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Sing for Joy

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  1. A helpful re-education Review / Tip by Liz P

    I'm reviewing the Interactive Bible Study book "Sing for Joy" , for Matthias Media.

    The book contains six studies that should be able to be completed in an hour, if preparation is done. For the purpose of this review I worked through the studies with Mark (hubby). The study assumes that participants are going be using the ESV.

    On the whole, the study is aimed towards people who have a certain attitude towards church music, or come with a specific set of beliefs that are popular in Pentecostal and Charismatic churches. It aims to address these misconceptions Biblically and present a Biblical view of music and how it fits into the life of a church. If you happen not to be one of these people who fall under this category, there is still wisdom to be gleaned from this study guide.

    Study 1: What is church and why do we sing there?

    This study, and the whole study guide, is meant to be an overview of what the Bible says on the topic of singing, rather than a complete, comprehensive look at every applicable passage. I felt there was a good balance between Old and New Testament passages. There were a few questions, however, where we struggled to find the answer, and there are no notes for leaders included. It wasn't that we didn't know the answer, or didn't understand the topic, but there were a few times when we felt that the passage read didn't directly relate, or answer, the following questions. There was also one question in particular that we felt was poorly worded, as we weren't certain what the question was asking (from a few options).

    In the end, the first study helped me to appreciate the music team at our service even more.

    Study 2: Praise Be To God

    In the second study, we read different songs from the Bible. We looked at who they were addressed to, who sang them, and what the purpose of these songs was (were they thanking God, teaching Israel, rejoicing in being rescued etc). This section of the study took a long time and I think it was too long to be studying in a group setting. I'm all for reading long passages of the Bible, but there were many passages over 30 verses long, and questions to answer about each of them, plus further study questions also. I can't fathom a study group getting through the study in an hour.

    One of the later questions, I felt, took a verse out of context which then had a different meaning when looked at in the context of the wider passage.

    On the whole, it was a good, enjoyable study, especially done with only two of us. It has made me think about the songs we sing at church more, and come to my own conclusions as to what we should sing about in church and also why certain songs have stood the test of time.

    Study 3: True Worship

    The third study started off with an anecdote about a church culture that I have been quite familiar with in the past - the common assumption that "praise" music was fast, upbeat music that makes you want to clap, and "worship" music was slower music that made you want to raise your hands.

    The study then made a brief overview of what worship looked like in the Old Testament, before running through some Greek words that are translated as "worship" in the New Testament. We also looked at how Jesus fulfilled all the sacrifices and offerings required by the Old Testament.

    There was one sentence in the summary at the end of the study that I thought was wrong, and wrong enough to be worth mentioning - "Therefore, everything we do is an offering of worship." I disagree as I am sure our sin is not an offering of worship. Our whole lives and everything we do SHOULD be an offering of worship, but they are not, because we are sinful.

    On the whole, it was a good study, that created some good discussion.

    Study 4: The Function of Church Music

    We actually completed the fourth study across two weeks because we were a bit short for time, but the study was separated into two parts, with discussion about implications in the middle and at the end.

    Ultimately, we felt that this study was really let down by poor wording. One passage could be interpreted to mean that it's inappropriate for us to sing to God in private. Other questions would have been improved by the omission of the word "ultimate" as the ultimate goal for every part of our lives is to bring glory to God. Which is not the answer the question was looking for.

    So far, I really feel that the study was written AGAINST a certain denominational group, rather than FOR people to learn - and that bias impacts the whole study book (thus far).

    Study 5: The Gift of Musicians
    This and the final study are targeted towards people who serve in church music teams, but there it is still beneficial for everyone to learn about these things.

    This study looked at the different issues surrounding who should play music in a church service, who has authority over the song choices, and how to decide if someone is an appropriate addition to a church music team. The study had fewer sections of prose, and fewer Bible readings but a lot of questions and, specifically, case-study style questions to help the readers apply the principles to real-world situations.

    Study 6: Music and Lyrics
    The final study looked at the music and lyrics of songs and how they can work together to make a great song that is edifying for the church.

    Two songs, one hymn and one modern church song, had their lyrics written out in full, with Bible passages written next to them, that corresponded to the words and themes in each portion of the songs. We also discussed whether there are parts of Scripture that are more suited to singing ina corporate setting, and why. The study also discusses the tone that the music brings and how it can emphasise or detract from the lyrics and ultimate message.

    I think this would be most beneficial for members of a church music team. (Posted on 3/07/2013)

  2. Better for a group study than individual Review / Tip by Shelby Burk

    Title: Sing For Joy: 6 Topical Bible Studies for Small Groups and Individuals
    Author: Nathan Lovell
    Date I Finished Reading: December 9,2012
    My Rating: 4/5
    The following is this books description from the publisher’s website:
    Music and singing are wonderful gifts from God that seem strangely destined to cause frustration and grumbling in Christian churches around the globe. Why does something so good create such problems, and what does God have to say to us about our singing?
    Sing for Joy is a set of six studies that look at what the Bible has to say about why we sing and how we sing as God’s forgiven people.
    This book will help you to delve into the Scriptures to think about the nature of praise and worship and how to encourage each other as you sing together.
    The final two studies are particularly targeted towards those in music ministry, to help them think through the implications of what the Bible has to say about music for their role in serving the body.
    An ideal study book for individuals and small groups.
    Singing. We all do it at some time or another. It is one of my personal favorite ways to praise God. But what about singing in church? Is this really necessary? Is there particular guidelines for us to follow? What genres of music should be used? In this resource, Nathan Lovell discusses congregational worship. He talks on why it is important, what our mindset/ heart should be in worship, and how we should approach it.
    This resource was written with the intent for making it excellent for both small groups and personal studies. I read it on my own, but I think that it would be even better for a group study and discussion, especially for a praise or worship team. It is divided into 6 studies, or chapters. Each one consists of the authors thoughts, scriptures, discussion questions, reflections/implications, and particular things to pray for concerning you and your church’s worship.
    The studies discuss many different aspects and issues concerning worship. They discuss the heart of worship, such as what should motivate our worship and how we should mentally approach it. The author supports his facts with scripture, and the provided questions make you think of passages in a new light, or from a different perspective.
    One particular fact that he discusses that I found interesting is the error in the mindset that praise or worship brings you into the presence of God. He explains how we are consistently and constantly in the presence of God, and that praise and worship either makes us more aware of his presence, or encourages us to act upon it.
    As I read through this I was encouraged to think on and evaluate my mindset on worship, and my eyes were open to a few errors in my way of thinking. However, I do think that you would get MUCH more out of the study if you went through it with others, so that they could encourage more thoughts, and conversations concerning the topics. (Posted on 9/12/2012)

