Pastoral ministry is one of maturing the members (cf. Col. 1:28). Christian maturity depends on teaching (Matt. 28:20), but we also know that much discipling work is more frequently caught than taught. One thing a faithful pastor should want his members to catch from his model is the joy of singing.
Needed: Singing People
Few threads of Christian experience are as woven through all of Scripture as the role of singing. It’s a consistent command (cf Ps. 96:1), the immediate response to redemption (Ex. 15), a mark of a Spirit-filled life (Eph. 5:19), and one of the glories of heaven (Rev. 4-5). Our God is a singing God (Zeph. 3:17) who commands and creates a singing people.
Our churches thus need pastors who visibly and audibly exemplify this singing life. Here are two simple ways you can do this.
They’re Watching and Listening
Sing passionately during your church’s gathered worship. This is quite simple for we one-service-only churches, and it’s a bit more tricky for multiple-service churches. Here’s why: if you have multiple services you might be tempted to join in the singing during only one service while skipping out on the others. For years I’ve seen pastors sit in “the green room” during the singing portion of corporate worship, only coming into the room to preach. I used to be on staff at a church where this was the usual practice. If you’re in the green room as much—or more—than you are out among the congregation during the church’s songs know that you’ve missed out on a sweet opportunity. Not just an opportunity to join in the joy of singing, but to model that joy before your people.
There is something powerful in a pastor sitting at the front of the room and singing with passion. It’s surely true that many church members take occasional, maybe even regular, glances at the pastor during worship to see what he’s doing. Oh, I pray when they look they don’t see a pastor fixated on his sermon notes. I pray they don’t see a pastor seemingly indifferent to the glory of song. I pray they don’t see a pastor talking with staff members or church members more than he sings. What does all that communicate to watching eyes? Singing is not of much value to the pastor. And if it’s not much value for him, why should it be for Mr. Church Member?
What’s better, much better, is for the congregation to see her pastor or pastors singing with passion. Passionate singing means praising God in spirit and truth with volume, expression, joy, and knowledge.
Sing often at other church gatherings. Don’t let the only time your church sings together be the weekend’s gathered worship service. Sing at men’s meeting, women’s meeting, members’ meeting, and prayer meetings. Encourage your small groups to sing one or two songs whenever they meet. I’ve recently been considering how to best incorporate singing into elders’ and deacons’ meetings. If we want to be a singing people we ought to be singing at every station of church life.
Preaching Pastors Should be Singing Pastors
My hope in this post is simple: to see more preaching pastors model the singing life before their people. Let us not relegate the joys of singing to those peculiarly gifted in voice or instrument. God’s given us a voice—however out of pitch it frequently may be—to sing praise to His name and model joy in song for out people.
Apply God’s word and grace wherever it’s needed on this issue. Then go sing with unusual heavenly joy before your people this weekend.