You have worked hard at truncating Christianity into an individual, pietistic, “feel-good” religion. If you allow the Psalms to be sung, you are going to have to recalibrate your theology.
Navigating pastoral ministry is tricky business. One of the most challenging aspects may be deciding on the songs to sing every Sunday morning. A pastor already has so many issues to deal with, facing the consequences of making poor music choices shouldn’t be one of them! Unfortunately, several pastors in recent days have made the huge mistake of singing the Psalms in church. If you are toying with this idea, this post is written to help make your life easier. Here are five reasons not to sing the Psalms in your church.
1. You Will Make People Uncomfortable
You cannot ever forget that your highest priority in ministry is to make sure no one is ever made uncomfortable during your church’s worship service. Singing the Psalms is a surefire way to make some people uneasy in the pews. If you start singing songs about God judging the wicked (Psalm 75), then people are going to be a little uncomfortable because you have never presented God as a righteous judge who is angry with the wicked every day (Psalm 7:11). Let’s be honest, pastor, the people in your congregation came to church to have a good “worship experience” and if you mess that up by allowing songs to be sung that do not fit into their expectations for “worship,” then you have utterly failed in your job of making the service serve the felt needs of your congregants. To better cater to their preferences and comfort, you want to avoid song lyrics along the following lines:
“Arise, O LORD, in your anger; lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies; awake for me; you have appointed a judgment.” (Psalm 7:6)
“You have rebuked the nations; you have made the wicked perish; you have blotted out their name forever and ever.” (Psalm 9:5)
“The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies.” (Psalm 58:3)
The best way to make sure you don’t let these types of lyrics slip into your service is to simply avoid the book of Psalms altogether. Make your life easier.
2. You Will Offend People
If you are ever tempted to sing the Psalms, you must remember the exhortation that addresses you as pastors: “Thou shalt not offend anyone.” One of the things that religious people hold near and dear to them is their concept of what God is like. If you even insinuate that their view of God is incorrect, you have committed a grievous error. How dare you question anyone’s view of God! I know it’s an honest mistake many pastors make, but I want to spare you from this ministry-ending blunder. If your people find security in thinking that God loves everyone equally and will never judge the wicked, singing lyrics like Psalm 145:20 will really go against the idol, er, I mean, the view of God in their mind: “The LORD preserves all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.”
3. You Will Have to Adjust Your Presentation of Christianity
The first two reasons were really given for the sake of your congregants. The loving thing is to make sure everyone remains comfortable and is never offended. Your comfort and acceptance as a pastor will be a byproduct of making sure the people are catered to. However, another reason you should avoid singing the Psalms is that singing them would force you to completely alter your view of Christianity. You have worked hard at truncating Christianity into an individual, pietistic, “feel-good” religion. If you allow the Psalms to be sung, you are going to have to recalibrate your theology. That would be a major inconvenience for you. Besides, your theology is probably not in need of any major adjustments anyway. After all, you have been a pastor for quite a few years, right? You’ve sort of moved beyond the need to continually evaluate your theology and ministry philosophy in light of God’s Word. You probably had a seminary class years ago where you worked that out once-and-for-all, right?