Wednesday, April 23, 2008

...what if pastors were treated like CCM artists

Each year in April the GMA (Gospel Music Association) hosts the annual Dove Awards.  Tonight marks the 39th Dove Awards and will be broadcast live on the Gospel Music Channel (189) at 8pm eastern. 

The Dove Award is given to artists of all musical genres within CCM that the GMA members through voting deem worthy to receive. The award carries no real industry weight; and is, for lack of better words, an imitation Grammy for CCM artists who are not good enough to compete in the secular pop music world, but want to feel for a moment like they had and are... pop stars. The Dove Award gives them the artificial sense of being "real artists" with all the trappings of winning a Grammy - without actually being good enough to win one. What should be somewhat of a concern to all of us as Christians, is that CCM artists are the rare part of the body of Christ that honors itself by giving awards to itself each year for serving the Lord. No artist in CCM, if truth be told, really likes The Dove's... but they do love the free "TV-air-time”, the after show parties, and the press that the broadcast of the Dove Awards affords them.

So considering this self-induced phenomenon, I had an interesting idea: what if pastors were honored by the same status that CCM artists are and the GMA created an award show especially for them each year? It would be called "The Episkopos Awards." Episkopos is the Greek word in 1 Timothy 3:1 for overseer—meaning to “look intently into the needs of another.”  This is the heart of biblical shepherding within pastoral ministry, but sadly, seldom ever done (cp, Heb. 13:17).

So here is a tongue and cheek approach to what the award categories on a GMA ballot might look like for the coveted "Episkopos."  As you're reading and enjoying this sarcastic-rich list, consider praying for all in the CCM industry to repent of such self-aggrandizement and thank the Lord that pastors haven’t sunk to this level… YET.

Announcing evangelicalism's latest and greatest award, "The Episkopos Awards" designed for the pastor in mind.

Here are your categories for voting (add your own as well):
Sermon of the year

Exposition of the year

Best exegesis of the year using only the subjunctive, aorist, pluperfect form of the verb

Best alliteration of the year

Best contextualized, culturally relevant, ecumenical, seeker-sensible, postmodern gospel presentation of the year

Best wooden pulpit, non-hydrolic, of the year

Best wooden pulpit, hydrolic, of the year

Best Plexiglas pulpit of the year

Best conference of the year not containing the words "camp" or "meeting"

Best emerging sermon of the year with vulgarity, scatological humor, and seedy illustrations

Best emerging/emergent sermon of the year that actually used the Bible during the sermon

Best Elder Board of the year

Best Elder Board of the year that doesn't shepherd the congregation, but meets regularly to discuss the needs of the church

Best hymn/chorus bulletin order selection that tied into the sermon of the year

Best oration of the year

Best prayer of the year impromptu

Best prayer of the year written

Best prayer of the year taken from but not credited to a Puritan

Best offering presentation of the year without using KFC buckets

Best Church Discipline of the year

Best Restoration of the year

Best Sunday School curriculum of the year using Beth Moore materials

Best rapture sermon of the year without referring to the Left Behind Series

Best teaching tape, CD, or MP3 of the year

Best short form sermon, seminar, or devotional of the year

Best announcements of the year presented by a non-staff member

Best altar call of the year without singing "Just As I Am" or repeating a praise chorus more than twice

Best use of secular music as worship music of the year

Best skit of the year

Best pastor's conference of the year

Best bulletin insert of the year not prepared by a multi-level marketing company

Best vocal performance when preaching on mic

Best vocal performance when not using a mic

Best vocal performance when using a headset

Best PowerPoint presentation of the year that you can actually read without turning off all the sanctuary lights

Best looking pastor's study of the year using real wood

Best sanctuary tech presentation of the year

And finally, best round of golf of the year not played on a Monday, without using a "foot-wedge," and having at least one non-Christian in the foursome (no gambling allowed)

There you go people... what do you think? Do we need stars in the body of Christ, or do we need servants? Wouldn't it be wonderful to see biblically trained "musician-priests" or "musicianaries" serve the church in song, to lead God's people in praise and worship, to proclaim the gospel, and to encourage others in the body of Christ in their walk with the Lord through Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs? To be trained as chief musicians in the craft of music and in the Word of God?

Thank the Lord for your pastor today beloved; and let them know what awaits the faithful under-shepherd of Christ is better than any award others may extend.  Of to hear one day "well-done thou good and faithful servant" from the King of kings and Lord of lords. That's all the "award" anyone of us should ever seek in this life; including those in Contemporary Christian Music as well.

For further consideration:
What would the Apostle Paul say about awards for serving the Lord? Read here.
READ THE 107 THESES, and help bring reformation to the Christian Music Industry (CCMI)


Wayne Shih said...

