Over the course of the last year I’ve gotten into Christian hip hop. Of all the people that could introduce me to this art form, it was my old boss from Mars Hill, Jason Wendorf.
Jason is very white. He’s very German. And he has told me that in a former life he was much more emo than hip hop. Now he’s married with three kids and drives a Volvo (though it does have nice rims). A bit of an unexpected passion, huh?
Jason isn’t the only white guy here in Seattle who likes lyrical theology. For as many people around the country who oogle at the indie rock worship music Mars Hill produces, there are just as many at Mars Hillers who are quite entranced by a movement happening from our brothers on the east coast.
Lyrical theology has predominately come out of pastors and hip hop artists associated with Epiphany Fellowship, an Acts 29 church in Philadelphia. For them, rapping about the gospel is intentional missiology. They preach through passages and books of the Bible through their music as well as cover systematic topics.
The thing is, these guys are actually good. Really good. None of this cheesy Christian Eminem parody crap. They are using talents that some perfected long before they were Christians, now to tell others about Him.
For me, listening to Timothy Brindle, Stephen the Levite and Shai Linne has not fed my passion for music, but it’s increased my understanding of the Word. I remember a simple definition for grace from the song “Saved by Grace” by Timothy Brindle:
What is grace?
Grace is unmerited favor
Our inheritance major
cause we cherish the Savior
(Obviously it doesn’t sound that great quoted–you’ve really got to listen to the song, but nevertheless you get my point)
Us Seattle people may seem a little out of place in the lyrical theology world, at least at first glance. But so do Epiphany pastors when they show up at Acts 29 conferences. Imagine a bunch hip hop black guys making their way through crowds of clean-shaven, hipply dressed blond twenty-something guys from places like Colorado (you know, those guys who sit in the front row and wish they were Mark Driscoll).
We all believe the same thing. The expression looks totally different. It’s cool to see that stark difference bring people together instead of draw a big fat line between two very different cultures.
Here is the coolest thing EVER: Mars Hill’s rock band Red Letter backing up Lecrae on a recent visit to Seattle.