Congregational Singing Seminar with Matt Merker
We had the joy of hosting a seminar with Matt Merker on Congregational Singing on 25 February 2023. Matt was in Texas, but thanks to technology, he was able to share with us via Zoom. About 30 participants gathered in Room 310 to learn together, while about 60 odd logged on via Zoom. We were encouraged that friends from other churches also joined us either in person or online.
Matt started out by establishing the importance of corporate worship and congregational singing especially in the Christian’s life. It may be strange to the world and we may be tempted to think of it as an individual’s act but firstly, he explained that singing is an act of love. Passages like Ephesians 5:18-20 show us that we are called to not only direct our singing to God, but also to each other. We are to sing God’s truths to each other. This is our ministry to one another.
Secondly, he also explained that the songs we sing matter. We are to sing biblical songs. Our singing and the preaching of the word are not two separate parts of the worship service. The sermon is praise. Great preaching is worship. Truths are proclaimed not just in the sermon, but also when we sing truths to one another. Matt also outlined some practical implications, e.g. how the pastors and elders can be involved and how we can pick out music. This was helpful for our pastors, elders and worship team as they do this weekly.
Lastly, Matt spoke on how we can foster congregational singing. He laid out 9 application points for us to consider. These were practical steps and principles that we can implement in our services and also practice as worshippers.
The session ended with a Q&A time and there were many great questions from the participants. The questions were varied, ranging from practical considerations to theological ones.
We asked some members about their reflections and thoughts from this session. Toshiyuki Mori, our worship deacon and also a worship leader said, "It was encouraging to be reminded that we were made to sing and make a joyful noise unto the Lord! As a son, a husband and a father, (I was also reminded that) finding songs that we can sing across the generations allows our homes to be filled with the simple but eternal truths of God’s Word."
Genieve Gan who attended in person, and also serves with our worship team as a drummer. She shared the following reflection:“I appreciated Matt's analogy of worship music likened to that of a diet. Just as how a balanced diet is important for physical health; a balanced choice of worship songs is important for spiritual health. We can't always have desserts that make us feel good, neither can we only worship with music that makes us feel good. Worship music encompasses all aspects, from shouting with joy and proclamation, to singing in the lows of lamentation. But we still sing. We still present this as an offering to God. Because when we sing together, we also proclaim the story of God's saving grace to those around us.
Sometimes we come to church with a heavy heart to sing. But we trust that in this process, God uses congregational singing to stir us up. Singing is an act of love. Even when we think we sing terribly, we still sing, and may God's Word be spoken. God gathers us for a mutual good. Let us then sing, together!”
What were some learning points that you gleaned from the session? How has that encouraged you to sing? If you missed this session, we highly encourage you to view it, and sing heartily when we gather together on Sunday!