Notes from FIEC Leadership in Lockdown webinar on Sung Worship When You Can’t Sing with John Stevens, Adrian Reynolds, Andrew McKenna, Aaron Johnson and Phil Moore.
1. There is much frustration that we are not able to sing when our congregations meet in person. Though not law, it is strongly advised guidance and 99% of British evangelical churches are observing that guidance as a way of loving others and being a good witness to their communities.
2. We want to be able to sing because the Lord has taken away our punishment. Singing flows from God dealing with our sins through the Lord Jesus Christ. This still remains true, God has taken away our punishment and so we should be glad and rejoice with all our hearts. We can take great comfort that though we can’t sing, the Lord is singing over us.
3. Guidance Update:
– Churches are not under a duty to display a QR code for Test and Trace.
– Local restrictions are affecting 25% of the population, preventing people to meeting in households.
– The penalty for breaking legal restrictions are increasing.
– Statistics show that infection, hospitalisation, and death rates are rising.
– Some SAGE advisors have called for churches to be closed but this is not a current policy for the government.
– More local lockdowns or national circuit breakers remain a possibility.
4. This is a difficult time to lead churches. Kevin DeYoung has written a great blog called ‘It’s a okay to be a pastor’ which is worth a read. Four encouragements to pastors: i) remember you are a pastor – love, care, preach, pray for flock under your care; ii) recognise the limits of your knowledge, influence and responsibility; iii) respect the authorities who rule – even if you disagree with their judgments; iv) resist the 24 hour news cycle.
5. Take care with the language you use. Using phrases such as ‘Government has banned singing’ is not helpful. Not true and prescribes motive.
6. Singing operates in different spheres. We sing to the Lord, to one another, and to ourselves. We haven’t lost everything, though it has been diminished. One-anothering is the big thing we’ve lost. Remember we are not just to offer up our praise and worship with our voices, but with our whole lives.
7. All singing is imperfect, and was before we were strongly advised not to do this. We are waiting a day when singing will be perfect, and this time is an opportunity to build that expectation.
8. We don’t want to lose the biblical place of singing. We don’t want to go back to the priesthood of some believers who sing on our behalf or to a consumer mindset where we passively engage in it.
9. Teach about congregational singing from God’s Word. Why do we sing as God’s people today? Why is it abnormal to only have some people singing? Phil Moore has done a 3 part sermon series on the topic of singing at Cornerstone Church in Nottingham.
10. Encourage the congregation to discuss the songs as well as the sermon. Give to congregation sheets with the song words on it so they can talk about the songs. [I’ve started to try and emphasise this with the ‘Hymn of the Month’ at Banstead Community Church which includes a kids talk on the hymn].
11. Promote family and household singing – see Getty Family Hymn Sing Live.
12. Current experience of sung worship in gathered churches isn’t great. Like having supermarket cola when you want the real thing.
13. Think carefully about how you introduce a song or hymn. What can you say to encourage the church? e.g. “Let us use this song to…”
14. It is probably best to have fewer song that normal when you meet.