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A Joyful Noise

Why do we sing in church? Why not just gather to fellowship and hear the word? If God’s word is central, why all the fuss about singing? While there is much more to be said about this than can be explained in a few hundred words, we see in scripture that God has ordained singing to play a profound role in our lives and our gatherings.

Forming Our Affections

Adoring and praising God changes us. It attunes our hearts to His ways, and in turn, helps us look past ourselves. Adoration is likely one of the most selfless emotions we are capable of. This is why continually expressing worship to God is so beneficial to our hearts.

Music has a unique ability to help us connect with truth on an emotional level. Joining our worship with music is a way God has designed for us as a church to be lead through the deepest expressions of confession and lament, as well as the most celebratory and joyful praise.

Why do we sing? Because we want the word of Christ to dwell in us richly.

Moreover, when these emotions are being informed by the gospel, our hearts’ affections can begin to be formed by the truth of our songs. We see in Colossians how the content of our songs is paramount:

“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.“ Colossians 3:16

Singing gospel-rich songs is an opportunity to let God’s word penetrate and change our hearts. As we ascribe glory to His name, we are also forming our affections for Him. Therefore the content of our songs should be full of truth that God himself wants us to sing.

God has designed music to affect us deeply. It is an emotional language of its own, and it uses tools that help us engage with truth in powerful and memorable ways.

Our minds have a profound ability to remember music; lyrics and melodies naturally stick with us longer than spoken word. Because of this quality, when we sing together, we are able to continually fill our heads and hearts with His word.

Why do we sing? Because we want the word of Christ to dwell in us richly.

Passionate Response

This biblical model for worship involves revelation and response, where God reveals himself through His word, and we respond with worship. Our worship would be completely aimless and subjective if it wasn’t for God revealing himself to us. As the spirit enables us to behold wonders of the gospel, it becomes clear that a joyful, passionate response is appropriate.

“Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.” Pslam 147:1

God himself delights in our singing! There are at least 400 references to singing in the bible, and over 50 direct exhortations to sing. It is clear that He has designed singing to be a regular part of the Christian life from now and through eternity.

In Revelation we see all the living creatures singing together, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!” As we follow this scriptural model, our voices ought to be passionate and loud, for it is pleasing to God, and He is worthy! Bob Kauflin, the director of Sovereign Grace Ministries, puts it this way:

“Our deepest and strongest and purest affections should be reserved for God himself, and he gave us singing to help us express them! Half-hearted singing in the church is an oxymoron.”

If you are in the congregation during the singing time, you are on the worship team.

Beautiful music will be ineffective without us understanding the deeper reason for singing together. When the musical setting of a song doesn’t connect with us personally, it’s easy to become self-focused as individual worshipers. I know I’ve absolutely been guilty of this. I’ve found myself making excuses and saying damaging things like, “Well, that type of song doesn’t help me worship…” or “I just don’t emotionally connect with that style.” This attitude is toxic, and all too common. It implies that congregational song is something to be consumed and rated like any other entertainment. The unique and beautiful role of singing in a church should transcend our preferences. Even for those of us who might not be very passionate people, or may not be comfortable singing expressively, we need to remember just who we are worshiping.

Kaulfin goes on to say,

“Nothing that you encounter is like God, nothing. He’s infinitely more worthy of our affections and our passions. So whatever your highest emotional level of engagement is, when we start meeting with God, when we start thinking about what He’s done for us in Jesus Christ, you might want to bump that up a few notches, because He’s worthy, He’s glorious.”

Our voice, our congregational voice is the most important sound in when we gather. The musicians, the tech team, the song leaders, their main objective is to help the congregation sing. And you, as a congregant play a vital role in this. If you are in the congregation during the singing time, you are on the worship team, because God has called all of us to praise Him. Let’s sing passionately together and become worshipers who love to glorify God for who He is and what He’s done.

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!” Psalm 96:4

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