The Self-Denial of Congregational Singing

82499889-congregation-singing-christma-gettyimagesWhen we all sing together as a congregation, there’s a significant aspect of self-denial in that act. For some, the thoughts of singing out loud even in a crowd bring some sort of fear and trepidation. For others, they love singing so much that they want to stand out from the crowd. Both are significant forms pride from which we need to repent.

When we come together to sing, whether as a congregation or as a choir, we come together as a picture of our self-denial as a disciple of Christ. Each voice comes together in unity to exalt our all-sufficient Christ and to encourage others in Christ. Every voice plays a part in their own part to help the Christian collective.

Bring your voices, church! Ready yourselves to deny yourselves with that instrument with which God has gave everyone.  Pray for your worship leaders as they provide appropriate and substantial songs for the congregation to sing.  I like what Michael Raiter says:

It’s time for congregations to sensitively but firmly rise up and reclaim congregational singing. We must remind song leaders (or, perhaps, teach them in the first place) the purpose of their ministry. Putting a microphone in the hands of someone who can sing no more makes her a song leader than, as the old proverb goes, sticking someone in a garage makes him a car. All the microphone does is make someone a very loudsinger. The ministry of the song leader is, surely, to guide and lead the people of God in singing. The role of the song leader is to help us to sing, and they will know if they have fulfilled that ministry when they can hardly be heard because of the praises of the congregation filling the room.

I liken the ministry of song leaders to that of John the Baptist. They must decrease as the people of God increase (John 3:30). When the song begins, we may hear the voices of the leaders and the sounds of the instruments, but by the end of the song, it is the voices of the people of God that should dominate.

Self-denial, indeed!



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