When I was thrown into the social-distanced life of COVID, like everyone else was, I spent a lot of time thinking about my time on sabbatical, just a few months before we went into lockdown. Sabbatical had been a time of personal renewal and perspective, and in a lot of ways, it prepared me to live a quarantined life with my family.
What I realized was that I was relying too much on Sunday morning worship for my spiritual vitality, and because of that, my worship was suffering. I always knew "spending time with God" was important throughout the week, but like a muscle you use infrequently, my worship atrophied during the week and then lacked oxygen when I tried to use it Sunday morning. For most of my life, I would try to read God's Word and "talk to him" in prayer Monday - Saturday, but it never felt "natural".
Over sabbatical, I started to approach my weekly "time with God" more from the perspective of worship. Instead of simply trying to comprehend God, or do my duty of telling him things he already knew in prayer, I sought to celebrate my union with him in a "worshipful embrace" (Robert Webber's words). Worship became a dance between God's initiative and my response. Through daily rhythms of worship, we started to embrace God as a family not just with our minds, but as complete human beings. It felt a little odd at first, singing with just two people while our son screamed at us to play with him, or to name our emotions before we started pray, but God enters into our awkwardness in the same way he has entered into our sinful mess.
"The struggle is your worship."
I heard God speak these words to me very clearly during the forth worship service one Sunday evening. It is obvious, but we have all been wondering when "normal" worship will resume and the effects of COVID disappear. There's a weariness that many feel stuck at home, looking at a screen, or silently sitting by themself. Or maybe there's a weariness of jumping through a million ethical questions before you are able to meet with someone else in person. Or maybe for those who work for a church, there is a weariness of staring at a lifeless camera lenses and empty seats for over nine months. Or maybe your nose just hurts because you wear a mask all the time.
There is a deeper weariness though. It is a weariness that comes from one-direction digital conversations, from having to 'fill in the gaps" of changed relationships, of wondering if you've communicated successfully with someone over a text message, or from constantly evaluating your community from a distance. More than ever, it is easy to fall into judgementalism or fear of man. Without embodied communication, we are weary of maintaining connection with others, and worse, weary of maintaining a connection with God.
As the CCO seeks to engage college students through the hands of the local church, we have compiled a song list designed to strengthen the worship of student-led campus meetings as well as encourage unity amongst staff at CCO gatherings.
There are many great music resources for Christians, but selections that are singable for the average voice, yet artistically satisfying and theologically appropriate, are often hard to find. This is far from an exhaustive list of good songs to sing. Rather, this collection was submitted by the CCO community as recommendations for our worship and examples of different musical resources that fit in the context of our ministry needs for the 2020/21 academic year.
In an effort to preach (and sing) the whole Gospel, this year we have included Scripture references for each song. We also categorized them into three theological perspectives that provide context for how to use each song (Personal redemption, covenant people, and Kingdom labor) . The goal is that our singing would not just be a fun ritual, but that it would enable sincere worship for a diversity of students and ministries.
"Christians sing, it’s just what we do.”
Many Christians would agree with this statement, but most cannot explain why, and in a culture where singing is only one of many artistic expressions, it becomes harder and harder to make sense of historic Christian rituals and how they fit into worship. As we invite students and congregations into the Gospel within the context of local churches, helping them engage in worship is key to healthy discipleship.
“Worship" is a word Christians use a lot, but if asked what precisely it is, one gets different kinds of answers. In most cases, people usually just mean the “singing” portion of gatherings. As we seek to fulfill the Great Commission and bring people from all corners of the earth into the Church, there is a growing need to create an apologetic for the role corporate worship plays in the spiritual vitality of believers. Singing has traditionally taken up a significant portion of time in corporate worship, so without a robust understanding of why Christians engage in this public ritual and what actually happens when they do, there is little compulsion for people to unite themselves to local churches.
I do not aim to cover every aspect of Christian worship in this essay; that is much too large of a topic for just a few pages. However, there are a few areas of confusion specifically around singing that will greatly aid our ministry if we understand them better. We need to: 1) clarify what worship is at its very core, outside of singing, 2) describe how singing, specifically, is an act of worship, 3) define what singing is and how we engage with it, and 4) look at the effect singing has on us while we worship and what to expect when we do it.
Download the PDF to read the full article:
As the CCO seeks to engage college students through the hands of the local church, we have compiled a song list designed to strengthen the worship of student-led campus gatherings as well as exhibit CCO singing culture to campus staff and church partners. There are many great music resources for Christians, but selections that are singable for the average voice, yet artistically satisfying and culturally appropriate, are often hard to find. This is far from an exhaustive list of good songs to sing. Rather, this collection was submitted by a group of music leaders within the CCO community as recommendations for our ministries.
In an effort to preach (and sing) the whole Gospel, we have included four theological perspectives that provide context for how to use each song (personal redemption, corporate redemption, Kingdom labor, and work of Christ). The goal is that our singing would not just be a fun ritual, but that it would enable sincere worship for a diversity of students and ministries.
More about Daniel Snoke HERE.