Using Contemporary Christian Music In The Sunday School
By Rodney L. Pry

Some time ago I heard someone observe that “Baby Boomers love their music, but Generation X’ers live their music!”

Look at just about any teenager or young adult and you will see how true this statemewnt is. Music is an important part of their lives. Their music represents their values, their morals and their motivation. It truly reflects the meaning – or lack of meaning – of their lives.

Many observers have characterized the members of Generation X as being a “lost generation” without purpose or direction. Listening to the secular music that so many of today’s youth feed upon only seems to strengthen such views.
But, is the meaningless, irreverent rock music of today the only music that youth are listening to? Certainly not!

One of the fastest growing segments of music today is Contemporary Christian Music. With words of faith and inspiration set to music that has a sound and beat as captivating as any of today’s music, CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) carries a message of hope and assurance to uplift and strengthen the young Christian and convict the non-Christian of their need for Jesus Christ as personal Savior.

Within the church, more and more use is being made of CCM. Many churches are regularly conducting contemporary services that make extensive use of CCM. Churches are sponsoring contemporary music concerts and youth groups regularly travel to concerts and festivals where CCM is featured. But what about the Sunday school?

Music is not just an inspirational medium; it is also one of the most powerful teaching tools available.
Throughout history, music has been one of the principle methods of passing on information, traditions and beliefs.  

Recent research shows that when words are sung and combined with memorable melody, they are remembered up to eight times more than words that are simply spoken or read.

The messages of many of today’s CCM songs deal with issues that today’s young Christians find important and of particular relevance to their lives, so why not make use of these songs in our Sunday school and use them as teaching tools?

CCM songs can be sued as teaching aids and lesson illustrations, but they can also be used as the lesson itself, by studying the meaning and message of the song.

Here’s how you might proceed:

1. Select a song. To do this you will first need to become a little familiar with CCM. Check out the CCM section of CD’s at your local Christian bookstore and listen to your local CCM radio station. You could also ask class members or friends who are familiar with CCM for suggestions.

2. Listen carefully to the song you have selected. As you listen, pay close attention to its message. The music and the beat often attract people to a song, but what you will really want to study will be the message that the song conveys. If there are subjects that are of particular interest and relevance to the members of your class, select a song that relates to that theme.

3. Get a copy of the words. Most CD’s have the words to the songs printed in their liner. Study the words so that you are fully aware of the theme or themes of the song. When actually studying the song in class, it’s best to have copies of the words for all members to follow as the song is played.

4. Find scriptures that relate to the theme(s). Many songs will list scriptures that were the basis or inspiration for the song. A concordance or cyclopedic index will also be useful in relating a key word or theme from the song to a Bible passage.

5. Develop a lesson plan. Study the scriptures that you have found. Develop questions and other discussion starters. (A good resource might be Dennis Benson’s Creative Bible Studies books. This two-book set contains hundreds of lesson plans and outlines for youth and young adults for all the major scripture passages of the entire New Testament.)  

In developing a lesson plan, remember that teens and young adults learn best through “active learning.” Allow students to discover the Biblical truths for themselves. Use learning games, role play and other learning aids, too.

Be sure that your plans for the lesson include ways of applying the day’s learning to the daily lives of each student. Students could also be encouraged to do additional study outside the classroom during the week ahead.

6. Close the class period by listening to the song again and then have a closing prayer. In addition to studying the meaning and message of various songs, hopefully the use of CCM within your class will encourage members to tune their radios away from secular rock stations and to start listening to Contemporary Christian Music. As your students get “tuned in” to CCM, we are sure that they will discover that it’s a type of music that will bring more than just momentary enjoyment – it will bring hope, faith and inspiration to each day of their lives.