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“People must understand that musicians also have a spiritual life and they do go to church and on Sunday we will be fellowshipping at PHD,” Suluman Chimbetu’s publicist Joe Nyamungoma quipped recently. “Secular artistes can also inspire goodness,” he continued. “Those who are going to come for the service will testify that there is nothing wrong in having a secular musician performing at a church service.”

Nyamungoma added for good measure that Suluman was going to substitute most of his lyrics to suit the church set-up.

Nyamungoma made these remarks after one journalist wondered how a secular musician of Suluman’s calibre was going to perform at a church service at the Prophetic, Healing and Deliverance Ministries.

Chimbetu went on to perform at the church service together with gospel musician singer Blessing Shumba.

Previously, Zim dancehall chanter Tocky Vibes had rocked the Christians at the same church.

Well, PHD is not the only church that has invited secular musicians to perform during their services in recent years.

It turns out that all around the country, Christian churches are embracing secular music and musicians, raising debate on whether or not this is the correct way to go.

I have often wondered why it is necessary for churches to invite secular musicians to their church services.

I would have no qualms if the church invites gospel musicians even if the musicians do not belong to the same congregation.

It takes some sort of inspiration for one to come up with a song.

In this case, no one in the church is really sure on what inspires secular musicians to come up with their compositions.

I am not saying all gospel musicians are inspired by God to compose their songs, far from it.

There are a number of gospel musicians who have been found wanting, especially in their social lives and on what really inspires them.

There are incidents when some gospel musicians were actually discovered to be using drugs as their inspiration when composing songs.

But there are some gospel musicians who have been under scrutiny for some time and these have become established in the genre.

Such musicians can easily gain the trust of the church leaders that they will deliver the appropriate message.

But I do not envisage the spiritual gain that someone at a church service can derive from a performance by the likes of Tocky Vibes or Suluman.

While the two might have a social message that resonates with the views of many, their songs might end up purely fulfilling the entertainment part for the church-goers.

Yet people do not go to church entirely as an entertainment seeking aenture, they will be looking for something that benefits them spiritually.

And Nyamungoma’s utterances that Suluman was going to substitute lyrics to his songs to suit the church set-up clearly demonstrates the complication and dilemma that arises from him trying to please the audience.

If Suluman’s songs are acceptable within the church set-up, why not churn out the hits as raw as they are?

The fact that he struggles to flow with the audience and end up bastardising his songs clearly indicates that Suluman was really out of place.

I can bet that on his song “Sean Timba” where he sings: “Kana munhu anetsa varume batai munhu”, Suluman had to change to: “Kana Satan anetsa varume batai Satan”.

If Sulu’s inspiration was from the church he could easily have included the Satan bit in his lyrics of the original song, but he could not do that because his views lie somewhere else.

So, what then is happening? Is the church going through a musical evolution where anything that goes is easily acceptable?

If it is a revolution, then in my humble opinion it’s a move in the wrong direction.

I also think that churches might also be using the secular musicians as a way of pulling the crowds.

For instance, the performance by Suluman and Tocky Vibes were aertised well before the actual day.

It is like, “Come to our church and see Sulu and Tocky perform” and what is the difference between such an aert and that put up by a nightclub or any other entertainment joint?

This reminds me of the subject I tackled last week on some churches deviating from the use of music to praise and worship God.

Secular music and musicians are used as an attraction and simply turning some churches into entertainment centres.

I would be happy if people are attracted to a service by the music from the church’s praise and worship team instead of secular musicians who might be having other things on their minds while performing.

I am not saying there is entirely something wrong with secular musicians, but surrendering the praise and worship segment of the church to musicians singing secular songs might not go down well with some.

I agree that secular artistes can also inspire goodness, make an audience reflect and put them back in touch with their often neglected, soulful side, but the problem is that their music does not point people to the source – that is Jesus Christ.

There is something wrong when after a church service, people remain stuck with certain songs that do not exalt Jesus running through their minds.

Yet in a normal set-up, songs about Jesus should be running through one’s head after church instead of other lyrics sticking with them for whole of the following week.

Yes, people have their own choices, they can listen to secular songs in their homes, cars or anywhere else, but the problem comes when it is officially accepted in church.

Source : The Herald