Singing during worship in an iPod world …

Radio"All we will do in heaven is sing praises." And for the tonally challenged you can count on a new voice with "perfect pitch." No Simon Cowell to tell you just how "pitchy" you are. While I am convinced we will be doing much more than singing in heaven, the subject of music tends to occupy quite a bit of time as churches tussle over the old and the new.

A few weeks ago I attended a local Renovare Conference. George Skramstad led us to think about  worship and gave a brief trek through the history of worship. He mentioned a couple of things. He noted how at one time in the church no one would think of allowing Sinatra styled "crooning" in the church. He then played and sang a Steve Green piece that sounded like Sinatra. (For we who are Baptists, my brother reminded me of the Keach brothers who lobbied hard there should be no singing in worship for it was viewed as "frivolity" and "distracting" from the Word.)

One thing still tumbles around in my rock polisher – Skramstad asserted people today sing along rather than aloud. My parents and grandparents would look around at a morning worship gathering and may notice some are singing and some are not. One immediate conclusion takes us to the style of music. However, if Skramstad is correct, the radio, and even more the iPod, compel us to sing along rather than aloud. Too many tell me they cannot carry a tune but love to sing along. If they are thrust in a context requiring them to sing aloud, they will stand or sit idly. Given the opportunity to sing along, under their breath or a place in the room where they feel no one can hear them, they might chime in. When made to feel like the performance of the hymn is dependent on their singing aloud, they remain silent.

How we moderate expectations among those whose connection with music differs seems to take center stage for those trying to strike a balance. It may well be we need to spend a bit more time talking about the kinds of things we will do in the fulfilled Kingdom of God beyond "singing forever." Part of me wants to propose our attempt to wrest all the music from the devil has surely given the devil a place to thwart the formation of the people of God in their fixation over music.

About the Author
Husband to Patty. Daddy to Kimberly and Tommie. Grandpa Doc to Cohen, Max, Fox, and Marlee. Pastor to Snow Hill Baptist Church. Graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Reading. Photography. Golf. Colorado. Jeeping. Friend. The views and opinions expressed here are my own and should not be construed as representing the corporate views of the church I pastor.

2 comments on “Singing during worship in an iPod world …

  1. Anonymous says:

    In my church, and this is going to sound a bit lofty, I apologize beforehand for it, but I don’t allow ‘canned’ music in any form. A singer can sing whatever they want (as long as it follows the lectionary, secular or not) but a singer must either have accompaniment (e.g., piano, organ, guitar, etc) or sing without music, it’s their choice.

    Mind you, there is a problem to this: sometimes folks feel it is still a performance. Still, God gives some folks better abilities than others (and some others even develop their own talents, which is fine too- it’s tough to tell the difference, right?).

    I love technology and it’s all around me and in everything I do–but in worship, it’s different to me.

  2. says:

    I prefer “live” music too. The thing that struck me was the way in which people engage singing in worship. For some reason attention is given during a Sunday service to the number of people singing along as a measure of agreement with the singing portion of the gathering. Drawing such a conclusion ignores the differing positions from which people come to “sing.”

    You remember in high school, it did not matter what you drove as much as having a good car stereo to sing along with. Remember the days of “Linda Soundtrack.” The appeal was to have something to sing along with while driving down the road – not something to sing aloud to.

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