Week in and week out, in various times and places, Christ-followers gather to celebrate the victory of Christ and the glory of God in what we call a worship service. Typically, the service is about an hour to an hour and a half long. These gatherings often consist of preaching, musical worship, sacrament, and other verbal communication.
At College Park Church, we contextualize this basic format on how we sense God leading. So, using our church’s seventy-minute service as a model, this is roughly how activities in the worship service break down:
- Sermon: 33 minutes (47%)
- Music: 25 minutes (36%)
- Sacrament, prayer, and other verbal communication: 12 minutes (17%)
The Components of a Worship Service
Let’s dissect what we see here. Considering what we know about Christianity, it should make sense to most people that a sermon (where the Word of God is preached) is essential to the gathering of believers. Sacrament and prayer are also determined as essential to the Church according to Jesus’s commands (Matt. 28:18-20), Paul’s teachings (1 Cor. 11:17-34), and the examples from the early Church in the book of Acts (Acts 1:14; 2:41; 4:24-31).
How (and Why) Does Music Play a Role in Worship Services?
You’d likely agree that verbal communication, in addition to preaching, is also necessary for practical understanding of a service. But you may wonder: Is musical worship important to our weekly gathering? Why is around 40 percent of a gathering time at College Park dedicated to singing? Does worship through music deserve/need this much time?
I am here to argue yes! As I see it, there are four main reasons why music is in fact worth devoting corporate time to.
The Bible Exemplifies & Demands Musical Worship
If you’re reading this article and you are a follower of Christ, you probably could’ve guessed that in Bible, we read that we are called to worship musically and we can read many examples of musical worship. The primary reason why we sing and use music as a means of worshipping God in the Church is because he calls us to do so!
Time and again, we see musical worship exemplified in the Bible (Ex. 15; 2 Sam. 22; Luke 1:46-55) and even commanded by the authors of the Bible (just take a gander at the book of Psalms). In each case, it is portrayed as a means of worshipping God. In the New Testament, we see the early church commanded by Paul, a great apostle, to “sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” (Col. 3:16).
Music in Worship Helps Us Remember Theological Truths
Have you ever noticed that it’s easier to memorize song lyrics than Scripture? Putting music to words is a helpful tool that the Lord has given us to help us remember truth about him. Just think about how many song lyrics you can remember. Probably hundreds. . .if not thousands!
Even those of who may not consider themselves “musical” can still get a catchy tune stuck in their head if they hear it enough. How great that we can get catchy tunes stuck in our heads that also communicate truths of our God! Reciting the truth of God through music can help solidify it in our heads, remind us who God is and what he has done for us in Christ!
Music Is Congregational
Other than sacraments, music is the only other part of a worship service that allows for full, simultaneous participation. In other words: we can all do it together, at the same time! Not only this but when we do sing together, our hearts and minds are united in a way that is only possible through music! When we sing along with our fellow brothers and sisters, we collectively affirm the same message about God. Think of it like a spoken creed. These statements of faith help us understand who God is and proclaim who we know him to be.
Music Is Vibrantly Expressive
If we could rank the ways in which we express what we believe in a worship service by how much we really mean them, singing tops the list. We ascribe to a certain set of beliefs by simply being a member of a church; we might even affirm what a pastor says during a worship service with an “mmm” or an “Amen!” Your church might even recite a statement of faith together as a body that describes what your church believes.
However, singing combines statements of thoughtful faith with emotion. Music expresses belief in a way that is emotional. Through singing, we learn how to tie our head-knowledge to our heart-knowledge. In this way, music can aid the Christian in expressing what he or she believes in a way that simply can’t be done by any other means.
So, Why Do We Need Music in Worship Times?
Let’s recap. Ultimately, musical worship serves a purpose in worship services for a variety of reasons! It offers an opportunity for Christians to obey what the Lord commands by reciting theological truths alongside their brothers and sisters in Christ. In this way, music is powerful: it helps us remember God’s truth, and it is the congregation’s heartfelt expression of true belief. All in all, it is well worth the time of the corporate body.