Hugh Wetmore is a songwriter and student of worship trends. He invites you to join the worship conversation by commenting on his monthly column.
Over the past three months, Colossians 3:16 has shown us more clearly that the three main purposes for singing in church are:
1. to teach the Word of Christ to one another
2. to admonish one another as we apply this Word to one another’s personal circumstances ….. and
3. to express our thanksgiving to God for His grace and provision for our needs.
With this in mind, here’s an interesting question to think about: If God wants you to deliver a message from His Word to people, a message that would teach and apply the Scriptures, what would you do?
Most people would assume that you would preach a sermon. That’s what sermons do: they teach the Word of God, and they apply the Word of God.
But there is another way to deliver that message: Deliver God’s Word in song. Yes, sing God’s Word to the people. Listen again to Colossians 3:16. “Teach the Word and admonish one another as you SING psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to one another.”
Notice that this teaching the Word, and this admonishing, is not done from the pulpit. It is done in the pew. It is not done by the preacher. It is done by the congregation to the congregation. Don’t leave it to the preacher but do it yourselves. We, the ordinary Christians in the congregation, must “sing the Word to one another”.
Contemporary tradition has programmed us to turn our eyes heavenwards, raise our hands, and sing to God. This is appropriate when we sing our Thanksgivings to God. But most of the time we should be singing the Word to “one another”. We should be applying the Word as we admonish one another. So let’s develop a new tradition: Let’s look at each other as we sing songs that “teach and admonish one another”. Just as a preacher should make eye-contact with the congregation as he preaches the Word, so we should make eye-contact, turning from side to side as we “sing God’s Word to one another”.
There are many kinds of Christian song. There are psalms, there are hymns, and there are spiritual songs. We are free to sing any kind of song, in the generational or ethnic culture most suited to the congregation. There is only one qualification: Our songs must deliver the Word of God. That is essential.
I was once invited to preach at a church on the assigned topic: “Singing the Word”. When I saw the promo for this sermon, pinned to the church notice-board, I saw that it announced my topic as “Singing and the Word”.
That subliminal typing error showed how difficult it is for most Christians to get out of the old rut of thinking. The typist’s mind had been programmed by tradition to separate “singing” from “preaching the Word”.
Our task is to remove the “and” and learn to “sing the Word” in the same way as we’ve learned to “preach the Word”. Your church will receive double blessing as it becomes a congregation that is “singing the Word” to each other. Will you do it?