In 2014, I wrote an article called “The ‘Why’ Behind our Worship.” You can find it here. I really encourage you to read it because it serves as a foundation for today’s article and for us as Christ followers–as worshipers.
No one would deny that music stirs something in your soul the way that almost nothing else can. The Lord implanted into the soul of every human a movement of excitement and a peace of epic proportion that can only be awakened by the flow and sound of music. Melody and hooks, swells and builds all create a sort of anxious anticipation about what is coming next. It causes us to want to move both literally and figuratively.
Today, as I continue to pray, think through, and prepare for this weekend, I am reminded that the songs our worship leaders and excellent musicians toil over are much more than just songs. Worship songs are meant to glorify God, rejoicing in all He has done for us, encouraging and building one another up as brothers and sisters in Christ, and even calling us to action as the church. But first and foremost, songs are meant to glorify God by teaching us about who He is. That’s right, the songs we sing are lessons in theology, the study of who God is.
Consider how most of us can remember the lyrics to an Aerosmith song better than we can remember a certain line from a sermon or lecture we’ve heard. This is why many people put melodies to the information they are studying. Putting the lesson to music creates an imprint in their minds, allowing them to recall the content more easily.
It is no mistake that God, in His infinite wisdom and creativity, has called for music to play a crucial role in the life of His church. God has used preachers, songwriters, worship leaders, and many others to share timeless truths of the Bible, of His character, and of His love for us.
Before the 16th Century printing press, which finally put Bibles in the hands of us common believers, it was worship songs that taught most people about God. The imprint music left upon their souls helped them recall meaningful lessons and history. A great example of this is the great warrior-king and poet, David, who wrote many Psalms (songs) that are still used today to teach about the character of God and His love for us.
Modern worship songs have the same purpose. Each song that is written has a story and an important truth it is trying to relay and teach to the church. Songs such as (find their stories in the links) Amazing Grace, It is Well With My Soul, and more recently, Blessed Be Your Name all have amazingly personal stories of growth, struggle, joy, and even pain that help each of us grow as Christ followers when we pay attention to the words and sing them from our hearts.
One song we will sing at Fellowship of the Parks this weekend, Jesus I Come by Elevation Worship, holds special significance for each of us. The lyrics “thank you Jesus, just as I am, I come” hold such a special truth for us as we can be assured that no matter where we are, Jesus loves and accepts us. We are His.
The songs that church worship leaders choose are thought and prayed through with much intentionality. The songs are meant to prepare our hearts for the message God has for us in the preaching. They are meant to help us draw close to His Holy Spirit and to awaken our souls to His presence all around us, because, again, music is powerful.
For a couple years now, we have opened most services at FOTP with a cover (secular) song. We’ve enjoyed it, initially using them to tie into the message and help drive home a point. However, through much prayer and thought, we feel that we can better serve the church by being more intentional with those secular opening songs–using them sparingly to really connect to a central truth of the Bible, helping each of us grow and take next steps in our journey of worship and growth as Christ followers.
Every song that is chosen is meant to move us from one point to another, “from one degree of glory to another” as 2 Corinthians 3:18 puts it. They are intended to teach us about the greatness and glory of our Savior. They are meant to remind us of the truth of Scripture.
So as you think through your weekend and make plans for which service you’ll attend, I encourage you to ask God to help you pay close attention to the words of the songs. Ask Him to help you learn from the words and grow closer to Him. I really encourage you to do something crazy, like sing! There is something so powerful when we open our mouths to let our voices be heard together, speaking the truth of the Bible through music. There is nothing like hearing God’s people verbalize and shout with truthful and thankful hearts to Him as we learn about who He is and celebrate all He has done for us.
Worship Him loudly.