I am very much looking forward to next weekend when I will be attending the second Williamstown Bible College reunion. For those of you who are unfamiliar, WBC was a small college located in Williamstown, West Virginia that was dedicated to the purpose of training and sending out preachers and ministers into service wherever God might want them to go. It was founded in the early seventies by David Powers and the Williamstown Church of Christ. I attended there from the fall of 1980 until the summer of 1982. The institution held its last class in 1983.
As I mentioned, this will be the second reunion. The first was held five years ago, and for many who attended, it was the first time they had been together in somewhere between 25 and 30 years! Their various life courses had taken them in many different directions. Most did not end up in preaching ministries. Some did enter the ministry, but subsequently left it after some circumstance caused them to change course. At the time of that reunion, only a handful were still working in full-time ministry. For some, this seemed to be a bit of an embarrassment as they traveled back and reunited with their old classmates and instructors.
But, that embarrassment soon passed.
I have seldom been so overwhelmingly impacted by a single event as I was that reunion. Many times in the past, I’ve been encouraged to attend some conference or another with the promise of a “life-changing” experience. They never seem to live up to that high billing. However, this event, which was pitched simply as an encouraging time for us to reunite in friendship and fellowship turned out to be one of the most impactful I have ever attended.
Let me explain why.
It wasn’t the messages. In fact, I don’t recall any of them. Frankly, it was the sheer joy of the worship! There just is something special when a group of people get together…want to be together…and sing. And, I’m not talking about mumbling some religious songs, but really belting out heartfelt praises to God! Not just some of us either….everyone!
The brothers and sisters who attended this event, while they shared the commonality of having been at WBC in the past, had not actually sung together in decades. Some had gone on to other faith communities and were no longer members of a church of Christ. But, the one thing they wanted to do together was SING And sing they did!
There were only about a hundred in attendance. That’s about a third of what Southeastern might have in the auditorium on a good Sunday. But, let me tell you, they lifted the roof! And, the joy of the songs was evident on their faces. In the last five years, that event has become my gold standard for what heartfelt worship looks like.
And, now I’m headed back for the second reunion, and I find myself a bit anxious about whether I’ll find the same spirit of praise. It didn’t hurt that last time we had Keith Lancaster as our worship leader, but that wasn’t the reason we sang so well. We sang well because we wanted to sing well…wanted to pour our hearts out…together
It moved me. And, I want to be moved again.
So, in light of what made that event special, I think we could translate that into our worship at Southeastern. Let me give you some questions to consider:
A. Do we want to be together? To sing together? If the answer is “yes,” why do we sit so scattered in the auditorium? Is that seat you’ve staked out really that important to you? More important than being close with your fellow Southeastern church family members to join your voices in unison?
B. Do we sing because we want to pour out our praises to God, or because it’s just something that the church does on Sundays? Is it obligation or true praise from the heart?
C. Are we “making music in our hearts”? If so, we should be able to see it in the smiles on our faces.
D. Do you realize that part of why we sing is to encourage one another?...to sing praises to God TO ONE ANOTHER? As you sing, look around…smile at one another…sing to one another!
Let the message of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. Colossians 3:16
…speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord. Ephesians 5:19
The purpose of our singing is not just vertical (us to God), but it is also horizontal (to one another).
Brothers and sisters, when we sing with our hearts, it makes a huge difference. We not only tell God just what we think about Him, but we also tell one another about the love of God, and how much we love being together. The last couple of Sundays, we have sung very well, and it encouraged my heart. We can build on that base and keep it going. If we do, I think we will all find ourselves being “moved” right here…at home…with our church family at Southeastern.
It will truly be life-changing!