Ministers Letter: Stott’s complaint … and a simple solution?
Two chapters into The Living Church and one of John Stott’s bugbears is apparent. “When I attend some church services, I almost think I have come to a funeral by mistake” he writes in Chapter 1. “The hymns are played at the pace of a snail or a tortoise, and the whole atmosphere is lugubrious*. If I could overcome my Anglo-Saxon reserve, I would want to shout out ‘cheer up!’.” And writing about church services in Chapter 2: “We seem to have little sense of the greatness and glory of Almighty God. We do not bow down before him in awe and wonder.”
Part of Stott’s solution is for churches to offer “a sincere offering of praise and prayer”—to respond to God purposefully and meaningfully after we’ve received his word.
Following Stott’s thinking, one simple step to inject a little more ‘heart’ into our services is to open our mouths and really sing up! Sometimes when I’ve collected the communion cups during the last song I’ve been struck by how quiet we are. But strong congregational singing can really lift our experience of church. It’s also a great way to encourage our musicians (who lead us in praise, and don’t simply praise on our behalf).
It’s great to be singing with you today! Martin Kemp
*meaning “looking or sounding sad and dismal”. I had to look it up!