In evangelical churches, it’s hard to overstate the effect of several hymns by Keith and Kristyn Getty and their writing partner, Stuart Townend. Their song, “In Christ Alone,” which tells the full gospel story, is hugely popular, even though it was written in 2001. It’s not a one-hit wonder, either; the Gettys have since solidified their mark on modern Christian hymnody.
The Gettys are master songwriters, but their first book isn’t about songwriting. It’s about worship. Sing! How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family, and Church is full of practical insights to make worship both fresh and faithful to the message of Christ. The Gettys aim to get the church to sing the truth, and to sing it as if it were true (98–99).
Biblical and Practical
In the book, the Gettys look to the Bible to discover why we sing in the first place and the effect it has on our hearts and minds. They make it clear that they want to be practical, not prescriptive (xxv; e.g., there is no mention of the regulative principle). This is a wise approach, as many churches have only recently exited a few decades of “worship wars.” That debate seems largely over, and rather than reignite old battles, Sing! provides a positive way forward.
The book is broken into three sections, moving from biblical substance to practical living. In the Scriptures we see Christian people created, commanded, and compelled to sing (chs. 1–3). We should therefore sing with our whole heart and mind, with our families, and with our local church (chs. 4–6). All of this contributes to our witness in the world (ch. 7).
The book concludes with four “bonus tracks,” the core ideas of a larger book the Gettys hope to write (103). The couple highlights several situations where principles outlined in the previous chapters can be applied, especially for pastors, worship leaders, songwriters, and creatives.
Worship ≠ Music
Too often, Christians think worship is only or mainly the singing that happens on Sundays (hence the misguided term “worship wars”). The Gettys are quick to address this mistake. The Bible makes clear that worship involves our whole lives, whether at church or at home. In his excellent book Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God (Crossway, 2008), Bob Kauflin writes, “Worship isn’t primarily about music, techniques, songs, or methodologies. It’s about our hearts. It’s about what and who we love more than anything” (25).
Congregational singing—both to God and to one another (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16)—should be central. God commands it, and when we come together the Spirit moves our hearts in praise, adoration, lament, and thanksgiving. But the imperative to sing also involves internalizing our Bibles (Col. 3), training our children (Deut. 6), and enjoying beauty and creation as people made in God’s image (Gen. 1–2). God commands us to sing, “so we must do it. Not to sing would be to disobey” (13).
And when we sing the great truths of the Bible, we’re changed from the inside out. Singing that is triune—God-honoring, Christ-glorifying, and Spirit-filled—“moves out in concentric circles, changing your heart and mind” (35). In turn this changes our families, our churches, and ultimately our world.
Sing! is a good little book for Christians to pick up for Bible study or personal reading. The Gettys have a wealth of experience in traditional and contemporary churches, so there’s something for nearly everyone. Readers will be motivated to sing with greater passion on Sundays—and hopefully on weekdays, too.
Keith and Kristyn Getty. Sing! How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family, and Church. Nashville, TN: B&H, 2017. 149 pp. $12.99.