I’ve been watching David at church, and have noticed for some time that he does not sing, even when he knows the song, or could easily sing the song. I’ve encouraged him to sing (You know this song), but I’ve always stopped short of telling him he must sing.
I think we can see from the Scriptures that corporate singing is important. But should you make your child sing? I don’t know. I’m thinking it is unwise to say never, but right now I’m not inclined to make my children sing in church. If I think of the motivation for not singing, I can come up with ways of addressing the problem without saying You must sing.
- Perhaps he cannot read music or words, and doesn’t know the song. This is true of David and Bethel. A good solution for that is to teach a non-reading child the songs ahead of time. At our church, Lee picks and directs the Sunday school hymn (before everyone dismisses for classes), so it would be easy to ask him to pick the song a week early instead of Saturday or Sunday. Then I could teach it to the kids.
- Another reason might be embarrassment or self-consciousness. Bethel is more than willing to sing nonsense if she doesn’t know the song, but I don’t think David is willing to do that. I also know some people who don’t sing because they think they have a poor singing voice and think they are ruining the song service.
- It’s also possible that a young child doesn’t participate because he doesn’t see himself as part of the service. That’s sad, but probably deliberate teaching on the matter might make a difference.
- The last, and most significant reason is a heart that is unregenerate or in rebellion to God. I am thinking that making a child sing in this case would not be a good idea. Now I know that many children simply love to sing, and will sing whether they are regenerate or not. But I think if I had a saved child who stopped singing, I’d probably probe a little bit. Not singing is a symptom of a problem, but not the problem. I’ve never really thought about singing in that way, but forcing a child in this case to sing would be like making a hypocrite of him.
I suspect that in David’s case, reasons 1 and 2 and possibly 3 apply. David sings songs about God at other times, so I don’t think he’s deliberately not singing songs because he doesn’t like to sing about God. And I know that he started to sing in his own Sunday school class when he got more comfortable (about four months after attending). But I do think asking him to sing in church is like putting him on the spot. If I can prepare him ahead of time, maybe he’ll participate. We’ll see how that goes.