Have you ever dissected a song to see what it was really about? Think about your favorite song. It could be anything from a love song about your significant other or a song about the Lord. For instance, many of the most popular R&B or country songs focus on heartache, heartbreak, depression and unfaithfulness. These are the songs that people love to sing over and over again, maybe because those topics are (unfortunately) relatable to their real lives. These songs immediately place us in a different time and place mentally; they bring out real emotions. As a lover of music, I am that guy who puts my favorite songs on repeat! However, as a worship leader, it causes me to take a step back and wonder if we truly consider what we are singing, especially in church when worshiping God.
I’ve had this conviction for a while now. Looking back, I wasn’t introduced to gospel contemporary music until I was an adolescent. I grew up in an old family-filled Baptist church where we sang hymns from the red book (with the church’s name engraved in gold) and gospel quartet music with my family’s group. The new contemporary styles of music with the different harmonies were fascinating, but also very challenging to learn in the beginning. When I was introduced to “praise & worship” music, I felt that the songs were impactful and emotional. As I grew older, I found that many of them focused on our issues and the praise came at the thought of what we could obtain from the Lord. Back in 2000 at Liberty University, I was exposed to the christian contemporary genre. The music wasn’t complex at all, but the lyrics were overwhelmingly rooted in scripture. It was as if each song communicated the gospel message and that upward focus helped change my entire approach to music ministry.
I believe that Colossians 3:1-2 gives us (worship leaders) a challenge as we minister songs. It says “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” It is necessary for our hearts and minds to look up to God because of who He is in our lives. I would suggest that our problems are “earthly things” and there are many songs being ministered during times of worship that focus on US and not Christ. I do believe that there is a time for these “inward-focused” inspirational and encouraging songs. I would like to think that those songs would still be about thanking God and celebrating the fact that He has made us co-heirs with Christ. Even then, God’s intentions are that we first be willing to share in Christ’s “sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory” (Romans 8:17)!
As ministers of music, worship pastors, worship leaders and volunteers, our charge is to focus hearts and minds on God and His infinite grace and mercy. We are to guide those same hearts and minds to a place of humility. This is done by singing songs that remind us of the gospel. If there be any focus on us, let it be about our sinfulness, our need for a Savior, and our constant need to repent then turn away from our sins. Are we thinking about what we are singing and presenting to our congregations? Lets remember that the body of Christ is edified through worship when our spirits and minds are focused properly on Him. (1 Cor. 14:15).
Suggested Prayer: God we thank You for who You are in our lives. Father, we are grateful for the task You have given us to lead Your people in worship. Allow us to focus on the songs that bring glory to You and that take attention away from ourselves. God You know all and our trust is in You. Help us to better understand Your desire for real spirit and truth worship. Help us to lead by Your word and by Your spirit.
GAVIN MCKINLEY DAVIS
WORSHIP LEADER | MCLEAN BIBLE CHURCH