Ecstatic Evangelism: The Music, The Gospel, The Message

Heather Moore


Rock music and live concerts have long been sites for meaning, identity, and community. Music, especially live music, can be an intensely emotional experience. For a teenager, it can be a source of personal and social identity and meaning that is virtually unshakeable. Music can serve as temporal memory, facilitating emotional recall and is a very effective tool for organization. Music has the ability to both stir one’s emotions as well plant one firmly and effortlessly in the present moment can be a transcendent religious experience. In this way, music is also a highly effective contemporary evangelization tool, especially for teenagers. However, when North American evangelical organizations1 employ rock music, the live concert experience, and merchandising in an effort to evangelize to a heavily-mediated, attention-challenged youth culture, how much of the gospel message translates into a commitment of faith and how much is derived from the transcendent effect of music and live performance in the moment? Is the message getting lost in the medium, or is the medium the message? Is the live music experience serving to strengthen the message or weaken it?

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