I am a part of a youth choir at my church. I talk to many of the youth and observe a lot of them (Facebook, myspace). I would say that many in the choir DO NOT know Christ, they neither represent in word or deed, and especially not on the internet! I’ve always noticed that the choir lacks emotion at times and I know it is because there are those who can’t because they are singing words that have no meaning for them. I’ve wondered then how GOD views the choirs singing… Is the music “tainted” with the singing of the unregenerate? Or does GOD simply get the glory from the individuals who are truly worshipping him (since he looks at the heart)? I’d like your thoughts on this.
A great question indeed! The answer to it could end up being a book because it requires dealing with what true conversion is, who is called to discern conversion, who gets to be involved in leadership, what leadership is, and who is commanded to praise God…and I’m sure I’ve left some other issues out!
First of all, you need to be careful in trying to discern who is or who isn’t converted. From your question, I’m hearing that you don’t have any leadership position in the church and therefore will not give an account for their care (Heb. 13:17). You must trust the guidance and leadership of your pastors in this regard.
Secondly, I don’t know what evidence to which you refer but keep in mind that a mature unbeliever may look more “Christian” than an immature believer, esp. in students. Please don’t think that I am trying to excuse sin. God forbid! What I am saying is when evaluating the spiritual condition of fellow church members/attendees be very humble and merciful. Only God can judge the heart. I know you’re looking at actions (through your conversations and FB interaction) and you must challenge these fellow students at that level—but do so with meekness.
Thirdly, when it comes to “lack of emotion” as you say, be careful not to make assumptions that because someone doesn’t show animated facial expression or body language that their heart is not engaged. Don’t get me wrong. I am constantly (and I mean constantly) challenging our singers to show more positive non-verbal communication. But I have known way too many sincere, truly-converted folks who were just very uncomfortable in showing lots of expression on a service.
Fourthly, in responding as to whether or not the music is “tainted”, let me say this. Everyone is commanded to praise the Lord (Ps. 150:6—“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord”) and that includes unbelievers. God will be praised by those who never knew Him and God will be glorified in their judgment (Rom. 14:11, Phil. 2:10). Of course, there are plenty of other passages that deal with offering false worship that must be considered but most of those passages are addressed to those in leadership.
Fifthly, students are still under the authority of their parents. They may not have a choice as to whether or not they are to be in the student choir. That is one primary difference between choirs for children and students and choirs for adults. They may need more time to come to faith as their cognitive and spiritual development is still relatively early. I’ve seen lots of students who had maturity and a love for Christ way beyond their years. But I’ve seen lots more who didn’t faithfully follow Christ until in their late teens and early twenties (or even much later). I must strive to honor the parents’ wishes in their involvement. If they are submissive to my leadership, then we let them participate.
Sixthly, if your pastor (and/or elders) wish for as many students as possible to be involved in the student choir, then you must trust their leadership. Like I said earlier, if such involvement is unbiblical, they will have to answer for it—not you.
You ask very valid and important questions and they should be asked by those in leadership and thoroughly wrestled through. My advice to you would be to focus on Christ, lead by example, and humbly strive to serve the church and love your fellow students. They don’t need someone browbeating them (and I’m not suggesting that you’re doing that), they need to see someone living out a joyful, loving life of treasuring Christ in someone their own age that reflects the gospel that they hear from the leadership of the church.
Hope this helps!