In our cover story, senior writer Bob Smietana explores the decline of congregational singing and why that’s a bad thing. Several worship pastors offer advice on how to engage people in worship through singing.
We want to be careful here not to equate worship with music. Worship is certainly broader than a song service on Sunday morning. Worship is lived out in our lives every day as a heartfelt response to the supreme worthiness of Christ.
But corporate worship, which includes singing, is an important function in the body of Christ. Throughout Scripture we see God’s people singing to God and about God to another. In Colossians 3 and Ephesians 5, Paul tells the church to sing to God with gratitude and speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Singing is good for the soul and is a testimony about the God we serve. We spread seeds of the gospel on the breath of our worship.
Facts & Trends also sat down with modern-hymn writer Keith Getty to talk about the importance of teaching theology through the songs we sing. And LifeWay Worship’s Mike Harland writes about music ministry and its role in discipleship.
Also in this issue, we unpack a recent study by LifeWay Research, which shows confusion among evangelicals over core Christian doctrine. Michael Kelley writes about laying the cultural foundation of your church. And Ron Edmondson points out the dangers of leading in isolation.
Since 1957, Facts & Trends has been providing Christian leaders with relevant information, practical ministry ideas, and biblical resources. It’s my hope that we will continue to serve Christian leaders in their mission of making disciples.
Carol Pipes, Editor
WINTER 2017 ISSUE
Pastors, worship leaders, and congregations have to believe singing matters, or they won’t ever want to sing, says Harland. Churches sing, he says, because Scripture expects them to.
They also sing because it’s a powerful form of discipleship that marries truth and melody and imbeds that truth in people’s souls.
Sound Theology: Teaching Our People Through Music — Q&A With Keith Getty
God’s people have always learned their faith through the preaching and singing of the Word. We have a vision of heaven where believers from every tribe, nation, and language sing to our Creator and Redeemer. That is the picture of heaven.
And the foretaste of that occurs when God’s people gather and sing together. God has commanded more than 200 times in Scripture to gather and sing together.
In the New Testament, Paul writes to churches filled with believers who were cultural enemies, who had linguistic and theological differences, and who were living in uncomfortable circumstances.
And what does the Bible tell them to do? Get together and sing. It’s that important.
As worship pastors, we can get so caught up in what I call the conservatory approach to music ministry that we lose sight of our mission. This approach focuses on musical excellence and developing great choirs, worship teams, orchestras, and bands.
Those are worthy goals, but we run the risk of losing sight of the bigger mission of the church. This can lead to vibrant music programs that are ends in themselves, separated from the rest of the church’s ministries.
3 Important Church Trends for the New Year — Thom S. Rainer
I have been writing about church trends for 30 years. I do this work because I care about church leaders and want to see them lead their churches to greater health.
Watching trends and thinking about how one might respond is essential to effective leadership. Based on some patterns I observed the past year, here are three important trends for 2017.
Today, the illusion of a common culture has fragmented. What lies underneath has been exposed as isolated parts often warring against one another and actively working to avoid those who are different.
If we are honest, churches have not always been an example of unity. There’s a reason Martin Luther King Jr. and others have said Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in the nation.
Yet the church has a biblical command to pursue unity. We also have a heavenly vision of the ultimate fulfillment of that pursuit.
The church can and should fill that role in culture, but it won’t be easy.