My dad has been in church ministry for seventeen years—as long as I’ve been alive. Among other roles, he organizes music. Four of my five siblings play an instrument on our church worship team, as well as my mom.
Music is familiar to me. I could probably sing the lyrics to hundreds of worship songs by heart. Chord sheets clutter my home. Spotify is an enjoyed pastime.
Yet, up until last September, the whole reason of why we sing at church was foggy to me. Sunday-in and Sunday-out we compile chords, lists, lyrics, singers, sound technicians, guitarists, pianists, and other band members to lead our congregation together in song.
I now see that there are several reasons. Here are three…
- We’re Commanded to Sing
Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! (Psalm 47:6)
In mid-September of last year, my muddled conception of church worship was drastically clarified. My family and I attended the 2017 Sing! Worship Conference hosted by Keith and Kristyn Getty in Nashville, Tennessee. If I had taken only one thing away from that conference, it would have been this fact: we are commanded by God to sing.
Singing isn’t reserved for the worship leader, the choir, Chris Tomlin, or only those with gifted voices. Just as the demand to honor the Sabbath isn’t exclusive to Jews, God’s command for us to sing doesn’t stop at music majors.
“Worship is not a spectator’s sport, it is a participator’s activity,” I remember David Platt saying.
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! the Psalmist commands. Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! (Psalm 100:1-2; emphasis added)
- We Sing Together to Worship and Glorify God
Christians sing together, not only because we’ve been commanded to, but because we want to. Or, at least, we should want to. Sadly, the desire to sing every Sunday is often dulled by redundancy, our lack of skill, our distaste for certain types of music, or our joyless heart’s numbness the glories of God. Instead of entering Sunday morning with our hearts set on him, we turn the focus of our worship inward, to us. We neglect the power of the Body, the worthiness of the Lord, and the significance of song.
We need to shift our spiritual gaze outward and upward.
“We glorify God by singing together because in Christ God has brought us together,” author Bobby Jamieson writes. “In the church, music is a means by which we all, as one body, glorify the Lord and edify each other by singing the excellencies of him who has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.”[i]
Not only does this singing unite the church in worship, but it is a powerful testimony.
- We Sing Because We’ve Been Saved
It’s obvious that Christians aren’t the only ones singing in this world. From Broadway to Beyoncé, Grammys to the Grand Ole Opry, anthems to operas, the world is singing too.
What marks the difference between a Christian’s song and the world’s is the object of our singing… Jesus.
Joyful song is a natural reaction for a Christian saved from sin by the grace of God. Singing doesn’t save us, it’s a means of grace we’ve been given to respond to our Savior in a beautiful way. The world can sing with joy, but it can’t sing with the joy of the Lord coursing through its veins.
Joyful song is a natural reaction for a Christian saved from sin by the grace of God.
True song doesn’t stay shut inside the sanctuary of our church Body. This joy leaks out of the church and infiltrates every member’s life. Singing incites worship, and authentic worship follows us wherever we go. That’s when the world stops its own tunes and wants to know what inspires the incredible, unstoppable song of our heart.
“Worship leads to witness,” Platt said. “We sing and then we scatter.”
Why do we sing at church? God has commanded us to—a God so glorious and worthy of our worship that we can’t help but sing to him and for him. Sunday is a day set aside for the church to do this very thing, and I can’t think of a better way to tell God “I love you” than to raise our voices in joyous song to him every week.
[i] Bobby Jamieson, from article: “Stylized Soundtracks and Sunday Morning,” 9Marks Journal: The Church Singing (May-Jun, 2014), 28
For an excellent resource on the witness of congregational singing, read David Platt’s article here: http://radical.net/articles/the-radical-witness-of-congregational-singing/
Also, if you are interested, the Sing! Worship Conference will be held in Nashville, TN again this year from September 10-12. Learn more here.