Article by Paul Mokuolu and Tom DrionContributors at GraceLife London
In the church I grew up in, “worship” was what we called the transition from upbeat, fast-tempo songs to more soothing, slower songs, when hand-clapping was traded in for hand-waving.
But that wasn’t really an accurate understanding of worship!
Worship goes far beyond music – right to the core of how we live our daily lives before God. Paul described worship as the presentation of our “bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Romans 12:1). This ultimately involves honouring God with all of our being – with our hands, with our speech, with our minds, with our hearts.
Christians Need to Sing
Even so, honouring God with our voices through song is still an important part of worshipping Him. We are exhorted to “[address] one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with [our] heart” (Ephesians 5:19), and singing has always been central to the life of God’s people.
Immediately after crossing the Red Sea and escaping the fury of the Egyptians, the people of Israel burst into spontaneous song, singing of God’s greatness, His majesty, and His triumph over the Egyptians (Exodus 15:1-21). The longest book in the Bible, Psalms, is filled with songs that reflect the whole spectrum of the Christian walk – songs of jubilation, songs of lament, and songs of repentance. Whether it be joy, gratitude, sorrow, or pain; when we worship God in song, we are emotionally responding to the truth of God’s character and nature.
Singing Helps You Memorise Truth
Singing is also a great method for remembering the truths of God’s Word. Asked to recite the alphabet, most people remember it to the tune which accompanied it in their childhood. There is no denying that music is a powerful tool for memorisation, which is why we often find it easier to memorise entire songs than even small passages of scripture. However, for singing to be an effective tool in remembering God’s truth, the songs do actually need to be filled with biblical truth! Only then is God truly honoured and are we rightly encouraged, edified, exhorted. Songs filled with erroneous statements about God don’t help, unless you want to memorise error!
Singing Encourages Other Christians
Paul urges the Ephesians to address one another in song – corporate worship is a beautiful gift and there are few things more glorious than the whole church singing to the Lord in unity. The truth we sing encourages other Christians, and even the sight of brothers and sisters who share in our testimony and our hope can strengthen us.
Singing Takes Priority Over Music
Seeing the importance of song as a part of worship helps us gain perspective on the music that accompanies it. Music is there to help our singing, not as an end in itself. It helps to remember that worship happens when hearts respond in adoration towards God, based on some truth that we sing. Music is helpful if it fits with the truth we’re singing, and enables us to memorise, and express our worship in a way that’s appropriate to the kind of song being sung. It’s helpful when the music keeps us in time, and in tune… when it supports and strengthens the thoughts in our songs, but when music dominates or distracts, it loses its usefulness. Ultimately, the musicians, along with those who lead the singing, are there to help us worship, not to become the focus of attention themselves.
Can You Help Others Worship God?
If you think about it, just taking part in worship means you’re helping others to do the same. That said, we’re so thankful to God for the gifted people who write, lead and accompany our worship! The more skillful these people are, the more our focus is on the Lord.
If you have gifts that will help the church to focus on the Lord as we worship, contact Francis, who heads-up this ministry (Francis@gracelifelondon.org)