God Centered over Man Focused
When we are truly devoted to pleasing God with our music, we begin to fade away from the center of what we worship. God becomes the object of our affections rather than our musical preferences. Too many churches cater to pleasing church members rather than moving our affections off of us and onto Christ. Without this, we nurture the sin of self-worship. The things of our preferences or demands grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace. The Father is seeking true worshipers to worship Him in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23). While many popular worship songs today focus on me and my desires over God and His Word, we are resolved as a church to sing music that focuses on God and His beauty. We resolve to sing music that reminds us of the eternal realities allowing the Word of Christ to dwell in us richly singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness to God in our hearts (Colossians 3:16).
The songs we sing should be to worship God, celebrate who He is, magnify Him for what He has done, and focus our affections on His worthiness. We will be singing for eternity a new song. We should celebrate this reality by singing new songs now. Practically, we grow in our theology when we sing new theologically robust music. This causes us think a little deeper on the words. How many times have you sung the same songs, the same way, even in the same order, and never once thought about what you were singing? It can be a real challenge to hear a really familiar song with fresh ears. Singing music filled with Scripture moves us towards meditating richly. This is a historic practice of Christ's Church. Also, singing nationalistic songs is not wrong. In many cases and in the right setting it is very right! We should be thankful and honored to be citizens of this country. Yet, our primary identity as Christians is as sojourners briefly passing through this world. The worship gathering should focus more on who we are in Christ, not our momentary situation. Our citizenship for eternity will be in God's Kingdom with Christ's body. This is our ultimate identity and calling in Christ. Singing God centered music in God centered ways moves our affections, resolutions, and our meditation from us to God.
Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of His name; give to Him glorious praise! -Psalm 66:1-2
Identifying core values is critically important for any organization, but especially the Church of Christ Jesus. Eternity is at stake and our business is critically important, even urgent. If we do not identify our core values, we will drift towards uncertainty, indifference, disobedience. If we aim at nothing, that is the very thing we will hit ever single time. The music we sing during corporate worship is not neutral. It actively does something to us as we participate. The things we meditate on are the things that captivate our hearts. They are what we delight it. These are the things that we find worth and value in. As we identify our core values according to Scripture, they will lead us towards certainty, affection, obedience. With that in mind, here are our music ministry team's core values at Lighthouse Baptist Fellowship.
Core Value 1
Congregational Worship over Concert Performance
When we gather together each Lord's Day, we are doing the most important thing we do the entire week. We gather to worship the Most High God. This weekly event points to what we will be doing for all of eternity; worshiping together as the Church of Christ Jesus. One aspect of our worship is singing. Rather than guests and covenant members coming to be passively entertained each week, we resolve to pursue congregational worship.
Congregational worship is biblical in approach as this is what we will be doing for eternity. When we gather we are practicing for what we will be doing forever as the body of Christ. Conversely, consumerism is not biblical but worldly and me-centered. Special music and solos have their place for occasions outside weekly corporate worship on the Lord's Day. The can be worshipful events and God-honoring. Yet, we see a priority in Scripture of gathering together to pray, sing, meditate, actively hear the preaching of God's Word, exhort one another, and fellowship in the Spirit as one body. Our weekly practice greatly affects how we view God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the church, man, the gospel, praise/worship, and many other things. Is there pressure or an expectation to clap when someone in the service were to give a performance? Is it rude not to give applause in such a situation? Performances shift the focus from God to man. Congregational worship moves us from focusing on self to focusing of God. It also practically moves us from being consumers to those who are on mission with God.