Christians, you probably have all been there. You are singing along with a Christian song at church during worship and you suddenly begin to feel uncomfortable. You have been singing for a while now and it has been all focused on you – I will do this or I will do that, I feel this or I feel that. Or you are singing along and you realize that you are singing a song that makes it seem like you and the Creator of the Universe are either BFF’s (in a junior high kind of way) or in a syrupy high school first crush relationship. This is awwwwkward!!!!! you think as you go nowhere near the Throne of God and hope that it just ends soon and the next song is better.
It is a terrible place to be when you are attempting to glorify Jesus and something to be avoided by those in charge of picking worship music. So, how do we as a church avoid it? Here are some of the things we do to try to keep all the attention during worship where it belongs, on Jesus and His goodness.
- Realize there is a difference between Christian music and Worship Music — I love a lot of the Christian music that is being played on the radio these days. It is great to listen to and there are some super talented people out there. It is not all appropriate for church though. I really enjoy the band NeedtoBreathe for example and they have some good themes to their music — but it is simply not worship music. Pick music that is focused on God, not self and says good things about God.
- When in doubt, sing Scripture – There are some great songs that have been written throughout church history that are taken directly from the Bible. If you are doubting the music that you have been singing, test them against the Bible and see if they hold up. If they are directly out of the Bible you can’t go wrong.
- Pay attention to lyrics — Though there are some melodies that just move you and people may enjoy the uber-popular song of the time being played at church, make sure you know what is being sung and that it is focused on God and His glory. We take ownership of the music when we sing along, it is important that we know what we are singing and agree.
- Ditch the angst — Our struggle is important to us and can be a part of the music, but if we are just singing about how lost we were and how hard that was it really does not amount to worship of anyone else than us. Glorify God and then glorify God some more! I love songs that make me remember how lost I was, but they can never leave us there.
- Exalt the Lord — The attention of the song should be on God and how great He is – you may say the same thing in 10 different ways but sing about how great God is. If you want to add in the angst here about how much we stink as a point of comparison, that is fine, but don’t spend too much time there. It is about God and God alone.
- Choose the style that works for you — I love Contemporary Christian music. I really dislike traditional Gospel for the most part. I like a lot of hymns. All are great ways to worship the Lord and unless we are singing in Psalms in Aramaic are not exactly what the early church did. Find what you like among the styles and enjoy it — then sing your heart out to the Lord. God never tells us that we can only worship through ancient Greek rap solos.
- Don’t put too much stock in the song writers/singers — There are some Christian worship groups out there that I find questionable in their doctrine and would likely never attend their church. That doesn’t make the songs good or bad. If the lyrics are sound and the originators are not a distraction, then have at it.
- If it sounds like Creed, it probably shouldn’t be in church — I know I said that different styles are ok, but again there are plenty of songs that I like that simply do not belong in worship. I have listened to Third Day for years and they have a ton of good worship songs. They also have Southern Rock songs that should stay in the pick up truck while you are doing air guitar — or is that just me?
- Choose the Holy to lead, not the talented – You may have two choices to sing in worship – one who sings wonderfully and is lukewarm and the other whose singing is lukewarm and is on fire for Christ. Choose the one on fire for Christ and let God take care of the details why it will work out.
- Love and support your worship leaders — It is a tough job, they need it just as much as anyone else in the Body.
- Always fake an Australian accent to sound relevant — just kidding mate!
Just some thoughts based on my experiences.