I’d like to introduce you to a college intern here at Chapel Hill Bible Church, Daniel Kang. As someone I’ll get to work with every week throughout his year at UNC, I’m eager to see him grow and develop life-long ministry lessons in the context of discipleship and care here at CHBC.
I’ve asked him to share something via our CHBC blog this week that I think would benefit ALL of our Life Groups here at the Bible Church.
A Call to Sing in Life Groups
As we go through the Psalms, I can’t help but think about the impact that this book has had in my life. Capturing every range of the human experience, the Psalms are more than an intellectual exercise but a powerful emotional adoration of God. As Timothy Keller says in his devotional book The Songs of Jesus, “… [the] psalms were not simply read, but sung, they penetrated the minds and imaginations of the people as only music can do.” Designed to be sung in unison with the Church, the Psalms are meant to be sung with the people whom we worship God with.
While CHBC certainly sings to each other on the corporate level on Sunday mornings, I believe to truly gain the full experience that the Psalms will lead us to, we need to be singing to one another and principally to God in our Life Groups.
But why should we sing in our Life Groups? Isn’t corporate worship good enough? Why do we have to sit next to each other and gasp HEAR ONE ANOTHER SING???? I will make the case why we should sing songs in Life Group through two primary reasons: worship and suffering.
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.Colossians 3:16-17
Firstly, Paul commands us to worship God through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. At CHBC, we have a rightful and needed focus on worshipping in the daily life; represented by Colossians 3:17. However, we cannot forget that Paul also commands us to sing to God with gratitude in our hearts. Because Paul wrote to the early church, which had a similar structure to our Life Groups in terms of setting, numbers, and intimacy, Paul’s command to sing stands for us and our Life Groups.
The best way to understand why Paul emphasizes the importance of singing is by looking at how a small-group addresses suffering. Currently, our Life Group model is one that focuses on an intellectual discussion of the sermon. While this model works, it lacks the resources to address the soul who is suffering with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26). Sufferings so deep, that Christian phrases about God and in the midst of the suffering seem empty and hollow to the soul because it fails to hold up to the downcast soul’s circumstances.
However, singing praises to God forces any soul, downcast or not, to worship and adore God. Singing praises forces us to remember the unbreakable promises of God, it forces us to remember that It Is Well, Great Is Thy Faithfulness, that He will restore unto us a clean heart. Singing gives us a way to say “Jesus is Lord” even when our lives are as turbulent as the seas of Galilee (1 Corinthians 12:3).
Life Groups are designed to be a vulnerable place where the highs and lows of our members can be expressed and met. Cultivating a culture in which we teach and admonish one another to say and remember the truths of the gospel is difficult. And singing in a small group is difficult as well. However, we need difficult changes to live up to the standard we are called to bear each other’s burden and to exhort one another every day.
While there is an absolute need to be orderly in worship to follow Paul’s command in 1 Corinthians 14:40, we are offered a lot of freedom in Christ in how we worship. So, let each member of the Life Group bring something to offer up praise to God, a hymn, a guitar, a question, or a voice (1 Corinthians 14:26).
Finally let us remember that ultimately the Psalms were the songs of Jesus. From his birth, when the angels sung “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased (Luke 2:13-14), to his deaths when he cried out “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani,” evoking Psalm 22, every Psalm is ultimately about Christ. It is through hearing and singing the Psalms that we can enter into the reality of seeing God, not as we want Him to be, but as He is; which will inevitably lead to worship and praise. The Psalms are indeed, The Songs of Jesus.