Song Selection: What Shall We Sing? Part 1
Whether you lead worship or you sing specials, the answer is the same – ask God. We always need to put God first in all of our decisio-making. Relax. He will let you know which song will minister to the hearts and lives of the people. And, any song that encourages people to know and serve God, glorifies Him. It’s all about relationship. Speaking of relationship, don't just quit singing or playing and wait for ideas to come. Worship God, learn new songs, practice old songs - and did I say - worship God as you enjoy the time with Him and the music He has already given you.
Let's talk about style of music. I have been involved in ministering through music for more than 30 years. (I like to think of myself as experienced, not old.) During this time, I have been blessed to experience some very positive changes in music style and purpose. I truly enjoy most styles of music. I believe God desires a balanced music program.
Ephesians 5:19-20 - Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Colossians 3:16 - Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one
another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
When there is variety in our music, to include hymns and current music, church becomes a place where people of all ages can feel at home to serve and worship God. Some people want to forget the old – the old songs and the old people. But, God desires that older people help to encourage and equip the younger generation to know and serve Him. A wise minister of music knows that God’s family includes all generations.
Song Selection: What Shall We Sing?
Purpose and Songs that Reach the Lost, Part 2
Now let’s talk about purpose. Although there may be other differences, the main difference between Christian and secular music is purpose. Although both may share some styles of music, and both can be enjoyable, in the church, we must choose ministry over entertainment. When a song is extremely stylized, and the message is minimal or obscured, changes need to be made to ensure that God is glorified, not the music or the performer.
Why do we have music in church?
If I took a survey among Christians, I would like to think that the majority of people would say - to
worship God. (I would like to think that nobody would say - to wait for latecomers before receiving the offering. If they did, and if I had a buzzer, I would ring it and state that this is not why we have music at church.) The answer from the majority of people, I hope, would go something like this: We come to church to worship God. It gives us an opportunity to focus on Him and not the circumstances in our lives. Worshipping God gives the body of Christ a time to come together to declare that we love, honor, praise and adore Him. For He alone is worthy. (Whether or not the survey would turn out like this, I just don’t know, having heard many bizarre answers from on the street surveys.)
Back to the Basics: Reaching the Lost through Music
Let’s be real, everyone is not in the same place, spiritually. Seekers do not understand much about the songs that only sing about adoring God. Their perspective is missing the deep appreciation that
Christians have, Christians who realize what an amazing sacrifice Jesus made for us at Calvary. Seekers need to know that Jesus is the answer for all of their problems. They need to know that He forgives, restores and renews. He is peace in the midst of the storm. He is all they need. Just singing adoration type songs may be enjoyable, but Seekers need to know that God loves them and wants to be a part of every area of their lives. They need to hear the salvation message, a message of repentance and hope for all
Back to the Basics: What is God’s purpose?
1. God desires that people are saved. (2 Peter 3:9)
There are so many great hymns, choruses, and current songs that declare our great need for a Savior and Jesus’ ability to save us. They speak about Calvary, the blood of Jesus, and God’s faithfulness to forgive us and cleanse us from unrighteousness. A pastor once told me that those songs were for Easter, not for year-round use. And those blood songs - just too graphic for tender ears. Today, we have children and adults that are addicted to horror films that are filled with excessive blood and violence. People need to know the truth about the sacrifice Jesus made for us at Calvary. He paid the price for our sins so that we could be saved and have right-relationship with God. This is why we worship. Those songs that convict us and call us into repentance are also part of this same salvation message. When God reveals sin, His mercy and grace are always present: Mercy to forgive and grace to give us the power to change. Sing the songs. Don’t be afraid. People know that they need help. They need to know that they have come to the right place and that God is there to meet them and help them. Give them opportunities to come to the altar, to repent and get saved. You be the instrument; God will provide the salvation or miracle they need. And God will get the glory! Then, with thankful hearts, they will passionately join in the worship!
Song Selection: Songs of Deliverance, Part 3
God desires that His people overcome, not in their own strength, but in His strength. Jesus said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”(2 Corinthians 12:9)
Did you know that God surrounds us with songs of deliverance? (Psalm 32:7) It is God’s idea for us to sing and declare our faith in Him. Deliverance songs drive our faith into action.
