Why Shouldn’t Christian Artists Collaborate With Secular Artists?7 min read
This is written in response to a question that someone asked me about whether it was good for a Christian artist to collaborate with a secular artist. Or in the specific, Did Tasha Cobbs Leonard “do right” collaborating on a song with Nicki Minaj?
I would like to start with a couple of things.
For an action to be acceptable to God and qualify as a mark of faithfulness, It must be done in a way that glorifies God by God’s people with the singular motive of doing it for God’s glory.
Late John Wimber said a couple of years back “The real test, in these days, will not be the writing and producing of new and great worship music. The real test will be the godliness and character of those who deliver it.”
A Place For Collaboration
I want to state that I believe that there is a place for Christian and secular musicians to collaborate. The logic is very simple. All good does not reside within the church, the world out there still has good in it.
There is only one collaboration that I think Christian and secular musicians should not do — any collaboration done for the purpose of bringing spiritual renewal or rebirth.
My reason for this is simple — an unbeliever doing that kind of music would be a hypocrite because he or she would be calling people to a life that he or she has not experienced. See 1 John 1:3 — We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
Personally, I think we as Christians do the unbelievers a dis-service if we bring them to do this work without them having the experience of God. To do this is to treat them like mercenaries and as Scripture has shown God does not want His work done by mercenaries no matter the skill they may possess. Scriptures are replete with examples to serve as guides for us.
I also do not go with the “it touched me” response as a basis for justifying this action. God uses all things to His glory but it does not mean that all things will be glorified by God.
In my opinion, we can collaborate with secular musicians to do any form of art as long as we are not asking them to be hypocrites.
Where Is The Devil In This Detail?
Do you know that even the devil is used by God for His glory — which is the reason why he has not been destroyed already. I always find it laughable when people say that the devil is fighting God. It is a lie — he cannot even try it.
The devil simply knows that God will always rule by His Holiness and simply tries to find ways to push mankind to stand against that Holiness Rule. God lets him continue to do that in order to prove to the devil that man can willing choose God even when everything is stacked against Him. The devil continues to exist simply because of God high confidence in man’s free will to choose the sacrifice of Jesus over all else.
A friend of mine in one of her lowest point said the radio just started playing Michael Jackson’s “You Are Not Alone”. God used the song to remind her that He was there for her. As you know, that is not why MJ wrote the song but God used it.
Friends For A Cause
In my opinion, we can collaborate with secular musicians to do any form of art as long as we are not asking them to be hypocrites. Their time with us should give them an opportunity to experience Christian fellowship and friendship.
It’s the same way with the rest of us — we work, live and play with unbelievers but we won’t let them do evangelism or Christian encouragement with us. I see no reason why Christian artists shouldn’t do the same.
I recall Kirk Franklin’s Lean On Me song (collaboration with Mary J Blige, Bono, R.Kelly, Crystal Lewis & The Family). This was really a song about showing compassion and care to people in need around you.
You don’t need the Christian experience to sing it. You could also sing it as a Christian and know that it is something you should be doing (small trivial — there is a video of me singing the R.Kelly part with my fellowship choir during my undergraduate days somewhere on youtube if you can find it)
With God – You Can
Christian ministry requires 2 components — A basis to attract and a basis to convert.
There is only one way to convert, by the HOLY SPIRIT (John 16:8,9 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me;).
Creating Attraction requires creativity and research on our part but it must be done not to draw attention to ourselves but to God. If we make the attraction about us, we will always be under pressure to keep it up.
This is one of the reasons why we need to be responsive to the needs of the people and adjust our attraction accordingly. But in my opinion, it should never be about us, it should be about how we respond to the people.
For example, Paul created an attraction to the people of Athens by talking about the Unknown God (Acts 17:23 ). According to history, the city of Athens had been plagued with disasters. The people figured that there was a god somewhere that needed to be appeased.
After appeasing a couple of their known gods with no success, they built the altar to The Unknown God and offered sacrifices to it. And the disasters stopped.
So, they guessed they had gotten the god right, they just didn’t know the identity of the god. Paul leverages on that and starts his message “attraction” from that point.
Creating Attraction requires creativity and research on our part but it must be done not to draw attention to ourselves but to God.
But We Can’t Forget…
Despite everything, I have written about not collaborating with secular artists for ministry work, I know that God sometimes may make an exception. If God made a preacher out of a donkey, He sure can do stranger things. If He can use the devil to his glory, why can He not use the people He created in His image? But we should not live thinking the exception is the new norm.
This takes me back to the John Wimber quote “The real test, in these days will not be the writing and producing of new and great worship music. The real test will be the godliness and character of those who deliver it.”
We should not be overawed by people delivering a great performance that has people purring for more — we should be challenged by the testimony of their lives. This is why Christian artists I like, I want to follow their faith journey as it is reflected in their everyday life.
Let me leave you with a thought from Bob Kauflin — “God doesn’t accept our worship because we feel worthy or because we feel close to him. He accepts us through faith in what Jesus Christ did 2000 years ago. That’s how we have acceptable offerings of worship because of what Jesus did.”