Monday, November 17, 2014

"Do you hear the people sing?"

...[W]hat do you hear when your church worships God in song? What is the defining sound? For some, it will be the old, massive, beautiful organ — a full, enduring, and familiar tone. Others would say it’s the energy of an electric guitar and the deep pounding of a bass drum. Maybe you have one or two vocalists you love. They could sing the encyclopedia on Sunday morning and bring you to God.

I enjoy and appreciate all of the above — I really do — but I believe the defining sound on Sunday morning should be the singing voices of God’s people. ....
The main points:
1. Only one instrument sings.
By no means is God against musical instruments. He loves the sounds of praise that come from a string or horn or drum. Many of the Psalms — the songs of the saints — were written, after all, to be accompanied “with stringed instruments” (Psalms 4, 6, 54, 61, 67, 76). And God explicitly calls for praise to be played on the tambourine, harp, lyre, and trumpet (Psalm 33:2; 71:22; 81:2; 144:9; 150:3). ....
2. Those saved by God sing to God.
.... Throughout the Bible, God’s people — saved by his grace, because of his love — sing. It’s never been exclusive to the talented, or trained, or female. No, it’s part of being human, and it’s part of being Christian. When God rescued you, he became your Song.
Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation. (Isaiah 12:2) ....
3. We are all — young and old, male or female, musical or not — commanded by God to sing.
But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you. (Psalm 5:11)
Sing to him; sing praises to him, tell of all his wondrous works! Sing to the Lord, all the earth! Tell of his salvation from day to day. (1 Chronicles 16:9, 23)
We need to trust the God worthy of our worship with how we worship. Singing doesn’t always feel natural, and many of us aren’t good at it, but God tells us to sing. ....
4. Heartfelt singing to God is a spectacular miracle.
Not all singing is a miracle. Most of the music we’re exposed to any given day is beautiful in its own right, but it’s not supernatural. What makes a song a miracle is when it is offered with a redeemed and genuine heart of awe and praise to God. It’s not a song that comes from deep within, but from far above. It is an act of sovereign grace.
[God] put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. (Psalm 40:3)
When God saved us, he retuned our souls to sing. He didn’t train us in music theory or give us vocal lessons, but he opened our eyes and made us alive. Our mouths look and sound like the same old instrument, but they’ve been radically and eternally transformed to declare the glory and goodness of our God. ....
5. Worship leadership calls for worshipers, not spectators.
Worship leadership is about leadership, not performance. Worship leaders have this difficult task of bringing people to God and then getting out of the way. They have to find a way to lead without taking all of the attention. Worship leadership that doesn’t aim for congregational participation in worship often becomes a distraction — a performance that ironically and tragically upstages God. ....
Do you hear the people sing? If not, consider making some changes to encourage and highlight the miracles happening all over your sanctuary. [more]