“I am not much of a singer…”
It’s an unfortunate mindset to have in the church because we are called to be singers. With secular song-writing becoming more about the listener being a spectator rather than a participant of the song, there has been a dramatic effect on the way Christians receive the songs that are led in corporate worship gatherings. Of course, with television shows like The Voice, Australian Idol, Australia’s Got Talent and X-Factor, there’s no wonder people think singing in general is only for the elite and are therefore reluctant to sing in fear of being ‘judged’ in whatever the setting.
This couldn’t be further from the intent of singing within the church. According to the Bible, singing in the context of worship to the Living God has always been about participation and there are 3 reasons why every member of the Body of Christ should participate.
1. To Respond to What God has Done
The first song in Scripture was the song of Moses in Exodus 15 which was written as a response to God having faithfully parted the Red Sea for the Israelites to flee Egypt.
“Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians,
and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.
Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians,
so the people feared the Lord,
and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.
Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord…”
Exodus 14:30 -15:1 (Emphasis added)
Moses didn’t lead the way through the parted waters and then throw a party where his efforts were celebrated. No, his response was an acknowledgement of God’s work through him and their circumstances and he led all the people in a song of praise to God. You see, singing praise to God is always a response to something God has done.
“But I don’t respond to God like that, I respond in other ways!”
Do you? When God’s work is genuinely acknowledged and appreciated by an individual, I truly believe other people know about it. A song of praise is a way to profess God’s goodness but in a way that grips the soul of the individual, and others, through the beauty of a melody. The Psalms have great examples of how singing has always been a very normal response and a way for others to participate too.
“Praise the Lord!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
for it is pleasant,
and a song of praise is fitting.”
Reflect on God’s work in your own circumstances and celebrate them by singing these famous lyrics:
“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!
2. To Minister to the Body of Christ
The second reason you should sing in church is to minister to the Body of Christ. I’m convinced that everyday people hum a tune. We all sing a line of a song or sing along to the radio at some point. Music does something to people. We are wired to sing.
Why is it though, that when it comes to the gathering of God’s people sometimes there is a reluctance to passionately celebrate all that God has done? How is it that we can sing our favourite football team’s song at the top of our lungs, yet reservedly mouth the lyrics of “How Great Is Our God” in the pews?
In the New Testament the Apostle Paul wrote to churches exhorting them to cherish the Word of Christ (Col 3:16) and to be devoted to each other (Eph 5:19-21). The Word was to be taught, used to counsel other believers and to be sung to each other.
Have you ever considered that singing with the Body of Christ is just as much for them than it is for God? There is the obvious vertical focus of our worship to God, but there is also the important horizontal focus which is for the benefit of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
As we worship God corporately, our praise also ministers to the people we stand next to and reminds us of the unity we have in Christ. The person behind you who has had the worst week of their life hears your praise and is reminded of God’s greatness and worthiness to receive praise. The person beside you full of joy continues to teem with praise as they hear your voice exalt Christ. Never underestimate your contribution to singing in the gathering of God’s people; you never know who is listening.
“But when I sing dogs howl and babies cry!”
It’s true that not everyone has received the ear for good pitch and a voice that is in tune. That’s ok! Even Moses had restrictions and yet he faithfully served God despite them (Exodus 4:10). It fills me with so much joy and encourages me to sing praise when I hear someone singing at the top of their lung out of tune. It’s a reminder to me that they have been called to be a singer in Christ’s Church and they are doing it faithfully and they are ministering to me powerfully.
God isn’t calling you to sing His praises in tune; he’s calling you to simply be faithful. This week as you gather for corporate worship, like the widow in Mark 12 who offered very little (but everything she had), offer to God all that you can bring through a song of praise and he will accept it, be blessed and the Body of Christ will be blessed too.
3. To Prepare for Heaven
The final reason you should sing in church is because it prepares you for an eternity of singing! As heirs to a future glory (Rom 8:15-17) and citizens of Heaven (Phil 3:20-21) Christians can prepare now for what is to come. In Revelation 19 we catch a glimpse of our future worship in the presence of the Almighty God forever.
I like to think of personal worship as a foretaste to the climax of worship when we gather corporately. The corporate gathering then becomes a foretaste of the most glorious gathering when we are in the presence of God!
My prayer for you is that you would see singing as an opportunity to respond to God’s work passionately, as an opportunity to minister to your brothers and sisters in Christ sacrificially, an opportunity to prepare for the future eternal glory expectantly and that from now on you will be able to say:
“I am a singer; for the sake of my God, My Church and my future”