At a Getty Sing! conference several years ago, Keith Getty told the audience that the Gettys’ desire was to sing songs that met three criteria. Concord has adopted these criteria as the guiding mantra for song selection. First, songs must be musically beautiful. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and is clearly subjective, but the goal of the worship ministry at Concord is that what we sing is beautiful. Second, songs must be congregationally singable. Our primary ensemble is the congregation. For us to be successful, we must provide music that they can sing and enjoy. Third, songs must be theologically deep. Most of the songs that Concord sings meet all three criteria.

Theologically Deep

The theology of the worship ministry at Concord follows three main emphases. First, because Concord is a Southern Baptist church, we voluntarily adhere to The Baptist Faith and Message 2000. This document reflects our core beliefs, among which is a strong view of biblical authority. This view impacts everything that we do as a church, including what we sing. In addition to biblical authority in the songs we sing, we believe that, as the bride of Christ, we should be growing in our gracious affections for Christ. This belief guides not only the music that we sing but also how we sing. Finally, the role Jesus plays in our worship is significant. Understanding His role helps us to clarify our own role in worship.

Biblical Authority

The authority of scripture has long been a tenet of Baptist life. Baptists, and particularly Southern Baptists, have historically held to a conservative view of Scripture, believing the Word of God to be reliable. The Apostle Paul made this abundantly clear in 2 Timothy 3:16–17: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” The declaration concerning Scripture in The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 is consistent with this statement.

The Gracious Affections

In Colossians 3:2, the Bible states clearly, “Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth” (KJV). This clarion call to worship Christ affectionately is much needed, and understanding the affections is key to worshipping God deliberately without distraction.

Affections and Passions in the New Testament

The passions are those feelings that cause fans to jump and cheer loudly at sporting events. Many pastors have declared that “we should get as excited for Jesus as we do for our baseball team!” However, is that true? In Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Scott Aniol stated, “Passions include things like fear, anger, sentimentality, sexual drive, and appetite. They are not wrong, but they are not the measure of true spiritual response to truth and should never be allowed to control us.” According to C. S. Lewis in The Abolition of Man, the chest (affections) should rule the belly (passions). Philippians 3:19 describes those who are enemies of the cross: “Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” Paul argued in his monumental letter to the Romans that “for this reason, God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” (Rom 1:26–27). Scripture is clear when addressing this issue: affections should control the passions.

The reason for this concern is the nature of the passions, which, according to Aniol, are “surface-level feelings that are merely physical, chemical responses to some sort of stimulus.” Most musicians can generate this type of response with or without the influence and leading of the Holy Spirit. Consequently, calling the church to be passionate in worship is contrary to the scriptural mandate; and targeting the passions should not be the goal of genuine, Biblical worship. At Concord, the worship ministry guides the congregation in the way they should worship. By targeting the affections as our goal rather than the passions, we promote healthier church worship.

Jesus’ Role in Worship

To understand affection for Jesus, one must know Jesus. Knowing Him motivates believers to develop genuine affection for Him. Jesus is the embodiment of our affection for Christ and plays three critical roles in our corporate worship. First, Jesus is the object of our worship. Scripture depicts Jesus as co-equal with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. Scripture also shows Him to be the central object of the church’s congregational worship. Second, Jesus is the leader of the church’s corporate worship. This concept, found in Hebrews 8:1–2, is profound as it provides a proper understanding of Jesus as our liturgical leader. Third, Jesus is our brother, worshipping beside us. Multiple times, Scripture portrays Jesus as a worshipper, both praying and singing. We gladly join Him as we gather together as the church and worship the triune God.

Worshiping with songs that are deeply theological, musically beautiful, and congregationally singable is our goal. We hope that you will join us as we exalt Christ and encourage one another in worship.