I recently finished Bob Kauflin's book True Worshipers. In his normal winsome and clear way, Kauflin draws our attention to the core truths about worship. While many of his insights are not new, he provides them in a context which helps the believer process worship individually and in community.
His chapters on music are particularly helpful. In chapter six, TRUE WORSHIPERS SING: Worship and Music, he covers the what and why of corporate singing, acknowledging that if we sing without understanding God's purpose for it, we won't be motivated to sing.
"No one is excused. Not even those with zero musical ability. The critical question is not Do I have a voice? but Do I have a song? And if you're a true worshiper, forgiven and reconciled to God through the atoning work of Christ, the answer is a resounding yes. It's not a song we originated or created. We can't add to it, change it, or improve upon it. It's the song of the redeemed for their great Redeemer. It's a song God's people have been singing together for thousands of years."
Most of us are struggling at some time in worship. We might be fighting fatigue, children, depression, or any number of emotional and relational battles as we try to stand and engage in the work of worship. If singing is just about our expression and what we can contribute, we can feel resentful or hypocritical when our hearts are not in it. His next question, WHAT does singing do? provides grounding for our hearts.
Singing encourages and expresses the Spirit's work in our hearts and it helps us to remember God's Word. It helps us to teach and be taught and to express and engage our emotions. It also encourages physical expressiveness and help us to express our unity with the church. Remember these corporate aspects of song the next time you are tempted to check out during the service and remember that the body of Christ is a collection of believers, skeptics, and strugglers who are uniting around the perfect work of Jesus and singing HIS song.
"If you no longer have to fear eternal separation from God, if death is merely the doorway to unspeakable joy, if sin has been conquered, hell is overcome, and Jesus has saved you to enjoy unending pleasures at God's right hand, then you have a song to sing. And it's a song that no trial, no disease, no struggle, no persecution, no power on earth or in hell can stop."
Anthony is the Director of Worship and Communications at Arden Presbyterian Church in NC.
Recommended Music for Worship
Keith & Kristyn Getty
The Worship Pastor
With One Voice
Look and Live
Rhythms of Grace
The Worship Architect
The Stories We Tell
Christ Centered Worship