The following is an except from Mixtape Theology, a Bible study and retrospective inspired by 90s Contemporary Christian music and culture, available October 2 from NRT Books and authors, Rachel Cash and William “Ashley” Mofield. Mixtape Theology will take 90s CCM fans to “Another Time, and Another Place” to “Dive” into the biblical passages behind their favorite 90s Contemporary Christian Music (CCM). Full of nostalgia, renewed wonder, and a whole lot of 90s cheese, readers are encouraged to fall in love with these songs and the gospel all over again. Click Here To Pre-Order Now
Remember Jeff Foxworthy’s hilarious “You might be a redneck if” routine from the 90s? This inspired us. To ready ourselves for our nostalgic ride through 90s Christianity, we reached far back in the memory banks. Prepare to have old memories unlocked. “You might be a 90s Christian if…”
1. You participated in the “interpretive movement.”
This alternative to dancing for Christians was the perfect loophole for non-movement denominations. Long before Napoleon Dynamite was making bird motions with the Happy Hands Club, Christian youth groups were dancing and carrying Kathy Troccoli’s candle to sanctuaries all over America.
2. You boycotted Disney.
Jiminy Cricket! What did Mickey ever do to you? Snow White and her brand of debauchery deserve a holy rebuke! Right? I (Ashley) am still a proud member of the denomination who led the boycott; however, I think the words of Steve Urkel are quite appropriate: “Did I do that?”
3. You wore a WWJD bracelet.
How could this not be on this list? What a movement! What an idea! What a price! What options! Here is the real question of the decade: “Would Jesus wear a What Would Jesus Do bracelet?” It makes your brain hurt. Or, would His bracelet say LWID (Look what I did?) or QBBAGTM (Quit buying bracelets and give to missions.)?
4. Your True Love waited.
Long before people were kissing dating goodbye, true love was a’waiting. And it was waiting with purity rings, commitment cards, and notes on pretty stationery in bubble cursive with heart-dotted I’s crowned by middle school girls. I (Ashley) am forever thankful for this program that became a movement. I still have the purity ring my wife gave me on our wedding night, along with the note she wrote to her future husband before she ever knew who that might be. Let’s move on to the next one before I start crying sappy, thankful tears, like an above-mentioned middle school girl.
5. You rode on a 15-passenger van many times.
Because of laws about axles or something, everyone now uses mini buses and bubble buses. But safety wasn’t a concern in the 90s. If the air went out, there was sure to be an obnoxious brat to invoke, “This is the Song That Never Ends,” to help pass the time. For the fringe kids who might be visiting, didn’t wear salvation bracelets, or hadn’t been through a True Love Waits ceremony, PDA was a common occurrence–and I’m not talking about the Audio Adrenaline kind.
6. You thought the rapture could happen at any minute.
With the Y2K apocalypse looming and the popular Left Behind book series churning out new releases every 30 minutes, our rapture awareness was strong. Best to always wear clean underwear should they end up in a pile for those left behind to find.
7. You named your pets after your favorite CCM artists.
Move over, Beethoven the dog, dc Bark is in the house. Or, perhaps you had three hamsters named Phillips, Craig, and Dean. Maybe a couple of fish named Bebe and Cece? Maybe not. But, now that I mention it, you like the idea. I think every home deserves a Steven Curtis Chapcat, don’t you?
8. Your youth group had pre-made matching shirts with pastel colors that stated Christian words such as “Hope” or “Sing.”
These were great, until you got to Kings Island and realized there were three other youth groups present with the same shirt from the same company, and they all rolled their short sleeves too. If you wanted to be slightly cooler, you wore a good parody shirt, like “Lord’s Gym” or “Jesus is my King” on the Burger King logo. Now that I think about it, I (Ashley) wore a knockoff Reebok logo sweatshirt that said Reeborn in my senior pictures. That was ‘da bomb. Add Bugle Boy jeans and Dr. Martens. Ensemble complete.
9. You let your snot run free at the end of a mission trip as “Friends are Friends Forever” played.
I know this was the 80s, but the repercussions reached far into the 90s. It’s as if a small “friends forever” stone was dropped in a pond, and it rippled and rippled. The tears of those experiences made new ponds for new “friends forever” stones, and the snot flowed freely in youth groups all across our great country.
10. You tried to stay awake during a contemporary service for young people at 8:00 am.
Yes, you read that correctly. A contemporary service, geared toward “young” people. At. Eight. In. The. Morning. What were they thinking? That makes as much sense as Jerry Falwell’s thoughts on the purple Teletubby. We were already sleepy-eyed, then would repeat “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever” for 12 minutes? Good luck with that. Thankfully, some things evolve for the better, such as Birkenstocks with socks.
11. You witnessed the introduction of a new leadership position in the church–the overhead guy.
In conjunction with contemporary music came a new role, and church spiritual gift inventories needed major adjustments. Long before PowerPoint illuminated on a giant screen, the “song leader” projected song lyrics using an old-school “math teacher” overhead projector. This was quite the controversy because the holy hymn books written by the disciples in the first century, and donated in memory of Great Aunt Flossie, didn’t get used. The travesty was real. This new position involving the shifting of transparencies between worship songs required humility, professionalism, coordination, and precision, the likes never witnessed in modern-day ecclesiology.
12. You were in a youth choir.
Before praise bands and Glee, youth groups had choirs. And the reason you had a choir was to learn a musical complete with synchronized dance moves and props built by the old men of the church and the choir director in his spare time. Our youth group toured the Florida panhandle and held multiple-night performances of Let’s Go to the Rock, a 50s-based Christian musical that included poodle skirts and malt shops. Al Denson’s The Extra Mile made the rounds as well as Michael W. Smith’s The Big Picture. “Cue split-track cassette tape!”
13. You had a Jesus Fish on your car.
It embodies the American dream that someone somewhere may be rich because they invented the ICTHUS Jesus fish for cars. This is a great idea until someone cuts you off in traffic . Trying to maintain one’s witness and not cast off all restraint is too much for any Christian to endure. “What if I Stumble” was written about driving with a Jesus fish, right? To be sure, only real Jesus Freaks were so bold as to attach these plastic beauties to their
lowered Honda Civic.
14. You believe there has never ever ever ever ever been a show like VeggieTales.
One did not have to be a kid to enjoy born again, Jesus- loving vegetables. Whether lookin’ for your hairbrush or singing about Mr. Nezzer’s bunny, Bob and Larry brought respect to Christian produce everywhere.
15. You got “the talk” from dc Talk.
OK, maybe not really. But their songs did unabashedly talk about abstinence and womanly virtue. I (Rachel) remember first learning about Proverbs 31 by its mention in “That Kinda Girl.” So, yeah, thanks. That was a decent Christian talk I needed.
How did you do? Do any hit a little too close to home? Start this conversation with some of your old 90s friends, and see what stories you remember together. Pre-Order Mixtape Theology, available October 2, 2023.
An excerpt from ‘Mixtape Theology,’ a Bible study and retrospective inspired by 90s Contemporary Christian music and culture, available October 2 from NRT Books and authors, Rachel Cash and William “Ashley” Mofield.