Why do we sing in church? Do we sing because it makes us feel good? Do we sing to put on a performance and showcase how talented of a musician we are? No, we sing to worship the Lord. God didn’t say we have to have the best voice, or that we have to perfectly understand how to harmonize during a worship song, but He did say that we need to lift up our voices to praise Him. We get to make a joyful noise for the Lord, as the Psalmist says:
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!
The Potential Pride of Worship
It’s Sunday morning. You are either about to lead the church in worship, or you are about to join the congregation in singing. Now stop. Where is your heart?
Are you thinking about how your outfit looks and how excited you are that so many people are in the congregation to hear you sing? Are you standing among the congregation thinking judgmentally about the elderly couple in the back who sing “way too loudly?” Or, are you focusing your eyes and your heart on the Lord? Are you praying that the Lord will use the words you sing to hopefully soften the heart of someone to understand the good news of the gospel? Are you thinking about the Scripture you are about to proclaim through song?
In the book Sing, Keith and Kristyn Getty make the point that congregational singing can be a “radical witness to the world.” Coming together as a body of believers and whole-heartedly praising God will not only be impactful in our personal relationship with the Lord, but it also enables us to inspire non-believers to meet with our Savior through song. Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians:
Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord.
Christian singing should begin with the heart. Next time you are about to sing in church, pause for a moment, and have a heart check. Pray that the Lord will align your heart’s desires with His will during worship.
Created to Sing
Oftentimes, during worship, we may feel self-conscious.
Now stop. The Lord created each of us to be able to sing. He didn’t create each of us to be able to become a famous singer, but He did create us to be able to make a joyful noise. So, sing loudly! Be bold as you proclaim the truth of the gospel. It pleases the Lord to hear his children coming together as a body of believers and singing praises to Him. The Lord doesn’t want just the “best” or most confident singers to be heard during worship, He desires to hear each of our individual voices.
A church that sings is a healthy church. Yes, the worship team should be heard so that the congregation knows which words to sing next and what the melodic line sounds like. The worship team acts as the shepherds and the congregation members are the sheep. However, the sheep should also be heard. It fills the hearts of worship leaders to hear their congregation singing along with them. Each voice coming together to sound as one, unified in the name of Christ, is incredibly beautiful.
The Significance of Worship
It is midway through the worship service, and you feel like you are just going through the motions. You are physically at church and singing the words on the screen, but your mind is in a thousand different places.
Now stop. Music in the church has had quite the journey. At one point, the Protestant church didn’t allow music because church leaders believed it would distract from the service. Then music became available in the church service again, but only for worship leaders and pastors to take part in.
Music wasn’t accessible to the members of the congregation. However, Martin Luther did not like that. He wanted everyone to be able to sing in church. He understood that God created us to enjoy beautiful things, and so Luther found it unreasonable that we couldn’t enjoy music in the very place that people were coming to meet with God. He even stated, “If you want to train your children in the faith, give them the songs of the faith.”
Now, think about what your worship experience would be like without music. Yes, we would still get to hear the sermon and Scripture from the Bible, which are both incredibly important, but there is something missing. The element that music brings in isn’t just an “ice breaker” to half-heartedly take part in at the beginning of the service. It is a way to focus our heart and mind on the Lord as we enter a time of worship. Music is powerful, and it allows you to sing to the Lord what is on your heart, and it is also a way for you to understand the words of Scripture through the line of a melody. Sometimes hearing a certain ringing chord or perfect harmony can create a space for you to come and meet with God.
Why We Sing
We sing because God created and calls us to do so. Yes, worship should take place in church, but truthfully, our whole lives should be worship. We should wake up each morning with a song of praise on our hearts that we are ready to sing from the rooftops.
I want to encourage you before the next time you sing from the pews in church, or lead a congregation in worship to think about these things: What are you singing? How does what you are singing point you to Jesus? And then, go sing loudly. It is a gift and a joy to sing to the Lord. It is a gift and a joy to be able to stand alongside your brothers and sisters in Christ and sing to the Lord. Singing worship songs doesn’t mean that you put aside what’s on your heart while you sing. Singing in worship means that you bring what’s on your heart, and as you sing you lay those things down at the feet of our Savior.
Keep singing, friends. It’s how I feel the most connected to the Lord, and I hope it will help you feel connected to Him too. In the words of Martin Luther,
Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.