Song Talks

The Worship Service & Its Many Facets

  • Song Talks

Hey everyone! This week I thought I would try something we haven't done before. I re-posted an article earlier today on Facebook. The basic gist of the article is about congregational singing and what this particular worship leader has observed over the last year in his ministry. He is not advocating that his concepts are universal, but they seem to have worked in his context to improve the singing in his church. He lists them from the negative, as things he "did not" do.
 They are as follows:
1)    He didn't turn down the lights
2)    He didn't turn up the sound
3)    He didn't try to sound like the YouTube video
4)    He didn't try lengthy, frequent instrumental solos
5)    He didn't try all the newest songs
6)    He didn't try to get rid of all their older favorite songs
7)    He didn't try to greatly expand the musical library
8)    He didn't try rhythmically challenging melodies
9)    He didn't try too many songs in a worship service
10) He didn't have his band play on every verse and chorus
I thought the people that my team lead in worship every week might be interested in my thoughts on these 10 "I don'ts". So, here we go.
I'm gonna take the first two together. He didn't turn down the lights and he didn't turn up the sound. There is a bigger conversation here, and this is probably too small of a format to discuss it, but environment is important in the house of God. How do I know this? Well, in 1 Kings 6, the Lord was pretty specific in His instructions as to the nature and construction of the Temple. Down to the specific materials used to build each wall, piece of furniture, and decoration. Exodus 26, 27, and 28 are very detailed in their directions on the Tabernacle. Light was important. Materials were important. Maybe environment is important to the Lord? I think the New Testament discussion here is more about heart than anything else. Jesus was concerned with the heart. Paul mentions in a few different ways that we should be charitable to others in areas where we may differ on the peripheral matters, i.e. eating and drinking, etc. Again, a lot to unpack, but that should do for now. Sound is another piece of environment. Too loud or too soft? Depends on who you ask. I know several people that want the music loud so they can't hear themselves, and I know several people that want to hear the congregation sing and be able to hear the harmonies. I say, yes and amen. Here's the deal. We have to be willing to admit from both sides that there are more factors at work here. Age, geographical location, size of the room, and amount of people in the room are just a few factors that contribute to the volume in a worship center. Can we agree to be charitable? I want Pete and Shari to be able to but their cheeks on each other's as they sing the great bass and alto lines of the hymns of the faith, while at the same time not being able to hear the person (young or old) that is just a bit self-conscious about their voice while they worship to the same song with all their hearts!
Items 3 through 10 deal with songs and instrumentation. Here's what I have to say. If you can pull off the YouTube video and do it with excellence, go for it! Not many can. I say you have to work with what you've got. Be creative. Stretch yourselves. I've worked in three different churches so far in my ministry, from bands with an organ, to orchestra, choir and worship teams, and small broken-down rhythm sections. It's possible to create a worship service with virtually anything. New songs are biblical. Psalm 40 says so. We are creative beings. Part of our testimony is the songs we sing, and our experiences are varied. Same God, same gospel. The message doesn't change. I've turned into somewhat of a paranoid lyric watcher. I want to make sure that the content we are singing is rooted in Scripture and not in man's philosophies and eloquent musings on what we think the Bible says. Old songs are just as Biblical and born out of the experiences of those that have gone before us. The songs that have stood the test of time have done so because they speak deeply into our lives and sing the profound truths of God. I say, sing them all. There is nothing wrong with one new song a month. There are plenty to go around. Repetition is good for the congregation to learn the songs, as well as rehearse the truths again and again. There is plenty of music to keep it fresh. Dig in!
This has gone on long enough!  Next week, I'll tackle 8, 9, and 10! Feel free to comment on the Facebook article if you want to talk further!

Blessings

Mark
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