This is a church where the singing is, well, not quite as beautiful.
Though there are some in the church who know the songs and who know how to sing a hymn or a contemporary worship song, there are many more who simply do not. As the music rises and falls, many of those voices fall and rise. As the songs progress, many in the church can do little more than mumble along and hope to hit at least a few of the notes.
These people do not know how to sing.
Most of them sing quietly.
They sing without a lot of skill.
They depend upon instrumentation to help carry them.
But the reason they sing so poorly is that there are so few among them who are mature in the faith; there are so few among them who have been raised to hear those songs week by week from their youngest days.
This is a church where the gospel is being preached in the worship services and where the people are taking that gospel to those who live nearby. The gospel is doing its work, many are being saved and they are coming to those Sunday services to pour out their praises to God. This church sings so poorly because they evangelize so well.
Many churches in this position will compensate—overcompensate—by cranking the volume to drown out the voices. But not this church. They know that the best and purest instrument of all is the human voice, and they allow that instrument to dominate. And there is beauty in it, if you listen closely.
There are exceptions, of course. It is not a hard and fast rule. And yet, I think there is something to it. We who have been Christians for many years are tempted to judge a church by the quality of its singing.
But as I reflect on those two churches, and many like them, I wonder if we have it all backwards.