BCS Prayer Partner Letter
|"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him" (Colossians 3:16-17).
In many churches today, corporate worship does not seem to be a high priority. As I travel around the country, I am amazed at the lack of understanding and forethought that is given to leading God's people into worship of the Most High God. Quite often worship planning and leading is turned over to someone who has a willing heart, limited musical skills, and who leads us in his or her favorite songs. It feels like whatever happens in worship is OK. One of the outcomes of weak worship leadership is exemplified by congregational participation that lacks passion and engagement.
We must ask the questions, "Does God bless everything done in the name of worship?" and, "What is the role of music in corporate worship? Is it really just preliminary to the real focus of the service that for some is the preaching of the Word?" and, "Should we sing in worship at all?"
A key New Testament worship text that sheds light on these questions is found in Colossians 3:12-17. Here the Apostle Paul admonishes believers to both "put off" actions that are not in keeping with the reality of living in the power of Christ, and to "put on" actions and attitudes that mark us as those who are living in the Spirit of Christ. "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God" (v.1). So we live in the power of the Gospel and actively seek to put on "compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, bearing with one another . . . and above all these put on love."
In verse 17 the Apostle makes a very significant connection between "teaching and admonishing one another" and "singing". He says to "let the Word of Christ dwell in you," by or with "singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs . . ." In other words, the Apostle Paul places a high value on singing. He elevates its importance by placing it alongside of "teaching and admonishing one another" as a God-ordained means of encouraging the indwelling of the Word of Christ in believers.
There is a unique corporate edification that happens when the body of Christ sings. When we sing the truth of God to one another (psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs) and then back to God we are teaching and admonishing one another. Thus the role of singing is not only highlighted as a means of letting the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, it also heightens our joy and satisfaction in Christ. For these reasons we believe that the defining sound of corporate worship should be congregational singing!
If singing serves to teach and admonish us in the Word, then there are implications for us in corporate and for those who lead us. If we are going to be taught through song then we must choose songs that are full of the truths of scripture. Not all songs, no matter how beautiful or inspiring the music may be, are worthy to be sung. We must make choices in the songs we sing. Content in our songs is primary. There will be a wide variety of different styles or genres of music in our worship. But we must sing truth if it is to cause us to "dwell richly in the Word of Christ".
We want to sing substantive songs. Songs that help us praise God for all He is as well as those that encourage us as we face trials and suffering that God has promised will be a part of our lives on the earth. We also need to sing songs that are Christ-centered if we are to be rooted in the Word of Christ. We want to rehearse the Gospel continually lest we wander.
Given the weight of singing as a means to teach and admonish, those who lead need to be theologically trained, musically gifted, and pastorally able to shepherd believers. There is a difference between a worship guy who sings worship songs and a worship pastor who shepherds our hearts and minds with the Word through song.
At BCS our goal is that all our study will culminate in greater worship and enjoyment of our Lord. We believe the church desperately needs trained leaders who will lead them in biblically "rich" worship. To that end at BCS, we want to train up men of God who will pastor the church of Jesus Christ teaching and admonishing them through music and singing; gifted musicians that are elder qualified, able to teach the Word of Christ, and passionate about the glory of God and our complete enjoyment of Him. We believe this is a high calling and one that is worthy of work and sacrifice.
Associate Professor for Worship & Music | Bethlehem College and Seminary
Pastor for Worship and Music | Bethlehem Baptist Church
As the Lord brings Bethlehem College and Seminary to your mind, please continue to pray with us. Please this email to others who you believe may wish to join our prayer partner email list. We will not send emails to anyone without their permission.
Please pray with us that we would:
- God would lead us to new students that do have a heart to shepherd the Church in corporate worship.
- That our current students would finish the semester well. The end of the semester is very near.
- God would guide us to the right man who would lead us in the area of systematic theology.
- God would give us clear vision concerning a facility that would serve the students and faculty of BCS.