Last week I had the privilege of interacting with a songwriting class at Liberty University via Skype, thanks to Travis Doucette, who teaches the class. One of the things they were interested in was how I view worship songs in my role as a senior pastor. Here’s what I said:
Worship songs have a critical teaching component. Our time of singing together isn’t a warm-up for the preaching. It’s a time for God’s word to dwell richly in us, as it says in Co 3:16:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
The word of Christ abides in us as we instruct and exhort one another, and as we sing to the Lord. As we are worshiping, we are meditating. The lyrics are shaping us, as will the preaching to come. As we sing of Christ and him crucified, truth sinks deep into our hearts – it dwells in us richly – and transforms us.
Every worship song transmits theology, either good or bad, and theology affects us.
Joshua Harris underscores how critical theology is in Dug Down Deep:
“I’ve come to learn that theology matters. And it matters not because we want a good grade on a test but because what we know about God shapes the way we think and live. What you believe about God’s nature — what he is like, what he wants from you, and whether or not you will answer to him — affects every part of your life.”
As a pastor, I’m deeply concerned that we sing doctrinally accurate songs because they affect how we think about God. When folks in our church go through the fire, I want them to think rightly about God – that he is sovereign, loving, wise and good. When Satan accuses them, I want them to remember Christ was condemned in their place. When they’re tempted to fear, I want them to recall God’s faithfulness. They’ll learn these things through preaching and study, but they also learn them through the songs we sing.
Obviously, worship songs do more than teach. They provide us with passionate expressions to our Lord’s revelation of himself. They help us delight in and enjoy him. But they do teach. If you’re a pastor or worship leader, be sure to feed your flock doctrinally rich songs. They’ll be stronger in Christ and enjoy him more deeply.
photo by ramtops