And while we're laughing ... someone here in Canada is producing a reality TV show like American Idol, only it's a preaching competition.

Bhedr said...

Ssssshhh!.....ssssshhhhhhh! Be vewwy quite. You may be giving the Crwouches ideas.
I can see Rod Parsley reading the large font screen while he recounts John Hagee's history for a lifetime acheivement.

Hey I like Keith Greens take on all this Idolatry. Read it on pages 296 & 297 of NO COMPROMISE.

Jabbok said...

You forgot...

Most deserts eaten during a Wednesday Pot Luck.

2Tal said...

"The award carries no real industry weight; and is, for lack of better words, an imitation Grammy for CCM artists who are not good enough to compete in the secular pop music world, but want to feel for a moment like they had."

Belting out chuckles...

littlegal_66 said...

It's funny you should come up with this "awards" list, because I recently came across a website that, while it hasn't started giving out awards to pastors yet, it HAS ranked "tv evangelists," according to an online opinion poll that anyone can participate in. I know you prefer we not link to other sites, but I think everyone might find it an interesting read. (Sad part is, their poll is not tongue in cheek). BTW, they've ranked Dr. MacArthur at #15, behind the likes of Billy Graham, Charles Stanley, Joel Olsteen, and Chuck Swindoll. (Oh, what do they know? I don't think he should be lumped in with their "tv evangelist" group, anyway).

Jim from said...

I think Rick Warren is already giving out such awards, or at least one. It's called the "Church Health Award", and as this newspaper article reveals, Pastors are thrilled to receive it:

I agree with Bob DeWaay. I'd rather just have the kind of award that God gives:

Funny post though Steve, but not as funny as that "just blowing smoke" video you posted earlier:-)


littlegal_66 said...

Also, that's an interesting drawing you chose to accompany the article. If only I had known you were going to use something along those lines, I could easily have drawn one with caricatures of Pat Robertson, Dr. Dobson, Chuck Colson, Paul Crouch, and all the rest of the modern day "profits" we seem to wind up discussing frequently around here. (I could have rendered them in a giant baptistry, swimming or drifting on air mattresses-Dr. Dobson could be doing a cannonball into the water--oh, the creative juices are starting to flow, now).

My mind is racing--maybe I'll do one anyway and email it to you--perhaps you can find a use for it in the future. (There's a link to my blog with samples of my portraiture on my profile page).

Wyman Richardson said...


How about:

Best use of the phrase "MY Bible says..."

Best repetitive story involving the preacher's children.

Best repetitive story involving the preacher's seminary days.

(I'm writing as a preacher by the way, so I know what I'm talking about!)

Bret said...

Well, we all know that Joel Osteen would go away with the most awards. Runners up would be folks like Rick Warren, John Hagee, the father and son pastors Charles and Andy Stanley, etc.

The real "winners" of course are all those pastors and elders who are serving the Lord by proclaiming the infallible, inerrant, sufficient word of the living God without concern for numbers for the sake of numbers, money, recognition etc.

May God continue to work in the hearts of may pastors, to bring honor and glory to Him alone.


Denise said...

I had to chime in. This has been one of my pet peeves (sp?) re: the CCM. I hate the Dove Awards and they contradict everything Scripture says about serving.

That said, here's a few more idea:

Best Prayer Labyrinth

Best smelling incense candles

Best mood music (think of the piano that usually accomanies the begging/guilt-applying at the end of a sermon)

Best church website

Hippest Youth Pastor

Best glossy neighborhood flyers inviting people to come to their seeker-friendly, non-offensive church

And one more....

Most non-offensive all-around church (must include a cafe)

emma said...

well said.

I listen to christian music only, but i had no idea there was a Grammy-themed awards ceremony... that kinda takes all the God out and puts all the glory on the competitors (and as far as I thought, that wasn't really the point).

Just my thoughts, thanks for hosting them.

Hayden said...


How about:

Best Gospel presentation without using the Word sin

Best misuse of the Pharisee label

Best Church Sign to bring in the lost

Thanks for the half-chuckle. It was a half-chuckle because the serious part is really serious.

The Spokesman said...

Don't forget to add the ever coveted award of:

The greatest builder of churches on sand that the world has ever seen!

The Spokesman said...

Jim Elliff said in an article entitled The New Gospel: Appealing But Not Revealing, "The disturbing thing about the American church in general is that our mentality about evangelism does not reflect Christ’s. We often correctly lead the unbelievers up to the door of salvation but then reconstruct the door wide enough for them and their rebellion. We cannot stand for the truth to create resistance. We have a hard enough time with our image anyway. (Nobody wants to be a leader in the Church Loss Movement!)"

