The New Testament Vision of a Church is a Singing Church!
"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." (Col. 3:16, ESV)
WHAT DRIVES OUR MUSIC CHOICES AT ABC?
1) DOES IT TEACH:
A song is a good candidate for our services if it uses its few short minutes rehearsing rich gospel-saturated doctrine that motivates us to meditate on what we believe (Col. 3:16). Thinking is a critical component to corporate worship. If you went home feeling "pumped up" but couldn't recall what major gospel themes were covered in the songs, then was the worship service on target? There has been a great and exciting resurgence of theological depth and richness in contemporary music over the past 10 years or so. We are not in pursuit of a vibrant experience or feeling, we are in pursuit of a vibrant gospel and its glorious Author! The joyful experience (not at all a bad thing) should come as a result of pursuing that rich, well-thought content. These new resources are held in balance with the timeless classics in our ministry. New or old, depth of teaching is criteria number one for any song.
2) DOES IT ADMONISH?
In its teaching, does the song also call us to action? Does it confront us with our need for repentance and God's grace in order to change and grow? If a song merely shares information but doesn't encourage heart change, than it falls short. If the songs we're singing do not confront us with our ongoing sin problem, then they are reflecting only half of the good news of Christianity (Col. 3:16). In our church, we intentionally sing about the wrath of God against sin, the suffering of Christ and His shed blood on the cross, of our spiritual death before salvation, and of our current inner struggle between the old man and the new man. We sing about how prone we are to wander and stumble. Because in contrast to that weight, the brightness of our hope in Christ shines all the brighter. Songs that treat these topics (sin, judgment, holiness, etc.) in balance with grace, love, and mercy are songs that portray the gospel in its fullness.
3) DOES IT PROMOTE CONGREGATIONAL PARTICIPATION?
We sing because we want to worship together. There is a bonding, a mutual strengthening, an emboldening that happens when believers celebrate their faith in song together. Some songs, even excellent songs, meet the first two criteria, but for various reasons (a difficult melody or a complex rhythm, for example) they are difficult to sing together as a group. Both Col. 3:16 and Eph. 5:19 describe corporate singing as a vital ingredient for our gatherings. Therefore, even if a song is a favorite, or if it has great content, if we just can't sing it together well without difficulty, we will move on to easier options.
A SAMPLE OF SOME OF THE NEWER SONGS WE'VE LEARNED RECENTLY
We introduce approx. 4-6 new worship songs per year in order to expand our exposure to the rich resource of gospel-saturated songs available, all while maintaining our love for the best of the timeless hymns of the faith.
"Jesus Your Mercy" - Sovereign Grace Music
"His Mercy is More" - Matt Boswell
"Yet Not I But Through Christ in Me" - CityAlight
"My Worth is Not in What I Own" - Keith & Kristyn Getty
"Is He Worthy?" - Andrew Peterson