Our church, North Valley Christian Church (NVCC), is small, but I am always impressed at the magnitude of our raised voices in praise of the Lord. That beautiful, joyful noise transforms where we meet at the old Opera House at Pioneer Living History Museum in Phoenix, Arizona into a cathedral. As the worship leader, it’s a sound I love to hear. The music is simple at NVCC: It’s me, the guitar and the congregation’s voice.
I read an article that made me really think about the purpose of music in the church service. Written by Anna Haensch for NPR, the article, When Choirs Sing, Many Hearts Beat As One, details a study done by the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. Using heart monitors, the team examined the pulse rates and heart beats of a high school choir as they sang together. The researchers noted choir members pulse rate slowed, which they attributed to the breath control required to sing phrases. They were astounded to discover that the choir’s heart beats synchronized. It happened almost immediately after the choir started singing. The researchers think this synchronizing effect can translate to other groups that sing together.
Singing and music in the church is often referred to as corp0rate worship. The modern-day corporate worship service is made of up prayer, communion, preaching, and of course, music. The definition of corporate is, relating to, or formed into a unified body of individuals. If the findings of the Swedish researchers are applied to our congregations, singing together can be an effective means of unifying the church. The more we sing together, the more synched-up we become, the more the Holy Spirit can flow through us. With our hearts in the right place, we can then receive more of God’s word.
We have a powerful tool at our disposal, why not put it to use? Worship leaders, encourage people to sing. Turn the instruments down so the voices can be heard. Transpose easy to learn songs into a singable key. Let’s use the power of song to edify and unify our congregations so that we can all experience that sense of being the body of Christ, of being One.
Click on the link below to hear an example of worship at North Valley Christian Church.