All the Earth, Sing!
When I was teenager, I had a habit of singing in the shower. I remember plugging in my boom- box and singing at the top of my lungs to mix tapes filled with recordings from an array of artists. In my head, I sounded awesome. In fact, for many years, I wondered why my two younger sisters gave me “the eye” when we would sing together, and I’d break out in my own harmony. My harmonies sounded amazing in my head.
And then around age 18, I heard my voice for the first time. I was recorded singing a part for an outdoor dramatic service, and after about twenty seconds of listening to my voice through the recorder, I shut. it. down. Blessed be. I realized for the first time that indeed, my voice did not sound identical to Amy Grant’s.
I am currently the music director at our church, but not to worry. While worship is my passion, piano is my instrument, and I leave the vocal leading to those in our church who actually sound good outside their own heads. So, does not having a great voice excuse me from singing in worship? Absolutely not. Not only is singing essential as a believer in Christ, but it’s important that we are teaching the next generation the importance of singing in worship!
As I’ve talked with music leaders across the country, it’s become clear that a prominent issue in worship is the lack of singing from young people. How do we remedy this? How do we raise up a generation that sings to the Lord in worship? I might suggest three considerations for parents to keep in mind when it comes to teaching and modeling worshipful singing.
Teach the Reasons for Singing
As much as we seek to instruct our children in why we pray and learn about Jesus through His Word, we should also include instruction on the reasons for singing. The second most common command in the Bible is to SING!
If we teach the reasons for singing using the many places in the Bible where the Lord talks about it (Psalm 95, 96, 98, 149, just to name a few), then by God’s grace, our kids will begin to understand why it’s important. It’s not a suggestion given only to those with Amy Grant type voices, but it’s a command to every living being that comes to worship the King of Kings. If you can talk, you can sing. And the reason we have been given a voice to fulfill this command is because it brings honor to Jesus. Hearing our worship is like a sweet fragrance gathered up by our Savior. He is not listening for correct pitches; He is listening to the sincerity in our hearts as we bless His name through song.
Singer and songwriter Keith Getty says this about the importance of instruction in singing: “Teaching kids to sing may not be a foolproof mechanism for ensuring they follow the Lord all the days of their lives, but it is one way parents can equip their kids with truth they can carry with them wherever the road leads.”
As our kids grow, the temptation becomes stronger to resist singing in church. This is why it’s important not only to instruct but to set an example, both mothers and fathers, of singing in worship.
Model Sincere Singing
Passionate singing is contagious. If you’ve ever had an experience being in the midst of brothers and sisters pouring forth praises unabashedly, you know just how contagious it is. A fervent voice moves another to sing, who moves yet another, and on it goes.
In the same way, embarrassment when it comes to singing is also learned, which is important for us to remember as parents. We shouldn’t sing in worship in order to put on an instructive show for our kids, but we should sing boldly to our Savior because He is deserving of our praise. There is nothing embarrassing about genuine worship. And in worshipping sincerely, we are setting an example for our kids that shows bold singing isn’t just for the car when our favorite song comes on the radio, but it’s used to offer praises to the one who made us and gave us our voice.
If you feel awkward singing in worship, ask the Lord to keep you from becoming distracted by insecurities, and ask Him instead to help you become consumed with the One you have come to honor. The beautiful truth is that Jesus isn’t looking for a performance; He’s not scouring the congregation to see who sounds good and who looks “right.” We are all sick with sin, so Jesus, our healer, says come. The requirement is not to come with a showy voice, but He desires us to come into His presence with joy and thanksgiving in our hearts because “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7). The more we understand about Jesus and His redeeming work, the harder it is to contain the song that naturally rises from our soul.
Anticipate Worship with Singing
One of the practices we can implement as parents is preparation for worship. This might sound far-fetched to some or difficult to start for others, but there are small steps we can take to prepare our hearts and the hearts of our children to sing. The more we anticipate worship, the more focused and joy-filled we will be when we enter into God’s presence.
Some churches provide bulletins online, and most have their order of worship finished by the end of the week. This means you can have access ahead of time to the texts that will be read and the songs that will be sung. Listening and singing along to these songs throughout the weekend, or even as everyone gets ready on Sunday morning, is one way to anticipate the act of singing. Even reading and talking about the passage for the sermon helps with preparation.
Corporate worship should bea priority, and not because it saves us but because it brings God glory, and in offering our praises, our souls are filled. Schedules are busy, so we need worship in order to be refreshed. The daily grind feels weighty, so we need worship in order to be renewed. Plead with God to bind Satan from His petty distractions before worship so our hearts can be ready to give thanks to God with song, and in turn be filled by His presence.
Sing out this week in worship and encourage your kids to do the same. A perfect voice is not required when it comes to singing praises to Jesus. “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!” (Psalm 98:4). Sing to Him, all the earth– every age, every culture, every being – sing praises to Him. He is worthy of our joyous song.