As churches across the nation finally start to gather again for Sunday services in obedience to God’s Word (after several months of disobedience), there is no shortage of authorities who are seeking to regulate how it must be done. In Germany, churches that are open have stopped singing altogether – a condition imposed by the government in order to be allowed to have services. Other governments are recommending that the congregants not sing at all, or that they only play recorded music that congregants may listen to, but not participate in.
And now there’s a new article by The Gospel Coalition, “Is Congregational Singing Dangerous?“ We’re not seeking to kneecap the writer, Ken Boer, as he seems sincere in wanting to work through the implications. But the article is incredibly unhelpful to the point of being irrelevant.
It seems that the purpose of this article is to fill Christians with doubt and worry that they’ll somehow be killing their neighbor at every chorus of “A Mighty Fortress is our God.” As if crying out “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty” will be a death knell to the seasoned citizens of the church two rows up and three rows down as sacred spit molecules home in on their airways and carpet bomb their lungs with COVID-19.
If the article was titled “Is Congregational Singing Dangerous?”, and was all about the theological dangers of singing Hillsong and Jesus Culture music, then that is something we could get behind. But in this case, the article is a collection of sentences punctuated every 6th word with MIGHT…MAY…COULD…MAY…
“There is much we still don’t know” … “I’m making an educated guess” … “seems to occur”… “It also appears” … “It seems that the virus can” … “we don’t know how infectious.” … “How infectious is a small number of particles?” … “We’re not sure” … “This might happen at a concert” … “it might happen at church” … “possibly larger even than coughing” … “infectious disease might spread more” … “they will likely be recirculated” … “anecdotal evidence suggests that singing” … “though it’s difficult to know exactly what role” … “because of other compounding factors” … “it appears the path forward is wise caution” … “it may generate more risk than normal speech” … “they may reduce transmission” … etc.
Where is Steve Lawson with some pulpit bangin’ “Give us some men who (smack) know the truth!” when you need him?
The Gospel Coalition piece seems like it is giving us many options to consider, but it quickly becomes clear that nothing is concrete. It’s all just speculation, suggestion, inference and conjecture, and the only certain thing is that the author really doesn’t think congregations should be singing.