BACHELOR OF THEOLOGY

Author: Anne Charlotte Roel Adams.

Institution: University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Year published: 2018.

Title (US): The theological potential of gospel music and its meaning to the unchurched participant in Denmark.

​Title (DK): Gospelmusikkens teologiske potentiale - og dens betydning for den kirkefremmede deltager i Danmark.

BACHELOR ABSTRACT

The purpose of the assignment is to investigate the theological potential of gospel music and its meaning to the unchurched participant in Denmark. The gospel music ethos consists of inclusion, openness, authenticity, identity and meaning. Gospel music provides Danes with a language in which to understand their own existence. Based on four Danish gospel music leaders’ answers to a case study about Danes’ relationship with gospel, it is therefore relevant to conclude: That gospel music apparently succeeds in bringing together unchurched postmodern participants in a secular Danish society. That it fulfills a need among Danes for meaning and common values. That gospel music breaks down stereotypes and softens stiffened religious beliefs. However, there is a danger that gospel

will become mainstream and thus lose its potential for renewal. Critics urge that Danish gospel must become an expression of functional, active, living faith, so that the gospel choir remains vibrant in its expression and does not wind up becoming a new form of institutionalized religion - completely like the church has become according to some.​

The balance between Danes’ acquisition of gospel and cultural appropriation is a challenge, hence it is important that gospel music is not detached from other dimensions of Danish life. Gospel music must become more than an art form and fullfill its theological potential as a holistic lifestyle integrated into all aspects of choir singers’ lives - like in African American and African cultures. When gospel music is reduced to entertainment it loses its essence; the ability to reach people for Christ with the Gospel. The way to renewal according to the four respondents is visionary leadership and a call for leaders to dare to be more open about their own beliefs and speak up about the Christian content of gospel songs. Danish gospel phase 2.0 must renew itself in order not to stagnate but instead continue to have future impact. Therefore, community and visionary leadership is essential, if gospel is to become a ministry with existential meaning to the unchurched participant.​

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