Charles Spurgeon once quipped: “God is to be praised with the voice, and the heart should go therewith in holy exultation.”
While Spurgeon is right, the problem is that in many congregations the people are not “praising God with the voice”. If the folks at Renewing Worship are to be believed, part of the reason is that many churches are turning worship into a spectator sport – where attendees watch and listen to a concert as well as a message. As Kenny Lamm expresses it:
Simply put, we are breeding a culture of spectators in our churches, changing what should be a participative worship environment to a concert event. Worship is moving to its pre-Reformation mess.
Lamm goes on to say he sees nine reasons congregations aren’t singing anymore:
- They don’t know the songs.
- We are singing songs not suitable for congregational singing.
- We are singing in keys too high for the average singer.
- The congregation can’t hear people around them singing.
- We have created worship services which are spectator events, building a performance environment.
- The congregation feels they are not expected to sing.
- We fail to have a common body of hymnody.
- Worship leaders ad lib too much.
- Worship leaders are not connecting with the congregation.
In his article titled 9 Reasons People Aren’t Singing in Worship, Lamm elaborates on each of these observations. His thoughts are worth exploring, and comparing to our own church worship practices.
It may be that your church, like ours, defies this trend. In our church people do sing out, and at times, when the sancturay is full of people, and the voices seem to overflow the sanctuary, it feels majestic. Not only do we encourage singing, but we also usually offer a liturgy that invites the participants to praise God with their voices, even if not in song. So, if you have a singing congregation, GREAT! Lamm’s observations can serve as a great affirmation. They can also serve as a wise of caution, things to look out for, to minimize the possibility of drifiting.
On the other hand, if your church has been moving more toward the spectator… I hope Lamm’s concerns will challenge you to re-examine what worship is and how it really ought to be done.
There should be little debate that the most influential group of people in the world are Moms. While not necessarily true in every individual situation, collectively it is difficult to image any group running even a close second. With this in mind, John Piper plugs a new book, Mom Enough, written by a collection of godly women who are also gifted writers:
- Carolyn McCulley
- Rachel Jankovic
- Gloria Furman
- Rachel Pieh Jones
- Christine Hoover
- Trillia Newbell
- Christina Fox
On a personal note, Christina Fox, and her now husband George, were members of the church I had the privilege to pastor in Chattanooga while they were both attending Covenant College. It has been exciting to see how God has worked in Christina, and how he is now working through her writing and her speaking. Check out Christina’s blog: To Show Them Jesus
If you are a Mom, know a mom, or have a mom, this book is written for you.
I agree with those who suggest that a vibrant children’s ministry is one of the five core programs essential to a healthy church or church plant. We are fortunate at the church where I serve to have a very capable godly Children’s Ministry Coordinator on our staff. But even having the best Children’s Ministry Coordinator or the best Children’s Ministry program is no substitute for God’s design.
In a post found on Relevant Children’s Ministry, titled: 5 Reasons Church Should Not Be the Primary Place Where Children Learn About God, we are reminded of what I consider to be the God-given pattern for raising children to grow in the Christian faith. While the church plays an important, even a vital, supplemental role, the church should never usurp the authority or the primacy of the parents.
Here are the five reasons:
- God has Called Parents to be the Primary Spiritual Leaders of Their Children
- No One Has More Influence in a Child’s Life Than His or Her Parents
- Kids Spend Much More Time at Home than They Do at Church
- The Church Compliments What Parents Are Teaching Their Kids at Home, but Cannot Replace It
- The Church’s Job is to Equip Parents to Lead Their Kids Spiritually
These principles are reflective of what I (and many others) would call a Covenantal Children’s Ministry.
Interesting that while studies have been conducted to discover why so many leave the church upon emerging adulthood (after high school graduation) most of those studies are revealing that in homes and churches where the principles of Covenantal Children’s Ministry are followed, not only do the kids not end up leaving church as often as they do from churches where kids are segregated and entertained, but the vast majority of Covenantal Kids don’t leave the church at all.