The ancient church had a Latin phrase: lex orandi, lex credendi. It essentially means: the way in which we worship is the way in which we believe. Our worship shapes our faith. As we worship God our hearts are being formed by the pattern, words and actions of worship. There is an alteration of that phrase that states: lex cantandi, lex credendi ; the way in which we sing is the way in which we believe. Our songs shape our faith.
The songs we sing are critically important to the faith forming within us. Whether we realize it or not, we believe that which we sing. Let me give you an example. I have been serving as a Worship Pastor for nearly two decades. At my very first church, I remember having a theological discussion with a member of the congregation. In the middle of our discussion she began to quote the lyrics to a song in defense for why she believed what she believed. Here’s the kicker, she thought it was Scripture. She had begun to believe the lyrics of the song as truth (thankfully the lyrics were based on Scriptural truths, but they were lyrics to a song nonetheless). At the time, I simply found it funny. Now I understand it for what is was - the faith forming power of a song shaping the heart.
Plato, the philosopher, stated that he did not care who wrote the laws of the land, he wanted to write the songs of the land–Not because he was an artist, but because he understood the power of the song to shape people’s belief and culture.
Grab Your Bible
Now, if we believe this to be true, worship leaders must pay close attention to the songs chosen for the congregation to sing. We must approach worship leading and planning with a critical eye as we evaluate the songs we sing to make sure Biblical truths are being proclaimed and God is being rightfully honored and glorified. When planning a worship gathering, I believe it would better for a worship leader to first grab their Bible rather than their songbook.
Author and church music leader Harold Best speaks of the responsibility of the Christian in relation to Scripture. Best states that "Christians should be amateur theologians and Scripture specialists, but in the older meaning of the word. Amateurs are those who love something (hence the Latin ama at the beginning of the word) enough to study and practice it as thoroughly as possible, to become skilled in it, without the need to call it a profession or a specialized calling. The core of our being is the image of God, and the core of our spiritual being is in Christ." (Best, Unceasing Worship, Downer's Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2003, 67).
As worship leaders, we should love Scripture so deeply that each of the songs we lead are bathed in Biblical truths – for it is these truths, found within these songs, that the congregation will believe.