As a dad to three kids under twelve years old, I’m not a stranger to the question, “why?”
It’s a common response to statements like, “time for bed,” “turn off the TV” and “stop instigating your sister.”
With God’s help, my wife and I do our best to answer all of the “whys” with something a little more substantive than “because I said so!” Our hope is that our children begin to understand the meaning behind what we’re asking them to do, and that our instruction is actually for their benefit.
This same commitment to meaningful answers should apply within the church. What if a guest at your next Sunday morning service asked you, “Hey, I noticed that you spend half of your time singing together. Why does the church sing?” Would you know how to answer?
As Christians, I believe we need to be ready to answer the “whys” of our liturgies (how we worship corporately/publicly). Responding with, “well, it’s just what we’ve always done,” is very much the equivalent of “because I said so!” There’s lots of adherence, but little substance or meaning.
So why do we sing?
This list is by no means comprehensive, but let me give you three quick reasons.
1. Singing helps us respond to what God has revealed about himself.
God has shown us Himself through His Word, and we experience that as we read scripture during the week. Then we hear the preached word on Sundays and maybe we learn something about God’s nature that we didn’t know before. Singing then gives us a chance to respond, both personally and corporately, to the revealed word of God. The songs’ poetic language help us express our love to a God whose love is beyond measure.
2. Singing is vital in helping us remember the good news of the gospel (which we’re so prone to forget).
Humanity, from the beginning of time and throughout the grand narrative arc of scripture (right up to today), has forgotten God and His instructions for a relationship with Him and for human flourishing. Singing helps realign us. It helps cement the glory of the truth of the gospel in our hearts. One of my favorite things is hearing my kids sing at home. The songs that we sing at our church have found a way into their hearts, and they walk around humming and singing the truths of scripture. That’s why I so carefully guard the gate of what we sing congregationally. We believe what we sing, and there’s too much on the line not to inspect our lyrical content, holding it up to the truths of scripture as our standard.
3. It encourages us, edifies us and helps unite us together as the body of Christ.
There’s something so special about corporate singing. For a few minutes each week we get to come together, stand united in the gospel and proclaim the worth, beauty and greatness of our God. It also gives us an opportunity to collectively thank God for all He’s blessed us with, most importantly the blessing of His son Jesus.
Join with me as we let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, teaching and admonishing one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs(Colossians 3:16 paraphrased). I’m convinced that there are few better ways to respond, remember and be united together as the body of Christ than through singing.