Singing

… or how to grow a congregation.

Like it or not, music is important in the life of a local church. It is one of the things that helps congregations to grow, and also one of the things that divides. Getting the negative bit out of the way, forcing a congregation into a style of music they are not prepared for can be a very negative experience.

praisebandIn a blog from last May, Kelvin Holdsworth, provost of St Mary’s Cathedral, Glasgow, puts a community that likes singing things as one of the Seven Actual Marks of Mission. (If you want to know what the other six are you will have to read his blog). He is of course right. He criticises some Evangelical worship bands being too loud , rightly. I ask how is that worse than organists who play with all the stops out on the last verse. Congregations will enjoy singing if they can hear themselves. If they cannot heat themselves the music, irrespective of instrumentation or style of music, is too loud.

All revivals in the life of the church have had music. That Christians enjoy singing is important. How can giving your all in praise of God not be an uplifting experience?

Want to help your congregation to grow? Help them to sing better.

3 thoughts on “Singing

  1. Hmmm. Not entirely convinced by this. I mean, yes, if singing is what your church does, then it makes sense to do it well. But there are a significant number of people out there who hate singing. I’m not one of them, but they most certainly exist. Which suggests that putting singing at the centre of church life and worship isn’t going to be either popular with or helpful to everyone?

    1. Thanks Ros, people differ a lot, which is why our church is experimenting with two services each Sunday, one traditional liturgically with organ led singing and a less formal service with a praise band. We are moving towards greater variety a little bit at a time because people are different.

      If you don’t do anything that isn’t going to be either popular with or helpful to everyone then you will not do anything at all.

      1. ‘If you don’t do anything that isn’t going to be either popular with or helpful to everyone then you will not do anything at all.’

        This is true. However, I wasn’t suggesting that we never do anything unless everyone in the church is in 100% agreement with it. God forbid! Rather, I was questioning Kevin Holdsworth’s proposition that ‘a congregation that enjoys singing’ is a mark of mission. It seemed to me that this assumes a somewhat narrow understanding of church, where singing is something that always happens. However, a little bit of imagination would suggest the possibility of church being able to exist without music and singing and even that some people might prefer this kind of church? Perhaps their idea of ‘giving all their praise to God’ would be sharing bread and wine together after a game of cricket or an early morning run?

        Just a thought.

        Anyway, I hope/pray that your church’s experimentation with different sorts of music and worship proves fruitful.

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