Wed, Oct 30th - 5:08AM
The Slow Killing of Congregational Singing
Here is a great historical irony. Fifty years ago choirs ruled the church. Usually, they were supported by a very loud organ. To be frank, many choir members were performers, and when the choir was large they drowned out the singing of the congregation. So, sadly, the very people appointed to help the congregation sing actually smothered congregational singing. Bit by bit, choirs disappeared. I think most churches didn’t mourn the loss.
Here’s the irony: we then replaced the choirs with song leaders (or, what we inaccurately call ‘worship leaders’). Over time the number of song leaders grew and grew until they became as big as a choir. Then we gave the song leaders full-volume microphones and electrical instruments, and many became performers. When the music team was large and the microphones were turned up they drowned out the congregation. So, sadly, the very people appointed to help the congregation sing actually smothered congregational singing.
Here’s the irony. The number of song leaders grew and grew until they became as big as a choir. When the music team was large and the microphones were turned up they drowned out the congregation.
A few years ago I wrote an article entitled, ‘The Slow Death of Congregational Singing’ (The Briefing, April 2nd, 2008). I now believe my title was too generous. In fact, what we are witnessing in our churches is ‘The Slow Killing of Congregational Singing’.
I’ve just returned from another National Christian conference. Never have so many people complained to me about the singing. So, I am motivated to write again. Or, to use a more appropriate metaphor, to bang the same drum—but louder.
Paul tells us in Ephesians that we should be, “speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs…” (5:19). Similarly, in Colossians we are exhorted to, “teach and admonish one another with all wisdom with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” (3:16). Singing is a corporate activity with a dual focus. We sing “to one another” and we sing “to God”. But now in many (most?) churches we are sung to by the musicians.
In the past I’ve been reluctant to accuse our worship teams of being primarily performers. I now believe I was wrong. Evidence suggests that most are performers, and the needs of the congregation they are meant to be ministering to are forgotten. Why do I say this?
Signs of Trouble
First, they don’t look at the congregation they’re meant to be leading. The musicians can, perhaps, be excused here but not the song leaders. I tell preachers I mentor there is nothing more important in delivery than eye contact. People must know that you are talking to them, and you must be able to see that they are attentive to your words. This is also true for the song leaders. Indeed, they need both eye and ear contact. Are people singing the songs they’re leading? In most cases I observe that it’s irrelevant to the song leaders whether the people are singing or not. Why? I conclude because the singing event is primarily about them.
Second, they sing new songs but don’t teach the new songs. At this conference it was announced that the next song would be a new one. At that point, the role of the song leader is to teach this song to the people. Mind you, I wonder if any of those leading singing are trained to teach new songs? This is important because a number of new songs are difficult to sing. But we were not taught the song. The band just began to play. If we were able to eventually pick it up, all well and good. If not (and in this case it seemed that many didn’t), no problem. Why? I conclude: because it’s not about the singing of the congregation it’s about the performance of the band.
Third, the amplifiers of the instruments and microphones are so loud that, normally, the only voices heard are the voices of the song leaders. Rarely is the volume turned down so that the congregation can be heard. Why? I conclude because it’s not about the singing of the congregation, it’s about the singing and performing of the band.
Fourth, the song choice often doesn’t take into consideration the makeup of the audience. Thoughtful song leaders would ask questions like, what songs do these people know? What songs do they enjoy singing? What songs are appropriate for this occasion? Are the words edifying and do they tell us the gospel story? Too often, the songs chosen seem to be the songs the band know and enjoy singing. Why? Because it’s not about the congregation.
Fifth, what does a music team do if they become aware that the people they are leading are not following? What do they do if, for whatever reason, the people aren’t singing the song? The answer is, they do nothing. Indeed, they are normally unaware of the fact because, as I said, their focus is not on the people to whom they are ministering. I remember some years ago we were singing a song (or meant to be) and for some reason the projector wasn’t working and none of the words of the song were on the screen. Since it was not a well-known song, nobody, apart from the song leaders were singing. We were half way through the third verse before any of the leaders realised that they were the only people singing. So, why don’t the musos stop to encourage and enable the people to sing? I conclude because it’s not about the singing of the congregation it’s about the performance of the band.
Why don’t the musos stop to encourage and enable the people to sing? I conclude because it’s not about the singing of the congregation it’s about the performance of the band
So, why does it matter and what do we do? It matters because congregational singing is such an important part of our weekly gatherings. Rob Smith and I develop this point in our book, The Songs of the Saints (Sydney: Matthias Media, 2017). If people seemed inattentive to the sermons, we’d be concerned. If people weren’t saying ‘Amen’ to public prayers, we’d want to rectify that. If the only voice heard in the recitation of the creed, or the public confession of sins were the leader of the gathering, then we’d remind people that this is a corporate activity. But if many people aren’t singing in church then we’re happy to permit this to continue. After all, we don’t want to offend the song leaders.
