Boring, Lifeless “Special” Music

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First and foremost, music is supposed to bring honor and glory to God!  Those who sing special music in church must remember that our actual audience is in heaven.  The blessings must be directed toward God (“Bless the Lord!” the Psalmist proclaims), and, hopefully, the congregation before you will receive a blessing as well.  But singers must not make the congregation their primary focus.  A Holy God shouldn’t have to compete with sinners for our focus.  We should see “Him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27).  Just having our focus in the right place (God’s throne) will go a long way towards actually making our special music … special.

So, yes, it starts with our focus.  But we must also place a great deal of emphasis on SKILL (Psalm 33:3).  Is it the main thing?  Certainly not, but it’s definitely something!  There’s nothing spiritual about allowing a completely tone deaf person to sing in front of a crowd and humiliate themselves.  Hey, we all have opportunity to sing during the congregationals and in the acoustic bliss of our showers!  Not everyone should be singing special numbers.

If someone has been blessed by God with the ability to sing, they should do as much as they can to hone their craft.  Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it can serve to help one stay humble.  If we get to a place where we feel we need little or no practice and we can still “deliver”, we’ve become too impressed with our abilities.  Practice says there’s room for improvement, your natural talents aren’t enough, and you want to do better than your best. 

To glorify and bless God!

But there’s another component to music that can be controversial within Fundamental Baptist circles.  That’s the visual aspect.  There are churches/colleges that believe mics should be on a stand, hands plastered to your sides and only your mouth should move (okay, they may allow for blinking, so long as it is done during a quarter rest and never after a suspended chord).  Then you’ve got the other extreme where good Baptists like Brittany Spears and Jessica Simpson would be completely comfortable.  There’s a balance.

“And He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall SEE it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.” -Psalm 40:3 (emphasis mine)

Music that comes from the redeemed saint is meant to be heard and seen.  Think of the elation you have at a sporting event.  When you’re excited, you don’t sit still with your hands on your lap, stoic expression on your face, and yell, “Yay!”  You can hear the excitement of the crowd, but if there were no sound, you would still know there was some serious happiness going around based on what you see.  Folks, God pulled me out of one horrible pit, out of the miry clay and set my feet on a rock, I better be more excited about that than some silly ball game!

Once again, there’s balance.  We ought not detract from the message of a song or, worse yet, stumble those around us.  I was in a Leadership Conference recently with some red-hot preaching, and great music.  But during one offertory, a family with stringed instruments performed.  There were four teen – young college age girls and one boy.  Auditorily speaking, they were awesome.  They were gettin’ down with their fiddlin’ selves.  But visually … they were gettin’ down and it was quite embarrassing.  I couldn’t look at them.  My wife told me they were pretty much dancing around, swinging their hips!  I looked at the preacher on the platform, and he was looking at the ground, face red with embarrassment.  This is a church you’d consider a conservative and old-fashioned ministry.  Just awful!

But bad examples such as these should not throw the pendulum all the way to the other extreme of deadness.  Some of us try so hard to be dignified only to come across petrified!  A dozen or so people in my church have commented in one way or another about how “expressive” I’ve become in the last couple years.  My teens are frequently imitating the way I supposedly pump my fist, raise a hand, pat my chest or point upward.  One lady told me recently that when I put my hand to my chest, it causes her to think more carefully about what the song is saying.  I’m realistic enough to know that even though there are many who are blessed by my “expressiveness”, there are those who think I’m show-y.  I’m sure of it.  But I’m not worried about it.  I’m not up there doing the worm or doing my ghetto version of Father Abraham.  More importantly, I know who my ultimate audience is.  He knows my heart.

Sing with passion!  Let it show on your face.  This isn’t something you can manufacture or just “turn on” like a light.  It must be the outpouring of a heart that is intimately walking with God and truly indebted to Him.  I’ll only sing songs that I absolutely love.  If it’s just okay, or doesn’t move me, I won’t sing it.  If I can’t do it “heartlily”, I don’t see the point.  I don’t like to be bored, nor do I enjoy boring people.

What do people SEE in your song?

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10 comments so far

  1. Becka on

    That was a inspiring post. As a fellow music lover and “church specialist” :), I appreciate the candor and focus of this post. When I sing, I try to focus only on the song. Not only does this help with nervousness, but it also helps me to be more humble and not assume or pretend that the “performance” is about me. This was a great reminder of Who the audience is. An audience of one. 🙂

  2. jenmarie on

    Yeah, I think you are just up there trying to look good, Jay.
    lol, totally kidding! 🙂 I always like the songs that you pick to sing.

  3. Naenae on

    I appreciate this post! I agree with the “people who can’t sing on key” idea. 🙂 I also liked the point about doing it for the Lord. I am just starting to get to sing specials at Bethel and I need to remember that I am singing for the Lord! I don’t want to get so involved in my song that I sing about His love and grace with no expression, but I also don’t want to be the focus of the song! Thanks, Jay!

  4. lonestarpreacher on

    “Better than your best” i like that!

  5. Robb on

    ya know the bible also talks about making a JOYFUL noise unto the Lord… and from the people who were in that pic. at the top… i doubt there was anything JOYFUL about it. lol

  6. S.J. on

    Oh you’d be quite wrong Robby. Those guys sang with passion. They gave that song soul. I might be the only one that thinks that, but listening to those guys sing I enjoyed it. Sure, some of them aren’t exactly the best singers and you can hear that, but they sang with a heart that some of the best singers lack. Maybe they just seemed that way, maybe it was a lie. But some of them really did have the heart.
    Hey Jay, Remember that one youth revival with the skit of iMan? Well remember that teen choir? My word, they showed us up! They had half our size but double our passion! Then, remember the sing-alongs on the bus rides? Those are some of my fav memories of the youth group! Whether in the bus or the van. I love it when a group of us just sing out, not caring how terrible we sound but just that we are doing it joyfully. Singing praise. Singing so loud and shamelessly that we wear out our voices. I love it.

  7. jaynepomuceno on

    Jen, just wait ’till I start doing the robot to “It’s Still the Blood”!

    Yeah, the guys coulda had me fooled, too, but I was so proud of them. And that Teen Choir was quite awesome! “iMan”, wow, that brings up memories. “Don’t hurt him, he’s special!” “Chaperone!”

  8. Jane on

    Wow, looking forward to the day of the robot! Hey, maybe Pastor will hop up and do it with you??? 🙂 LOL, okay maybe not. . .?

  9. jenmarie on

    idk, he does it at home so maybe…
    lol

  10. Becka on

    lol


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