First off let me make clear this is not a political post, even though these days that seems to be an impossible thing to say, or do. To express your opinions in any way in our current cultural climate is risking picking a side, or being shoved in the back into a camp you may, or may not, have even chosen.
Currently in California, and in San Diego county where I live, the Church is beginning to fight back against the directives of the state government in regards to gathering and even more specifically, worship through singing. After months of patiently waiting for restrictions to be lifted for the church to gather, this last week churches received more restrictions on indoor gatherings and specifically the practice of gathering for the purpose of singing (although not explicitly stated that way).
Understandably and undeniable singing does have the potential to spread germs and viruses. However, there are some serious ramifications for restricting religious freedoms, even if they are under the umbrella of public health and safety. It is the responsibility of governments (as well as individuals) to look after the health and welfare of it’s communities. I’m honestly not advocating for church services as much as the family of God being allowed to gather and sing in some capacity.
From my perspective
As a former pastor and even worship pastor, I have some opinions on this for sure. However, even more so I would love to add one more reason why we need to gather and sing sooner than later (obviously within reason and keeping the health and safety of people in mind). Before you respond and tell me, “I sing and worship in my living room, or car.” You know it’s not the same! As incredible as the worship team is at my home church (and I’m sure there are many other great expressions online), it pales in comparison to the live experience of singing with others.
Teaching is not the same (although I do enjoy it better live). Teaching is about hearing and receiving the Word and the vehicle of online works just fine for that, even though a case could be made for the public reading of the scriptures. Singing, on the other hand, has some serious limitations. Let’s be honest with ourselves, singing on your couch in your pjs just feels weird (although a lot more comfortable for sure).
Stating the Obvious
It’s important for me to state the obvious reasons for worship through singing for a moment, so please humor me. Otherwise, I will get a bunch of well meaning Christians telling me that I have my priorities out of place.
- The worthiness and goodness of God (see Revelation 4:9-11).
- We are called to assemble and worship together (see Psalm 150:1-6).
- Worship through singing benefits and encourages each other (see Ephesians 5:19). Paul says we need to express song not only to God, but to and for each other. Crazy thought, right?
- Singing is a form of sharing our stories of healing and celebrating what God has done (see Psalm 40:1-3).
- We have been given, through the sacrifice of many, the religious liberty to do so as a free society.
1 More Great Reason
The Covid-19 pandemic has created devastation beyond the loss of life (which is the most precious loss of all). We have seen devastation in the global economy as well as in the lives of small business owners and individuals. There is, however, a brewing problem that we will not fully understand, or realize for months and years to come. The spiritual and emotional health of families and individuals. Depression, suicide, domestic violence and substance abuse are all on the rise. For decades there has been a growing mental health crisis. This crisis is already severally under resourced and will only grow worse in the months to come.
More than just listening to worship, which is absolutely helpful to the encouragement and the health of our souls, there is one more great reason. Worship through singing is critical to our emotional well being and mental health. Even scientific research backs me up on this one. It is has been proven that signing, and specifically group singing can elevate your mood and relieve stress (2013 Time Magazine). It’s almost like God knew what he was doing when he created us.
Worship through singing also has the power to shifts our perspectives. Our attention is drawn away from self and elevates our receptivity to hope and resilience. When we worship through singing, it is almost impossible to be preoccupied (I said almost impossible, but it does happen). Actually the more you sing to God, the more our minds and our hearts calibrate toward connection and union with Him and even others.
Through singing together we aligns our hearts, minds and souls to God, our first love. When we are mentally and emotionally healthy, we begin to experience God more fully than when we are distracted and disturbed. A song sung at the right time and in the right season of life can be life changing – tell me I’m wrong!
ALERT… bad joke coming!
If the world thought us Christians were crazy and out of our minds before Covid-19…. just wait and see how crazy we get when we don’t get to gather and sing! So… take care of yourself and find some people to responsibly sing and worship God with… might just save your life!