I think we have all missed singing as part of our church worship. What a privilege it is to express in song our thankfulness and love for God; our faith in Jesus Christ; our hope for the future; our sorrow over sin; our commitment to one another, and a whole host of other truths we collectively believe. Due to government restrictions we cannot presently make a joyful noise to the Lord. In order to compensate, we have been playing corporate singing on YouTube so we can join in from the heart, even if not with our lips. It is a little bit like having a favorite meal waved under your nose to smell, but you cannot eat it.
The scriptures speak of the connection between what we say and how we think. The actual expressing of words is not the only important part of singing, but also the engagement of the heart. The Lord complains of Israel, “These people draw near with their mouths and honour Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me” (Isaiah 29:13). They say the right things, but they don’t mean them.
One of the pitfalls of contemporary church worship is the emphasis given to instrumentation. If a church lost its band, many would probably feel that they could not praise God adequately. Yet, the New Testament knows nothing of it. To those who point out various Psalms, they seem to overlook the Old Covenant context. That covenant was characterised by physicality – the temple, the priesthood, the sacrifices, the rituals etc. All of those elements have passed away as types and shadows; replaced by the anti-type. Why would we suppose that instrumentation remains? The New Testament is spiritual in nature not physical. There is no place given to instruments, song leaders, or choirs in corporate worship, only the expression of words from the heart.
John 4:23, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him”
Col 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord”
Is it therefore sinful to have a church band? I don’t think so, but I do think it is unnecessary. I think it easily becomes a distraction and detracts from the New Testament principle of simplicity in corporate worship. God is not concerned with loudness, the skill of musicians, or guitar solos, etc. He is concerned that we understand what we sing; that we mean what we sing; that we sing with our hearts set upon Him; that we sing to instruct and edify one another; that we sing in a spirit of oneness and unity.
At the present time we cannot engage our lips, but we can engage our hearts. Let us long for the time when we can come together to make a joyful noise to the Lord. Let us pray that He would restore this means of grace back to us once more, and that it might be a means through which He receives the praise of which He is worthy.