Reflecting on Keith Green’s Impact 30 years after His Tragic Death

Today, July 28th, 2012, marks the 30th anniversary of Keith Green’s death.  I wasn’t even a Christian back in 1982, and had no clue who this great man of God was.  When I became a Christian in 1985, I was immediately introduced to him.  He had a profound impact on my life.

Back then, contemporary Christian music was in its infancy.  The local Christian book store had an 8′ x 4′ section of a wall dedicated to it.  There wasn’t much! Basically it was The Rez Band, Twaila Paris and Keith Green.  Of course there were others (who can forget “Under Cover”?  I was a musician, and I needed to be weaned off of my AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Aerosmith and KISS addiction.   My best friend Sergio introduced me to the perfect answer:  A guy who played piano and challenged the heck out of you to take the call of Christ seriously: Keith Green

It wasn’t his music that touched me. Sure, the music was great, but it wasn’t the hard-driving rock that I had grown up with.  Instead, it was his lyrics.  No matter what topic he wrote about, it always made me think about my walk with Christ.  I was always challenged to go deeper, to stop pretending, to actually obey Christ.   In fact, I don’t think I could ever listen to his songs casually.  The songs would always make me stop and think about my life.

Keith Green fans are typically older now.  We are in our late thirties and older.  Get a bunch of us together in the same room, and ask us who had the greatest impact on us as younger christians, and many of us will name Keith.  He challenged a generation to be Christ followers.  He did it very, very well.

He didn’t do it  for the money or recognition.  In fact, he actually gave his albums away.  I even have a copy of one of those albums where it says on the album cover:


“This recording may be copied for private or ministry use only-Copies may not be sold at ANY price!”

Can you believe that?

Keith saw himself as more of an evangelist than a musician.  I always viewed him as more of a prophet to the church.

I am still a musician, older and wiser (The older part is certain, and I am hoping that the wiser part is too).  Sadly, there isn’t much in today’s Christian music that moves me like Keith Green’s ministry did.  Not even in the “Worship” genre.  Everything seems entirely entertainment focused and profit driven.

On the 30th anniversary of his death, I want to publicly state how much his ministry meant to me.  I will be forever grateful for how Keith Green shaped my life!

I can only hope and pray that God raises up someone else who can impact today’s younger generation like Keith did!

If you have a similar experience with Keith’s ministry, feel free to share it here, with the rest of us!

About Jim

Not For Itching Ears is a blog dedicated to discussing the American Evangelical church. It is a place for people to share their thoughts on a host of issues relating to this subject. Jim is available to speak at weekend services, and retreats at no cost to churches in Florida. Contact us for more information.

Posted on July 28, 2012, in Christianity and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. I completely agree. I was saved in February of 1982 and saw Keith live at Jesus West Coast only weeks before his tragic death in July of 1982 and he was truly a force on stage. Not because of his music (although I agree that it was very good) but because of the way he exhorted and challenged those in attendance that day to get out of their comfort zones and get into the fight for souls. This is the same message that the church needs to hear today. We are surely a lazy and wicked generation that needs to get off our duffs and get into the fight as Keith challenged us on that day in July 1982.


    • I have an older friend who actually attended Keith’s Bible study that he held in his home. The stories he shares about those meetings are amazing. I can only imagine the type of impact his minstry had to those who actually expereinced it in person.


  2. I also agree with you Jim! Praise the Lord for the ministry that he blessed us with through Keith’s lyrical devotional life! When I describe Keith’s lyrics to others I always express how deep of a devotional love he obviously had for the Lord. Keith’s lyrics are timeless and will continue to bless the Church through the ages.


  3. Keith Green! That was one enthusiastic and greatly sold out young man for Jesus.


  4. I was in training to be used as a lay minister at Keith’s first New England concert in Rhode Island when we got the word of Keith’s tragic accident. We were devestated. However, Melody with YWAM did not cancel the concert, The concert became a memorial one. As Keith would do the concert became a strength to the cause of laying down your life for the sake of Jesus. I still have the program and video provided by Last Days Ministires of that concert.. Thousands attended. Hundreds became first time believers, Many who believed and were believers dedicated their lives to the mission field. The concert was and always has been a once in-a-life-time event. I have yet to see anyone else as gifted by God as Keith in my generation. .


  5. Keith Green…true example of passion for Jesus who showed me how to be a Christian. I think no other in my generation has left such an impact.


  6. Jim, I just got around to reading this… very well said. Of course, Keith Green was an amazing influence on my life as well. I just remember weeping while listening to his music, it was so anointed. And I agree, there is nothing that comes close to him today, and I to lament the state of today’s worship music. I wonder if “grown-ups “were saying the same thing when Keith Green was around, saying how much they loved the old hymns much better… Anyhow, thanks for a great post, blessings to you, hope all is well.


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