Issue 85 of Cross Rhythms magazine will be the last one that Cross Rhythms will produce for the time being. Why? Cross Rhythms General Manager Jonathan Bellamy explains.

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"It's amazing to find a user-friendly, youth-friendly Christian website that sells things we actually want!" Becca

"As to your web page I asked our people to look at it...I asked can ours look like that and they said 'dream on' but with an attachment saying 'one day.' I like web pages to be easy on the eye and not too filled with gimmicks as they only slow things down and not everybody is on broadband. Your site definitely works for me." Keith

"I think the new website is an amazing resource! I was reading a lot of the reviews and it's great to have an idea about what we're buying before we do...also, 9/10 times the CD is actually available in the online shop at CR Direct! This site leads the way forward for Christian music and is a credit to all those involved in sharing God's amazing message! A lot of our mates listen to CR radio regularly now! Some of them are not Christians, so this is amazing...." Scott


The End Of The Beginning: Website success puts CR magazine on

With the re-launch of the Cross Rhythms website, Cross Rhythms took the big decision to offer all regular CDs at a flat rate price of only 9.97, whilst most other double CD or multi pack CDs are only 11.97. Why?

Explained Jonathan Bellamy: "After 23 years experience in Christian music and confirmation of a specific 'call' to this arena, without arrogance we can say that at Cross Rhythms, we know Christian music. We aren't playing at it and we certainly aren't in it to make money! There has been a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get us this far, and no doubt that will continue.

"With the launch of the website we realised that we held an incredible music resource that we think will prove very popular. In addition the site now carries a lot of quality teaching and ministry pages and this 'Life' aspect to the site is just as important to us as the music information. We realised however that there is now a lot of competition for music sales on the internet and in order to attract people to the site, where they would encounter the music and life within the site, we needed to be very competitive on the sales side. And so we've made buying CDs at Cross Rhythms Direct very simple:
1. You know straight away how much a CD costs, and you are very confident it is one of the best prices around.
2. You know that you are only paying the actual cost price for postage and packing of that CD to you (eg 1 CD = 95p)
3. And you also know that any profit Cross Rhythms makes does not go to make us money, it goes straight back into the charitable ministry work that we do.

"The second reason why we have reduced the price to 9.97 is because of our vision to take Christian music into the mainstream marketplace where the 95% of the population who do not go to church exist. This is where we are taking our radio station and website. We believe that God hasn't raised up thousands of Christian bands and artists simply to entertain the Church and give Christians a different CD collection. If the contemporary music we play doesn't interest or connect with those outside the Church then why bother using it on our station? We actually believe it does! However, if someone enjoys what they hear, but then looks to buy the CD and finds it is 14.99, and they are also keen on the new Coldplay CD and can get it for 9.79 in Tesco, which one are they going to go for? For us we have to reduce our prices to a mainstream expectation if we are going to connect with the mainstream buyer. We are not satisfied to reach only the Christian buyer. We don't see that alone as ministry."

This is a bold push for Cross Rhythms at this time, as Jonathan continued: "In many ways it's like the story of Caleb. After wandering around in the desert with the Israelites for 40 years, faithfully waiting on God for the right time, he was finally able to crossover into the Promised Land. Finally he was able to attain a long held God-given vision and he wasn't going to let anyone else take it from him. He had been promised Hebron, and though he was 80 years old he didn't give up what had been promised to him by Moses, but exerted himself, declared he was as strong now as he was 40 years ago and that this was his mountain to take and he was going to take it."


