I'm most disappointed to discover that Tony Campolo and Graham Kendrick won’t be coming to Dunedin on their NZ tour. They’re going to Invercargill, but not Dunedin? How can such things be?
I’ve admired Campolo for years: his wit, his storytelling, his utter energy, his enthusiasm for God and his ability to communicate it to others, his intelligence and theology, and his willingness to step out into areas that many Christian speakers avoid - such as homosexuality – and give his honest opinions on the subject. Which usually aren’t the same as many other Christians. (He’d probably disagree with the latest Presbyterian approach to dealing with gay ministers, for example; maybe he wouldn’t!)
He’s a bit scary: he puts your own Christianity in the spotlight and makes you question where you’re at – but that’s okay. We need people with what-might-be-called a modern prophetic gift in the wider church. (Far preferable to those who have a ‘prophetic gift’ that’s always proclaiming doom and gloom for the world in general. Sure there were OT prophets like that, but they mixed it with some hope!) Campolo’s prophetic gifting is to focus on issues within the Body and expect some changes to come. He never says, ‘Thus saith the Lord’, but he might often be doing so, in fact.
Yes, I’d probably like to see Graham Kendrick too, although I’m not sure that he’s written anything startling in the music scene for quite some time. He certainly pioneered a bit of a move in the Christian music scene: some of his early songs were outstanding and very popular with congregations. But some of them are also quite awful – the one called, (I think) God of the Poor, is very earnest, and the words themselves make sense, and deal with good issues, and the tune is not too bad, but somehow it never seems to come off, to me, as a whole. Then again, it doesn’t help to have heard Kendrick himself singing it: he has one of those melancholy voices that don’t record well. (Although, if it comes to that, melancholy seems the ‘in’ thing for Christian singers, especially worship leaders. Don’t you hate that catch-in-the-throat thing they all do? And the kind of sobbing feel they use when they’re ‘talking’ to God in a live worship recording? Where’s the joy?)