by Brinnae Keathley
"Nothing drives truth or lies deeper into the human soul than music." — Chad Bruegman
Everyone is a worshiper; something holds supremacy in every human heart. What’s more, everyone is a worship leader; what is sovereign in our lives always makes itself known to those around us. We see this in music all the time. We hear songs about love and need and loss, and somehow they drive people to love something more, need something more, or feel a loss more deeply. There are worship leaders all throughout our society, and they’re all leading us to worship something.
If you’ve been around Red Rocks for a while, you’ve probably heard worship referred to as “words on steroids.” While this is an eccentric way to describe such an act of reverence, it’s also an apt way to bring focus to the power of putting motive to music, the place our music holds in the body of Christ, and the message our worship sends to the world.
Music has been used in every gathering of believers since believers have been gathering. Paul tells us to let the Word of God dwell in us richly by using music to admonish and teach each other (Colossians 3:16). He draws a connection between using psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs for exhortation to being filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:19). Music brings conviction, healing, realization, counsel, and peace. Our songs become prayers, supplications, and signatures of thankfulness. Like words on steroids, musical texts delve deep into the heart and reinforce the truths of God.
Songwriters and worship leaders have a responsibility to weigh what we sing against the truth of Scripture, and to continue writing and introducing material that teaches us about God’s character. Rarely do you hear people reciting lines from messages when a service is over. More often than not, they’re singing bits from a song, or humming a memorable melody. The best songs are sermons we can sing to ourselves long after the gathering is over.
As the church has evolved and taken new forms since the days of Acts, so has its expression of music. With every new movement, there is new music. For some this proves challenging, as emerging styles meddle with sentiment, and the contemporary seems contemptuous. Beyond preference or genre, the weight is in the text. Singing the words energizes their meaning to the soul, and what was once a line on a page becomes a mark on the human heart.
The majority of the time singing is mentioned in scripture; it’s in a collective context. There is power in combining our voices as a unified body. Just as the songs of Paul and Silas in prison broke chains and led to multiple salvations; words animated with music have gravity. Worship is the appropriate response for the individual and the community. When two or three gather and agree in faith, we have the presence and authority of Jesus.
We have an opportunity to share with our society what is truly worthy of glory. We know that what we sing matters, because music invigorates the heart to receive truth. In a room full of worship leaders joining their voices together in praise, we announce to the world that Jesus is worthy of the highest glory.
My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul.