Everyone who attended last night’s devotional at Bear Valley seems to share the sentiment that it was tremendously uplifting. The theme was timely, the songs, scriptures, and prayer reinforced it, and the men who led, to the man, did so with apparent passion and skill. Each moment was “savory” and satisfying. Everyone surely felt closer and closer to the throne of God with each successive moment. Yet, there was one moment I want to isolate which I particularly appreciate. Bob Turner led us in “Will You Not Tell It Today?” and encouraged us to do something “interactive.” He asked us to stand and face the section across from us (we cordoned off the “north side” so that we all were seated in the center and south section of pews). Then, he told us to look at each other and sing to one another, especially since this song was a profession of intent written to be spoken to one another.
No doubt for expediency and orderliness, churches more than a century ago adopted pews for a seating arrangement. Perhaps it facilitates an optimal arrangement for seeing the preacher as he delivers the sermon. Yet, it has created a few circumstances in our singing that could be deemed unfortunate. It has isolated us in our singing. We are typically tunnel-visioned, almost as if with blinders on our faces. Perhaps we are staring at the back of the heads in front of us and maybe looking at the song leader, but we are not in a position to see one another. Also, we have buried our faces in the “pages.” I say that because whether a congregation uses a songbook or projects songs on a screen, we have become conditioned to fixing our gaze on that rather than each other. That means burying our heads in a book or riveting our focus on the paperless hymnal. Hasn’t it made us uncomfortable, in many cases, with actually looking into the faces of our brothers and sisters while teaching, admonishing, and encouraging through song?
I am grateful that Bob had this idea. It is hard to describe the joy and encouragement felt when looking into sincere, smiling faces of fellow Christians in the midst of worshipping our God and also speaking to one another in song. I encourage God’s people to consider incorporating opportunities like this into the worship, to facilitate the command of “speaking to one another” (Eph. 5:19) and “teaching and admonishing one another” (Col. 3:16) “with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” The effect may pleasantly surprise you!