Music in the Church
Brothers and sisters,
Greetings to you all.
Here’s a shocking and sad quote from the Toronto Sun: "The 13,241 MAID deaths last year accounted for 4.1% — or one in 25 — of all deaths in Canada, says Health Canada’s fourth annual report on MAID deaths, adding all provinces except Manitoba and the Yukon continue to experience growth in 2022."
We need national and local repentance for our arrogance regarding the issues of life and death! Please pray that God would be gracious to us and cause us to see the foolishness of our “wisdom” before His judgment falls.
A couple of months ago I wrote that there were three positions in church that we often take for granted but should not. At that occasion, I pointed to those people whose responsibility it is to provide financial oversight. Today I want to address a second important position we should consider: the music leader.
I am very aware that most churches have a very interesting relationship with their music personnel, so I might be perilously close to stepping on toes. I know that some of our churches have designated, qualified musicians and some do not. I know churches where the music person was in place for decades, and they wielded more power than anyone else in leadership. I also know of churches where they sing only hymns or sing without musicians. I know of churches where music people have been hired from other churches because there wasn’t anyone from the church family qualified or able to lead singing. So, when I talk about “worship ministry” there can be lots of emotions. I will humbly ask you to consider six things, three from Scripture and three recommendations from me.
God’s people are meant to be musical. I don’t mean that everyone can carry a tune or play an instrument but that Scripture is full of those who sang to the Lord and played instruments before Him. You might need to teach your church the value of singing and you might need to model singing to the Lord, but music is not an optional activity for God’s people. (Book of Psalms, Isaiah 35:10, Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16)
You should seek to worship God when you sing … and all other times. “Singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord!” I am reluctant to call those who lead singing the “worship team” because our words instruct our people. Every part of the service is to be full of worship to the Lord.
Your songs should reflect the truths you preach and believe. We are “teaching and admonishing one another” as we sing. That means that you (or someone else) might need to go through the songs (even ones that that you really like) and discard the ones that don’t meet the standard of truth.
Your songs should be played in a key that normal people sing in. (There are programs that help with this.) If we want men and women to sing to the Lord, then we must lower some songs to allow them to do so. I further suggest you sing old songs (psalms, hymns, spiritual songs) and new ones (even ones written by your own church) to help your people not only learn to sing whole-heartedly to the genre and style they prefer but also to remember we truly stand on the shoulders of men and women who have gone before. (By the way, just because a song is popular on the radio doesn’t mean it is good for your church to sing. Some songs are not congregational in this way.)
Your pastor and the person selecting songs should be working together in this important ministry. Now, I know that in our recent supercluster we talked about centralized and decentralized structures, and some of you have delegated this to others and its working fine for you. But hear me out (and then prayerfully reject if you want): I suggest that the pastor give the music personnel a list of passages from which he will be preaching, and a summary statement for each passage. My recommendation is that this should be done a month before the Sunday being planned for. The music personnel should be a partner in ministry, studying the passage, understanding the theme, and praying about songs that would be appropriate and can aid the congregation to: 1) Know Christ and love Him, and 2) Live Scripture out.
Finally, I suggest that your whole team work hard to promote the volume from the seats and maybe lower the volume from the stage. Congregational singing is not to be a performance by a few highly skilled people, but a whole-church cooperative activity.
Hope that at least gives you something to think about as we seek to lead our people in this vital part of ministry.
May God bless you and keep you this week.