If Your Church Eliminated Singing, Would You Find a New Church?

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About Jim

Not For Itching Ears is a blog dedicated to discussing the American Evangelical church. It is a place for people to share their thoughts on a host of issues relating to this subject. Jim is available to speak at weekend services, and retreats at no cost to churches in Florida. Contact us for more information.

Posted on January 17, 2015, in Christianity and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. Throughout the Bible songs and music is part of worshiping and praising God. Even some of the Psalms are songs. If that isn’t part of the service, to me it just wouldn’t be a “total” church experience. I have a feeling you are asking a trick question here and will follow it up with another interesting angle. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • No trick here Sue. It is just a poll to see how people important singing actually is to people in the church. Surprisingly, around 60% of people would not leave their current church if it eliminated singing from the service. I find that very, very interesting.

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      • Hmmm I find that pretty interesting, too. Social gatherings? Clicks? Following a pastor? It would be interesting to see why they would stay. To hear just a sermon we can turn on the radio. lol Thanks for your reply.

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    • Since apart from eating/fellowship, singing is the ONLY aspect of how we practice our faith HERE that continues on into the Kingdom-come, to ignore it’s centrality would be detrimental. On top of that, I can’t remember but maybe 2 sermons I’ve ever heard in my life, but the songs I’ve sung? That’s how TRUTH gets into one’s heart. To cut that from church, would mean that church would an important part of it’s corporate identity. Call me “out” – I’d go elsewhere at the mere MENTION of the idea.

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      • Hi Saint Lewis!

        Thanks for taking the poll. I have been surprised by the number of people who would stay at their churches. I thought the more people would see it the way you see it.

        I may offer another poll that slightly modifies this one: If your church cut the singing time by 50% or more, would you stay or go. I have a hunch that most people would stay.

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  2. Hi Jim. Until recently, I would have voted to remove all singing from the church. Personally, I love the preaching of the Word. It was not until I spent some time searching Scriptures to see just how significant coming to God with a song was that I realized our Father must be as appreciative of our singing as most are being involved in it. I speak here of course of those who participate, recognizing a large portion of every congregation remains dormant during the singing. What is interesting is to find that song or psalm or singing in a prison cell has always been an important part of worship… which led me to first repent, then begin to really focus on the words of each song while deliberately singing them directly to God. He is worthy of all praise, and I believe it is important for us to offer these praises and adoration for Him in every manner available to us. Interesting poll… and by the way, sing a little louder in service this week; you;ll be surprised how many will join in when they realize someone else is singing. 🙂

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    • While I don’t disagree with anything you said here MT, I think a compelling argument can be made that we spend too MUCH time singing in church. Still, removing singing from church services would be a mistake in the wrong direction. I do find it interesting that roughly 60% of the people in the poll would stay at church if they got rid of singing. This mirrors what I have seen in over 40 churches, that for the most part, we are NOT singing.

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      • I know your heart Jim from much time reading behind you over here, and as usual, my input is merely an attempt to see the antagonist’s points. 🙂 However, what I wonder some times is not that we spend too much time singing in a service, but that we can’t get back to our cars fast enough on Sunday mornings (Dinner and a football game is beckoning). The ratio of singing to every other form of worship might not look so unbalanced if we had a true desire to worship, really worship… in prayer, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and the Word (Acts 2). We are probably long overdue a lengthy study of not only how much the early believers loved being together (DAILY), but were fully dependent upon one another. Maybe we’re also due a ration of Ezra as he reincorporated worship in the Temple… just saying.

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  3. If ( repeat if ) singing is supposed to be part of a Biblical church service, then the results of a poll would seem to be irrelevant. We could ask if one would leave if they didn’t like the donut selection. Its a very interesting topic to me — not being a jerk here. 🙂 However, when the survey includes 93,000 instead of 93 it will become more significant.

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    • Of course the poll is irrelevant! If a majority of the Christian church isn’t as excited about singing as the worship leader is, and would be OK if we gave less time to it, do you think the worship leader would listen? Probably not.

      I agree, 93,000 votes is better than 93. But when you consider that in customer service one complaint = 1000 people who hold the same view, then we are at 93,000 people sharing their views! 🙂

      Now, make sure you get out the vote!

