The Baptist churches I grew up in could be counted on to follow the biblical standard for church worship services. (It had to be biblical, or why would every Baptist church do it the same way?)
After someone made the necessary announcements, either the choir would sing its “Call to Worship” or we’d sing a hymn or two (out of the Baptist Hymnal – the repository of all songs holy enough to sing in church). There would be a pastoral prayer with the appropriate references to thee and thou to demonstrate awe. Hymns were led by a nicely dress man in a white shirt, tie and dark suit as Moses commanded. Then we would take up the offering after the gift and the giver were appropriately blessed. Then, just before the sermon, someone would bring us “special music.” It could be solo, or a duet or a quartet, but special music preceding the sermon was mandated somewhere in the Bible, even if can’t exactly show you the reference.
I’m not sure why special music is so special. I guess that differentiated it from normal congregational singing. And we still have it pretty frequently. But I have noticed that, at least at our church, we are blessing our congregants with special music less frequently all the time. Why? I see these reasons why we are having less frequent special music.
1) A reaction to the American Idol culture.
I used to love watching the tryout shows for AI, in which people who would not be welcome in the church choir believe with all their hearts that they should be the next American Idol and are shocked when told that they aren’t good enough.
I’ve said this for years: far more people THINK that they should sing solos in church than actually should sing solos in church. But actually, our church has a lot of good singers and we could have a wonderful special every week.
2) A reexamination of the purpose of worship.
I heard a family member refer to the special music in her former church as “Christian Karaoke” – someone singing badly to a recorded song. It is hard to judge another’s motives when they sing, but it is seldom that I am deeply moved to worship during a solo or special music. It happens. But it often feels (and I use that word because it is a personal view that does not have biblical authority) more like entertainment.
The young whippersnappers who lead our contemporary music are not into special music. They tend to think that music should be participatory, a group worship experience. I don’t think they are adamant about it, but it is certainly their preference.
The curse of modern Christianity is the one-hour worship service. You just can’t do what you need to do in that time, so we cut stuff out. If we cut out the special, that’s three or four more minutes for me to preach!
Talk Amongst Yourselves
So, this is a discussion forum here.
1) Does your church still have “special music” on a regular basis
2) Do you have bad singers who want to bless the congregation? What do you do with someone who wants to sing, but sounds like a crow being tortured?
Should we let everyone “bring a blessing” even if it leaves the congregation’s ear drums pounding? Or can we say, “you aren’t good enough to sing for the church!”?
3) Is there something about “specials” that tends to glorify the singer or singers and how can we keep the focus on God?
Tell me what you think. Or, maybe you could just record a solo and send that to us.