by Andy Hammond, Pastor of Worship & Media
Why do we sing in church? Most of us would agree that the primary purpose of our singing is to worship God, but rarely do we consider the other benefits of music and song. God gave us the gift of singing not just for Him, but for us, too!
When you sing in your church's worship service, you not only worship God, you help the church. Here is what your singing is doing:
1.) It's reminding us that we are in this together.
We are not meant to follow Jesus all by ourselves. One of the reasons God gives us the gift of Christian community (the local church) is to encourage us as believers! When you sing and join your individual voice with the voices of your brothers and sisters in Christ, you declare something together and remind everyone present that we stand together in one mind and one faith with one Lord: Jesus Christ.
Think of the student down the pew who feels like an outcast at school trying to live for Christ, or the couple tempted to despair because of their strained marriage, or the widow who struggles with depression. Singing is a way we can link arms and spur one another to good works and perseverance. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
2.) It's teaching us the faith.
Singing is one of the best ways to teach truth; just try reciting the ABC's without singing the song (or at least speeding up when you get to "l-m-n-o-p"). It should be no surprise, then, that singing in church will teach us (and our chlidren) whatever we are singing about, whether we realize it or not.
This is part of God's purpose for music! What did God do to help the Israelites remember God's covenant before they entered the Promised Land? He wrote a song, gave it to Moses, and told him to teach it to the Israelites so they could pass it down their children. (Deuteronomy 31:19)
Songs make truth sticky.
Make sure the truths in your church's songs are biblical, then sing them out loud with your church. You'll be amazed at how much theology you'll pick up in the process, and you'll plant truths-set-to-melody in your heart that God can bring up later in your life. Not to mention, your kids are watching you and listening to you.
3.) It's making you more like Jesus.
The fancy church word for this is sanctification. It's the process by which the Spirit of God is working in you to make every part of you look like Jesus. But how does congregational singing help with this? One way is that it teaches us self-sacrifice.
Think about it: in all likelihood, there will come a time when we will be asked to sing a song that we don't particularly like. (The more diverse your congregation is, the more you will encounter this scenario). The song may not promote heresy, but it's not "my preference." In moments like this, we come to a crossroads in our pursuit of Christ-likeness. We can either purse our lips in defiance, or we can see it as a moment of sanctification.
When we choose to sing despite our individual lack of enthusiasm for a song, we put the preferences of others above our own. In so doing, we model in a small way what Jesus did for us, taking on the nature of a servant (Philippians 2:7). We may not like a song, but for the sake of the brother or sister in Christ down the pew from us who does, we deny ourselves, join with them in Christian love, and sing it anyway. What a beautiful picture of our Savior!
(Besides, singing also makes us more like Jesus because Jesus is a singer: Hebrews 2:12).
So be encouraged! Whether your singing sounds like Josh Groban or Kermit the Frog, you are helping your church when you open your mouth to sing. Why not put this into practice this Sunday?
What other benefits do you see to congregational singing? Can you think of an instance when God used congregational singing to work in your life? Leave a comment below!
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