Soloists who ‘show off’ — Hugh Wetmore

In our January worship column, we noted:

We must stop trying to win the approval of the people, with their divergent song preferences.  We must win the approval of God.  That’s how the apostle Paul overcame divisions that were based on personal preferences:

Am I trying to win the approval of men, or of God?  Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)

This month, and in the following Worship Columns of Gateway News, we will ascertain what kind of music and song will please God.  His desire is best expressed in our well-known Scripture — Colossians 3:16. 

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

But the approach will be different.  We will listen to the questions people from various church contexts are asking, and the concerns they are expressing. Then we will find out how this core Scripture answers them.

So listen to this month’s question: “Our church is fairly traditional.  But when we had a soloist who showed off while singing, drawing the attention to herself, some members were offended, and wanted to ban soloists altogether.  What should the church do?”

Colossians 3:16, with Ephesians 5:19, tell us to sing to one another.  The obvious interpretation is that everyone should sing and we should sing to one another. This is congregational singing.

So is there no place for a soloist, or a vocal group, to sing to the congregation?

Yes there is, if you look at Colossians 3:16 from another angle: The purpose of singing and preaching.  For the task of a soloist is the same as the task of the preacher: To teach and to admonish, from the rich Word of Christ.

Both congregational singing and solo/group singing should use the Word of God to teach and admonish the people.

Both preacher and soloist/choir should speak and sing HUMBLY.  As servants of Jesus Christ, there is no place for pride and ostentatious showing off.   All of you, clothe yourselves with humility towards one another, because God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. –1 Peter 5;5).  God will oppose the show-off soloist and the proud preacher, and no divine blessing will flow from their ministry to the people.  Their proud attitudes stifle God’s Word.   

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A wise church leader will humbly counsel that soloist into a humble stance, that lets people see Christ through her, not her instead of Christ.

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