An Audience of One

“The purpose of music in the church is to prepare people’s hearts for the preaching.” This is a phrase that I have heard many times within the church environment in which I have grown up, and in which I serve. Wayne Hardy, pastor of Bible Baptist Church in Stillwater, OK, begs to differ. Here are some excellent words from Chapter Six of his booklet, The Great Exemption.

“I propose that preparing men’s hearts for the preaching is a necessary and precious by-product of a great music service, but not its primary intent. Further, I propose that a slightly altered view of the music in a service will further enhance the preaching time, not distract from it. We all know the dangers of a trend towards more music and less preaching, but should this not be attributed more to a weak pulpit, than an overbearing music program? That music overshadows preaching in some places says more about the preaching than it does the music....

“Take a moment to consider the prospects of using the music service to point men to God, not to the preaching. Suppose the song service was used primarily to provoke great thoughts of God. Using some of the great hymns with lyrics unequalled by modern pens can leave one in awe of God’s faithfulness or majesty....

“In the music service we might do a greater good to follow the example of the model prayer. Hallow his name first and foremost through music that recognizes Him for who He is, then the preaching comes through with great power to request that God speak to us and move us....

“This might involve a clarification from the pulpit that puts the immediate focus of the first thirty minutes of a service back on the Lord. Pastors could get settled into their place giving the Lord His due through singing rather than shaking hands with visitors or noting absentees. Musicians would be driven to greater excellence by sensing an even nobler call to point people solely toward Him, rather than the next part of the schedule. This mentality often causes people to be more deliberate about every part of the service because they believe it directly impacts Him and serves as a vital part of the service” (p. 15-16, emphasis mine).

As musicians who serve God in the local church, we need to remember that God is our audience. Our goal is to praise Him. Our hearts must be directed to Him, that the hearts of the congregation may also be directed to Him. We must sing for an audience of One.

Buy the booklet here:

Lancaster Baptist Church Campus Bookstore


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