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Singing from Generation to Generation

The Singing Family 

My wife, Emily, has quite the extended family. Her grandparents, Woody and Dinah Widmer built a house out in the Spokane valley where the “new” interstate 90 was being constructed in the early 50’s. Their house was just one of three or four in the whole neighborhood, which has now become the grid of houses between Argonne and Pines. Needless to say, the Widmer family has been in Spokane for a long time, and all of Woody and Dinah’s children still live here, as do all of their grandchildren… and great grandchildren. This means that there is a good chance that almost everyone in Spokane knows someone related to the Widmer family. And, anyone who knows them, has heard them sing. 

The Widmers have a song for everything. Any topic, any turn of phrase, they will be ready to burst into song at a moment’s notice. You will not be able to get through a dinner with them without half a dozen spontaneous moments of singing. It’s really a beautiful thing, and it’s all because Woody and Dinah understood the importance of family singing. Woody and Dinah sang together in the Whitworth choir, before they were married, and music has played a huge part in their marriage ever since. They and their family have served for years at churches, nursing homes and services around town, blessing people with their voices and modeling how beautiful it is when a family sings together. 

The Widmer kids were raised around rich hymnody. Woody and Dinah filled their home with singing, and now generations of their family have all kinds of scriptural poetry memorized in the form of melody. 

This is our dream for the future of Faith Bible Church: to follow the example of believers like Woody and Diana, and raise the next generation of kids here with a love for singing. 

Long-Term Spiritual Formation 

Great songs stick with you for life, and when those songs are filled with scripture, we who sing will have access to vital truth and doctrine that will shape and form our love for Jesus. 

Throughout our lives, and even just week to week, many of us will experience deep depression, absolute joy and everything in-between. God has given us song so that we can give language to our emotion and truth to anchor us, to keep us thinking rightly through whatever we face. When we experience tremendous loss, rejection, anxiety, we need hymn lines like “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus blood and righteousness.” When we fall into sin are riddled with guilt, we need lines like “When Satan temps me to despair, and tell me of the guilt within, upward I look and see Him there, who made and end to all my Sin.” Or when God gives us wonderful gifts, and makes known to us his grace, we can sing “Praise God from whom all blessings flow!” 

Singing is one of the easiest and most effective ways to preach truth to ourselves. For kids who might not yet understand every nuance of these hymns, they are at a time of their lives when they can take in and memorize material in a way that adults can’t. When Emily’s nephew Maddox was two, he was already singing “Hallelujah, all I have Is Christ!” If we can start the children of FBC singing these songs now, they will have some strong formative truth to draw them to Jesus when they inevitably face the trails and joys of life. 

Playlists 

To help you fill your home with great songs, we have put together some Spotify playlists for you to stream or download. One playlist called FBC Song-List has all the songs we sing here at FBC. Another playlist called FBC Music has hours of new worship music from around the country for you to explore. And, we just recently put together our FBC Kids playlist, which has music by the Getty’s, Sovereign Grace, Ghost Ship and more. This playlist will be great for teaching, singing, and even spontaneous family dance parties. 

Family Ministry

Our Family Pastor Paul Funchess and his wife Christie are also amazing examples of how singing in the home can be used for fun and teaching and spiritual formation. Here is his vision for family singing and the role of singing in children’s ministry: 

I will sum it up in two words: teaching and demonstrating. The song for last month in our home was “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” Christie taught a different portion every week until the kids had memorized the entire song. I cannot count how many times that song was sung in our home over the month but I can tell you that I never got tired of hearing it. It provided countless opportunities for teaching theology and reinforcing biblical truth. It also provided an immediate reference point for assessing events and circumstances that happened in our life and around the globe. 

Now I am not assuming that my children are worshipers of God because they can sing songs about Him. However, both in our home and in the church we stack these truths into their hearts and minds as logs into an empty, cold fireplace praying that God would give them the gift of repentance and faith, lighting the fire by His grace. 

Singing together also demonstrates two important worship truths: First, it demonstrates to our children what a life of consistent worship looks like. It is true that you can sing without a heart of worship but it is also true that a sincere heart of worship cannot help but pour itself out in song. This reality hopefully sums up why we sing in our home. We sing because our hearts are gripped by awe of God and the glories of His grace. Hearts like this can’t help but sing. 

It is also true that there are many days in our home when the song isn’t there because idolatry in our hearts has robbed us of it. This absence of song drives us to repentance, forgiveness, and restoration. We want the song to return to our hearts, to our lips, and to our home. Our children have front row seats to see all of this. 

Second, it demonstrates the importance of unity in corporate worship. Our worship throughout the week builds to a crescendo when we come to the corporate gathering. The songs we sing with the body are the very same songs that we have been singing and listening to at home. Now let me make this clear: not all the songs we sing here are the ones on my personal playlist. However, we have made a conscious decision to make sure that we sing, teach, and listen to the same songs we sing as a church at home because we want to send the clear message that we treasure the unity of corporate worship in song. This is why it is important to me to begin teaching songs from our corporate setting in our classrooms from time to time. I want our children to be able to worship in song with the rest of the body. We are one and our singing should reflect this unity.

 

Note: Spotify is a free service with the option to pay for a premium account. The free version will still give you access to stream these songs on shuffle and more. Download it on your phone, tablet or computer and select “follow” on these playlists to add them to your library.