Several years ago, Emily and I went to visit a small Baptist church in a town not far from Peterborough, Ontario, while on vacation. It’s a moment that still stands out as a highlight because of the music. By this, I don’t mean the music was surprisingly spectacular… because it wasn’t. It was actually pretty bad from a technical perspective. But it was a beautiful time of worship through song. Why? Because of the evident passion of those who sang.
I’ve seen the same thing at a small church I had the privilege of preaching at about a year and a half before we left Canada. They had only a piano and hymnals. Their voices weren’t always strong or on key, but it was wonderful to sing with them because their love for Jesus came through so profoundly.
That’s the thing I really hate in any conversations I see going on about church music these days. Too often we get caught up in style and preferences and all this other stuff. Some of it is valid, without question. Lyrical content matters. Goofy and distracting “stage production” elements like smoke machines matters.1 On and on I could go, so don’t think I’m ignoring those things.
But here’s the thing that keeps me sane, and brings joy to my heart whenever the music starts at any church: when I hear people singing and their love for Jesus is in their voices.
And what I love about it is it reminds me of what I want more of. My heart can be strengthened by the hearts of others. Their love can strengthen my own. Their joy can add to my own. Whether I’m in a church with filled with strong musicians and singers, or I’m worshipping with a group of believers who can barely carry a tune doesn’t really matter because that is more important than my preferences.