I wonder how many would covet that award!

gigantor1231 said...


I think that there is such a award, it is just in the form of mega church dynasties. Included are book royalties, a billet in your Denom's conference tour..... sorry, can't go on because I am becoming ill thinking about it!
My Pastor told me the three G's of pastoring today and all would be well advised to adhere to them;

Keep your hands off

The Girls
The Gold
The Glory

John 3: 30

'30 He must increase, but I must decrease!'

littlegal_66 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
littlegal_66 said...

First off, I didn't make all the comments labeled "littlegal66" today, only this one.

Other possible categories:

"Best New Years Eve Party Promoted as a Christian Alternative to a New Years Eve Party"

"Best Foyer Coffee Cafe"

"Best Comedic Performance From the Pulpit"

"Best Use of a Guest Appearance Opportunity on National Television."

"Best Guest Appearance By a Minister on a Comedy Central Program"

My nomination for Best Oration:
Rev. Jeremiah Wright

Jim Kang said...

I read this with much sadness because it is too often a reality. I still can't get over the fact that some artists in CCM demand a thousands of dollars for their one hour or less performance (often songs with theologically questionable lyrics) while many pastors and missionaries faithfully serve without such a demand.

Can you imagine pastors demand such amount every time we preach or asked to preach as a guest?

How is it that people who sing theologically and biblically erroneous songs make over six figures a year with a plush lifestyle while many faithful pastors who proclaim the truth don't?

Trust me, as a pastor I'm not envious (Prov. 23:17). I only fear for them and those who support them. I believe the entertainment-driven ministries exist as long as there is a demand from entertainment-driven churches and Christians. Unfortunately, this is a sad commentary on American Christianity.

Thanks for the post Steve.

Jim Kang

PDS said...

Jim -- enjoyed your post...and what a verse!

Paul C. Quillman said...

I live in Franklin. I own a house cleaning business. About 2 years ago, I was driving down OHB towards I65, from Nolensville Rd. The big church on the right had a sing that a local CCM station placed, saying that it was the "Church of the Week". I nearly wrecked my car. I was astounded that we have gone to the point of rating churches in a contest that, I am afraid, has no benchmarks set in Scripture.

May God continue to extend His mercy to us, a very underserving people.


Paul C. Quillman said...

I live in Franklin. I own a house cleaning business. About 2 years ago, I was driving down OHB towards I65, from Nolensville Rd. The big church on the right had a sing that a local CCM station placed, saying that it was the "Church of the Week". I nearly wrecked my car. I was astounded that we have gone to the point of rating churches in a contest that, I am afraid, has no benchmarks set in Scripture.

May God continue to extend His mercy to us, a very underserving people.


Grizzle McBoom said...

Here in Australia we have Hillsong (australain biggest single church)who have an annual conference. Wot they do is give each attendee at the conference a CD (in their conference pack) of their latest "Worship Music". As our CD Buying population is so small and diverse, BINGO! their CD races to the top of the secular charts!! Maybe you can add some foreign Church award for ingenuity and manipulation. You gotta include the Benny Hinn award for theological exuberance, and the Hal Lindsay award for Swallowing Camels!!

parsonsipe said...

I have watched roughly ten minutes of Dove Awards in the last 20 years. However, (and not intending to disparage Michael, who has done a good bit of work I appreciate), I saw Michael W. Smith walk up to receive a Dove award a few years ago and his first statement was, "if I had known how much work was involved to getting this, I would not have done it". I would like to think he never had the praise and adulation of men in mind as he wrote and performed his music, but a statement such as this can be quite telling.

Debbie said...

You started me thinking about this because I’d never given it much thought before. In order to be consistent, wouldn’t it stand that there is never any room for anyone to receive any recognition for anything they have done that is directly related to ministry? Yes, this kind of awards show is “recognition on steroids” (not my cup of tea – must confess I’ve never seen it), but it can’t be faulted simply because of its size and reach. For example, consistency would then dictate that anyone who authors a book or article should not include any biographical information that draws attention to or recognition of other ministry related accomplishments, etc. At first blush, that would seem to be a little bit of a stretch, wouldn’t it? Doesn’t it have more to do with the heart of the individual?

Whether it be an award received or a simple printed acknowledgement of an accomplishment, doesn’t it all come back to the heart? That’s why Col. 3:17is such a wonderful reminder to always put the focus of whatever we are doing back on Him – “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”

Something I’ve observed in the lives of men and women I greatly admire is that they are never seeking the spotlight. For many of them, though they live in the spotlight, they never seek it. They would be as content and productive out of it as they are in it. Just as many have never had the spotlight shine on them for a moment, yet the consistency of their walk and the impact of their lives on others has been profound.

