Every week in churches all across the world, people gather under the banner of Jesus and go through the motions of congregational worship. For some it’s a blessing; for others it’s a chance to critique. Some people disengage all together, and some people just disengage their brains and jack up their emotions.
What are we actually doing and why are we doing it? Is there a right way? Is there a better way?
I grew up in a musical family, or perhaps a better way to say it, I was trapped in a musical Alcatraz with the cast of Hello, Dolly! My father loved music. He couldn’t help it. I actually think that if you pricked him with a pin, he would bleed the score to either a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical or a John W. Peterson cantata.
On more occasions than I care to remember, my day would begin with my father bursting through my bedroom door singing and miming either “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” or “Good Morning” from Singing in the Rain. Memories still flood my mind of spritely jazz hands, little kicks, a booming bass voice, and a huge smile.
My father also loved Jesus and the church so, naturally, the passions collided perfectly on Sundays when he would get up to lead the worship in the morning and evening service.
Congregational singing has suddenly become cool (again). Just listen to Mark Dever, who testifies that, “The effect (of congregational music) on my own soul is electrifying.” Dr. Dever counsels pastors to reduce the praise band and the organ “by 80%” so that the voices of the congregation may be heard. After all, says, Dever, “We’re not required to play any instruments. We’re not required to be quiet and listen to somebody sing a solo.