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I’d like to begin by saying that I’m a long-time fan of Christian music. (Well….most of it, anyway.) Many in my generation (including loyal church-goers) are not so much supporters. Honestly, those with highly particular musical tastes are rather unimpressed by a genre often dominated by songs that can be played by anyone who knows three guitar chords or those featuring bland lyrics relying mainly on the words God, love, Jesus, and heart.
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But seriously, that’s okay with me. I find comfort in praising God through song. I appreciate the healing, repetitive simplicity of voices joined together in worship. (“This is the air I breathe…”) I love how scriptures come to me attached to melodies I learned decades ago. (“I’m trading my sorrows….”) I love how my sister and I still remember the words to worships songs we sang in middle school. (“Carry your candle, to every soul…”) And of course, there are some truly innovative and creative artists within the Christian music industry.
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So K-LOVE, I’ve been a supporter of yours for many years. After all, the world needs more that’s positive and encouraging, and during the hundreds of mornings I spent driving in the pre-dawn darkness to teach high-school English, I definitely needed a BIG dose of Jesus. I got my praise on while driving down 240. Bless the children. Bless them.
But today, I stopped being a fan.
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I was dismayed to find the news on my Facebook feed that you have decided to move the K-LOVE Christmas Tour from the Raleigh Assembly of God on Austin Peay to the Memphis First Assembly on Walnut Grove in Cordova.
Here is the official statement you gave to the church:
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So, some citizens from the more affluent suburbs called and asked you to change the location because Raleigh Assembly, a large church on a well-traveled road easily accessible from 240, is apparently too dangerous. Hmmm…..well, it is completely surrounded….by other churches. Messiah Lutheran, Broadmoor Baptist, and the Raleigh Primitive Baptist Church are all clustered together within walking distance.
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Look, I get it. Memphis has a reputation. I tell people where I’m from, and the first response I often get is, “Oh! Isn’t the crime there terrible?! Do you feel safe?” Yes, we do have problems with crime in our city. But yes, I do feel safe. Because my city is so much more than crime statistics.
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Today, I read comments from my friends that live in Raleigh. People who raise their kids, grocery shop, and go about life in that community every day. Overwhelmingly, they feel safe. They’re also pretty offended that you would judge their community in such a way. They’re rather miffed at a message that says, “Hey, y’all are doing a great job, but we need to be acceptable to the Collierville and Germantown folks, so we’re out. Y’all just aren’t good enough.”
Did you really base your decision on the complaints of some random folks? Did you send someone to visit Raleigh to evaluate the situation? Talk to law enforcement in the area? Ask the church if it could provide extra security measures? Anything?
Of course, the real issue here really has nothing to do with the venue “safety” at all. If you market yourself as a Christian organization, then you have the responsibility to act that way. You had an opportunity to set an example here. You had the opportunity to help people escape their comfort zones and interact with others in their city. You had the opportunity to promote understanding and unity. To change perceptions. To broaden minds. Instead, you sent people running for the “safety” of those who look and act just as they do, and you allowed them to think that’s okay.
Another friend suggested that perhaps you’re so focused on being “positive and encouraging” that you’d prefer to avoid any reminders of the “hard realities of the world.” In your statement, you recognize “lingering concerns and myth,” but apparently, you’re giving in to those things? Prayer is great, but it doesn’t mean much without action.
The sunshine and rainbow part of faith is fun, isn’t it? The worship songs and Chicken Soup-ish anecdotes shared over the radio waves. But surely you know, to be truly encouraging…truly inspirational….you cannot ignore Jesus.
And I cannot for the life of me recall the part of the Bible where Jesus said, “My primary concern is your safety and comfort. Ignore your brother, my child, and go hide on the other side of town.”
Jesus did NOT call us to be safe, but to be BRAVE. A quick search reveals 200+ verses calling for our bravery and trust.
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7
“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13
“Then David said to Solomon his son, ‘Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.” 1 Chronicles 28:20
The verses go on and on and on.
I mean, really folks. What kind of faith do we have if we cannot even handle a Christmas concert in (gulp!) Raleigh….where I shopped for groceries and took my daughter to math tutoring this very afternoon.
Above all, K-LOVE, where do you think Jesus would spread the hope and joy of Christmas? Do you think our Savior—the guy who hung out with lepers and prostitutes and the demon-possessed—you think he’d limit himself to the “safe” areas? And aren’t we all supposed to be trying to be like Him?
The concert was supposed to take place Friday, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. A friend suggested the Raleigh Assembly of God plan a “Holly Jolly Raleigh” neighborhood party. I hope they do, and this Memphis Mama will be there with jingle bells on!