I know you were having fun with this, but I also think it raises important questions.

Thinking out loud,


Ruth Wilkinson said...

Going all the way back to Wayne's post at the top...

Just to set the record straight, Preacher Idol wasn't a TV show, it was a tongue-in-cheek competition sponsored by a talk radio show. Lay folks recorded an under 10 minute evangelical message and submitted it for judging.

The idea was to spur a debate around the stupefying mediocrity that oozes from so many of our pulpits. Unfortunately, all it created was a bit of whining about the use of the word 'idol'.

Oddly enough, the judges (including Billy Graham's daughter, Ruth) had no problem with it.

And I should know. I came in 3d. :-)

Andrew Jones said...

he he he

what about

- most hands at an altar call?

- fastest rush to the front at an altar call?

- longest prayer without using the word "just"?

- heaviest gold tie bar (pentecostal and non-pentecostal categories)?

Cathryn said...

alright... TSK link to you was a well needed laugh... but hey if you want to see a levite... real thang.... go to and check out Jonathan David Helser.... he's a dear one!!!!

Oh and how is -
"Best not manipulative closing statement" award.

Noah said...

The Dove Awards simply prove to show what the CCM movement is truly all about (not saying this is true of all musicians within the movement- btw, I hate using the word artists, because it's music, not art-but I am saying this is a generally true statement of the movement as a whole). The direction of the CCMM is to make itself- for lack of a better expression- "emergently relevant" to our culture and world. So, not only do they use worldly styles and singing techniques, but they'll use other odds and ends from the world to make it look just as much like the world's music as possible...except for the words, of course (and even then...Take Toby Mac, Superchick, or Lifehouses' lyrics for instance- they talking about boyfriend/girlfriend, or Jesus, cause I sure can't tell....). Not going to lie, I think Steven Curtis Chapman's song, "Dance with Cinderella" is a sweet song of a father's devotion to his daughter, but given that he doesn't create any kind of a Christian picture or tie in of how God loves his daughter infinitely more than he ever could, how does it truly fall within Contemporary Christian Music, other than that a man who claims to be (and I believe genuinely is) a Christian wrote it?

As you've stated on many occassions, Steve, the CCMM is in need of reform. Unfortunately, they don't want to reform. Even as I listen to Casting Crowns talk about reform and how we shouldn't blend in and try to focus on relevance, I can't help but notice that they do this in the rockiest sounding song on their "Altar on the Door" CD. The reality is that CCM isn't going to be reformed. Christians like ourselves who are devoted to praising and honoring the Lord through good, God-honoring styles of music that doesn't sound like the world (even if the instrumentation is similar, it doesn't have to sound like it; Steve Green is a classic example of this; Listen to his "Somewhere in Time" CD if you don't believe me) need to separate (there's that evil word, I know) from those within the CCMM and start our own genre of Christian music that is for the purpose of praising, honoring, and bringing glory to God alone- not for creating a watered Gospel that MIGHT get people into church.

I made up my mind 3 years ago: Any songs I write, publish, and/or record, I will not do concerts, and I will not allow myself to be classified as another "Contemporary Christian Musician." I personally believe it dishonors God's glory to do so, given the current state of the movement. If it reforms...then, who knows.

swile67 said...

Is this the Steve Camp whose concerts I went to in the 80's! Wow! I wondered what happened to you over the years! I LOVED your music and passion for Christ. I am excited to have found your far I have enjoyed the posts I have read. God Bless! Karyne Whalen

Kim said...

I never was comfortable with the Dove Awards - and now finally, someone has verbalized why! LOL So glad I found your blog, thanks to Andrew Jones.

John L said...

As it has moved away from a 1c model of lay-led, all-body-participation, today's Christendom promotes the role and responsibilities of "pastor" far beyond any NT model. In this sense, the church IS living under an imbalanced "awards system" and has been for roughly 1700 years. What was communal has become institutional - episkopo has become ceo.

Perhaps we should try to re-imagine church, the ecclesia, no longer as a Roman hierarchical model but as an all-body participative experience, where all gathered are encouraged to freely give Christ's heart - not just the few "award winners" running the show.

(Grammy voting is skewed towards large blocks of special interests - music industry "denominations" of sorts. Perhaps the Doves are similar? I have no problem with industrial awards, but the CCM subculture is truly bizarre - more like a Hunter Thompson novel than a reflection of Jesus.)

Chris said...

Having come out of the secular music industry and recieving Christ I was turned off when I discovered that much of the Christian music scene was not so different.