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  4. It won’t happen in ours but I would start a singing small group during the week or on Sunday evening. There is plenty to sing about and several of us have ready willing and able voices, guitars and keyboards to instigate such a happening.

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  5. One of the most popular services at our church is the Celtic Contemplative Service, which involves no singing, but has a background of forest and birdsong (taped, of course). But we also have lots of people who can’t carry a tune, which might have something to do with it 🙂

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  6. I did vote. Its interesting how, at least on this topic, HolySoup.com is also weighing in. I just asked my wife is she wanted to sit with me up in the sound booth at church this morning. She can sing, but doesn’t think she can. Her answer was that she can’t sing there, and what she means is that as a casual singer, she prefers to have her voice hidden by dozens of others around her. She loves to worship and would probably vote to leave a church that didn’t worship with songs and singing, but it does remind me that most people probably view singing like she does. Having led worship in the past and played in various bands, I’m actually bothered when the band is so loud I can’t hear my voice when singing out in the pews .

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    • We write a LOT about this subject over here at NotForItchingEars.com.

      My personal observation, having been to over 40 churches in a 10 year span, is that we don’t like singing that much. Look around on any given Sunday and see how many people are NOT just standing out of respect and mouthing the words. It is a very small group of people who LOVES singing. Yet, we often give up to half of our service time to singing. Why the disconnect? It is because our seeker focused church models incorrectly believe that what unbelievers really want on a Sunday morning is to hear a pretty crappy rock band singing stale, meaningless songs.

      Now, I say this as one who was a senior pastor for over 10 years, a worship leader on staff at multiple churches and who is currently a full time musician. I love music and I love to sing.

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  7. I mentioned some of these blog posts to my worship pastor and he said ” we are a singing church.” I’d say our 500-adult church does have a significant number of enthusiastic singers, perhaps more than what you’ve observed Jim. As far as whether its time for the band-oriented service to die, I’m not sure yet. ( not that my conclusion would change anything )

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    • Of course he did!

      I challenge you on this one. Sit in the sound booth and look at the congregation while the band plays. What do YOU see? Are a majority of people passionately singing their hearts out to Jesus or are they going through the motions?

      Report back next week.

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  8. I look at the congregation all the time, whether from the booth or the pews. It varies. Many sing, raise hands, tap a toe, etc. Some are less animated but sing. Some don’t sing. Some stay out in the foyer until the sermon. What is also interesting is the sound level. I read a number of forums for church sound technicians and there seems to be a fascination with decibel level — as in loud. Its probably the younger engineers who think if you don’t hit 100 decibels you aren’t worshipping. But I digress.

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    • “I look at the congregation all the time, whether from the booth or the pews. It varies. Many sing, raise hands, tap a toe, etc. Some are less animated but sing. Some don’t sing. Some stay out in the foyer until the sermon.”

      That is pretty much what I see. I will say that I have delved very deeply into this “examine the congregation” thing. Everywhere I go, there are always a small percentage of people who seem to be really singing their hearts out, and a large majority of people who are not. I don’t spend the whole singing time looking around, but I do look around at key moments.

      Lately, I have noticed something that I had never noticed: Women are usually much more engaged in singing than the men are. I don’t know what to make of it, but I have noticed it at two completely different congregations. Why would women sing more than men?

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  9. I think I almost always see more women singing than men. One reason, already discussed to death, is worship leaders setting the key incorrectly for a typical congregation. I’ve butted heads many times with tenor/leaders who think the song has to be done in “chipmunk key” just like Chris Tomlin did it. Most men aren’t going to sing melody there, don’t know how to sing harmony and don’t like dropping down an octave ( as a baritone I’ve tried the octave thing but it usually means jumping back and forth ). But aside from that you have the whole “singing isn’t manly” problem, especially among men who have just barely stuck a toe in the door and aren’t at all convinced they’re hanging around.
    More than one pundit has said “do what you have to do to get the men and the family will follow” (without turning the service into the NFL or NRA hour 🙂 )

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  10. Song choice could also be affecting engagement by men. Which of these two would a young family man most likely respond to in his first months at church:
    1. I will boast – Paul Baloche https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBfOcJGEKUU
    2. All the way my Savior leads me – Chris Tomlin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKkDzII4s4s

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  1. Pingback: No More Singing? | Worship Links

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