Jay Swartzendruber on Bono’s Christianity

I asked Jay about Bono, qualifying my admiration for Bono by noting that he is not as vocal about Jesus as I’d like him to be:

Behind the scenes, one on one with people, (Bono) is incredibly vocal about Jesus. There’s a story about one of the Gallagher brothers from Oasis talking about how he spent three hours discussing God with Bono, and he said it was just a very intense conversation. Well, a couple of days later, Bono FedExed him a book – What’s So Amazing About Grace by Philip Yancey. It’s just like to me that Philip Yancey’s book is like Bono’s “tract” if you will. Behind the scenes, spending time with him, the man loves Jesus. He’d be the first to tell you he’s not a good advertisement for God, but the dude loves Jesus. If you go to one of the concerts, it’s right there; if you’re looking for it, it’s right there, singing a song called “Yahweh,” a modern worship song, and that’s one of many songs.

More from Jay Swartzendruber

I asked Jay to further clarify what he means by “Christian worldview music”:

We believe strongly that music is not a tool just for evangelism, or just for praise and worship, or just for teaching Christians things about Christianity. We believe it should be a biblical reflection, the same way the Bible is, whether it’s Ecclesiastes, or the Psalms, or Song of Solomon, most of the Psalms are actually laments – crying out to God, in desperation; most Christian music is not that way. We’re encouraging these artists to give into that urging to bring Christ into all of life, whether it’s our marriages, whether it’s our professional lives, whether it’s how we treat our neighbor and how we love the poor; and we’re saying, yes, it honors God when you sing about all of these things from a biblical perspective.

I then asked Jay, what of the perception that the Christian music industry is all about money:

I’ve been in this business now for about 14 years. I worked for Christian record labels for ten years, and with CCM Magazine for about four, and I’m grateful to say it’s not all about money. That said, I will say money influences too many of our decisions as an industry. But in these years I’ve gotten to know dozens of artists and, you know, it’s about calling; it’s about being salt and light in culture, showing the world who Christ is. (The world) has written off Jesus based on parodies of the church that aren’t real. Some of these artists have a passion for our culture to see who Jesus Christ really is, and that’s why I am still here after 14 years.

CCM: It’s the worldview

On a recent broadcast of The Paul Edwards Program, I asked Jay Swartzendruber, the editor of CCM Magazine, if he and his staff had arrived at a philosophical definition of what Christian music is or isn’t:

It’s a very difficult thing. For one thing – Christian music – we’ve really made it this thing where it’s a genre in our industry and if you look at it honestly, Christian music is not a genre. It’s a description that we use to describe music made by Christians in all kinds of genres, from hip-hop to jazz to hard rock to soft pop, and so it’s not really a genre. If you want to call it a genre, then it’s the only one defined by its lyrics, which is a really odd thing. And we can’t say truthfully that we’ve defined it by who’s making it because what about all the Christians making music that aren’t distributed into Christian bookstores. So we’re saying, “It’s Christian worldview music.” It’s music that has a biblical worldview of life reflected in the lyrics and created by believers.

Advice on direct-mail fundraising appeals

Joel Belz in the May 12, 2007 issue of World Magazine has some practical advice on what to do in response to all of the direct-mail fundraising appeals we all receive from worthy nonprofits:

  1. Cut out the small gifts. You’ll just encourage them and the reality is that over the long term it will cost the organization more to send the appeals for your money than what they actually receive from you.  “You can count on that organization sending you several dozen more appeals – maybe even every single month – costing the organization a minimum of 50 cents each. Do the multiplication.”
  2. Reduce your list of giving ‘targets’ to no more than half a dozen organizations – including your local church. “Start by designating 10 percent of your income to your local church…go on then to pick two, three, or even five other organizations you also want to give to – and right away designate 1 percent of your income for each one.”
  3. Set aside another 1 percent of your income for relatives and friends who appeal to you for support of short-term missions trips.

But what about all those other nonprofits who make appeals to you but you didn’t choose to support?  “…start sending a simple form letter. Tell them lovingly that you’ve picked a handful of organizations to support significantly; that you like what they’re doing but you can’t support everybody; and that for your mutual good they should remove you from all mailing lists. You’ll be saving them some money and yourself some future frustration.”

World Magazine: Junk the junk mail