Did You Enjoy Your Singing on Sunday? Did God Enjoy It Too?

Josh Buice

Worship-Singing-Church

In recent days, we’ve had multiple families showing up at our church who are saying the very same thing. “It’s refreshing to sing to the Lord songs that are doctrinally rich and designed for a congregation rather than a band.” Singing matters.

One of the most important things you will do on the next Lord’s Day is sing unto the Lord. While singing must never take the place of preaching, it’s an essential part of Christian worship. David penned seventy of the psalms and put a high priority upon the worship of God through song. However, we must consider the fact that God puts a high priority upon how we sing and what we sing as well.

Yet, when we examine the singing of the evangelical church in our day, the sound of the church is often the sound of the band. It might be loud, but is it excellent? Many churches are passionate, but is their singing proper? Did you know that the average evangelical church selects songs in order to please people without proper consideration of pleasing God?

What We Sing Matters to God

Years ago, I had a conversation with a particular individual who took a critical stab at me for my deep appreciation of hymns like Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” This person was criticizing how I was leading our church to embrace a more intentional and regulated worship of God based on Scripture rather than our culture. What we sing matters to God. What determines the song selection? The cravings of our culture and the trends of evangelicalism or God’s Word?

John Calvin wrote:

We may not adopt any device [in our worship] which seems fit to ourselves, but look to the injunctions of him who alone is entitled to prescribe. Therefore, if we would have him approve our worship, this rule, which he everywhere enforces with the utmost strictness, must be carefully observed. . . . God disapproves of all modes of worship not expressly sanctioned by his word. [1]

Words matter. The depth of our singing is directly connected to the depth of doctrine in our songs. In years past, the songs of the church were penned by theologians, scholars, and pastors who were fixated on the health and strength of the church. Charles Wesley penned some 6,000 hymns in his lifetime, and yet on his deathbed he wanted to write just one more song. Although his life was fading and his strength was gone, he dictated the following hymn to his wife who wrote it down. It was his last song. It was short. But, it was filled with a sobering richness that points us to God.

In age and feebleness extreme

Who shall a helpless worm redeem?

Jesus, my only hope thou art!

Strength of my failing flesh and heart.

O could I catch one smile from thee,

And drop into eternity!

Today, such rich hymnody has been replaced with cheap substitutes. I recently reviewed the top praise and worship songs for this past year, and the top song for church worship in evangelicalism was, “Way Maker.” Originally written by Osinachi Joseph, it has now been recorded by artists like Leeland, Bethel Music, and others. The words of the song are very shallow and generic about the God who has revealed himself in brilliant splendor in the pages of Scripture. Consider the words:

“Way Maker” — Osinachi Joseph

Verse 1

You are here, moving in our midst

I worship You, I worship You

You are here, working in this place

I worship You, I worship You

Chorus

Way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper

Light in the darkness, My God, that is who You are

Verse 2

You are here, touching every heart

I worship You, I worship You

You are here, healing every heart

I worship You, I worship You

You are here, turning lives around

I worship You, I worship You

You are here, mending every heart

I worship You, I worship You

Bridge

Even when I don’t see it, You’re working

Even when I don’t feel it, You’re working

You never stop, You never stop working

You never stop, You never stop working

What fuels the words that we find in our modern-day worship songs? The simple answer is—money. The contemporary Christian music industry is a massive machine that has a bottom line. The bottom line is based on financial success. The truth is, doctrinally rich songs simply don’t make as much money as songs that are light and fluffy and doctrinally generic. This means, the average evangelical church is singing doctrinally deficient, shallow, and trite songs to God, and while they may be satisfied with it—God isn’t.

This past week, our church sang the following hymn titled, “Complete In Thee” as we lifted praise to God. Consider the depth of words and theology in comparison to modern day praise songs.

“Complete In Thee” — Aaron Robarts Wolfe (1821-1902)

Verse 1

Complete in Thee! No work of mine

May take, dear Lord, the place of Thine;

Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,

And I am now complete in Thee.

