Music Ministry Convictions

“We Exist to Make disciples locally and globally for the glory of God” (Matt. 28:18-20, Acts 1:8, Eph. 4:12)

At First Irving, the Music Ministry is committed to:

1. Exalting Jesus

  • We believe a faithful music ministry magnifies the greatness of God in Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:3; 2 Cor. 4:6) by the power of the Holy Spirit (Worship Matters, Kauflin). This makes our worship distinct from every other religion. It’s what makes us distinctly Christian. This conviction is not a scheme to diminish the Father’s glory or to avoid the Holy Spirit. God’s glory in the Trinity is a shared glory (Jn. 17:5). Thus, to glorify the Son is to glorify the Father and the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 4:5-6 makes clear that the glory of God (the Father) shines the brightest in the face of Jesus Christ, and John 16:14 says that the Spirit of truth will glorify the Son. So, as we exalt Jesus in our gatherings, we believe it is how we portray the fullness of the greatness of God, and we believe this is only possible by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

  • Practically, this means that we sing a great deal of songs that have the Person and work of Jesus gloriously depicted. So many of our songs will be gospel-centered because the gospel is all we have to boast in as Christians (Gal. 6:14, Phil. 3:7-8, 2 Cor. 10:17). Every spiritual blessing we possess has come from Christ taking our penalty of sin upon Himself, dying in our place on the cross, satisfying God’s wrath towards us, and from His victorious resurrection three days later! For many, the cross is only a symbol of death and defeat, but for followers of Jesus it is our victory and life (1 Cor. 1:23-25). Moreover, Christ’s death in our place makes Christian worship possible (Jn. 4:23, Heb. 4:16, 10:19-22). God receives, accepts, and delights in all of our imperfect offerings of praise each Sunday because Jesus is our perfect and permanent High Priest and Mediator (Heb. 7:24, 25 & 1 Pet. 2:5).

2. Singing Truth

  • We believe that to be faithful Christians, we need strong theology throughout the whole Sunday gathering. What we say about God really matters – His glory is at stake. Our desire as a church is to glorify God in all things (1 Cor. 10:31), and this includes our song choices. Moreover, every faithful church is called to make disciples (Matt. 28:18-20). The lyrics we choose to sing at First Irving will be truths that fill our people’s minds, and then in turn shape our people spiritually. We view corporate worship as spiritual formation. Colossians 3:2 calls believers to set their minds on things above, not just their emotions. In other words, when we sing together as Christians, part of what is taking place is a battle for the truth. This is a weighty calling for us in the Music Ministry!

  • This means that we want to avoid inaccurate, misleading, or unclear lyrics in our songs. Jesus in John 4:24 said that “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” This means that Christian worship must be rooted in, and flow out of, a right and true understanding of who God is. If churches are not careful about the songs they sing, they run the risk of worshiping a god of their own imaginations (like the Samaritans). Christian worship must be a beautiful progression of right thoughts about God that then lead us to feel right affections for God (Matt. 22:37).

  • Christians are those who still struggle with the ongoing effects of indwelling sin (Rom. 7), and therefore we can still easily be swept away by emotion that isn’t grounded in biblical truth (Jer. 17:9). Being emotionally moved is different than being spiritually changed. Spiritual change happens in us by the power of the Holy Spirit when God’s living and active Word renews our hearts and minds (Rom. 12:2, Col. 3:10). Therefore, the songs we sing should be rich in biblical truth (2 Tim. 3:16) so that true spiritual transformation can take place (Rom. 12:1-2).

  • Practically, we approach music pastorally and want to think carefully about themes and specific truths in songs that our people need to hear and sing to prepare them for the sermon, their upcoming week, and ultimately for eternity when they stand face-to-face with Jesus. We desire the songs we sing to be biblically accurate, theologically rich, and gospel-saturated. We avoid singing songs from churches and groups who distort the gospel and teach unsound doctrine. This is fundamentally a pastoral issue for us. The elders/pastors of First Irving feel called by God (Acts 20:28-30, 1 Pet. 5:1-4) to reflect the Chief Shepherd (Jesus Christ) by leading the members of our church to green pastures and still waters of truth that will nourish and feed them spiritually.

3. Congregational Singing

  • We believe that the biblical concept of praise is vocal and corporate. In the Old Testament, particularly when you read the Psalms, you find that when praise is being described it is referring to something being spoken out loud (rather than something personal in our hearts) and in the presence of the people of God (rather than alone at home). So, the pattern that we see in the Scriptures for praise is that it’s out loud (vocal) and corporate so that others can be edified by the testimony in the assembly (e.g. “God is faithful and abounding in steadfast love!”). Taking this a step further, one of the most significant ways that we see God’s people praising Him in Scripture is by singing (see Ps. 66:1-4) – and this is one of the primary ways that we praise God in our gatherings at First Irving.

  • In the New Testament, Colossians 3:16 and Ephesians 5:19 are such important passages about corporate singing. In these passages Paul effectively signs up every Christian for the choir! Every Christian is called to lift their voice in song (Even if others have told you differently!) because we are collectively edified by each other’s voices in corporate worship. We often don’t realize how important all our voices are, and that all throughout Scripture we are actually commanded to sing and praise God (about 50 explicit commands in Scripture for God’s people to sing). We counsel one another as we sing to one another in song (“teach and admonish one another” – Col. 3:16). By singing we “speak the truth in love” to each other (Eph. 4:15).