In my journalistic years before Cross Rhythms I'd feel an occasional stab of worry about what some might call my Anorak/Librarian Fetish - my passionate enthusiasm and desire to not only listen to Christian music but to see it comprehensively covered in print with interviews, articles, news stories and even discographies. During my years with Buzz magazine (1982-1986) I'd interviewed artists and written album reviews. But occasionally I'd wonder if this work eating up years of my life wasn't in some way sinful or at least fleshly. After all, I would muse usually after a 16-hour spell at the office, wasn't all this interviewing of CCM artists (many of whom were ignored by the larger British Church) or pouring over the small print on Swan Silvertones album sleeves a waste of time? What about the Great Commission? What about social injustice? Wasn't I giving time, lots of it, to the "unimportant" rather than the "important"? Then suddenly, one night as I opened my Bible I found myself gazing at a seemingly "unimportant" part, pages and pages of lists of names, 1 Chronicles painstakingly compiled genealogies. Suddenly it struck me. Meticulous records of facts and names do have a place in the Kingdom of God. Only our dear Lord knows whether Sacar, the fourth gatekeeper documented in 1 Chronicles, or the fact that the Lord's portion was 72 of the 36,000 cattle seized in the battle highlighted in Numbers are of more or less importance than the fact that Larry Norman's "God Part II" has been reissued on a compilation or that the legendary soul music record producer Dan Penn is a Christian needing to be sought out and interviewed. But I stopped being bothered by thoughts of wasting my writing gifts. The more I thought about it, the more I came to see that music had a PIVOTAL role in God's dealings with mankind and whether it was the worship songs of Graham Kendrick, the sacred oratorios of Johann Sebastian Bach or the pop rap of dc Talk, this music has a spiritual as well as a creative function. After all, hadn't my own conversion been in part facilitated by Scripture verses I'd picked up through gospel music? And wasn't I regularly meeting people who were being brought nearer to God through worship music, being challenged to confront unrighteousness by the prophet musician, or encouraged to continue on the narrow path by regular exposure to CCM? I knew I had to continue. Then in April 1989 God called me, together with a helpful printer called Mark Golding, to launch Cross Rhythms magazine. With a tiny marketplace in the UK it seemed a suicidally wreckless venture. But there simply wasn't a quality Christian music mag and as I once commented, many in the churches viewed a Christian music magazine as they would a Christian golf magazine, an enculturalised thing of little value. But Cross Rhythms began and because it came in response to God's call I never wavered from the conviction that music made by Christians was important and worthy of the highest standards of journalism.

As readers of those early Cross Rhythms editorials will know, those early years were hugely difficult with vast debts, repossessed houses, broken promises and only a couple of thousand readers buying the end result of the Cross Rhythms team's seeming Herculean efforts. But the way was also fragrant with God's presence. Miraculous provision - literally plucking the magazine from bankruptcy - occurred on several occasions, deep, lifelong relationships were forged with media pioneers like Chris Cole, Jonathan Bellamy, Alan Barker and Mike Rimmer and probably most important of all, I received revelation that the nature of the work Cross Rhythms was involved in went far, far deeper than assembling information about Christian music and Christian musicians. It was at its heart a spiritual battle against the strongholds of lust, witchcraft and humanism which permeate our arts and media world. Such spiritual insights were an encouragement to me and Chris Cole, whose Cornerstone House company took over publication of Cross Rhythms in 1992.

Tony Cummings
Tony Cummings

Gradually as the years went by and magazines came out (if somewhat spasmodically) things got a little easier for Jon, Chris, my wife Maxine and me. In 1995 an alliance with UCB in Stoke-on-Trent even gave us a degree of financial stability. But as the monumental task in birthing the Cross Rhythms radio station took place we came to realise that other, better means of introducing Christians to the vast field of Christian music had arrived. The British churchgoer no longer had to rely on a magazine and an accompanying cassette (later CD) to find out about the new Third Day album or be introduced to the delights of T-Bone. He could hear them on the radio (though outside of Stoke he might need a satellite dish).

In truth, Cross Rhythms magazine had fulfilled its initial purposes, to be a conscience-builder for an emergent audience for Christian music. So I asked myself, was there any role left? Well, there was still that original impulse, to write about the Christian musicians, recording their thoughts and insights and critiquing their art and, even, lifestyles. So, with my beloved Maxine, faithful friend Mike Rimmer and our unseen but hugely loyal band of unpaid journos and reviewers we battled on interviewing, researching, reviewing - a tiny ship on the vast music biz ocean.

Like many wrinklies, I was slow to recognize the value of the internet. But as Heather Bellamy's and Sam Oliver's plans were unfolded to me - that the re-launched website was to eventually contain every review and every article from 14 plus years of Cross Rhythms publication the value of the website as a unique information treasure trove began to dawn on me. The next blinding flash of the CR web's potential came with editorial's new work strategy which saw us posting music news stories onto the site every single day of the year. Rather than waiting for months to learn about the forthcoming Delirious? album or the plan for Michael W Smith to play the Royal Albert Hall, browsers could learn the information the same day we learnt it. Visitors to those news pages on the site began to rocket. And the final flash of insight as to the website's potential influence on world wide Christian music enthusiasts came when I did a rough calculation and worked out that in the 32 days since the new website went live we'd published an amazing 41 new interviews/articles on music subjects (not even counting the excellent Life features also regularly published on the site). Those features are the equivalent in coverage of three issues of the paper magazine!

In truth, I will miss a paper magazine. Perhaps some of our many loyal readers will too. But when weighed against the opportunity the website has given us to bring comprehensive and, hopefully, insightful coverage on the still growing international Christian music world, it is, I believe, a small loss.  CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.