One of the real privileges I’ve had over the past few years is experiencing and participating in worship services at quite a variety of churches.
These churches have spanned a few different continents, at least four or five different countries, and a host of denominations and traditions. They have ranged from congregations with hundreds or even a thousand members all the way down to churches with just a handful of faithful Christians.
Yesterday, I found myself reflecting on many of these churches and I realized something that surprised me: I am drawn toward a church that sings poorly and am a little suspicious of a church that sings really well.
Let me explain.
A few years ago, I worshiped at a church that had been established decades ago. This was quite a large congregation where three or four generations were worshiping together and where God’s Word had been faithfully proclaimed for many, many years. It was faithfully proclaimed the day I was there.
The congregation has a distinct but unusual style of singing, one established many years in the past and carried on to our day.
These people know how to sing.
They sing loudly.
They sing skillfully.
They sing beautifully.
They sing in parts and with minimal instrumentation so that together they raise one voice to the Lord.
But one reason they sing so well is that there are very few among them who are new to the faith; there are very few among them who have not been raised to hear those songs week by week from their youngest days. By their own admission, they are poor evangelists and their church is not attractive to outsiders because it is so bound in a distinct culture foreign to those around them.
They sing so well because they evangelize so poorly.
And then I think to another church I visited in the not-so-distant past.