  3. Great set of studies for music team health! Review / Tip by Rozzy B

    Sometimes being part of a church music team/worship band is an inspiring and encouraging thing, something you absolutely enjoy and look forward to. But other times it can become a bit of a drag, unfortunately! And if you are the leader, and you are experiencing the latter emotions, then oh dear! This is not good news for anyone, especially the congregation. Something needs to change and fast.
    What to do?
    The Cambridge online dictionary defines “a shot in the arm” as something which has a sudden and positive effect on something, providing encouragement and new activity. And that is precisely what I believe this great little set of 6 bible studies can do for you.

    The study book “Sing for Joy” written by Nathan Lovell (2010) is produced by the insightful people at Matthias Media, as part of a range of Interactive Bible Studies. It would be a great shot in the arm for a flagging music team (or leader) as they work through it with others, in order to re-energise and refocus. It would allow you to raise and explore all those tricky issues about the behaviour and motives of church musicians/music in an unthreatening manner. Each study is around 8 pages long (in 60 page study booklet).

    Here is a sampling of the topics you will discuss while diving into God’s Word together:
    #1 What is Church and Why do we sing there? – looks at music as a natural expression of joy, and why singing is the right response for God’s gathered people.
    #2 Praise be to God - looks at the nature of biblical praise, the songs of the Bible, and how we praise God in ways other than singing.
    #3 True Worship – traces different meanings of the word “worship” and the implications for how God’s people serve in the Old and New Testament eras. The ideas of worship and sacrifice are explored through the texts of Romans 12 and Hebrews 12-13. Connections are drawn between true praise and true worship.
    #4 The Function of Church Music – looks at the many different ways music benefits God’s gathered people.
    #5 The Gift of Musicians – explores what it means to be gifted musically, and how to be a servant-hearted leader as a musician, rather than a self-focused one.
    #6 Music & Lyrics – considers the importance of song lyrics which should “continually refocus our mind on Christ, teach us His Word and remind us of what he has done for us” (p.57)

    One of the most useful and simple definitions given in these studies regarding the purpose of church singing was this: “we sing in church because we are rejoicing over who God is and what He has done for us. Our singing is a response to the Gospel – an extravagant, joyous response to our God who has delivered us from our enemies, redeemed us for Himself, and gathered us together as his people” (p.35)

    Describing church musicians as both servants and leaders was a really interesting approach, and a really useful one I think.
    “Like it or not, musicians are in the role of leadership within our congregations. It has always been this way. In David’s day there was a band consisting of 120 trumpets as well as cymbals, harps, lyres and a whole tribe of singers (2 Chronicles 5:12)! They dressed up in fine linen and stood apart from the rest of the congregation and led them in praise. What a spectacle that must have been!” (p.47)

    We will definitely be discussing that at our next team meeting! You can order these studies by following this link to Matthias Media. I am sure they will help get your whole music team back on the same page. . . and singing from the same score! (Posted on 28/08/2012)

  4. Avoid dischord! Review / Tip by David Burke

    Sing for Joy, Matthias Media 2010. Available from:

    I confess that I can’t sing. What’s worse, I failed when a skilful music director tried to train me to sing somewhere near on-pitch (‘stand at the back and mime’ was the last ruthless word when I was pressed-ganged into a ministry leaders’ choir).

    However, I love the musical part of church gatherings and think it a taste of heaven to stand with a large number of God’s people and sing songs of admiration, thanks, praise, encouragement, dedication and similar. As a preacher, I am often lifted to a pulpit-ready high by music that has been chosen to mesh with the service theme and which is well presented.

    Music and singing also have a dark side. They readily promote conflict in churches and are often the front line of the worship wars as the battle over psalms, hymns and spiritual songs reaches new depths of dischord. Singing in church is also a topic when Bible-driven thinking is often replaced by the imposition of personal opinions, sloppy sentimentalism or mainly musical values.

    Sing for Joy is a series of six small group topical studies designed to help careful thought about singing in church. Each study includes sections of Bible text; questions to help probe the Bible; supplementary notes to give background and related comment; questions to help tease out the implications; and suggestions for prayer.

    This is a great help to help think Biblically about singing in church and it joins some other resources that cover the same field. As a study book, Sing for Joy should help people go a step further. We often only talk about these matters in the setting of an argument or when trying to take a decision. This study book could enable a calm discussion that can help avoid arguments and inform better decisions.

    These studies could be well used as a filler series by small groups, or when a church is about to change its musical repertoire. Likewise, they could form the base of a good in-house learning programme for members of choirs and worship committees.

    (David Burke has been singing in church for many decades and values those who are ruthless in the pursuit of excellence in church music.)
    (Posted on 2/03/2012)

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