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) through 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 some scheme to diminish the Father’s glory or to avoid the Spirit. God’s glory in the Trinity is a shared glory. Thus, to glorify the Son is to glorify the Father and the Spirit. Jesus said in John 12:32 that when He is lifted up (exalted), He will draw all people to Himself. So, as we exalt Jesus in our gatherings, we get to see, by God’s grace and power alone, people drawn to salvation.

  • 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 it is all we have to boast in as Christians (Gal. 6:14, Phil. 3:7-8). All of our new life has come from Christ’s death in our place on the cross and then 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). More than all this, we exalt Jesus and His redemptive work because 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).

2. Singing Truth

  • We believe that to be faithful Christians, we need strong theology all throughout our services. What we say about God really matters – His glory is at stake. Col. 3:2 calls believers to set their minds on things above, not just our emotions. Our desire as a church is to glorify God in all things (1 Cor. 10:31), and this includes our song choices. Beyond this foundational desire, we are called to make disciples. The lyrics we choose to sing as a church will shape our church spiritually – we view corporate worship as spiritual formation. This means that we want to avoid inaccurate, misleading, or unclear lyrics in our songs. To be sure, Jesus in John 4 said that the Father is seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth, so Christian worship should be a beautiful balance of right thoughts about God and right affections for God (Matt. 22:37). We must guard against the unhealthy tendency of leaning too far in one direction.

  • We believe that right theology (what we think about God) is what leads us to the right emotions for God. As fallen sinners, we can 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. Therefore, the songs we sing should be rich in biblical truth (2 Tim. 3:16) so that we can feel the right emotions toward God and truly be transformed (Rom. 12:1-2).

  • Practically, we approach music pastorally and want to think carefully about themes and specific messages in songs that our people need to hear and sing to prepare them for the service, their week, and ultimately for eternity. So, we will not only sing what tops the Christian music charts. There may be very good songs there, but more fundamentally, we want to sing biblically accurate, theologically rich, and gospel-saturated songs.

3. Congregational Singing

  • We believe biblical praise is vocal and corporate. When you read the Psalms, you find that when praise is being described, it is referring to something out loud (rather than something personal in our hearts) and being present with the people of God, rather than alone at home. So biblically, the pattern for praise is that it’s out loud (vocal) and corporate so that others can be edified by the testimony (e.g., “God is faithful and abounding in steadfast love! ”) in the assembly. Taking this a step further, one of the most significant ways that we see God’s people praising God in Scripture is by singing (see Ps. 66:1-4) – and this is the primary way 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!) 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 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). So, singing is a part of how we “speak the truth in love” to each other (Eph. 4:15). When Christians sing they reflect their triune God (Father, Son, and H.S. are involved in singing in Scripture), they remember the truth He has given to them (see Deut. 31:19-21), they renew their minds in biblical truth (Col. 3:10-16, Rom. 12:1-2), and they are led to rejoice in Christ who saved them (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). 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 worship 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 our 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 worship ministry. The way that we see and understand the church in Scripture profoundly shapes this conviction (not just in worship ministry, but all throughout our church). 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 worship leaders and band members a weighty calling. James tells us that “not many of you should be teachers” (3:1) because our judgment will be stricter. We believe worship 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 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 worship leaders and band members are committed, covenant church members like everyone else. 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 leading music is fundamentally a worship leader (band members included). Non-believers cannot worship God because they haven’t bowed down to or surrendered to Jesus yet, and they don’t have the Spirit of God within them. Therefore, non-believers fundamentally cannot lead worship.

  • Professional musicians (non-church members) may have a place in church music occasionally (special events), but we believe that a stage 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 production and “excellence” over gospel fidelity and character in leadership. To be clear, we do value excellence (biblically defined) and quality in 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 ministry at First Irving. In Titus chapter 2, we see a beautiful picture of multi-generational ministry. 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 in consistent and meaningful ways.

  • 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 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. As stated earlier, we feel no pressure to play only what is “current,” instead we want to choose songs that, as Keith Getty says, our people can “grow old with.” Again, we want 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.