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14 November 2007

Let's Sing That Chorus for the Millionth Time, Shall We?!

While leading music at church, by about two minutes or so into a typical song, I've observed that many people have either stopped singing (or never started) or have stopped clapping their hands if the song is a "clapper." I've further observed that if I invite them to sing, mid-song, they typically do so. The same goes for clapping, only to a lesser extent.

I consciously avoid doing this too often (especially the clapping bit). I personally don't like to be on the receiving end of a bubbly worship leader's, "Sing it out!" admonitions. If I'm in a congregation or group and I'm not singing, it's probably because I'm worshipping while intentionally not singing; not because I'm being a stick in the mud. I understand that this if this is the case for a musician/singer, then it easily could be the case with those who don't sing often. I've learned that it's pretty crazy to think that one can extrapolate a person's spiritual condition based upon whether or not they sing during congregational music.

However, like I said at first, some people apparently have no problem singing -- they just won't get started or restarted unless they're asked to do so by the leader. This has always puzzled me, and it's probably the first profound lesson I learned about leadership. No matter how loudly or energetically I sing, some people will simply not be led by example. They have to be presented with a request to do so. Conversely, if I led in a sulky manner and mumbled the words to the songs, my asking people to sing would probably have very little effect.

This is an important second half to yesterday's post; something that alert reader Preston focused on in his comment underneath it. No matter how well we conduct ourselves in life, no matter how genuinely we are determined to be like Christ and relate positively to those around us, there comes a point at which (gasp!) we must verbally tell people about our faith.

We should always do the former, but we should not be timid (I think that might be a borderline Church Speak word...) about telling people Who Christ is and what He means to us, and inviting people to begin a relationship with Him. We must rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit to know when and if that time is right -- I have been on the receiving end of Self-Righteous-Christian-Bull-In-A-China-Shop syndrome ("[Darn] the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!"), and it is rarely effective and can easily be counterproductive.

If we divorce the Word from the Christ-following lifestyle, we have, and can give, only half of the picture.

By the way, for those of you who know me personally, when I speak the words of an upcoming lyric line during a song, it's typically not because I'm trying to encourage people to sing, but because the overhead lyric projection is slightly behind.


Leroy said...

Not sure this is really related to you post, but here goes...

Beating people over the head with the Bible will not get them into church and will not get them into a relationship with Jesus. It WILL push them further away. If a person doesn't believe the Bible is God's living word, then it doesn't really matter what it says and beating them with it will only make them dispise it more. How do we get them to believe the Bible is God's it.

Tony M said...

Aw, and I thought you were just trying to show off and act really cool when you were calling out the verses! :) Kidding, of course!

Preston N said...


I agree that hitting people over the head with the bible is not very effective - beside it leaves really big bruises! :)

I think we can all benefit by reading this from an old patriarch of revival, Charles Finney - I think he was on to something when he wrote this over 130 years ago. Its entitled "How to preach and not save anyone"!

Dean Lusk said...

Whew! Great list, and scathing! I agree that many church fellowships are scared to face some of these things because it would mean that they would have to actually make Jesus Christ the Lord of their lives.

I do have issues with a couple of the things on the list, though, one being this:

"Do not stir up uncomfortable memories by reminding your hearers of their past sins."

That one came out of left field, and maybe I'm missing the point. This must be referring to people who've not asked for forgiveness and turned away from those sins of the past.

If God has removed a sin as far as the east is from the west, I wouldn't dare have the audacity to bring it up again.

Preston N said...


Yeah that one does seem a little out of place, but I think Finney is talking about those, as you so aptly put it, "who have not ask for forgiveness". These would be unbelievers. An unbeliever wants not to think about his sin or guilt - as guilt is what keeps condemning his heart. So Finney is saying don't preach on anything that might stir up those memories that would cause him to be reminded of his guilt and condemnation.

I'd also be interested in hearing what others you took issue with?

Dean Lusk said...

See your blog for my follow-up comment. No worries -- I have no real disagreements.

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