Some would argue that deliverance songs are not part of worship. I believe that, anything that causes us to draw closer to God, to declare His excellent greatness, and to trust Him more as He fulfills His Word in our
lives, is worship. Deliverance songs are songs of worship.
We need songs of deliverance in the church. God wants to restore our relationship and encourage us to press on and trust Him. We need to see Him working in our lives. Singing songs of deliverance is part of that. We declare what God has done in the past, and we declare our trust in Him for the future. God inhabits the praises of His people. Where He is there is healing, deliverance and power to overcome!
Not only does He help us, many will see what God is doing in our lives and they will put their trust in the Lord. (Psalm 40:3) Which brings us right back to the salvation message. Overcoming is not just about us. It is about others being saved. It is about encouraging others to trust God. When you sing of God’s excellent greatness and His faithfulness to meet every need, it is worshipping God in Spirit and Truth. The Amplified Bible clarifies the word truth as in the reality of our lives. It is not philosophical or theoretical. It is not about liking the music and feeling happy. Singing songs of deliverance is about letting God into our lives, declaring our trust in Him, stepping out in faith and receiving the miracle God has for us! This is why we worship. The Bible declares, that in the last days, we will overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. (Revelation 12:11) Whether that testimony is spoken or sung, God gets the glory, people are encouraged, and you overcome!
If you don’t own any songs of deliverance, check out my section on accompaniment. You will find what you need there, or perhaps God will give you songs of deliverance based on His faithfulness to you.
Song Selection: What Shall We sing?
Songs of Obedience, Commitment and Service, Part 4
God desires that people obey and serve Him.
In my library, I have an old resource, Harper’s Bible Dictionary by Madeleine and J. Lane Miller. I found it at a yard sale; what a precious buy. I would like to share with you the original definition of worship. “In antiquity, the words for worship in Hebrew, Greek, and other languages all originally meant service.” God has called us to worship Him with our whole hearts and our whole lives. That worship includes helping others, teaching, preaching, encouraging, giving, praying, singing or playing an instrument unto the Lord, music ministry to others, being a missionary, administrative roles, maintaining the church building – but, first and foremost, obeying God. Worship includes all kinds of service unto God.
Some people bristle at the thought of service being worship; they would rather just sing and tell God that they love Him. Telling God that you love Him is always a good thing to do, but Jesus said,
“If you love Me, keep my commandments.”(John 14:15) We can tell God that we love Him and sing it from the housetops, but rebellious lives and ungodly living, called sin, only serve to separate us from Him. God wants to change each one of us and make us more like Him. Our music needs to offer people opportunities to come to the altar and submit their lives to Him. God wants us to love Him with our whole hearts and our whole lives. When our singing and our lives are in agreement, God is pleased.
David said,“O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” (Psalm 96:9) This holiness refers to being separated unto God. We are to be set apart for His amazing, perfect, holy purpose in our lives.
I believe that as people experience anointed music, they are drawn to be an active part in the Kingdom of God. If we want more missionaries, pastors, Sunday School teachers, and a multitude of community workers who serve God by being His ambassadors throughout our nation and the world, we will sing songs that inspire us to follow God’s purpose with passion and zeal.
Our music needs to include songs that call people into obedience, commitment and service. We must provide songs that give people opportunities to come to the altar to commit their lives to whatever God
has planned for them. You can sing these songs at the end of the service, but sometimes I sing them early in the service and God moves in peoples’ hearts in amazing ways. Be sensitive to what God is telling you. He knows what His people need, and He is faithful to provide.
Conclusion: What Shall I Sing?
I hope this section, has helped you to understand the importance of using a variety of music to minister to others. We must not limit God by limiting our selections according to style or personal preference.
For God’s ways are higher than our ways. He knows the needs of every person, and He knows how to meet them. Pray and ask God for the music He wants you to use, and then give Him the glory, honor,
and praise for all that is going to do in the hearts and lives of everyone present.
© Mary Willock, 2014 - 2020
You have permission to print copies of this article for use in your personal or church related ministry.
You have permission to print copies of this article for use in your personal or church related ministry.