There’s a Chinese proverb that says “A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.” And every Christian should sing (whether we’re good at it or not) because we—of all people—have a song. As Ephesians 5:19 says “(we should be) addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.”
Singing is a powerful way to praise Jesus. However, Christians need to be careful to worship God in their singing rather than worship the songs that they sing.
It’s interesting that in Acts 2:42 we’re told how the early church worshiped: “they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Did you see anything there about “singing?” Nope, not there. Now, I’m sure the early church sang when they praised God, but it apparently wasn’t the main focus of worship.
That’s why it annoys me to hear song leaders being called “worship leaders” – as if singing is “worship” and everything else done at Sunday services… isn’t.
I was reminded of this bizarre attitude by a conversation I had recently. The man I was talking with believed that a “worship team” needed to be open to the leading of the Spirit and be willing to repeat the verses of a song (as often as they felt led) so that the Spirit would be able to “work in the hearts” of believers. He bragged that in some of the worship services he’d been in, the church had often done nothing more than sing the whole time (no preaching, no communion, etc.).
Now I love to sing… but I have a serious problem with that.
- First, the Spirit doesn’t need my help. He’s quite capable of “moving” in the hearts of believers with or without music.
- Second, what those churches were doing is called “manipulation” – they were using their song service to “create” the illusion of the Spirit’s power.
- And third (and perhaps most important) singing should not be the main focus of our worship.
Do you know what the main focus of worship should be? The Lord’s Supper. Acts 20:7 says that the church gathered “to break bread”. Granted Paul was there and preached past midnight, but the reason the church gathered was to eat with Jesus and remember His sacrifice for their sins. I love to sing, I love to pray, I love to preach, I love to fellowship… but the main reason I come to church is to eat with Jesus.