The Sing! Conference is a conference for pastors, musicians, and leaders on encouraging and deepening congregational worship. I attended this conference with my wife, Jess, and it served as a solid ground for us to anchor our convictions, while also serving as a launching pad for ideas and dreams we would love to see come to fruition.
There are four confirmations from the conference that I believe will help me anchor my convictions as I seek to serve with the gifts and talents that God has given me. While I framed them in the context of how singing affects us as individuals, families, churches, and witnesses, these are just four examples of application. I will also share my own personal applications for each confirmation point.
1. Singing affects us as individuals: Music is for God.
Many parents give their children a musical education to be well-rounded individuals. But what if a child’s music education was explicitly declared to be for the glory of God? Music lessons, orchestra, and marching band would not be for an academic resume, but it would be to give a student skills to serve. Bob Kauflin said: “We have to inform people that music is not the great thing about me. It’s Jesus! Our songs can never be better than Jesus.” My music is not for me. My singing is not to show-off myself. Our songs are meant to serve Jesus.
Therefore, train children to use their gifts for the church as a whole. They are part of the big church. Music for ministry must be the priority. Musicians must have sound theology on why they serve and what their role is in the life of the church. Music is a serious matter because we are serving God with our songs.
On a personal note, I am thankful to my parents for showing me their love of music in their lives. I am thankful for the music lessons they provided, and how they let me pursue my passion. I am thankful for the church for opportunities to serve when I was young. I will continue to share my love for music and admonish others to do the same.
2. Singing affects us as families: Singing starts in the home.
While the church gathers to sing every Sunday, our lives are lived all seven days a week. Singing in the home has the ability to shape the minds and hearts of children, as Biblical truths are internalized and cherished. Ligon Duncan said: “Regular family worship communicates that our life revolves around God.” Reading, singing, and praying are the three pillars of family worship, and it is often the songs that the children will take with them throughout their entire life.
Therefore, churches need to push for family worship in the home. Children can benefit from seeing their parents model singing in the church on Sundays. The older generation is to model the importance of singing and use songs as a means to deliver doctrine and teach theology.
On a personal note, I will seek to prioritize family worship in my home. Jess and I will be parents who sing. And I will encourage and exhort other parents to do the same.
3. Singing affects us as churches: The teaching pastor is the worship leader.
Although this was a conference for worship leaders, there was noticeably a good amount of pastors. Many churches cannot afford a dedicated music pastor, and this leaves the primary responsibility of musical worship to the pastor. However, if worship truly is a response to God’s Word, the teaching pastor should view himself as the worship leader. John MacArthur said: “The heart can only go as high in worship as it can go deep in theology.” Because worship is not just music, the teaching pastor should seek to shepherd the flock and lead them to worship as they seek to apply God’s revealed word to their lives.
Therefore, pastors and music leaders need to be on the same page. They must work together in planning the worship services. The teaching pastor should be in the pews with the congregation during the music, and the musicians should sit in the pews under the teaching of the word.
On a personal note, I am thankful to have a healthy relationship with my pastors. I am blessed to call them my friends. I will exploit these relationships and do my best to support the ministry of the word with the ministry of music.
4. Singing affects us as witnesses: The Psalms show us how to submit our music and emotions to God.
The conference centered around the Psalms, seeking to bring them back into the personal life of the Christian and in the corporate worship of the church. The Psalms cover a wide range of human emotions, and when we study, sing, and proclaim the Psalms we testify God’s sovereignty over our circumstances. JD Greear said: “The Psalms reveal to us the right posture in bringing our questions and doubts before God.” The Psalms serve as our Biblical basis and model for our own songs and Sunday repertoire.
Therefore, we must not deny expressing the spectrum of human emotions through song. However, on this side of the cross, we know the revelation of Jesus Christ and the hope that is still to come. This is a witness to the world of the reality of our current predicament, and insightful to the honest, sorrowful yet always rejoicing life of the Christian.
On a personal note, I will continue to study the Psalms in my personal devotions and seek to incorporate them more into my worship sets. I will seek to incorporate them in family worship. Since worship is a response to the word of God, I will use the Psalms as a springboard for the call to worship. And as I witness, I will submit my music and emotions to God, sharing about the depths of my sin and the heights of his grace.
How does singing affect you?
My prayer after coming back from the conference is that I will be a faithful servant, and continue to fulfill my calling in the roles that I steward. Thinking critically about music in the life of the Christian is not just for music leaders. We are all called to sing. So let us sing together in spirit and truth because he is worthy to be praised.