Posts Tagged ‘worship songs’

I love music.

My mom tells me that when I was two years old, I would sing at the top of my lungs while she pushed me around Safeway in a grocery cart.

I had a little phonograph, and I would listen to my records over and over … like “Romper Room Do Bee” or “Punchy the Clown” or “How Much is That Doggy in the Window?”

Even now … while I’m writing this article … Bach is playing gently in the background.

But when I attend worship services at my church, I don’t always sing … and from looking around, I can tell that many people feel just like me.

Why do so many Christians NOT sing in church?

Should we automatically conclude that they aren’t spiritual?

Let me speak for myself:

First, I don’t always feel like singing.  I’ve always been someone who believes that you don’t wait for positive feelings and then do something … you do the right thing and then positive feelings will follow.

When I was a pastor, I didn’t always feel like singing during worship … but I did.

But now that I’m not a pastor, people aren’t taking their cues from me … and I find that both refreshing and liberating.

After experiencing traumatic events at the hands of professing Christians several years ago, it was a struggle for me just to attend a worship service for months.

When I finally found a seat, I didn’t want to stand up … or clap my hands … or sing loudly.

My heart had been broken.  When I tried to sing, all I could do was utter soft, muffled sounds.

My guess is that scores of people want to sing during worship time, but their hearts have been broken, too … and they just don’t feel like it.

Can we cut them some slack?

I think of the final words to the song “The Sound of Music: “My heart will be blessed with the sound of music, and I’ll sing once more.”

Those whose hearts are broken may very well sing again if we just let God heal their hearts first.

Second, I can’t sing certain phrases or songs.  Some worship songs are written as love songs to the Lord, and I’m uncomfortable with them.

For example, I cringe every time we used to sing “Draw Me Close to You.”  As a guy, I don’t like singing about “the warmth of your embrace” to Jesus … and I am not alone.

I was recently in a service where we were asked to sing a song that, in my view, was poorly written and not conducive to worship.  I would have felt silly singing that song … so I didn’t sing it at all.

Remember the old hymn “And Can It Be That I Should Gain?”  It’s a classic … but the phrase “emptied himself of all but love” (referring to Jesus’ incarnation) is theologically unsound … so I always hummed over those words rather than sing them.

I’m not trying to be critical, but to sing with integrity, and that means there are some phrases … and songs … that I just can’t sing.

Third, singing wears me out.  While I sang in Boy’s Glee Club for a few years in Jr. High, I am not a trained singer.  Even though I’ll listen to hours of music during the week, I rarely sing along … and if I do, it’ll be just a few bars.

For 167 hours every week, I don’t sing … and then I come to church, where the congregation is asked to sing 4 or 5 or 6 songs.

The people on the stage love to sing … that’s why they’re up there.  I admire their ability and enthusiasm.

But I don’t want to sing 6 songs during worship.  3 is optimal … and 4 is stretching it.

So after 3 or 4 songs, I’m done.  My throat is starting to hurt … I don’t feel like clapping anymore … and I’d like to sit down.

I love the Lord, and I love to worship Him, so I don’t think I’m being unspiritual.

But I’m human, and I have limits … and so do others.

So if you see me sitting down or not singing, it’s not a protest … I’m conserving my energy so I can listen to the sermon.

Finally, I’d rather listen to others play and sing than to sing myself.  That’s what happened at our church yesterday.  I chose to be silent and focus on the words rather than sing them myself.

The best church services I’ve ever attended were at Bay Horizons Church in Silicon Valley during the 1990s.  We’d sing two worship songs at the beginning of the service and then have two performance songs later on … usually ending with one more worship song at the end of the service.

For me, that was the optimal use of music during worship.  Because we started with just two worship songs, I could sing with my entire being, knowing that was all that would be asked of me.

And then I could sit back and listen to gifted musicians back a gifted vocalist with a song that would almost always touch my heart.

This approach is certainly biblical.  The Psalms were the hymnbook of ancient Israel, and many of them were written in the first person, while others were meant to be sung by a congregation.

I know the trend today is for the congregation to sing and for gifted vocalists to sing only on the worship team.

But as I’ve written before, I’d remember those performance songs months or years later … and I would always look forward to them.

In their book Setting Your Church Free, Neil Anderson and Charles Mylander write:

“Why do some people never sing in church – not even a joyful noise?  Some, of course, have perfectly normal reasons.  They may not know the words or the tune, or some may be tone deaf or feel socially inhibited.  But others are being spiritually inhibited from singing hymns and choruses of praise to God. . . . The evil one does not like praise music.  David played the harp and the evil spirit departed from Saul.”

I love my Savior Jesus and Christian music, but I don’t always want to sing.  Does that make me less spiritual?

How many times are we told that Jesus sang?  Just once … after the Last Supper (Matthew 26:30).

As a man, a veteran believer, and a former pastor, I don’t pretend to speak for everybody else in the church.

But I’ve tried to lay out four reasons why I don’t always sing in church, and my guess is that many others would resonate with what I’ve written.

What are your thoughts on this issue?

Check out our website at www.restoringkingdombuilders.org  You’ll find Jim’s story, recommended resources on conflict, and a forum where you can ask questions about conflict situations in your church.

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