We Are (Still) A Church Who Sings
It was the summer of 1994. The Lion King was blowing up the box offices, The Sign by Ace of Base was blasting from every car stereo, and I was a 90lb fourteen year old looking forward to my freshman year of high school with all its extracurricular activities wide open to me. Band was a given. I had been playing sax for five years. But I was also interested in choir and, strangely, basketball since my dad had put up a hoop on our garage. I wasn’t sure I would be able to do all three and maintain my grades, but I decided to go to summer basketball camp, try out for the team, and see what happened. I lasted one day. I showed up to camp, wearing swim trunks that were too large so I attempted to hold them up with a belt (my only other option was jeans and even I know you don’t play basketball in jeans). Yes, you read that right. I tried to hold up my loop-less swim trunks with a belt while running drills on the court. I was doomed from the tip-off. It became very clear that the campers had all played some sort of organized basketball since they were little. I was outclassed and outplayed every step. And my asthma didn’t give me a court advantage either. I was faced with a dilemma; should I try out and, and if by some miracle I made the team, I would only be a benchwarmer, or should I give up on my hoop dreams focus my energy on singing?
What did I do? Why am I sharing this story? I’ll tell you at the end…
As we find ourselves sheltering in place at the onset of summer, about to watch our 11th Sunday service at home, online church might seem as awkward as belting on swim trunks for basketball tryouts. It’s ok if you don’t like doing church this way. I don’t. I miss singing with YOU. And you are singing at home, by yourself, or with your roommates or your family. It can be really uncomfortable. But we are still a church who sings. So here are some thoughts to help you continue to engage and get the most out of our online worship services with specific regards to singing.
REMEMBER THE VALUE:
Why do we sing at church? Remembering this might reignite a passion for singing in a time of … blah. God loves it when we sing to him. That is why he asks it of us. It is a blessing to his heart. It is like when my five year old brings me a drawing. He made a gift just for me and it fills my fatherly heart. We fill God’s fatherly heart when we sing to him from our homes. It is also a blessing to our own hearts (another reason God asks us to sing). Music has a unique way of combining our intellect and emotions around a truth of God, resulting in spiritual transformation. Sitting idle and just watching people sing is missing out on opportunities of growing in Christ-likeness. After all, Jesus sang worship songs to his father and we long to be like him.
An inherent problem with the online church paradigm is its similarity to TV. Watching TV is a passive activity, the mind and heart being somewhat shut off. Church is interactive, it involves all of us and all of God. We must be intentional to overcome the passivity that creeps into our church experience. I suggest forming a routine that communicates to your heart and mind that you are about to engage in something holy and significant. Perhaps it’s time to do away with “Pajama church”. In my home Sunday mornings find us all getting up on time, getting dressed in real clothes, making a big family breakfast of bacon, eggs, and pancakes, printing off the kids activities, grabbing whatever instruments we have around the house, settling into our same spots on the couch (how “church” is that? Gotta sit in YOUR spot) and then praying before we start service at 11am. This pattern prepares me and my family to engage. What can you do to be intentional about your worship?
MAKE JOYFUL NOISES:
God values the sound of your heart. He has never once requested a certain quality of voice. Take heart in that. For Americans who do not have public singing woven into the tapestry of our culture, singing can often be a struggle. The added obstacle of sitting at home with just your closest people around you makes it more so. But I encourage you in the Lord to sing out all the same. Make a joyful NOISE to the Lord Most High! Bless his name with loud singing! I suggest turning up the volume on the TV so that you have some volume in the room to feel more comfortable when you sing louder. Grab some noise makers, kid’s shakers, spoons, pots and pans! If you are in the practice of singing at home take it a step further. Clap along, stand up, get your body, mind, and soul engaged. My youngest always loves being held by my wife at church while we sing. He calls it “uppy”. Even at home he looks to her and says, “uppy?” He engages at home in the same way he does at church. How can you engage at home and make a joyful noise?
So what did I do that fateful mid-nineties summer? Did I go out for choir or basketball? I quit basketball. Duh. Look at me. I’m about as athletic as a pig with a peg leg! I knew that at best I was going to sit on the bench, never getting any court time. I wasn’t going to be a bench warmer. I was going to sing.
Regardless of where we find ourselves, We are a church who sings. We are not benchwarmers.
Pastor of Worship