Why We Love to Sing
Col. 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
Every Sunday, we gather corporately and sing together in order to magnify the greatness of God in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit (adapted from Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin). There is no other moment in your schedule like gathering together with the people of God to sing together with the people of God the greatness of God in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. In this unique moment God means to manifest His presence and power to us as we fix our attention on who He is, what He’s done, and what He promises to do. God does not intend for this time to be a cold calculation of facts and data about Him or mere intellectual analysis. Nor does He intend for this time to be an emotion-driven, feel-good, mental-emptying time. Nor is it a time of getting lost in the music or swept up in something amorphous, ill-defined, or unclear. We don’t gather to sing, as someone once said, “prom songs to Jesus.” Nor do we elevate one particular musical style as the mark of true worship. We sing because we have something to sing about! That reality should move us to sing vibrantly and expressively. It should stir our affections for God. It should build our faith and refocus our hearts.
When this happens, God’s presence is manifested in our midst. We know God is omnipresent (everywhere at once), but God is particularly present (manifestly present) when we gather to sing His greatness in Christ through the power of the Spirit. This is part of what God sent the Holy Spirit to do. In our corporate worship, the Spirit comes to bring the very presence of God himself into an experienced reality on a wider scale. This reality is something that’s unique to when we gather together as His people. It cannot be experienced in the same way on our own in our bedroom. Praise God for private moments with Him, but God’s people are also meant to gather and experience Him being manifestly present with them.
Christ makes this a reality. Worship leaders and pastors can point us in the right direction and show us where to fix our eyes. They can help us see things and understand things about God from His Word. But only Jesus brings us into God’s presence.
Heb. 10:19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
By his sacrificial death for our sins and triumphant resurrection, he opened the way to God the Father. We come to God on his merits, not our own. He brings us in, not the swell of the music or the skill of the leader. If you’re feeling “dead” in worship, look to Jesus and remember what He has done. You don’t have to wait for your favorite song or for the pastor to shout louder in the middle of the song. Christ Instead, fix your attention on the truth about God in the songs we are singing and sing those out with all your heart despite how you feel. Because what’s true about God is true whether we’re feeling it to be true or not. We sing because we always have something to sing about.
We don’t want to be a church where all we do is stand there and look, while the people on stage do the music and the singing. That makes church look more like a concert or a performance. Col. 1:18 reminds us that Christ is our head and that He must be preeminent in all things. We long to be a church where Christ is so preeminent that our expression of his preeminence comes out in our worship of Him when we sing. We don’t want to just give lip service to his preeminence. We want his preeminence to translate into real affection for God and expressive worship of Him.
SINGING AND EMOTION
God has made us emotional creatures and when he relates to us, he relates to our whole being. Emotions are a part of that. God means for us to FEEL the realities of what we sing, not just remember them. Emotion and vivid expression are all over the book of Psalms. Our emotional engagement is not inherently bad or something to be stifled. We should also be aware that our sin nature pushes us to be led by our emotions instead of by truth and God’s word. The Psalms teach us how to do that as well. What we see is that when we are led by truth from God’s word, right emotions should follow. Truth, not how we feel at any given moment, is what compels us. We don’t want to be emotion-driven, we want to be word-driven. But being word-driven should still have some impact on our emotions. In the Bible, God’s victories and triumphs are celebrated with song. As Bob Kauflin has said “Magnifying God’s greatness begins with the proclamation of objective, biblical truths about God, but it ends with the expression of deep and holy affections toward God.” (from Worship Matters) Likewise, John Piper writes, “The engagement of the heart in worship is the coming alive of the feelings and emotions and affections of the heart . . . Where feelings for God are dead, worship is dead.” (from Desiring God)
SINGING AND EXPRESSION
Expressiveness in worship is not a cultural phenomenon that we learned from watching YouTube vides of a cool church or because it’s a tradition we grew up doing. Physical expression in worship is a Biblical category. In a concert, someone lifting their hands and closing their eyes means they’re really into the music. That’s NOT why we do that in worship. We are affirming truth and telling our hearts and God how much we need to know this and remember this and be stirred by it, not usually because we ARE, but because we are NOT. Again, Bob Kauflin writes, “When we experience a lack of desire for God or an inner dullness, our greatest need is to fill our minds with truths about God, especially as he’s revealed himself to us in the gospel. But our bodies are another way God has given us to stir up our hearts to respond rightly to his glory. Bowing my head, lifting my hands, or kneeling down can remind me of the humility, gratefulness, and awe I should feel that Jesus has redeemed me.” (from Worship Matters)
WORSHIP TEAM INVOLVEMENT
How can you get involved in helping God’s people do this? Maybe God has given you a musical gift or a technical mind or a strong singing voice, consider serving the church with that gift. Submit that gift humbly before the Lord and let’s talk about whether that gift might be a good fit for our worship team.
We say in our worship team application “The worship team exists to magnify the greatness of God in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit with our songs and with our lives.” All our worship team members must be believers in Jesus Christ. Their commitment to Jesus should be demonstrated and lived out in their commitment to and care for one local church. This is expressed through church membership and a signing of the church covenant – our mutual commitment to love and care for one another as a body. Worship team involvement in any capacity is a matter of service, stewardship and setting an example.
From the audio-visual team to the worship leader, we do what we do to serve the people of God when we gather together. We want God and the gospel to pre-eminent. On AV, we strive for excellence because we want to minimize anything that would distract God’s people from seeing and worshiping God and hearing the gospel. We say “The best audio mix and lyric projection is the one no one notices.” We are God’s servants for your sake (2 Cor. 4:5). On stage, we sing and lead as members of the body of Christ singing together with you. We say: “The most important voice in the room is the ONE voice out there.” Our singing, our playing, our harmonizing is a summons to the church to look to Jesus and worship him with us. Because this is our goal, we have musical and vocal standards that should be met. We want to avoid (as best we can) distracting the church with bad singing or bad playing. We are not expecting or even striving for perfection – only God is perfect! But in general, our skill level should serve and not be a distraction. So we have and audition process for any new team members and require certain standards of commitment, like church membership, church involvement and church attendance. If you’re interested in learning more, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk to any of our worship leaders for more info.