No, this is not a 30 day miracle meal plan that is guaranteed to drop you 50 pounds or your money back. We do, however, need to be aware of the diet that our souls experience through musical worship. It’s easy to see how a steady diet of accurately and powerfully applied preaching can nourish us spiritually, but what we sing also feeds us! This truth is often overlooked, but it’s so important. Our songs must be Scripture saturated and gospel focused, or else we put our congregations on a road to bad spiritual health.
Think about it, we only have four to six songs a week to get in as much truth as we can, to expound and rejoice in the good news, to use to lead in repentance, and to magnify God through Christ. It can’t just be any five songs right? Here are some things that ought to be considered when we go through picking songs to sing: Is it theologically accurate? Is it a theologically nourishing song that feeds the body, yet is clear enough to understand? Does it portray the gospel and fill a gospel (liturgical) role in the service? Does it stylistically unify us enough so that all can sing it once it is learned? Does the music serve the text and communicate it well?
Why do we ask such things? Because we are what we theologically eat, and thus we must be careful about what goes into our hearts. If you constantly eat fast food three times a day, you will become extremely unhealthy and notice the difference. On the other hand, if you continually eat well, it may take some time but you will notice good things happening to your body.
Spiritual food is the same way. If the songs we sing are contributing to a steady diet that fosters a love for God and others, then we will notice a difference in the way we think and act. That’s because what we sing does not only articulate what we believe, it actually shapes us over time. Imagine if we were constantly singing happy songs that told us God always physically rewards those who he loves. It would not only reveal what we think about God, but it would be hard for us to endure trials. That diet could even drive us to doubt God’s love when trials come. In other words, we’ll eventually believe what we constantly sing.
Now, does this mean that if a song is “simpler” lyrically, than it’s bad? Not necessarily. As long as the song has a defined role in a well planned service, simpler songs or choruses can be a powerful time to repetitively meditate on a truth. Just don’t confuse shallow for simple! Scriptural truths can be said well and said simply while avoiding the sappy, mind-numbing Christian clichés that would look better on a fridge magnet. The point here that a simple song still ought to have a clear purpose that it serves in a service. We ought to be telling the gospel in every service through our singing. If a simpler song contributes meaningfully to telling that story, then our people have been faithfully served.
The sooner we realize how important this is to our spiritual health, the better. So let’s dig in this Sunday. Let’s be “active singers”, fully engaged in what we’re singing and letting it shape us. Let’s put songs in front of our congregations that tell them what Story they are living in and what their response to it should be. Let’s ask God to change our spiritual taste buds to desire the healthy stuff so that we may believe what we sing and be changed by it. May Christ dwell in our hearts through faith, and being rooted and grounded in love, may we have strength to comprehend what is the breath and length and height and depth of the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that we may be filled with all the fullness of God (Eph 3:14-21).