iServe Africa alumnus Getrude Namapii wrote a very helpful research paper on Building Effective ‘Worship Teams’ and this is a really helpful section from her work (shared with permission).
Music and church is inseparable in our context. Singing is evident in every church service. This could be singing songs from hymn books, singing choruses with or without instruments either slowly or faster depending on the tempo of choice. However, several questions about who, why, when, where and how is the singing done tend to arise:
- Are singers the few people who feel gifted, and can stand before a mass of people and lead them in singing?
- Does singing only happen to attract masses of people to church in order that the preacher can minister to them?
- Do singers comprise the few energetic youths who can manipulate the congregation into action?
I realize that this list could become long. However, these issues can be corrected in the light of a clear understanding of why we sing.
Gospel reasons for worship
It is important to understand the purpose of singing in order to sing more effectively. Following the words of Jesus in Jn. 4:24, “God is spirit and His worshippers must worship Him in truth and spirit”, it is very important for us to recognize that not all worship is in truth and Spirit. We must have good reasons to worship and a good understanding of who God is in our singing. When we sing to worship the true God, we shall accord Him the reverence He deserves, from deep within our heart in truth and in the Spirit. We will sing to God because:
- He is our God and savior for ever. Worship starts in the light of Rom. 12:1-2, that we shall first of all in view of God’s mercy, offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God-as our spiritual act of worship. We shall not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds. This is a pointer to our practice of living in view of having a relationship with God through the knowledge of His saving grace expressed though His son Jesus Christ. In Rom. 5:8, God demonstrates His love to us that while we were yet sinners; that He send His only son to die for us, to save us. Jesus has reconciled us back to God, justifying us by His own blood. Though we once were enemies of God, unable to worship him, we have been brought back to Him through the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Not only is this so, but we rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have received reconciliation. We worship because we can.
- The great commission unto which our savior has called us. In Matt. 28:18-20, Jesus has empowered us to go out as His faithful witnesses, making disciples…and teaching them to obey all things…and He shall be with us to the very end. Singing is one means of witnessing, proclaiming Jesus through music. This brings to our attention the great importance of the authenticity of the Word sung in the song; the content must be faithful to the Word of God. And to be evangelistic it must include the gospel. Jesus said in Jn. 12:32; But I when I am lifted up fro the earth, will draw men to myself. These words are key in our ministration as servants of Jesus Christ. Jesus pointed to the nature of death He was to go through, to give Himself as a ransom for the whole world that He loved so much Jn. 3:16. It is not the music that draws men to Jesus, not the good instrumentalism but Jesus Himself saves men. Our role is thus to proclaim the Name of Jesus, by preaching and even by song, to all nations that the whole world may know Him and come to believe in Him.
- We sing to God to offer Him praises and thanks. As we come together as the body of Christ, saved by the grace of Jesus, we are all the same (1 Cor.12:12-13). We all deserved to face the wrath of God, but His mercies spared us. Paul remind us of this in Ephesians 2:8-10, that it is by grace we have been saved, through faith-and this not ourselves , it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one may boast…we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do…elected!! We never deserved it, but by His mercies we have it. We deserved the wrath of God, when we were separated from Him by our sins, but through His kindness we have been engrafted into Him, the true vine (Rom. 11:22). This is a humbling truth that calls for us to respond to God with praises and thanks. This will guard us from being proud of self (proud even in our singing) in the understanding that we are beneficiaries of the grace of God.