Chorus

Yea, justified! O blessed thought!

And sanctified! Salvation wrought!

Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,

And glorified, I too, shall be!

Verse 2

Complete in Thee! No more shall sin,

Thy grace hath conquered, reign within;

Thy voice shall bid the tempter flee,

And I shall stand complete in Thee.

Chorus

Yea, justified! O blessed thought!

And sanctified! Salvation wrought!

Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,

And glorified, I too, shall be!

Verse 3

Complete in Thee! Each want supplied,

And no good thing to me denied;

Since Thou my portion, Lord, wilt be,

I ask no more, complete in Thee.

Chorus

Yea, justified! O blessed thought!

And sanctified! Salvation wrought!

Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,

And glorified, I too, shall be!

Verse 4

Dear Savior, when before Thy bar

All tribes and tongues assembled are,

Among Thy chosen will I be,

At Thy right hand—complete in Thee.

Chorus

Yea, justified! O blessed thought!

And sanctified! Salvation wrought!

Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,

And glorified, I too, shall be!

Our elders intentionally select songs that are filled with doctrine and biblical theology which enables the child of God to praise God. It’s the content of the song that fuels the heart of a true believer to worship God.

How We Sing Matters to God

Does the style of our worship, including the style of our singing really matter? With so many different churches, styles, and opinions floating around, does it matter to God? Scott Aniol who serves as a professor and Chair of Worship Ministry Department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary answers this question by writing:

Yes, style does matter. It matters in Christian song just as much as it does in preaching, church organization, leadership, or how a child speaks to his father. Style matters exactly because truth matters, and truth is never separated from form. [2]

Worship conferences and seminars exist to teach church leaders how to design the worship service in order to move the emotions of people. They teach leaders the songs to choose in order to get people motivated in the beginning and the style of songs to choose in order to move the church to a climactic crescendo of praise. Such an approach to worship planning is man centered rather than God centered.

The motive of our worship must be consistently examined. Why do you crave a certain kind of worship? The cancer of church consumerism teaches families to move from one church to another separated by just a couple of miles because one church offers a more “exciting” song selection, a more passionate band, or a larger choir. Do you assemble weekly with a hunger and desire to please God, or are you in search for something new that will satisfy your fleshly cravings?

If you listen to evangelical Christians describe their worship, they often talk about their experience or how the songs made them feel as they engaged in worship. To hear people describe worship based on the way songs moved their emotions and made them feel sounds more like judges from American Idol or America’s Got Talent than followers of Jesus Christ.

When we leave the Sunday worship service, the most important consideration is not how the singing made us feel, but did the singing please God?

Christian singing is not designed so that we can be entertained by God. Singing in Christian worship is not about how God can make us feel. The goal of Christian singing is to worship God. When we leave the Sunday worship service, the most important consideration is not how the singing made us feel, but did the singing please God? Was our singing honoring to God? In many cases, people gather together and watch a band or a group of gifted musicians lead the worship while they merely mumble the words to the Lord. The command is to sing to the Lord!

A concert is not a church. If you find a concert that calls itself a church—don’t join it.

In short, the way in which we approach God matters. The need of the hour is for people to be able to distinguish the church from the world. Sadly, many church leaders look to the world to plan the functionality and worship of their church. A concert is not a church. If you find a concert that calls itself a church—don’t join it.

Psalm 96:9 – Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!

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1. John Calvin, The Necessity of Reforming the Church (reprint, Dallas: Protestant Heritage Press,

1995), 17-18.

2. Scott Aniol, “How important is the style of music a church sings?” [accessed: 1/25/21].

Author Worship-Singing-Church

Josh Buice

Pastor Pray's Mill Baptist Church

Josh Buice is the founder and president of G3 Ministries and serves as the pastor of Pray's Mill Baptist Church on the westside of Atlanta. He enjoys theology, preaching, church history, and has a firm commitment to the local church. He also enjoys many sports and the outdoors including long distance running and high country hunting. He has been writing on Delivered by Grace since he was in seminary and it has expanded with a large readership through the years.