Thu, Aug 6, 2015 12:11 PM
If I’m honest, I used to find the singing part of church pretty uncomfortable.
It’s not that I don’t like music. I do. I’m a musician. I even worked as a music director at a church for a while.
But there was the awkwardness of not always knowing the words, the music not being loud enough to hide my singing from the person next to me, and that one person who always needed a little too much space for arm movements. Also, it often felt like we were singing simply for the sake of singing—almost like it was a mandatory task we had to check off our church lists every week.
In the churches I grew up in, we talked about singing like it was the only way to worship God. Which was convenient because it meant all we had to do sing a few songs on Sunday, then go on living life focused on ourselves. It seemed like the goal of worship was to feel warm and fuzzy inside. We spoke about “feeling the presence of God” as if it was the ultimate aim of life.
I tried for a long time to buy into the hype and just go with the flow. I raised my hands at the right parts of the songs. I sang as loud as I could. I even joined in the worship mosh pit at youth camps.
Eventually, I found the pressure to be positive all the time too much to handle. Some worship leaders made me feel like I was crazy if I wasn’t stoked to be singing happy, clappy, Jesus songs. Yet I wasn’t always excited about worship. Sometimes I was heartbroken about a relationship that had gone sour. Sometimes I was grieving a loss and struggling to heal. At other times, my doubts were crippling me, and I just needed to say so out loud.
But singing in church has become less uncomfortable for me recently.
You see, I’ve discovered a community of Christians that believe singing in church should be an opportunity to express our struggles and our hopes in the same space. A place to acknowledge our doubts about as well as our dependence on God.
In this church, worship is less about feeling God’s presence, and more about allowing God to be present through our lives. The end goal is not what happens in the room, but what we’re inspired to do when we leave the room.
And as uncomfortable as it can be to sing out loud in a group of several thousand people, there’s something incredibly powerful about it. In soccer, we call a stadium full of singing fans the "twelfth man." It’s as if those fans give the eleven players on the field an extra advantage. Buoyed by the singing in the stands, a team can do almost anything. Something about united voices stirs hope, faith, and action.
While I can’t quite explain that, I also can’t deny it. That’s why I can’t wait for North Point’s Night of Worship this Friday. Because I know that I am invited to bring my authentic self—my whole self. And I’ll be joined by others doing exactly the same. We’ll sing with one another, pray for one another, and encourage one another to be the “twelfth man” for the broken and hurting in our city. When we leave, we’ll not only be changed . . . we’ll be agents of change.
And I’d be honored if you were there too.
Just don’t take up too much space for your arm movements. It’s going to be packed.