Troublesome Topic: My Recommendations about Singing in a House Church Today

Here are some things we should be able to agree on about music during a time of worship:

1. We all know that music has often been a source of contention and division among church-goers.

2. We also know music is a powerful way to express emotion.

3. We all realize that not everyone likes to sing or is comfortable singing when others are around.

My starting point is that music and singing are not necessary for a house church meeting. Singing is not listed in Acts 2:42-47 as one of the important things that were done by the early church. Yes, it has a place and many people like music, but it is not essential.

Here are my recommendations about music and singing during a house church meeting:

1. Go with what the group prefers. If you have a house church that enjoys singing and can agree on the type of songs to sing or at least can find a balance that everyone is comfortable with, by all means make singing a part of your worship time together. However, if those in your house church are not comfortable singing in the presence of others or if there are wide differences in preferred music styles, simply encourage them to make music a part of their personal expression to God while at home or in their cars etc.

2. Do not allow music to become a point of contention or separation. Music in the Bible was first of all a personal expression of praise to God for what He had done. It was incorporated into times of publish worship (both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament) because the people involved knew similar music styles. As the church spread in the book of Acts, things got more tricky because of the language issues involved, but everyone knew Greek so it became a language that was often used in the churches just as it had already become the language of businesses.

We have made music such an important part of our worship time that many today think the word “worship” means music or is primarily associated with music. Wrong. The word “worship” used to be pronounced “worthship” because it was an expression of what God is worth to us. Music is only one of many ways to express to God what He means to us. I love music, but in my opinion, it is not necessary to have singing in a house church meeting in order for it to be a beneficial time together. If singing will create contention, division, or awkwardness for a number of your people, don’t sing; tell them to listen to and sing along with God-glorifying music at home.

3. Keep it simple and seek participants not spectators. If you are able to sing in your house church meetings because most of your people enjoy singing, keep the music simple. Don’t try to copy what big churches are doing with bands and song leaders. I have noticed many, many times that the louder the music is that comes from the platform of an organized “church,” the less the people in the audience sing. Also, the more people there are on the platform and the more instruments involved, the less the people in the audience sing. That is because they see what is going on up on the platform as a “show or performance” and they see themselves as spectators. We want them to participate but then we do things that encourage them to act like spectators. In one way, singing without instruments is good for audience participation. However, singing acapella also makes those who are not good at music even more uncomfortable than they are otherwise (hence point number 2 above).

In a house church today, some of the ways to encourage participation by everyone, or almost everyone, is to allow everyone a chance to choose a song that means something to them or one that blessed them that week. If they want to start the song, allow them to do so. However, encourage people to not pick the same song every week; that gets old.