Despite the self-consciousness Christians who don’t like to sing at church feel, worship leaders must create an environment where every member feels comfortable joining in as a part of the congregation’s ministry, say church leaders who strive to hear every voice lifted in praise to Jesus.
In a column published on Pastor John Piper’s website DesiringGod on Sunday, Mark Merker, a pastoral assistant at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., wrote that the New Testament refers to singing as a corporate activity, and explains that singing in a congregational setting is a ministry where worshipers not only praise God but address each other in song and is an “avenue for Christian love.”
“If we see our singing as part of our personal ministry to others, it will shape how we approach music at church in practical ways,” Merker added.
Jamie Brown, director of worship and arts at Truro Anglican Church in Fairfax, Virginia, concurs. The Christian Post asked him how he, as a worship leader, helps people who are not musically inclined to push past the awkwardness they feel.
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“I want people to look clearly at the person and the work of Jesus Christ,” said Brown, who has been leading worship and writing music since he was a teenager.
“And my hope and prayer when I’m planning and leading services is that I can, through music, present Jesus as being as compelling and amazing as He is so that even average or self-admitted lousy singers will forget about their singing and praise Him.
“When I remove as many roadblocks as I can from people — whether it is music in unsingable keys, songs that are not worth singing, lyrics that are not clear, hymns that are obscure, my own craftiness — when I remove those impediments and just say ‘Here is Jesus, here He is,’ people are much more drawn to singing. And even if they don’t really like to sing they join in,” Brown said.
Singing is much more than just the physical act of making noise with one’s vocal chords, he added.
“David writes in Psalm 34:3 ‘O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.’ And I love that. Here’s the Psalmist saying that worship is a) worship leading is invitational, and b) worship at its pinnacle is corporate. Yet what I think sometimes gets lost in translation is this whole idea of ‘magnify.'”
Worship, Brown said, is really more like a telescope, not a microscope. And it is a respite for believers weary from the daily barrage of lies, deceptions, and assaults life throws at people.
“For however long services last, out of which a significant portion of it the congregation is singing, we are being “drawn back to what is true and the Spirit is shouting at us “Yes, yes, yes, this is true, this is true.”
In May 2014, Brown wrote a column on his personal blog titled, “Are We Headed for a Crash? Reflections on the Current State of Evangelical Worship,” which was subsequently picked up by ChurchLeaders and HealthyLeaders and has since been read over 1 million times. In the article he advises worship leaders like himself to dispense with anything that would inhibit people from singing freely, especially what he calls “performancism” where the worship leader is the performer, the congregation is the audience, and the sanctuary is the concert hall.
“Step back. Take a deep breath. Think about it. Do we really want to go down this road? It will result in a crash. Back-up. Recalibrate. Serve your congregations, point them to Jesus, help them sing along and sing with confidence. Get out of the way, for God’s sake,” Brown said.