Issues in Worship: Singing

Over the next few days, I’m going to address some of the issues I’ve noticed in leading worship over the past 20+ years.  Ultimately, all of the issues I’ll address find their root in the heart, and are given wings with our pride. 

worshipAs a worship pastor, I have been called to shepherd the local church through and with music.  While leading worship does not require musical skill, my position does.  I’m in charge of a variety of musicians – vocalists and instrumentalists – who use their talent to lead, bless, and encourage the Church.  The intention is to play and sing together with excellence so that the Church can experience one of the biblical ways of giving praise to God.

I love what we do when we gather as the body of Christ to worship God.  Worship is a fundamental need built into allcong_singing of us – we want to and will worship something.  Hopefully, that fundamental need in Christians is to meet together and worship our heavenly Father – by the power of the Spirit – for who he is and what he has done through Jesus Christ, his Son.  Churches will meet on various days to do this, most occurring on Sunday.  We meet together to worship, and one vehicle of expressing our heart, mind, and soul is singing.

Everyone can (and should) sing.

Whenever I encounter someone who doesn’t sing in our worship gatherings, I have to wonder.  Are they physically unable to sing, or do they just not have anything to sing about?  That’s a serious question, and lack of participation in singing in worship may be an indicator of a deeper problem.  Here are a few comments I hear whenever I encourage someone personally to sing:

1.  I can’t sing. Usually, the blame is placed on a former music pastor, or a youth minister, or a parent, or spouse.  If I’ve heard the comment, “____________ told me I couldn’t carry a tune in bucket,” one time, I’ve heard it a hundred times.  It’s a cop out, and it’s an indicator of pride.  Plus, you’re lying…everyone can sing.

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! (Psalm 100:1-2 ESV)

2.  I don’t know the songs we’re singing. At some point, neither did I.  If you want to praise God for who He is and what He’s done for you, learning a new song isn’t difficult.  Follow along on the first verse and chorus, and join from there.  Once you’re familiar with the melody, it’s easy to join in.  This excuse is a cop out, too, because it indicates a lack of effort and desire to worship.

Oh sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth! Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. (Psalm 96:1-2 ESV)

3.  I don’t like the songs we’re singing.  We’re not worshipping musical styles, nor is the intent here to be entertained.  New songs are being composed everyday that have deep theological precepts that can undergird Scripture.  In the same way, older songs can help us express the precepts of Scripture, and they give us a ‘faith heritage’ as well, since they have been sung by believers throughout the centuries.  C.S. Lewis criticized those entrenched in “chronological snobbery” – it’s an attitude of selfishness and pride in our own generation if we think our music expresses worship best.

…be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:18-21 ESV)

Not singing in our worship is disobedience to the Bible’s commands to do so.  If we come to worship with the Church, singing is a command; and, it’s necessary.  Putting aside the sin of pride, sing because you have been redeemed and give God the glory for that.

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! (Psalm 95:1-2 ESV)

3 Comments

Filed under Music, Worship

3 responses to “Issues in Worship: Singing

  1. Thank you for your thoughtful article. Martin Luther once commented that after the gospel, music is God’s greatest gift to us. One thing I have noticed in my experience as a pastor is that the quality of the music in a worship service has little to do with the style of music or how many instruments accompany it. An upbeat, contemporary hymn with full orchestration can sound dull if God’ s people are just mouthing it half-heartedly. In the same way, an old, slow hymn can be an overwhelmingly emotional experience if God’s people are thinking about the words and singing out with joy.
    I also just wrote an article about worship on my blog. If you have a chance, check it out: http://364daysofthanksgiving.com/isnt/
    I would love to know what you think.

  2. Pingback: 6-String Salvo, June 6, 2014 | Mike Lee

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