Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. Ephesians 5:18-19 NIV
December 1984, I traveled with many young people I had known from my church youth group to Urbana Illinois for a college missions conference called “Urbana ‘84”. At that time Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, a college campus ministry, put this mission conference on every 3 years. Several famous Christian speakers including Billy Graham, Elizabeth Elliott and Luis Palau attended. We students listened to these inspirational speakers, visited the exhibit hall and had one on one conversations with representatives of many different mission organizations. The idea behind Urbana ’84 was to get the 18,000 college students who attended, fired up and involved in the various opportunities for spreading the gospel throughout the world.
I attended a state university, so this was a unique opportunity for me to spend a week among other fellow Christian college students. My mind was expanded to think of the various ways we can all be involved in missions.
For me, the greatest impact was in our corporate singing. Most of us would arrive 30 minutes early at the large arena (holding 17,000 people), just so we could ensure we could get a seat and so we could participate in the corporate worship. This conference was so big not everyone could fit in each session; (1000 people had to watch on TV in overflow rooms). The singing, the blending of harmonies, the a cappella voices of 17,000 people singing “Sing Hallelujah to the Lord” is an experience I will never forget and probably will never experience again this side of heaven.
The corporate singing was the highlight of this conference for me. Something a bit intangible happens when we sing together. It can happen with 5 people, 20, 100 or 17,000. But when we worship and sing together, we, “Let the word of Christ dwell in [us] richly as [we] teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as [we] sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in [our] hearts to God,” Colossians 3:16. As we experience God’s presence, we are involved in teaching and learning God’s truth together when we sing together.
I encourage you to join in corporate worship this Sunday. Don’t focus on hitting the correct note; instead, worship God together with others, declare His goodness, praise Him for what He has done, and express your faith in His ability to work in our lives in the future.