Continuing the line of discussion, “shaping the worship culture at Gateway," I wanted to take a look at our responsibility as a congregation to sing. Paul tells us in Colossians 3:16,
“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.” We worship through the Word as well as through song. Mike Cosper in Rhythms of Grace explains, “A congregation is just as responsible to sing the gospel as the preachers are to preach it. These two tasks, singing and preaching, jointly undertaken to their fullest, then reduce themselves to one common act. It’s an expression of unity for us to join in one voice and declare to one another that we’re on the same page. We are united around the same things, one gospel, one church, one faith, one voice, one song.” He continues, “we can glorify God as we testify to one another about who He is and what He’s done. We can also encourage and build up one another as we sing praises to God, confess our sins, and lament the state of the world around us.”
So, we have a responsibility to sing praises to God. We should want to sing “with thankfulness in our hearts.” What keeps up from singing as a congregation? Unfamiliarity with the music? Dislike of the particular song or style? There are several obstacles in our path to worshiping God placed by the enemy for sure, but how often do we get in our own way?
“We’ve been taught in our churches and in the Christian marketing sub culture around us to treat music as another product for us to consume: just as we have the rest of our faith. If something doesn’t meet our preferences, we’ve learned to discard it, join another church, or buy a different CD. We’ve learned to be spectators on Sunday; listening, enjoying, and critiquing, but the Bible unapologetically calls us to be participants”, Cosper tells us. The Bible calls us to be participants!
One of our Gateway worship leaders recently said, “I try to remind myself to not just pick the songs I sound good singing.” I love the heart behind that thought and the same is true for us in the congregation. We shouldn’t withhold participation because it’s not a song or style we like. We as the body of Christ have an obligation to sing praises to God and to witness to and encourage those around us. As worship leaders, we have an obligation to create an environment where that happens. This side of heaven, we will never have a completely distraction free environment, so it is within our hearts that we need to settle ourselves before God, resist the spectator mentality and worship Him. Our ability or inability to worship God is not someone else’s responsibility. It’s a heart condition, and we need to own that.
In closing, let’s be encouraged by the Christians in parts of the world where their faith can get them killed, yet there they are in basements, worshipping God without any of the elements that we would require in order to worship. My prayer for us is that we would embrace the privilege that it is to worship freely and cling to the responsibility we have to sing - “one church, one faith, one voice, one song,” - the Gospel.