Whenever I get the occasional chance to witness a worship service at a denominational or “non-denominational” church, I’ve always been surprised by how few people in the audience actually sing.
I’m not “judging” anyone here. I’m just making a personal observation. Whether it is the country Baptist church holding a revival with 30 people in attendance (with 70-year-old Gertrude playing a piano that hasn’t been tuned for 5 years) or the huge suburban community church (with the impressive musical production) – the majority of the audience in my experience just sits and listens.
There’s no “one another” to the music. It’s just a concert, more or less. A one-way street. Direct current, not alternating current.
Which makes me appreciate the church of Christ even more, where the entire audience sings with one another and to one another – entirely a cappella! I find that refreshing.
Why is it so important that all Christians sing together when they assemble for worship? Why can’t we just let “the professionals” handle all the music stuff?
After all, isn’t the music part of worship just garnish – just filler between the sermon and the Lord’s supper? Why can’t we cut out the music out altogether and get to the preacher’s message?
Our worship as a community – assembling together – matters. And unless something happens beyond our control, we should never miss an opportunity to sing with other Christians. Not that God doesn’t care about private devotions (He does!) – but something special happens when Christians sing together. The word of Christ dwells in us richly.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Col. 3:16)
Though we come together primarily to worship, God also designed our worship to benefit one another. When we sing, we are speaking to one another. There is a conversation happening. Spiritual truths are being discussed. “Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Eph. 5:19).
When we don’t participate in the music (singing), we are robbing God of the very thing He requested. The essential element in our worshipful song is not the notes or the harmony, but the words!
We need to be continually reminded of the “word of Christ.” There are so many distractions in life that, before we know it, we begin to doubt and forget our hope in Christ. We need to be reminded again and again of the sacrificing blood of Jesus – of God’s love for us – of Christ’s sympathetic intercession on our behalf.
The gospel is taught through preaching, teaching, reading, and in our day-to-day interactions with fellow Christians. But Colossians says we are also taught when we sing songs and hymns together. Our corporate worship is when we are basking in the message of the gospel.
When we sing to God, we are also speaking to one another, reminding our children, the unconverted, the weak, the discouraged, the suffering of all the reasons why God is worthy of our worship.
Start singing with specific people in mind. Next time you sing In Christ Alone, think of someone in the congregation who is overwhelmed with guilt over sins they have recently committed. When you sing Peace, Perfect Peace, think of someone recently widowed or anxious about a medical procedure. When you sing Love One Another, think about the people who may be harboring hard feelings toward someone else. When you sing Yield Not to Temptation, think about members who have specifically asked for prayers and help to overcome struggles in life.
Music encourages and reinforces the “word of Christ” in a way that preaching can’t. When we sing, we are repeating potent words and powerful imagery, making the truth more memorable. It’s about meditating and chewing on the words.
Words still matter. Thus we must sing songs filled with rich, sound theology. We want the “word of Christ” to dwell within us richly.
When our mere animalistic senses become the basis for what we call “meaningful” worship – by a “great band,” “special-effect” lighting, or “emotional” preaching – we are exchanging true worship for something second-rate. There is a better way to make worship meaningful: everyone singing from the bottom of their hearts to God and one another.
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 The church of Christ was “non-denominational” before the “non-denominational” fad was cool. But the church of Christ isn’t just “non-denominational” – we’re pre-denominational
 Your mileage may vary.