Singing Hymns in Church I walked in to the hotel lobby and stepped up to the check-in desk. It had been a pretty long day after a long week, so I was ready to check-in, hit the room to freshen up, go grab a bite to eat, and call it a day. The clerk at the counter was a manager- type, neatly dressed and groomed. His demeanor was inviting and warm. As he looked up my reservation the clerk was asking me about my trip and about my Tennessee Titans hat. After finding my reservation and activating my key, he asked how I would like to pay. I started to pull out my credit card and then he recognized my room was being taken care of by the church with whom I was serving. That began a conversation, where he first asked what I would be doing with the church. I told him I was a musician, and I would be leading the choir in a workshop and talking some about the place of music in worship. He said he was not a Christian, but he use to be, and that his wife was one.

Since I was raised a “once saved – always saved” Baptist, part of his statement did not compute. I asked what he felt like had robbed him of his faith confidence. He described bits and pieces of a life disrupted by losses, moving from place to place, and divorce. He said he felt like so many Christians seemed to be only interested in judging others. I told him I understood that feeling, and that it made me sad. There was a look in his eye, however, that seemed to reveal need. He asked what I thought of the old hymns. I told him I had grown up on hymns, and that I still loved to sing and lead them. He said that he knew hymns from younger years, and that he would love to hear a congregation just sing them. He went on to say, “I would leave money in the plate if I could just hear Holy, Holy, Holy, or His Eye Is on the Sparrow. I told him I could certainly identify with his feeling about these great expressions of worship, and that I felt certain he could find a church who worshiped in this manner. We talked on. There was a look on his face and tone in his voice during our continued discussion that suggested a lingering memory of sights and sounds of Christians at worship.

By this time a line of customers had formed at the counter waiting to check in. We exchanged blessings and moved on. He has been on my mind and in my prayer ever since. Later tonight I will be sending an email to that hotel clerk to place in writing a witness of good news available to him. I am praying that God will bring him peace in his soul about his spiritual standing, and that he will connect with a local church body. I gave his name to the friend who invited me to come for the weekend.

Through the encounter described above I have gleaned two things to pass along that I ponder. The first is that I never know who may need to engage in spiritually centered conversation, and so it is important that I remain sensitive, although this particular exchange was nearly impossible to miss. I would consider myself regularly open to sharing witness to Christian faith, but those opportunities are much less regular than my openness. What’s more, I almost never make use of spiritual one-liners as conversation starters to gain entrance toward a presentation of eternal truth, so I am more reliant on the dialog sort of coming to me, if you know what I mean.

The second ponder-worthy element of this encounter is the lingering nature of early life worship exposure, and lasting value of congregational worship itself. As described by the hotel clerk, sights and sounds of worship may well nest in memories of the young, ready to be activated at points along life’s journey in seasons of need and even doubt. This may well speak to caution churches in our present-day proclivity toward separating age groups to give everyone “worship their way.” The clerk’s description also speaks to the need for healthy worship to be deeply rooted in Who God is, and not just our perception of our experience with Him. Certainly the song of deliverance that resounds in singing the Gospel truth resonates and gains testimony through human experience, but the ultimate need is to know God Himself.

Pray for fellow believers everywhere that we may be sensitive and ready to bear witness to our Savior. Pray for wisdom for those who plan and lead in weekly worship that the song we lead others to sing includes the unmistakable tone of a Victorious Christ, Who was, and is, and is to come, Who reigns forever! Pray that the truth said and sung in worship will always leave a lingering sense of the greatness of the Triune God, and that leaders will be able to distinguish forgettable cliché from the everlasting song.

Explore posts in the same categories: Church Music, Congregational Singing, Leading Worship, Music Ministry, Singing Worship, Spiritual formation through singing, Worship Leaders, Worship Pastors, Worship Reminders, Worship theology, Worship thoughts, Youth Worship


  1. waynecausey Says:

    I got tears in my eyes reading this post, Paulo. Isn’t God great!!!

  2. […] Paul Clark ponders the value of our memories of corporate worship: […]

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