Sing Unto the Lord

Camp music
July 14, 2008, 2:26 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

So it’s camp season and that means tons of people off on study camps or snow camps or boring just hanging around at the campsite type camps.

I spent last week speaking on Crusader’s Study Camp 3 at Pt. Wolstencroft. It was pretty fun.

I spent a lot of time though thinking about music on camps. It’s a tricky gig because usually there is a large proportion of kids there who don’t know Jesus. Because they don’t know Jesus they can’t possibly get excited about him. Singing is just a thing you do thats weird then rather than an opportunity for response to a gracious God.

Some would say that they would rather not sing with non-Christians at all. I have some sympathy for that view. I remember at one point last week feeling sick to my stomach as non-Christian kids were laughing and singing together ‘…it’s you I live for everyday.’ There’s a sense in which they are not only missing the point of the song but I felt like they were singing their own judgement upon themselves. No doubt when they come before the Lord of Hosts who does demand our lives that tune will be playing in the background.

There is another argument for not singing with non-Christians and that is that they find singing weird. It’s an odd thing to stand around and sing strange songs together, accompanied by an acoustic guitar and a djembe. Or so we think.

In my experience though, the people who feel weirdest about singing in those circumstances are not non-Christians… it’s actually Christians who are freaking out about what the non-Christians think of their displays of exuberence. Christian kids shut down when non-Christian kids are singing around them (generally). Either that’s because they don’t feel confident about the truths they are singing or they feel like they stand out too much.

On the study camp I just went on the non-Christian kids were the ones clapping the loudest, singing with the most gusto and generally having the best time. They didn’t even believe what they were singing. The Christian kids looked like someone had died-other than Jesus.

I don’t think that argument holds weight. Non-Christian kids might think it’s different that we sing but I don’t think its a stumbling block for them.

What I would have loved last week was to sing more songs that had simple propositional statements about what Jesus has done. That he died, that he was buried and that he rose again according to the scriptures. I would love kids to have the gospel bouncing around in their heads all day instead of subjective promises and vows to God that they have no intention of living by.

I think that there are some good songs out there for doing this.

‘Amazing Love (you are my King)’ by Chris Tomlin or ‘All the Earth will sing your praises’ by Paul Baloche are great ones that speak plainly about what Jesus has done.

Alternatively, you could turn your singing on its head and do items each day instead of congregational singing. That way people are being taught without giving blasphemous assent.

Thirdly you could run an optional singing time for Christians and not have it as part of your main time. I feel like that negates opportunities you have to teach kids through song. It’s an option though.

Singing is not only a powerful emotional tool… it’s also a powerful educational tool. Lets use all God has given us to teach people the gospel that saves.


2 Comments so far
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[…] Dan writes a great article as he thinks through camp music. I like his idea that songs should be more propositional. Hymns set to contemporary music would be terrific. […]

Pingback by Dan on Camp Music » The Crazy Australian

hey dan.

here’s what i went with on ski camp last week after our disussion:

Blessed be Your Name
How great is our God

Blessed be Your Name
All the Earth will Sing Your Praises

All the Earth will Sing Your Praises
Amazing Grace

One way
How Great is Our God

One Way
Amazing Love (You are my King)

Comment by Dave Miers

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