  • We can also say a bit more about why Christians sing here: Christians sing to reflect their triune God (the Father, Son, and H.S. are involved in singing in Scripture), we sing to remember the truth He has given to us (see Deut. 31:19-21), we sing to renew our minds in biblical truth (Col. 3:10-16, Rom. 12:1-2), and by singing we are led to rejoice in our Christ who has saved us (as we sing, the word of/about Christ should dwell in us “richly” or extravagantly – Col. 3:16)!

  • Practically, when we gather as a church body, we view every Christian present as an active participant, not just a passive spectator. Throughout church history the church regularly assembled to do “the work of the people” (liturgy), rather than watch the work of professionals. This is powerfully seen in Col. 3:16 and Eph. 5:19 as Paul commands every believer (not just leaders and pastors) to let the Word of Christ dwell in them (being filled with the Spirit in Ephesians) and then respond in singing to one another.

  • Regularly, we intentionally scale back our stage musicians and worship leaders to encourage congregational singing. We have found that if our music is too loud and over-powering from the stage, we can actually discourage the congregation from singing powerfully. In fact, every Sunday we desire that our church’s singing would over-power the band and song leaders! We also have a very bright sanctuary with large windows all around. We love that we can see and interact with one another in corporate worship and believe it actually helps us facilitate the picture we see in Col. 3:16 and Eph. 5:19 (“addressing one another” in songs).

4. Covenant MembershipUtilizing Members (not professionals)

  • We believe church members should occupy visible leadership positions within the Music Ministry. The way that we see and understand the church in Scripture profoundly shapes this conviction. Fundamentally, a church in the New Testament is an assembly (ecclesia) of believers; believers that have gathered to exalt and praise their gracious God, edify one another, and participate in the ordinances (Lord’s Supper and Baptism).

  • We welcome, hope, and expect non-believers to be present every time we gather as a church. We believe that one of the most powerful evangelistic opportunities that the Lord gives us is our corporate gatherings where non-believers will regularly hear the gospel preached, see the gospel shine through the Lord’s Supper and Baptism, and get to (in part) experience the gospel in our supernatural love for one another (John 13:35).

  • Practically, in our church we consider the role of song leaders and instrumentalists to be a weighty calling. James tells us that “not many of you should be teachers” (3:1) because our judgment will be stricter. We believe a church’s song leaders in many ways are teachers – they are weekly putting scripture and theology into the hearts and minds of congregants and often it is the music/lyrics that people leave remembering most. This is unbelievably weighty! This is something that must be stewarded well. It also means that at First Irving the elders/pastors of the church will be closely involved in the musical selections.

  • Our song leaders and instrumentalists are committed, covenant church members. Because they are set on a leadership platform every week, we expect them to be exemplary church members and possess high Christian character. More than that, it is our conviction that every person on stage who is helping lead the music is fundamentally a worship leader. In other words, as they worship the Lord themselves throughout the service, they lead others to do the same. Non-believers cannot worship God because they haven’t bowed down to or surrendered to Christ yet, and they don’t have the Spirit of God within them. Therefore, non-believers fundamentally cannot lead worship.

  • We further believe that a church stage/platform that is regularly filled with paid professionals (not to mention possibly unbelievers) is counterintuitive to the gospel message. Too often it can show that we value a production “experience” over gospel fidelity and character in leadership. To be clear, we do value excellence (biblically defined) and quality in our musical worship and seek every opportunity to remove any obstacle that would distract from displaying the glory of God in Christ through song each week.

5. Unified Worship

  • We believe in a unified vision of the church at First Irving. We see this powerfully in the Jew-Gentile unification in the early church of the New Testament (see. Eph. 2:11-22). In Titus chapter 2, we see a beautiful picture of multi-generational ministry as well; older men and women are to disciple the younger generation, “showing [themselves] in all respects to be a model of good works” to the watching eyes around them. We desire our older members to be present around our younger members every week in our Sunday gathering.

  • Practically, in our corporate worship context, we pursue having everyone worshiping together as one body (Neh. 8:1) – rather than separated by time, style, or age. We do seek to faithfully make our music contextual, though we do not necessarily cater to any specific generation in our musical worship. God in His great grace has given us many generations of people in our church. Our hope is to, by God’s grace, disciple all of them and prepare them for eternity.

  • More than this, we see it as such a benefit to worship alongside multiple generations of people – both the older and younger. We believe it portrays a greater picture of the gospel (Eph. 3:10) in that what unites us (Jesus Christ) is so much greater than what could potentially divide us.

  • Our music will regularly include both old and new songs. We feel no pressure to play only what is “current,” instead we want to choose songs that will catechize our people over the long-haul – songs that, as Keith Getty says, our people can “grow old with.” Again, we want to sing songs that won’t just get our people through the week (though we certainly want to do that!) but rather prepare our church family to meet Christ in eternity.


First Irving Family, may the Lord lead us to sing songs that enable the word of Christ and the gospel of Christ to dwell in us in deeper, richer ways as we await His coming! Hope to see you on Sunday where we will get to lift our voices again in song to our glorious and worthy Savior.