is to connect people to a person.
What do you share with the people you come in contact with? What’s the first thing you think about each morning? What do you talk about when it’s your chance to control the conversation?