A few weeks ago I spoke with Saideh Brown, author of "Can Hip Hop Be Holy?
Much to my surprise she was emphatic about the fact that Hip Hop can never be considered holy. It must be said that Saideh Brown came from a Hip Hop background. Not only did she make a career out of Hip Hop, but she is a native of New York which is where Hip Hop was born.
In my research for this particular show, I learned alot about what Hip Hop is and what it isn't. Contrary to what I first believed, it is not a genre of music. Instead it is a cultural movement that was started by Afrika Bambaataa. It was his response to the ills of society that plagued African Americans that lived in poverty in the city of New York. It was merely an afterthought that rap, (a musical genre), became associated with the movement.
The Hip Hop movenent lifted up pimps, prostitutes, and drug dealers, as the people to whom one must aspire to become. Hip-Hop has changed the very appearance of its followers by creating a look, a way of governing yourself, and a language that should be spoken.
Now this movement is beginning to pop up in church services all over the country. The belief is that you can still walk the walk , talk the talk, and dress the dress of a Hip Hopper and still be holy.
The question that many in the church are asking is, "Where's the change? Isn't it when people see the change in others, that they see that change is possible for them?
The Bible says, "If any man be in Christ he is a new creature." Why try to redeem something that was birthed out of lack, poverty, rebellion, and ethnocentricity? Why not allow God to gift you supernaturally to deal with the spirit in the youth that is pulling them to Hip-hop in the first place?
Should we allow a man that looks thugged-out, and gangstered-up, to get up and validate the Hip-hop lifestyle in church? Many of our youth cannot get decent jobs or even finish school because they refuse to change their look for our society. They want to look gangster and thugged-out like the Hip-hop artists they see, but those artists are paid for looking like that, and our kids can't get ahead looking like them. And now, there are Christian versions of these thugs and gangsters? Shouldn't we reach out to them with an example of how the power of God changes a person rather than how your insides can change, but it does not affect the outside?
Do effective youth ministries really need gimmicks? Are we diminishing, watering down, altering, and apologizing for the Words of God when we try to include Holy Hip Hop in today's church? Are we saying that the church needs to become worldly in order to attract the attention of today's youth?
Or is the opposite true? Is this really a viable way to reach our youth? Is it okay as long as we quote scripture and tell the good news?
I realize that this is probably one of the first unchurched generations. We need to find ways to reach them and bring them to the body of Christ. It is the hypocrisy that exists in some churches that has turned many of them away, but is Holy Hip Hop a viable solution? Some would argur that God would want us to be all things for all men.
What do you think?