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Church worship must be corporate, not individualistic. Everyone’s voice should be heard in the Kingdom of God, not just a select bunch of singers.
There’s no people like God’s people! God’s saints are a happy bunch and they’ve every right to be so. Wouldn’t you be joyful for the forgiveness of sins, life eternal and a whole new family of friends called the church?
This gleeful spirit means that songs and singing will never be far from the lips of the redeemed. How can saints fail to thank and praise Jesus after all that He’s done for them? Paul knew a singing Christian was the most natural thing on planet Earth. In Ephesians 5:19, the apostle writes about the reality of “speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”
Paul himself was a fervent singer. Who can ever forget the mighty earthquake that followed his anointed hour of praise in the jail at Philippi (Acts 16:25-26)? Jesus-filled hearts are praise-filled hearts. It’s that simple.
Nevertheless, it seems to me that music and singing are becoming ‘dangerously’ more prominent in contemporary church circles. I say ‘dangerously’ because in many places music and singing have got so big that now they almost usurp the prominence given to the preaching of the Word of God.
I, for example, have preached in churches where I’ve had to wait over an hour and a half before expounding the Scriptures due to endless music and incessant announcements. Needless to say, when I get up to the pulpit, not only are the people exhausted but so is the poor red-headed Northern Irish preacher who has a message to give.
Being kept on your feet for so long is physically draining. In such a situation, it takes a really special breath from the Holy Spirit for there to be real interaction with the Word. The people are not to blame. It’s not their fault they’re tired. I mean, who wouldn’t be? It’s the church structure that needs radical renewing.
Not only that, but the very music style I witness on my preaching travels is turning more and more ‘concert like’. What do I mean by that? By that I mean music where it’s no longer a congregation singing unto God in one heart and a united spirit. Rather, it’s intense music that drowns out the noise of the people’s voices with the high-volume beat of the drums, (base) guitars, microphones and speakers.
Surely church was meant to be the place where you got rid of pounding headaches; not received them! And what’s more, today’s music style tends to put all the focus on the guys on the platform so that we feel impressed by their skills and talent. This is not the way things were meant to be. Church worship must be corporate, not individualistic. Everyone’s voice should be heard in the Kingdom of God, not just a select bunch of singers.
One final thing I’ve been keeping in my heart about this theme of current-day music is that it’s not the job of the worship leader to try to stir up the people’s emotions and whip them into a mood of praise. That’s the Holy Spirit’s doing. After all, the church is an event wherein the chosen people who have heard God’s call come together to exalt His name.
Congregational life is just a prolongation of our everyday praise life. If we truly walk in the Sprit we don’t need a feel-good Mr Motivator on the stage every Lord’s Day. And neither should worship leaders be given free license to hit out at the people with flippant comments that only serve to instil guilt complexes in the people- “Oh, sing it like you mean it” or “If that’s for the Lord you’ve got to sing a lot better” or “Let me hear you”, etc.
Who are we to allow such comments to go undiscerned in our midst? Are we somehow to direct our praises to the worship leader? Do we need his (or her) approval? I think not. He (or she) is there as a representative of the people; not as a spiritual bully who draws attention to us and not to the God we desire to praise.
I, for one, am glad for music and instruments in the assembly of Christ. And no, I’m not opposed to praise leaders (as I myself have been one for quite a few years). But congregational music needs to put in its correct place. Of course I’m not saying that if there’s a wonderful moving of the Spirit that we shouldn’t keep singing or praising God according to His leading; but as a general rule, I just get the sense that all this music is just time-filing and ultimately, time-wasting. It's counter-productive and is detrimental to the Word.
It is a lot healthier to have a shorter praise time and as little announcements as possible in order to make way for the real reason the Lord Jesus founded His church: the proclamation of the Gospel. And if the music in the temple of the Lord doesn’t serve this purpose; then it would be better to axe it altogether and stick to listening to praise music at home. The Gospel’s just too important to be trifled with. It’s that serious!