I’ve read several articles lately about “why people don’t sing in church anymore”. These various articles submit that It’s either because churches sing too many hymns or churches don’t sing enough hymns or the music is “new” so people don’t know the words or it’s more about the person singing on stage and the band than the congregation involvement…blah, blah, blah. After reading many of these different submissions (some I agree with and some, not so much) I have put a lot of thought into this issue myself. I mean, I am a worship leader so I see firsthand the non-singers (actually, these folks look more entranced as they stand and stare at the screen on the church wall with no movement…at all). Do I believe there’s a right equation the music department can come up with to fix it? Nope.
Here’s what I think the issue is: the heart.
As a worship leader equipped by God to lead people in one of the most important aspects of a church service, it is my calling to diligently seek HIM regarding the music we sing, the people who sing it and the order in which it is presented. Just putting a list of songs together each week does not a worship leader make. If my heart is not in line with the Father, if I am not desperately seeking His direction, the result will be reflected in the music and it’s lack of effect. Psalm 16:2 says it best: “You are my Lord, my goodness is NOTHING apart from You.” The worship leader’s position in selecting music is not to please the old crowd or the young crowd or the pastor or the choir but instead to please THE LORD. He is the One we’re supposed to be singing to, by the way…our worship is to HIM not for each other.
Now, if we get the heart of the worship leader where it needs to be, that still won’t assure that the people will sing and worship as God desires. Again…it’s the heart.
I see non-singing older people and non-singing young people every Sunday…and it’s not because we’re singing a song they don’t know! For instance, let’s say we decide to sing a hymn (which I love…I cut my teeth on a hymnal!). I watch the faces of the young folks who give me the unspoken, “Really? How old is this song anyway?” while the older folks perk up and sing out with gusto as if to insinuate “FINALLY we’re singing a song God approves of” (but I warn you, do NOT rearrange or update these sacred hymns. I received an anonymous note after singing an upbeat version of “Revive Us Again” advising that the hymns were “written right the first time so stop changing them”).
The same thing happens in reverse order when we sing a contemporary song.
Here are my thoughts: If you have been saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, and you are walking in His grace every day, how can you not get excited about singing “When We All Get to Heaven”?! Seriously, what a day of rejoicing that WILL be and I can hardly wait to get there myself!! In the same right, who can’t get excited to sing, “God’s not dead He’s surely alive! He’s living on the inside, roaring like a lion”?? Well, isn’t that truth for the born again believer?? God is NOT dead and praise His name, He lives inside of His children!
I get it, I get it…the beat is not what you’re used to or it’s “hokey” or the keyboard has replaced the beloved organ. But does that change the truth of the lyrics? NO!
What breaks my heart is this divide we are experiencing in our churches over MUSIC. What is the deal?! I see the meddling hand of Satan all over this. In truth, the older people should be praying for and encouraging the younger people in the church. Thank God they’re even there! These are the ones who will continue to make the church strong and growing! These are the ones having babies to bring in new generations to serve God! And when there are songs sung that causes these young hearts to open up in praise and worship to OUR KING, older saints, you should raise your own hands in thanks to God for these that He will use to continue His church!!
Likewise, when hymns of the church are sung – songs written by spiritual giants and penned out of some of the most tragic yet faith-building testimonies you’ll ever hear (do yourself a favor and just read the story behind “It is Well”), young people, you should thank God for the saints standing nearby, belting out these songs they have literally loved all of their lives, because THEIR hard work, dedication and love for God Almighty is most likely the very reason there’s a sanctuary to sing in at all.
Here’s a novel suggestion: COME TO CHURCH ASKING GOD TO FEED YOU. PERIOD. Don’t show up wondering if you’ll be fed and going away hungry because you refused to receive what the Lord had to offer because it wasn’t “your flavor”.
And for goodness sake, if you, young or old, do not know a song being sung…JUST LISTEN. Don’t just hear, LISTEN. Listen to the words of the song – read them on the screen – and let them sink in. If your worship leader is worth his/her salt, they will have selected a song that has God’s anointing all over it and, slow or fast, old or new, HE can speak to you through it.
I love music, I love church, and most of all, I LOVE THE LORD! Don’t miss out on what HE wants to do in your life! Open up and PRAISE HIM!!!!!