About Luke Larsen

Luke Larsen is a freelance writer, music lover, and indie game enthusiast hailing from the Great Northwest. His writing has been featured in publications such as Paste, RELEVANT, GameChurch, and Prefix. You can find him tweeting at @lalarsen11.

  • http://opus.fm/ Jason Morehead

    I attended the festival seven times, and it holds a VERY special place in my heart, so I’m very glad that CAPC wrote something about it’s demise. However, I want to point out that the festival was hardly, if ever, about “Contemporary Christian Music”. Sure, some recognizable CCM artists performed on its stages, but the festival’s true strength was that it focused on the fringe, on all of those Christian artists who didn’t, couldn’t, or wouldn’t fit in the normal CCM world, but rather, wanted to break out of that subculture.

    So while Cornerstone was very much a Christian event in that the vast majority of artists and attendees were Christian, it was not your typical Christian event because every aspect of it — from the musicians to the speakers to the various presentations — was focused on engaging the rest of the culture. Indeed, I would say that Cornerstone paved the way for the very outlook — i.e., moving boldly into “the scary world of discernment and cultural engagement” — you outline in your final paragraphs.

    I would also contend that, while the decline of the Christian music industry in general certainly played a role in Cornerstone’s closing, the rise of the internet also played a significant role. For many years, Cornerstone — along with a handful of other fests, like TOMfest and the Purple Door Festival — was one of the few places to find out anything about what was going on in the underground/alternative Christian arts scene; if you were in a band, Cornerstone was THE place you went to get exposure. And for those of us in that scene, Cornerstone was THE place we went to be with like-minded people. However, with the rise of the internet, it’s far easier for bands to get their music out there, and it’s far easier to connect with people. Cornerstone’s role in all of that has become increasingly marginalized.

  • http://www.theretuned.com Matthew Linder

    When I was in college I was in a Christian Alternative/Punk band and we had the opportunity to play at TomFest. I have never been to any other Christian music festivals so I have no means of comparison but I thoroughly enjoyed see all these underground Christian bands and performing alongside them. I also agree with you that cultural engagement and the making of culture by Christians is more effective in spreading the gospel than creating a closed door sub-culture. I have noticed in recent years that there has been a move from the away from the us vs. them mentality of Christians in the United States, where we protect the sanctity of the church and the world out there is pure evil to more of the reformation two kingdoms approach. I hope that the two kingdoms approach to missio dei continues to flourish and helps Christians to proclaim the gospel in effective ways in culture. However, I do not want this mindset to turn into the only tool for evangelism or engagement with culture without letting the Holy Spirit guide people in how they should speak the words of the gospel to others. While I personally see a lot of good that can come from two kingdoms theology I do not want it to become a system that thinks it can handle all the details of missional work without any work of the Holy Spirit pointing people to Jesus or else it will be empty of its potential power.

  • http://thefeedbackloopmusic.blogspot.com/ Luke Larsen


    Really appreciate your comments and your perspective as a regular attendee of the festival. From what I’ve heard, I think you’re totally right about Cornerstone being a haven for underground Christian artists and that very well may have also been a haven for progressive thought about culture. The Internet most certainly has affected music and underground music on all levels.

    But I’ve noticed that in other situations (namely the indie music scene) it has proven to be a great tool for underground artists and the popularity of festivals they go to. Getting discovered at something like SWSX might not be the end-all for an indie band anymore, but the fact that Coachella added a second weekend this year certainly must indicate that other music festivals don’t seem to having the same financial trouble as Christian music festivals.