Skip to content ↓

A Church with Great Music

A Church with Great Music

I heard someone say it recently: “The music at that church is great.” It didn’t take me long to understand what he meant—that the church has a great music program. They have a band composed of talented musicians who play and sing with skill and beauty. To be part of that church is to benefit from the skills of an incredible group of musicians.

This is what we tend to mean when we consider a church’s music. When we say a church’s music is great, we are usually referring to the combined skill of the five or six people who stand and lead at the front. But I’ve long-since made this observation: some of those churches have bands that perform beautifully but congregations who can’t or won’t sing. They have leaders who lead with skill, but members who follow in near silence. Keep your eyes focused on the front and you can’t help but be impressed; look beside and behind you and you can’t help but be concerned.

A church with a truly great music program is the one where the people sing—they really sing.

I am convinced that the best measure of a church’s music is not what takes place on the stage, but what takes place in the pews. It is not so much the sounds and sights of a band leading, but the sounds and sights of a congregation worshipping. A church with a truly great music program is the one that could worship just as well on the day the power goes out and the instruments won’t play. A church with a truly great music program is the one that generates far more sound from its raw voices than its amplified instruments. A church with a truly great music program is the one where the people sing—they really sing.

I was recently thinking through what our churches do to train and equip our congregations to sing. The Bible does, after all, command us all to sing as a core part of our ministry to one another (see Colossians 3:16). Besides our worship services, we tend to have all kinds of teaching and training opportunities—we have Bible studies and youth groups, we have classes for systematic theology, parenting, and Bible knowledge. But few churches have opportunities to train our congregations to sing. Our bands practice and our choirs rehearse, but we rarely instruct the whole congregation. We rarely create opportunities to teach new songs, to teach them to sing those songs in parts, to help them grow in their skill. Singing is one of the few parts of the worship service in which every person participates and serves, yet we rarely train our congregations to participate and serve well in this key ministry.

If you’d like your church to have a great music program, perhaps it would be worth asking this: How are we training our church to sing?


  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (June 4)

    A La Carte: The blame game / Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be / A kind invitation and lifelong friendship / Steered into error by those closest to you / Satan as “prince of the air” / Under the eaves / General market books / and more.

  • Bring Your Skills to the Missions World

    This week the blog is sponsored by TWR, also known as Trans World Radio, and is called to reach the world for Christ by mass media so that lasting fruit is produced. Pete and Debbie Lee were living the American dream. The parents of two children, the Lees lived in Greensboro, North Carolina, and were…

  • How can you mumble

    How Can You Mumble?

    Some of my most meaningful moments of public worship have been in settings where I did not speak the language. I have stood with a congregation in rural Zambia as they’ve clapped and moved and praised the Lord in Bemba, a language that is utterly unknown to me. I’ve sat with a congregation in the…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (June 3)

    A La Carte: Life doesn’t always turn out like we thought it would / Hope for fallen Christians / AI as theological babel fish / Teenagers and parental hypocrisy / Is there a preferred Bible translation Christians should use? / Logos and Kindle deals / and more.

  • A Celebration of Friendship

    A Celebration of Friendship

    I may not be going too far out on a limb when I suggest that you have probably not heard the name Anna Laetitia Barbauld. For various reasons she has been largely forgotten by history, and this despite achieving a significant level of fame in the eighteenth century. Though at one time she was a…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    Weekend A La Carte (June 1)

    A La Carte: The desegregation of Dallas Theological Seminary / 12 things that happened on the cross / How can I be a Christian in my workplace? / Five questions for our skepticism / The sanction of sin / Never let a crisis go to waste: AI, statism, and the threats to free speech /…