One of the distinctive things Christians seem to do a lot is singing. Yesterday, I went to two churches with two very different approaches to singing.
Because the Bible tells us to:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Because singing expresses joy in a way that words without singing don't seem able to:
Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Psalm 95:1, NIV
All the lands are at rest and at peace; they break into singing.
Isaiah 14:7, NIV
Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem!
Zephaniah 3:14, NIV
Because it is a good and pleasant thing to do:
Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good;
sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant.
Psalm 135:3, NIV
Praise the LORD.
How good it is to sing praises to our God,
how pleasant and fitting to praise him!
Psalm 147:1, NIV
So basically, the point of singing is largely to express gratitude and joy at our relationship with Jesus.
Now when I think about the way that singing has often been done in churches I've been to, I find that it doesn't seem aimed to do that at all. The "hymn sandwich" model (hymn then something else then hymn, then something else, etc) seems designed to express a bit of joy, then get on with something else, then express a bit more joy, as if it was somehow wrong to express lots and lots of joy and actually get excited about Jesus as we express our joy in him.
And don't even get me started about hymn singing in school - I'm still not sure what the point of that is. Why should people who don't have a relationship with Jesus be excited about it?
Now I think there are things we've still got to be careful of. We've got to be careful that we don't sing stuff that isn't true or that we don't believe, coz we don't want to be hypocrites any more than we already are; we should be careful that everything is done in an ordered way rather than chaotically.
However, I think it's important that if we're singing to express joy, then we should express joy in our singing - in the way that we sing, in what we sing, in the way that we put songs together. And the way that people work, it seems that it's somehow easier to express more joy by singing for 10 mins at once than it is for singing for two chunks of 5 mins with a 5 minute break in between to sit down in silence and listen to some boring notices.
Just a thought...