Singing is the Thing
How important is the music in your church services? Adrian Reynolds says that’s the wrong question – we need to make sure we’re focused on the singing and that’s why we pursue excellence in music.
It doesn’t matter what kind or size of church you lead, singing is important. It’s important because it’s a ministry of the word to one another as we meet. “Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts” (Col 3:16, CSB).
It’s important to get this emphasis right. It’s not music that’s key, it’s singing. Music is important because it is the means by which we sing to one another, but music alone is never the thing. Singing is.
A Ministry of the Word
Frankly, modern evangelicals very often get this wrong. So, for example, we prioritise tunes over words. I’m not saying tunes are unimportant. An unsingable tune means we will not be able to sing to one another. But if we are choosing songs because the tune works without any reference to the words, then we have our priorities wrong. Singing is the thing.
We also individualise too many songs. Individualisation is not wrong, per se. After all, The Lord is my Shepherd is, you may have noticed, a first-person-singer. But if we sing songs that cut us off from others and do not allow us to minister to one another in some way, then we have missed the point of singing in the first place. Singing is the thing.
We seek help for every other kind of word ministry. There is training for preachers; there are resources for small group leaders; there are evangelistic courses; there are books of Sunday School materials as well. Why would we neglect to prepare adequately for a ministry which probably forms the first or second most significant element of your Sunday gatherings (depending on how long the preacher gets)?
Music Ministry Conference
That’s why I greatly value the guys at Music Ministry and the resources they provide. I’m particularly excited about the upcoming conference in Nottingham on Saturday 28th September. Paul Mallard (Pastor at Widcombe Baptist) and I will be speaking and making sure the day is grounded in Scripture. Paul will specifically concentrate on singing with joy – a key Bible topic. There is a mix of seminars and practical workshops – including one from Ben Slee who led the singing at Word Alive in April.
What I love about Music Ministry is that they recognise that not every church is identical. This is not just a day for people who serve in large music teams. The reality is that most of us don’t have that luxury. Few of us are professional musicians. Sometimes it really is just Old Joe on the piano. Some of us will sing hymns more than modern songs. For others it may be reversed. But remember, singing is the thing – and we all do it.
I’m going to this conference not primarily as a speaker, but as a pastor who leads services and wants to do that better, and as a musician who sometimes plays on his own, and sometimes as part of a band. I want to do that better, because I want our church to sing better. I want our singing to be a key ministry of the word in our congregation. I’m sure you do too.
That’s why church leaders should not just consider sending their musicians or PA operators but should come along too. In fact, what a great way to encourage those who serve by learning alongside them? It would be a great way to pastor your flock.
It’s worth your time and investment, because singing is the thing.