When we sing together as the Church, we are showing how we are a congregation of living stones. Our singing is an audible expression of the bonds we share, testifying to the life that lies within these stones. We are cut from the same elements of faith, united in one Lord, filled by one Spirit, brought into one Church, to offer our praise to Him. We are being chiseled and refined through our singing, just as we are through every aspect of our lives. We are forged together through our singing together.
In many ways, the key word in that last sentence was not about music, nor even singing, but rather together. We live in a time when the importance of music in church has been elevated greatly (not least because it has become commercially lucrative). But at the same time, we are in danger of lowering the importance we place on singing together. Listening to each other mumbling quietly along as a band performs brilliantly on stage in a church building is not the same as singing together as a congregation. The medieval church made the error of treating the Lord’s Supper as something for the congregation to watch as the professionals at the front participated. Might we not be in danger of doing the same with our music today?
So many of the instructions given to God’s people are to be worked out in community, together. Strong, heartfelt congregational singing is a striking expression of this, of the Holy Spirit at work amongst us, and through us, as we sing of the very things we share as Christ’s people.
So when you sing, look around.
Encourage others with what you are singing, and expect to be encouraged by the fact that there are others singing with you and to you. All our individual stories meet at the cross-section of the worship service. We are reminded that we are not alone—we are members of a multi-generational, multi-ethnic, multi-everything family. We are reminded that we are not self-sufficient, for we need a Savior. We are reminded that we need not despair, for we have His Spirit within us. We are reminded that we are not the center of the universe, but just one voice and heart among the great worldwide throng of people praising the One who is. And we remind each other of all this as we sing together.
There is a family Kristyn has known since she was a little girl. The mom has been in a wheelchair for decades as a result of suffering with MS. When the congregation is asked to stand and sing, she has often held her husband’s hand so she can express her desire to stand up with everyone through him. May your approach be the same as hers—that, spiritually speaking, even if you cannot do it physically, you are singing because you are standing together, on a firm foundation:
Keith Getty and Kristyn Getty, Sing! How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family, and Church (Nashville, TN: B&H Books, 2017).
We have just released a new Bible Study on the importance of singing.
These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.
Each lesson consists of 20 or so ready-to-use questions that get groups talking. Answers are provided in the form of quotes from respected authors such as John Piper, Max Lucado and Beth Moore.
These lessons will save you time as well as provide deep insights from some of the great writers and thinkers from today and generations past. I also include quotes from the same commentaries that your pastor uses in sermon preparation.
Ultimately, the goal is to create conversations that change lives.