The most important music group
ROGER W. HICKS
Never has there been more musical forms with which the Christian may worship God, grow spiritually, and reach out to the nonbeliever.
Music ministry in our churches is dramatically expanding in scope and effectiveness. There are adult and senior adult choirs, youth choirs, childrens choirs, handbell choirs, orchestras, and various vocal and instrumental ensembles.
One church in Tennessee credits its special Christmas music presentation with over 2,300 people receiving Christ as Savior in a 3-year period. Many churches across the country have experienced similar results from their Christmas, Easter, and other special music outreaches.
Whether your church has one choir or a dozen or more music groups, and no matter how polished or professional sounding; they may be, the most important music group in your church is the congregation.
This music group has no restrictive membership prerequisites, such as the ability to read music or have a good singing voice. Everyone who attends a worship service is a viable contributing member of the churchs most important music group.
Everyone who can talk can sing. Obviously, singing abilities vary. Some may not sing on key; others maybe monotones. Nonetheless, as receivers of Gods goodness, each believer has a reason to sing.
Church music leaders can give strong encouragement for congregations to enjoy the God-given privilege of singing. The most, helpful encouragement is found in Gods Word. Two examples in Old Testament passages are Psalms 30:4 and 149:1: "Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his. Sing...his praise in the congregation of saints."
New Testament examples include Colossians 316: "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. The apostle Paul, a singing prisoner himself, encouraged the spiritually minded to include singing in their list of activities that enable them to "seek those things which are above" (Colossians 3:1). Another word of encouragement is offered in James 5:13: "Is any merry? Let him sing psalms."
The passages of Scripture that address singing do not tell us how well we are to sing. They simply tell us to sing.
Throughout the churchs history its leaders have placed great emphasis on congregational singing as a means for testimony and worshiping God. Singing expresses our love for Him and testifies of that love and the Christian life to others.
Since the lime of Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation, congregational singing has been a vital part of evangelical church services. Luther and other reformers, such as Calvin and Wesley, were quick to recognize the value of congregational singing.
John Wesley gave some strong words of encouragement that may be applied to our congregational singing today: "See that you join with the congregation as frequently as you can. Let not a slight degree of weakness or weariness hinder you. If it [singing] is a cross to you, take it up, and you will find it a blessing.
"Sing lustily and with good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength. Be no more afraid of your voice nor ashamed of its being heard.
"Above all sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing. Aim at pleasing Him more than yourself or any other creature."
Someone has defined the game of football as one where 22 men in the field need rest and 20,000 spectators in the stands need exercise. The exciting, potential-packed Christian music scene must not take on such a satirical definition.
Of all that happens today in Christian music, perhaps the most important and most spiritually valid is personal involvementwhen each believer sings praises to God. When voices are raised in corporate singing, Christians are drawn together in common bonds of worship to God.
Let us continually search for effective ways to encourage our congregations to sing. As they do so, help them realize the sound of their singing is beautiful to God, and the singing of each Christian is a valued and holy act in His sight.