Singing Men and Crying Babies

There are numerous congregations of the Lord’s church scattered across the globe. Some estimates say there are as many as 40,000 churches of Christ worldwide. Indeed, much evidence exists proving that the church is growing and thriving in many countries today. That is encouraging! But on the other side of that coin, it is also rather disheartening to see so many congregations deteriorating in places like Europe and even here in America. It’s sad that some congregations have had to close their doors due to severe membership decline or having all died.

Sometimes closures happen because of demographic changes, economic collapse of a community, or an unfortunate church split. Yet, the most common denominator leading to congregational collapse is apathy – specifically, the lack of evangelism. When a church stops reaching out to the community with active, personal evangelism, decline will surely follow. The congregation at Laodicea in Revelation 3 was guilty of such complacency. Jesus admonished them, “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or hot. … As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.” (3:16,19). Oh! How I pray no congregation of the Lord’s church today receives such a reprimand!

Let us all pray fervently for every church of Christ to be faithful, sound, and always evangelistic.

Concerning this thought, I recently heard a powerful statement about how one might identify a strong, healthy congregation. It was said, “The signs of a healthy congregation are singing men and crying babies.” That is so very true when you really think about it! It means there are certain elements present that ensure the continual propagation of the Lord’s church. It means His disciples are putting into practice “all the things He commanded us” (Matthew 28:20). It is, indeed, a good description of what constitutes a growing, thriving church of our Lord.

A church that has “singing men” is an indication of effective evangelism and teaching. This is such an important point because sadly, for many places around the world (including here in America), the biggest challenge for the church is a lack of men among the membership. There are numerous congregations consisting primarily of women because the men of the community refuse to work, take on their proper responsibilities, and/or fulfill their roles. Thus, there aren’t enough men in some churches to have a rotation of worship duties, carry out evangelistic efforts, or provide the leadership structure that is prescribed in the word of God. (cf. Acts 20:28; 1 Tim 2:12, 3:1-13).

For men to be singing implies that not only are males present in the church, but they also understand passages like, 1 Cor 14:15, “I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.” It is evidence they have been taught the precepts of Scriptural worship and are manifesting their appreciation toward God as Creator. They are not entrapped by worldly distractions, nor afraid to exhibit their faith in a godly manner! Singing men have reached the potential God intended for His creation and are serving Him with all their heart (Ecc 12:13; Mark 12:29-31).

A congregation with “crying babies” is a sure sign of growth. It means young families are sitting in the pews and raising up their children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4) It is somewhat ironic that some people complain about noisy children in services while they should be rejoicing! Instead of a membership stagnating and declining into oblivion, there is potential for perpetuity. Churches with children have the blessed opportunity to teach and cultivate precious souls into future disciples and faithful leaders, who will in turn, do the same when their time arrives (2 Tim 2:2). Crying babies means they are present among the church, hearing and observing how Christians think, walk, talk, and interact with one another. It shapes their social skills, their manner of reasoning, and gives them understanding of the most important thing of their lives – salvation.

I thank God that Margaret Street church of Christ has many singing men and many crying babies!