Singing is one of the most commanded acts in Scripture. As Christians we should know not only that we ought to sing, but we should love to sing. In Sing! How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family, and Church Keith & Kristyn Getty outline five goals they seek to impart into pastors, worship leaders, songwriters, production teams, and singing Christians (so that pretty much covers everyone).
- To discover why we sing and the overwhelming joy and holy privilege that comes with singing
- To consider how singing impacts our hearts and minds and all of our lives
- To cultivate a culture of family singing in our daily home life
- To equip our churches for wholeheartedly singing to the Lord and one another as an expression of unity
- To inspire us to see congregational singing as a radical witness to the world
One of my favourite points that Keith and Kristyn raise is that the command to sing is not arbitrary, nor is the manner or content left to our own preferences. They write
We are commanded to sing the Word of God—the truth revealed in the Scriptures, the story of redemption. Fundamentally, we’re to sing about God, revealed in Christ and supremely in His suffering and His glory, since that’s what the Word of God is all about (Luke 24:26–27).
Content matters. We’re allowed to be picky, in fact we should be picky. Every part of our song lyrics should link together to bring a wonderful, thoughtful, deep expression of Scripture to every singer. If you are choosing songs as a worship leader, this is your responsibility. The question of why we sing is rarely voiced out loud, but Keith and Krisytn remind us all that our hearts and minds require a good balanced diet of gospel truth that becomes the soundtrack for our week, taking Sunday’s truths into Monday. They continue
Biblically rich content in songs, sung by people who look like they mean what they are singing, helps teach the gospel as something that is credible and powerful rather than cultural and optional.
We need to sing of how we were once under the wrath of God, condemned to die, without even a hint of hope. We need to sing of how that hope came to us as the Son of God entered the world to reconcile us to this holy God, and that we need to sing with joyful hearts to the glory of Him who saved us so that all might be pointed to Him. Whenever we sing, we witness to the faith that we hold to, and the One in whom our hope is secured. If I were a visitor to your church and knew nothing of the gospel, what would your church music (and congregational engagement) convey to me about your faith? Our singing witnesses to our faith, so the question we should be asking ourselves is this: is my singing a good witness or not?
Sing! wouldn’t be complete without including a fresh perspective on singing in the home. The Gettys provide encouragement (and a few ideas) towards making singing a regular part of home life through immersing different parts of our lives with the songs we sing on Sunday. Reminding ourselves of gospel truths through music in the car, singing while preparing dinner—or singing as grace before dinner—bedtime songs, whatever works for you; but always songs with rich theological content that your children can grow up into, and carry into their adult lives. They offer ten practical ideas for getting the gospel into our children’s lives through song
- Use all the help and opportunities you can get
- Teach your kids songs you want them to grow old with
- Talk about what you’re doing and what the songs mean
- Prepare for Sunday services
- Model passionate participation in the services
- Be aware of all the music your kids are into
- If your kids are into music… encourage them!
- If your church has a children’s choir, support it if you can
- Cultivate high opinions of all types of art
- Sing today!
All these ideas are unpacked in detail and are thoroughly inspiring for parents (like me) who haven’t got family worship all figured out yet.
Lastly, at the end are a number of “bonus tracks” with practical suggestions targeted at specific groups of people (Pastors & Elders; Worship & Song Leaders; Musicians, Choirs & Production; and Songwriters & Creatives). Each of these four bonus tracks are wonderful and insightful, even if you’re not currently in one of these specific roles. In short, Sing! How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family, and Church is one of the best books on congregational singing I’ve ever read. It is immensely readable; while also being convicting, informative, encouraging, and deep. Every pastor, worship leader, and serious Christian should read it.
For more, check out thesingbook.com