Jordan Stone explains one of the core values of his church.
When I first began the journey of planting a church one common refrain of encouragement from seasoned planters was, “Identify your church’s core values. Communicate them clearly and often.”
Now, this isn’t the place to quibble with whether or not mission statements and core values ought to be a “first order of business” reality in planting a church. When used rightly, just like church confessions, core values function as faithful identifiers of what a local church understands and treasures about its faith and practice.
So we came up with what we call at Imago Dei Church, “Things We Want to Be True.” Things that we hope would permeate our church’s life together and witness to the world. One of those things is that we would be “A Singing Church.”
WHY WE SING
Why have a specific desire to be a singing church? Two things come immediately to mind.
1. Singing mirrors the character of God.
Zephaniah’s only recorded sermon helped bring spiritual revival to God’s people after the long and disastrous reign of Manassah. For three chapters Zephaniah has detailed the “day of the Lord,” a day when he would, according to chapter 3, “Pour out upon them [His] indignation, all [His] burning anger . . . all the earth shall be consumed.” The picture is bleak. It’s as though God announces that His storm of judgment is coming and His people stare at a sky swelling with rolling and thunderous clouds. And just before judgment bursts forth in power, a single ray of sunshine breaks through and shines down. Zephaniah says sadness and depression isn’t the order of the day for everybody. The sun of salvation is going to burst upon the earth because “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save. He will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.” (Zeph. 3:17) Our God is a singing God!
Faithful singing then is little more than a mirror of the great God who sings over His people. Our singing God creates and commands His people, which leads to the second point.
2. Singing is a mark of obedience.
God not only creates His people, but commands His people and one command is that we sing. As best I can tell, there are some four hundred references to singing in Scripture and over fifty commands to sing. God’s salvation compels the commands of Zephaniah 3:14, “Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!” Did you notice from where our singing is to come? ”Rejoice and exult with all your heart.” What matters most in singing is the state of our hearts. God is honored when our hearts sings unto Him in joyful humility and honesty.
This is why we sing, because it mirrors God is and is a mark of obedience. Said another way, “We sing because He sang first over us.”
WHAT SINGING DOES
Another question worth pursuing on the topic is, “What singing does singing actually do?” If we long for a culture of singing in our churches, what kind of culture are we longing for? Among the myriad of things singing does, I believe there are four worth particular mention.
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