What to do? I’m calling for a moratorium on ‘worship leaders’. I attended a conference overseas recently. The singing was led by one woman with a microphone (not too loud) accompanied by a piano. More than 500 people were present and we heard each other singing. In a sense, the people were the real choir, and that’s how it should be. We don’t need 10 people on stage, all amped up to the max. We don’t have to follow the model of Hillsong and Planetshakers. In too many churches, and at too many events, the voices of the people have been hijacked and buried out of sight and sound. It’s time to reclaim our lost voices in congregational singing.
Sun, Jun 2nd - 2:43PM
WHAT IS THE CHURCH?
Answer: Many people today understand the church as a
building. This is not a biblical understanding of the church. The word “church”
is a translation of the Greek word ekklesia, which is defined as “an assembly”
or “called-out ones.” The root meaning of church is not that of a building, but
of people. It is ironic that when you ask people what church they attend, they
usually identify a building. Romans 16:5 says, “Greet the church that is in
their house.” Paul refers to the church in their house—not a church building,
but a body of believers.
The church is the body of Christ, of which He is the
head. Ephesians 1:22–23 says, “And God placed all things under his feet and
appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the
fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” The body of Christ is made
up of all believers in Jesus Christ from the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) until
Christ’s return. Biblically, we may regard the church in two ways, as the
universal church or as the local church.
The universal church consists of everyone, everywhere,
who has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. “For we were all baptized by
one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all
given the one Spirit to drink” (1 Corinthians 12:13). This verse says that
anyone who believes is part of the body of Christ and has received the Spirit
of Christ as evidence. All those who have received salvation through faith in
Jesus Christ comprise the universal church.
The local church is described in Galatians 1:1–2: “Paul,
an apostle . . . and all the brothers with me, to the churches in Galatia.”
Here we see that in the province of Galatia there were many churches—they had a
localized ministry and were scattered throughout the province. They were local
churches. A Baptist church, a Lutheran church, an E-Free church, etc., is not
the church, as in the universal church; rather, it is a local church, a local
body of believers. The universal church is comprised of everyone who belongs to
Christ. Members of the universal church should seek fellowship and edification
in a local church.
The church is not a building or a denomination. According
to the Bible, the church is the body of Christ—all those who have placed their
faith in Jesus Christ for salvation (John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 12:13). Local
churches are gatherings of people who claim the name of Christ. Members of a
local church, that is a physical building, where members meet, may or may not be members of the universal
church, depending on the genuineness of their faith. The local church is where
believers can fully apply the “body” principles of 1 Corinthians chapter 12—encouraging,
teaching, and building one another up in the knowledge and grace of the Lord
Jesus Christ. However, the Christian where ever he or she may be is to practice and
live their faith within the standards and boundaries as set by God in the new
covenant of Jesus Christ. All scripture is accepted as valid, but salvation is
absolutely through the new covenant of Jesus Christ and none outside of or who resist this eternal inerrant truth can
be admitted or joined with in any manner whatsoever for all time.
The true church adheres to the gospel message, accepts
the whole of the Bible as inerrant, and finished in the gospel of Jesus Christ the
only Saviour appointed by God through whom all that believe will be saved. It firmly
and consistently attests that: Jhn 14:6 - Jesus
saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the
Father, but by me.
Act 4: 8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto
them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, 9If we this day be
examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made
whole; 10Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the
name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the
dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11This is the
stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the
corner. 12Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other
name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
and absolutely see the Bible’s consistent teachings in that the nation of Israel
itself is directed to the truth, that the long- awaited Messiah is come that
all men are commanded by God to worship.
Peter, the Jewish
apostle is absolutely directing Israel and all men to the eternal truth that
the Messiah whom Israel had long waited for is come in the person of Jesus Christ,
and there is no need to return to the Law of Moses.
Christ is the
end of the Law of Moses for all that believe.
church steadfastly defies any and all attempts to mix the Law of Moses, and any
and all doctrines of men or the devil with the grace of the new covenant of Jesus
Christ. The true church believes, receives and steadfastly follows God’s plan
of salvation through Jesus Christ the Saviour alone, which its members adhere
to and take to all the world.
Fri, Apr 12th - 6:41PM
There are Hollywood stars, and famous
singers among others who claim to be a special class of Christians, because
their father is or was a pastor. Sadly, many of these people have not stepped
in a church since they left home, and lead a life style just as carnal as
unsaved people do. Many have never read scripture, and some who have don’t hold
to the inerrant truth of scripture.
Certainly, no one wants to deny their
parentage and it is common to feel proud of one’s parents for many reasons.
However, the problem with this amongst Christians is that there are some who gain
entry into the ministry, merely based on heritage, without being properly
It is one thing to know that one is a
descendant of a pastor, or even godly parents, but the real question is whether
the person is a true Christian, and what evidence confirms this. Following in
the foot steps of one’s earthly father or parents is no guarantee that one is
following in the foot steps of the New Covenant of Jesus Christ.
Interestingly, the Bible points out
by many examples that being born to godly parents, or pastors does not
automatically mean that a person is themselves godly or saved. Salvation does
not work that way.
