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‘HOLY’ HipHop?!

Posted by root On April - 16 - 2010

One thing that 2009 taught us is that no rapper or label is untouchable. When you hear the names Tonex, Ambassador, and Daâ?? T.R.U.T.H. unfortunately the negative comes to mind before the positive. The issue these men have brought to the forefront is the fact that, overall, the current systems of accountability and, more importantly, pastoral care ministry may be poorly executed within their industry. With so much riding on not just the strength of oneâ??s music, but the character one presents, pastoral care for the artist is essential.

What is pastoral care you may ask? Simply, pastoral care is dealing with the emotional and relational sides of ministry. Just because a person is a good preacher or teacher it doesnâ??t necessarily make him a good pastor. Pastoral care keeps in mind the state of the person while directing him toward Christ in healing, growth, grief, and reflection.

For many laypeople, pastoral care is often identified in the exercise of visiting sick and shut-in parishioners or in marriage counseling. But these are not the only outlets for ministers to assist their flocks in dealing with their emotional needs by using the bible and compassion. Pastoral careâ??s main goal is to have an emotionally and spiritually healthy person. Good pastoral care keeps the social structure of the church in tact.

So why does Christian hip hop (CHH) need pastoral care? We can look at three reasons why CHH artists need to undergo some type of consistent pastoral care.

The first is that the industry is very stressful. Artists are away from family and friends. â??Realâ? life does not go on pause while they are on the road. If there are problems at home, they can transfer to the show and vise versa. While the crowd might not see the inner turmoil, it has an effect on the artist. Add in record label demands, internet personal attacks, and â??lifeâ? in general, and you are looking at people who put a lot on the line to minister through the art of gospel rap.

The thing about stress is that if a person doesnâ??t know how to cope with it, he will go to any outlet for stress release. Some outlets are good. Some are bad. If an artistâ??s stress reliever is sex that can be an issue if his spouse isnâ??t on the road with him. If a person turns to medication (of any form) to cope with stress, that can lead to substance addiction. When we look into the details of stress we find that just because people engage in a stress reliever, it doesnâ??t mean their stress levels are in a healthy zone. Any added stress would only make things worse.

Letâ??s say someoneâ??s stress level is 60 and their line of being â??highly stressedâ? is 50. If a negative behavior only lowers the stress level to 51 the person is still highly stressed. Pre-show or post-show pastoral care, and especially during a tour, is essential so that honest expressions of thought and emotion can be addressed. Not only so that the minister can be aware of any behavior changes or red flags, but also so that countermeasures can be taken.

The second reason why CHH artist should receive pastoral care is that there needs to be someone they can talk to that wonâ??t cost them their job or destroy their image. A good example of this would be the Ambassadorâ??s situation. I think that what he went through could have been avoided if he had someone to talk to outside of his community. Yes, I did say outside of his community.

For anyone of his stature to admit serious character flaws could have strong repercussions. Even the expression of ideas or feelings that seem to border on something serious would cause major ripples. I feel that Ambassador was a victim of his status in that there was no one he could talk to while his issues where still small.

Satan loves isolation because it allows sin to grow unchecked and unrevealed. Just because we are spiritually born again does not mean we are without faults. To an extent the community expects artists to be perfect. The ones that are the most honest about their humanity have the â??controversialâ? or â??Iâ??m praying for themâ? stigmas attached to them. This can cause these artists to feel isolated, which makes getting help in the community almost impossible. The isolation is only magnified when you have an  artist that publicly promotes a viewpoint or moral standard.

The final reason why CHH needs pastoral care is that the current model of accountability focus has failed. It has been stated in various ways that Cross Movement Records has the most ministry involvement with their artists than any other label. There have been protocols and such that have been attributed to them to stop certain things that can happen on the road. The main thing that gets emphasized is the accountability model.

The accountability model is assistance in the form of a deterrent. The person doesnâ??t want to do the actions because they have to confess to their group. The idea that is promoted is to imagine the destruction to your home and your ministry if you fall into temptation. To an extent fear is used as method of inspiration. But this is a rational response that only helps in situations in which the person is fully thinking about the situation. On top of that, if the personâ??s emotional or rational scales are out of balance, then the recognition of the destruction is not enough. This method has now been publicly proven to not work, not once, but twice (via Ambassador and Daâ?? T.R.U.T.H. â?? two of CMRâ??s most high-profile artists).

One might say Iâ??m taking cheap shots. But letâ??s look at the reality of the situation. The bastion of moral standards has had a wall blown down by enemy. Pretending the front gate is secure is foolish and delusional. In all honesty I wish the pure accountability model were effective because it is friendly on both time and economic fronts. But the system is broke and it needs to be replaced.

If the accountability model failed CHH with such a small exposure and small following, what will happen when the exposure and following gets even bigger? What will happen when the pressure to turn to vices is 10 to 20 times stronger? What will happen to CHH community when it faces an artist who commits suicide due to excessive stress and isolation?

Yes, God is good. Yes, Christ heals. But there needs to be interaction that goes beyond a close group of accountability partners. The sad thing with accountability partners is that over time they have a hard time seeing past the good in people. But often we forget what Jesus said in Mark 10:18 â??No one is good except the father alone.â?

So how can CHH effectively implement pastoral care? First of all, there needs to be a trusted minister or counseling agency that the artist can go to that doesnâ??t affect their economic or social status at the label. Many high stress jobs have hotlines for employees to call if they are overstressed or suicidal. These companies do not notify the employer that the employee called. And many times it is even the employer that encourages the employee to call the support number. The same applies here. Labels need to realize that at the end of the day, all the money they spent on the promotion of an artist will be wasted if they have a mental or moral breakdown. There is no way for a label to be aware of the internal issues of an artist, but having a pastoral care agent will allow someone else to help out the situation.

The second thing that can be done is for the industry to have some public talk about ministry to artists. This needs to extend past life on the road. What needs to be looked at are the emotional effects of life in the industry and the major causes of stress of males and females – both married and single. Each of those categories or mixtures has different stressors. Then look at practical means and currently implemented measures to prevent or minimize negative or destructive behaviors.

I also feel that any form of internal ministry to artist that a label presents should be shared among peers, artists, and labels for the betterment of the industry. Even measures independent artist take to protect themselves may revolutionize CHH moral maintenance requirements.

We are facing a new year and a new page in Christian hip hop. As the artist exposure and quality grows, so will the challenges. We must be wise and see that if we are to stand on morals then we need to change how we defend them. If we donâ??t, we will look like every other Christian hypocrite the world sees.

2 Responses so far
  1. jumz Said,

    wasup i agree with you on that. but a quick question, between hiphop n rock, which 1 has the ugliest background? why is hiphop less appreciated in the church than rock? personally am an hiphop head n cant stop listening to akina truth or amba coz of their shortcoming, furthermore they came out in the open n confessed, then suspended their ministry in order for God to work on them. what about those ministers who do stuffs n hide? n who doesnt sin? it takes a real man to come in the open n baadaye let God work on him… plus now amba is back. hiphop can be holy

    Posted on April 28th, 2010 at 16:45

  2. admin Said,

    Hey jumz,thnx for posting your comment.Wel the truth is,a sin is a sin.Basically wat we trying to convey to the public is that we ought to be more careful in what we listen to and not everyone who calls on the name of Jesus is born Again.I agree with you on the account of amba and truth.What they did when they suspended their minstries was really good and a good example.Basically we just have to be keen and not accept everything that comes our way.But i stand to be corrected.Cheers and thanks Jumz for your support

    Posted on April 28th, 2010 at 16:55

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