A few months ago, while flying to Dallas as part of my day job, I found myself sitting next to a fellow believer. We spoke at length about our faith and our respective congregations. For the majority of the flight, however, we spoke with great passion about the general mediocrity of Christian artistic output and the attending apparent lack of discernment among Christian consumers.

What do I mean? It is my opinion that we, intentionally or not, tend to lower the bar when it comes to assessing Christian music, literature, and film. We are disposed to hold Christian artists to a different, lower standard. We often choose to consume an inferior product merely because it bears the “Christian” moniker.

I am part of the problem. I am not an exception. I am probably one of the worst offenders.

When I have a personal or emotional stake in a person, I will exhibit a greater tolerance for an average or substandard performance. I reward these people with praise beyond what their work warrants.

Because I am guilty of this myself, I find it difficult to accept commendation from other believers. I believe most will error on the side of “being nice”. So how, in this environment, do I judge whether my efforts are truly worthy of their compliment?

Thankfully, I have friends that I trust to speak truth to me – friends who will, in an honest and loving manner, tell me exactly what they think. I don’t always like to hear it, but I’d prefer a difficult truth over well-meaning insincerity.

I wonder: do we validate or affirm out of fear of being perceived as unkind or un-Christian? Or have we become so cloistered within our safe, spiritual world that we can no longer judge between excellence and the “just OK”?

I fear that, in an attempt to appear polite and supportive, we fail to temper and refine our art. By neglecting to critique, in an honest and loving manner, we promote a culture that endorses a continuous and accelerating deterioration of quality. When we avoid speaking truth, we not only hinder an artist’s growth, we diminish and call into question the abilities of his peers.

Do you agree that this is an issue? Have you witnessed a lack of discernment at your church, in your ministry? How do you suggest we “right the ship” and rededicate ourselves to excellence?

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