You Might Be an Evangelical Who Grew Up in the 1980s and 90s If . . .

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1. You ever closed a year of youth group or said goodbye at a conference or around a campfire by putting your arms around your friends (preferably those of the opposite sex if possible) and swayed to this song:

2. You ever felt a surge of spiritual adrenaline rush through your body as you watched or participated in a skit based on this song:

3. You ever sat through a presentation honoring your Sunday School teacher or pastor, fighting back tears as you contemplated a scene in heaven where the line was long to thank that person (though also secretly wondering how long the line might be for your own sacrificial ministry):

4. You thought that the lyrics to this anthem represented the apex of God-centered theology:

5. You found yourself simultaneously motivated to evangelize and slightly fearful about the future with this retrospective on the rapture:

6. Somehow a song inviting us to the Father’s big house (with lots of room), with big table (with lots of rooms) and a big yard (where we can play football) never got old and made us want to jump around.

Most folks who were moved or influenced by these songs at the time—and I would include myself among them—would not now look back at these as highwater marks of musical or theological sophistication. I think there is something healthy about being able to smile at such things, while hopefully avoiding the cynicism that so easily mocks everything in evangelical culture.

If you grew up (like me) in this era, what other songs like this marked the soundtrack of your spirituality? And what might songs like this tell us about the evangelical conceptions of spirituality at the time?

  • Michael W. Smith, “Friends” (1983)
  • Carman, “The Champion” (1985)
  • Ray Boltz, “Thank You” (1990)
  • Rich Mullins, “Awesome God” (1988)
  • DC Talk, “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” (1995)
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