Ministering in an increasingly secular culture simply means that the people we reach will often be biblically illiterate. It is a thrill to disciple such new Christians and watch God transform their lives. However, unraveling years of wrong thinking can present a unique challenge. This is no different in the area of music.
The work of sanctification radically changes every area of the believer’s life. The fruit of the Spirit replaces the lusts of the flesh (Galatians 5). But God is not interested is simply replacing the repertoire of new Christians; God is interested in reshaping our affections from the temporal to the eternal. If we are to see that kind of change in the hearts of the new Christians in our congregations, it will take more than just an exchange of repertoire. How can our music services develop the praise of new believers?
Choose Songs that Communicate Truth Powerfully
Truth is central to worship because worship is any obedient response to truth. Creatively expressing truth through music engages the mind and focuses the attention and emotions on the truth being communicated. This must be the first concern of our music, for if the truth in song does not impact our mind it will never impact our heart. Make the first priority of any song selection the quality of the text—its poetry, its imagery, its communicative power.
Prioritize Congregational Involvement
Corporate worship is not coming together to watch, but rather coming together to serve. Therefore, it is imperative that new Christians learn the importance of participation early on. Encourage them to sing. Explain why we sing. Equip them to sing passionately. Don’t be afraid to sing a song that speaks to the discouraged, confused, abandoned, and hurting.
Develop the Musical Abilities of Your Congregation
Many churches are guilty of using the gifts of the church while failing to develop them. We hear a talented singer or pianist and immediately involve them. Involvement, however, is only part of development. It is that part of development that depends mostly on the raw talent of the individual. Development comes by stretching the abilities beyond what is attainable by talent alone.
We will never develop a praising church without a specific plan to do so. Develop a comprehensive program for your children’s ministries that ensures they learn certain key songs of your church culture and beliefs. Provide your church family, choir, and musicians with skill training. Frequently emphasize the priority of congregational worship. Make good recordings of music available to your church, or simply provide a list of albums or artists that might be beneficial to their development.
Developing the praise of new Christians is a good work that demands discipline, the right beliefs, and a definite action plan.