We need to talk about your church singing…

barney and choirOk church. We need to talk. And before I begin, I want to acknowledge that what I’m about to address is not just something I’ve seen at my home church, but something I’ve seen everywhere. I think it’s a cultural thing, though it’s certainly running rampant through every one of our churches.

I want to talk about the fact that none of you know how to sing.

At least that’s what everyone says, and I assure you it’s not true. How can an entire church have twenty or less people that will admit they can passably sing, and even a few of those are quick to decry their lack of talent? It’s just not true, I tell you. Every Sunday I hear 250+ singing as a body at my home church and it sounds great. Sure, there may be a few out of tune voices out there, but they are covered by the abundance of in tune voices.

So, let’s talk about it. Somewhere, somehow, someone has fed the people of our churches two lies that I want to address.

The first lie is that you sound bad when you sing. Our ears have become so accustomed to auto-tuned, digitally refined, professionals on the radio, that we’ve forgotten what it sounds like when the average person sings. It used to be that communities and families would gather and sing for fun just to pass the time. Now, everyone seems embarrassed to even hum. So here’s the truth. I find that about 90-95% of people who claim they sound bad when they sing actually sound perfectly fine and have no problem matching pitch. The real problem is they’ve been fed the lie that to sing means they must emulate those radio-perfect voices they hear every day. You don’t have to do that, and anyone who says otherwise doesn’t understand anything about singing, so you shouldn’t listen to their opinion anyway. They’ve been fed the same lie, and they’re taking it out on you. I promise…you sound much better than you think.

So stop being embarrassed about singing. Stop cringing when someone else sings, even if it’s out of jest. Stop holding yourself and everyone else you hear to a radio professional standard. And stop robbing yourself and others of the joy that comes from singing from the heart.

The second lie is that you have to sound perfect to participate in the music ministry of your church. I’ve said it once and it bears saying again and again, I’ve never asked for good singers to sing in our church choir. For one, as I just laid out in the above paragraph, “good singer” is incredibly subjective. Most people are actually good singers, even if they won’t admit it. Your voice doesn’t have to be trained to participate. That would be like saying you can’t begin jogging for exercise simply because you don’t have the ability to run an Olympic marathon. You have to walk before you can jog, and you have to jog before you can run a marathon. And most of you jog just fine when it comes to singing. Likewise, you don’t have to be in peak physical condition to join the gym. The gym is where you train your body.

So, rather than think you have to be perfect to join your church music ministry, change your perspective. Church choir and your church music ministry is where we train singers. Your music minister is your coach. We will teach you to have confidence. We will teach you improved tone. We will teach you improved pitch matching. We will teach you harmonizing. And we will teach you music reading skills. When I call for more choir members, I’m not calling for the trained and the elite to participate. I’m recruiting for our training program.

I’m glad we’ve had this talk. Though you say you can’t sing, I want you to know that you really can. Don’t be ashamed of singing for our Lord. Don’t tell others you can’t sing. Don’t tell others they can’t sing. Instead, let’s all enjoy praising God with our voices. Embrace it, don’t be ashamed of it. God made us a singing people and a singing church, and that’s worth embracing.


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