Corporate worship is not a spectator sport. It requires attention and effort. It requires patience, forgiveness, personal holiness, and self-sacrifice. It is important that everyone sing and participate. After all, we do call our gatherings worship services. Participatory worship is of great importance to the life of our church! While there are many reasons, here are a few that come to mind concerning why it is important that everyone sings.
It is important that I sing because:
1. It is necessary if I am going to be obedient.
As is the case with any requirement in Scripture, obedience is a matter of the heart. Our private worship pours into our public worship. Time and time again Scripture explains that in our praise to the Lord we are to sing. Psalm 47:6 directs: "Sing praise to God, sing praise; sing praise to our King, sing praise!" Psalm 96:1 says: "Sing a new song to the Lord; sing to the Lord all the earth." This obedience will require me to sing at times when I am not comfortable. It requires me to sing even if I think I don't have the ability. It will require me to sing when I would rather not, even when I am having a bad day. It requires me to sing even if I don't like the style of music or the song being played. It requires me to sing even if someone has offended me. As long as the song expresses biblical truth I should do my best to sing it to glorify the Lord. I do this to praise Him in obedience. Music has a special ability with one's emotions. It allows them to express truth about and to God from both their head and heart.
2. It encourages the body of Christ.
While we often live like our private worship only concerns us, it clearly influences others around us. This is especially true of our singing. While one can have a right attitude in corporate worship, if they do not participate in singing they will not encourage others around them. If my voice can't be heard, how could I encourage anyone else? There is something special about hearing the body of Christ proclaim God's truth together. The Apostle Paul was quite clear in communicating this importance in both Ephesians 5:18-19 and Colossians 3:16. Both passages communicate ideas of Spiritual growth, maturity in Christ, and this type of singing being the natural result of one living by the Spirit. Ephesians explains: "And don't get drunk with wine which leads to reckless actions, but be filled with the Spirit: speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music from your heart to the Lord..." Just like one is controlled by alcohol in drunkenness, the believer in being controlled by the Spirit speaks to other believers in songs and makes music to the Lord. Similarly Colossians explains: "Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God." As thankful believers maturing in Christ we must sing to each other. As mentioned, the qualification for a song to be used in worship is that its content be based on biblical truth. Songs teach theology. Songs are often simple to remember. As we sing vertically to God lets encourage others around us by our horizontal singing; teaching even as we praise God together.
3. It helps me remember that this world is not my home.
It is important that I sing because it helps me remember that this world is not my home. While I am going day to day I must remember my mission- make worshipers through spreading the gospel. The corporate gathering helps one keep proper perspective. Our home is with Christ in heaven and when we are with other believers we sing in anticipation of our eternal reality. Every biblical picture we have of heaven is one of worship. Just think of Isaiah 6 or Revelation 4 and 5 as God is worshiped upon His throne. Corporate worship will be a great part of our eternity. How we can look forward to that day of worshiping together by participating in the opportunities we have in worshiping together now!
Participatory worship is of great importance. Your voice is of great importance in corporate worship to whatever church God has called you. God alone is worthy of all glory, honor, and praise. Let us worship together in Spirit and truth. This is the type of worship that the Father seeks. This is why we sing.