The practice of putting people into
the ministry based on human heritage alone is error, and should be avoided. Having
a godly person as one’s parent should neither qualify or prevent a person from
entering the ministry if they feel so called by God.
Nevertheless, all who enter the
ministry are commanded by God to be a true believer and follower of Jesus Christ,
and obedient out of love for Him in practice publicly and privately.
The Bible is clear that salvation is
not passed on by natural birth, race or nationality, but by spiritual birth of
everyone who believes in and on Jesus Christ and obey Him. It is error and
presumption to claim some sort of elite spiritual status above all other Christians,
based on mere human parentage, race or nationality. Some who so claim are
irreverent and presume they have authority, in error. to change the gospel
message to make it relevant to the world, rarely say the name of Jesus Christ,
and do their uttermost to never address Him as Lord. Some even corrupt the
message of the cross and give it in a way that makes it appear wrongly that
those who receive Christ are doing God a favor, thereby making God to be a servant
of man and not man to be a servant, worshiper, and child of God to serve Him
above all men and every creature.
There are many other things that they
also do, and by their sloth the care of the flock is non-existent as they do
not foster growth amongst the people to help him by teaching them to care for
one another or even to know that they must.
This only addresses those for whom
the shoe fits. Thankfully, many in the ministry who are descendants of pastors
and godly parents, although thankful for it, nevertheless understand that it is
only through faith in Jesus Christ that they have entered into His kingdom,
never by works or human parentage.
us open our hearts and doors to those ministers who come with the true gospel
message through the door of faith in Jesus Christ. Let us be fully grounded in
the absolute authority of the Bible to test the spirits to discern truth from
Sun, Apr 7th - 2:18PM
THEM UP NOW WITHOUT DELAY!
fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.
Act 19:18 And many that believed came, and
confessed, and shewed their deeds. 19
Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and
burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and
found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20 So mightily grew the word of God
arts and all books that contradict the inerrant truth of scripture are all
straight from the devil, and promoted by his evil false prophets. All kinds of
alarm bells should be going off in the minds of those who in error put their
trust of being saved based on the lies in these demonic books and usage of
you cannot burn them tear up the pages and throw them in the garbage, because
that is what they are sheer garbage. All of them credit a man, angel, thing,
idea, philosophy, or woman and their particular false doctrines. If anybody,
during your church or Bible studies, hands you their “special” book that
promotes some “brand or doctrine” not found in the Bible reject it. Throw away
all of their curious arts such as tokens, articles, bells, chimes, whistles, pieces
of cloths, images, special “anointing” oils, “special” worship paraphernalia etc.
a Bible believing church, if your church will not repent.
2Co 6:15 - And what concord hath
Christ with Belial? or what part
hath he that believeth with an infidel?
Sat, Sep 22nd - 5:39PM
THE BIBLE FORBIDS THE FALSE DOCTRINE OF SALVATION BY WATER BAPTISM ALONE OR IN ADDITION TO FAITH IN CHRIST
Did Jesus Christ teach that anyone can be saved by water baptism alone or in addition to faith in Him?
Jhn 3: 5Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
Jesus absolutely NEVER promoted water baptism as a means of salvation nor anything else in addition to faith in Him alone. He is speaking of the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer who has believed in His Name:
Mat 3:11 - I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
Mar 1:8 - I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.
JESUS CHRIST DID NOT NEED TO GET SAVED, WHY THEN WAS HE BAPTIZED?
Jhn 1:33 - And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
John had no clue as to who the promised Messiah would be or what he would look like. So God told John that a specific sign would identify the true Messiah.
The sole purpose of the baptism of Jesus Christ was to identify, confirm and to John that Jesus Christ indeed is the Messiah promised by God.
Jesus Christ baptized people as a sign of their faith in Him. If water baptism had any power of itself to save people Jesus Christ would have had no need to go to the cross. (Jhn 4:1When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,
2(Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)
3He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.)
Jhn 7:38 - He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
Jhn 7:39 - (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
Act 1:5 - For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
Act 11:16 - Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.
Tit 3:5 - Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Jesus Christ absolutely never contradicts Himself for He is the sole Saviour appointed by God to save all who believe in Him alone.
Mt 3: 16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
What then is the role of baptism in the life of a believer? Believers do not get water baptized to get saved. Believers get baptized in water after salvation because they are saved and show through it their public identity with Jesus Christ and His church. After salvation the obedient Christian follows the commands and standards set forth by God through the Bible correctly understood and obeyed publicly and privately.
have been encouraged and WARNED: Jhn 14:6 - Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth,
and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
What should a person do if they have believed in error that they were saved through or in addition to water baptism, or saved by water baptism and faith in Jesus Christ.
Don’t leave your immortal soul in danger of hell fire!!!
Repent NOW and believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is the only Saviour who died on the cross and rose again to save you from all your sins and He will save and baptize you with the Holy Spirit washing you from all your sins and make you a new creation in Him.