We are starting off this week on TheWRITEaddiction with a “Just Be Real” challenge and because I believe in leading by example, I’m coming out the gate shooting on this one.
Where do I begin… I saw this blog post a few days ago that was shared by a FBF and was compelled to read it. (https://edendecoded.com/blog-2/item/worship-leader) Nothing in it is new to me. I grew up in church as a child of a deacon and deaconess and the granddaughter of the pastor of the church where I was first baptized. I grew up in the choir so I had a front row seat to the ongoing tensions that flow from the activities surrounding that highly visible auxiliary of the church.
For those of you who have never served in a church choir, you should know, it is challenging in ways that other ministries are not. Every time you enter the choir box you have to be prayed up. You have to have your mind and your spirit right. People are looking to you for help in working through some of the foulest, unimaginable struggles they encounter on a daily basis and there are times you can see the desperation on their faces as you stand to “let the Lord use you” through your music ministry.
But choir members are human too. Maybe you didn’t take time to arrive early and press your way to the throne in prayer before church. Maybe your kid was sick and it slowed down your progress and you got to the choir room just before they shut the door and the choir director has just been told that the choir has to get into the sanctuary in 5 minutes so you rush thru a group prayer and you take the stand with you mind and spirit not in tune to the task before you.
You’re 5 minutes into Praise and Worship and no one is standing in the pews. No one is singing along with the choir. No one is clapping. You sing harder, you try in your strength to press because the pastor is relying on the choir to set the atmosphere for the message to follow and it’s just not working.
I could go on but I’m going to stop the hypothetical here because I know some folks will stop reading if I go too long and I don’t want you to miss this.
We (the Church) place a LOT of our responsibility on the choir. The Bible teaches us that it is OUR responsibility to study the Word. That it is OUR privilege to offer praise to our Heavenly Father. And yet, how many times do we go to church a spiritual mess looking for the choir to lift us out of our funk? Remember that scripture, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise, give thanks to Him and bless His holy name (Psalm 100:4)?
The second thing I’ll touch on and I’ll stop for today is this tension that exists when a church musician (instrumental or vocal) opts to use their talent for pay either in the realm of sacred or secular music. It’s simple really. That decision is none of our business. That is completely between them and God. Case closed.
What is our business is staying tuned to what God wants us listening to as we strive to work in His service. It’s OUR job to discern these things for ourselves and to encourage others to do the same. I know when I’m listening to something and it is not the right time or place. So it is MY job to act in my best interest, which for me would be to remove myself.
I don’t deny that it can be awkward in a church service when the choir starts up with a praise song that throws me out of my praise process. My best example was years ago when I walked into a service and heard the choir singing “Killing Me Softly” (the Fugees version) but they had just changed a few words to say “Killing the Devil with this song”. I could not deal. That song is Killing Me Softly and it is NOT about Jesus. Now, that song might have blessed someone else. It made me thing about far more “earthly things”.
I am thankful to have the choice of where I attend church. I chose to attend a church where I do not often find myself in spiritual conflict due to the style of music that we sing. I don’t judge churches that have choirs that sing trap gospel or that perform other styles of songs that for me cause extra work on my part to stay focused on what I come to church to do. I chose to worship where I can get fed and serve in the ways that God has called me to serve. When that service requires that I be in a church with these very contemporary styles of music, God equips me to do what I have to do. But I’m not going to judge others and say their music is sourced by Satan. To do so for me is polarizing and unproductive. I can’t know what God has instructed anyone other than me to do. What I can do is pray for others if ever the spirit in me moves me to do so when I hear or see something that causes me to question the intent behind a praise and worship or gospel song ministry. That’s just me being real about it.
~ Marta C. Youngblood