When Bad Singing Is Good Singing

Edd Brashier is minister of music at Enterprise First Baptist Church.

As worship leaders, I think we have all at one time or another been discouraged when we have looked across our congregation and noticed those who weren’t singing. We may have even been a bit offended by their lack of spirituality.

However, several years ago I had a conversation with Mr. Magee, whom trained singers would have certainly considered a bad singer because he never opened his mouth in corporate worship. I thought that he had certainly grown up to believe that singing was not the manly thing to do, as it seemed so many others like him had unfortunately fallen victim to.

Now he had become an older senior adult and was still not participating in worship. The church I was serving had begun to experiment with the use of screens for Sunday evening worship.

After church one evening, Mr. Magee approached me and said, “Edd, I want you to know that I was not in favor of these screens, but because I have had such a hard time reading the words in the hymnal I find that I can keep my head up, easily see the words, and worship with words and music in my heart so much better.”

I didn’t think a lot about his comments at the moment, but I was glad to know that at least he was engaged.

But then one day I came across Ephesians 5:19. The latter part of that verse reads in the ESV: “…singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart.” I like the KJV better, which reads: “…singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”

What a stark reminder that our effective worship is a matter of the heart. As pleasant as it is to hear a choir, praise team or soloist sing with excellence, ultimately the Lord weighs the heart (Prov. 21:2).

Jesus even had a word to say about it in Matthew 15:8-9 (ESV): “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”

Yes, worship is a matter of the heart. I remind myself weekly that effective worship from the heart begins with my heart, so may we be faithful to prepare our hearts for worship that we may sing and make melody from our hearts and in our hearts to the glory of our great God!