Seminaries Incorporate Hip-Hop Into Curriculum and Culture

The Christian Century reported from the Religion News Service late last week about two leading black seminaries who are embracing hip-hop music and culture as a way to speak the language of the next generation. Alton B. Pollard III, dean of Howard University School of Divinity, says they “have no choice” if ministers are going to reach their young people, even though they admit the hip-hop culture is a little difficult to “get with.” But even though professors and seminary leaders are a bit “late to the dance” when it comes to the genre, they’re attempting to make up for lost time by offering students the opportunity to analyze “protest music” and the spoken word in their classes and reading books on the genre such as The Hip-Hop Church.

Some religious leaders remain dismayed at hip-hop’s angry and sometimes violent lyrics with suggestions of drug use. But Joshua Wright, sociologist at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, said even though the sinful behavior should not be condoned, these undertones don’t “make all hip-hop artists devil worshippers.” He even said hip-hop artists consider themselves “misfits caught between two worlds” whose concerns and suffering can be used for good in the church.

One local pastor commented on the idea: “Maybe we needs some fitted caps on Sunday…Maybe we need to dress down. Maybe we need to change some things we’ve become accustomed to.” Other local pastors are offering hip-hop concerts as outreach events.

What do you think? What good can come from incorporating hip-hop culture and messaging into our ministries to young people? What are the risks? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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