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H.B. Charles wants to be known as a worshiper of Jesus. While he serves as senior pastor of Shiloh Church in Jacksonville, Fla., and is well-known as an author and speaker, Charles exudes passion for worship through music. He regularly sings near the conclusion of his sermons.
“I was [taught] that when the preacher was wrapping up his sermon it should end with a celebration,” Charles told the Biblical Recorder. Congregational worship begins with the word of God, he said.
Charles was one of the speakers at this year’s “Sing!” Getty Music Worship Conference, where he sat for an interview with the Recorder.
When asked about the importance of congregational worship, Charles highlighted these four elements:
Biblical source – All worship must find its source in the word of God, he said, referencing Colossians 3:16 – “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Everything flows from that passage, Charles said, “especially the words songs and hymns. For me, passion and praise help me with my preaching.”
Musical excellence – Charles also said there should be a sense of excellence in congregational worship, from the leader and from the congregation. When asked what advice he gives to worship leaders, Charles doesn’t hesitate in answering, “I believe in congregational singing and choir. The choir should lead the church in worshiping God; however, the choir should not do proxy worship for the congregation.”
Rigorous preparation – Charles believes worship leaders should prepare. “I believe just like preaching demands rigorous preparation, leading worship also requires rigorous preparation,” he said.
Biblical lyrics – Charles also believes lyrics are important and should line up with the word of God. “I’ve told my church that if I start preaching error, that they should kick me out. I believe that they should do the same of a worship leader if he starts leading worship that doesn’t line up with the word of God.”
Although Charles loves preaching, he is clear that congregational worship is a key element of the service and can supplement the sermon.
“Music is teaching in a compelling way that preaching can’t do,” he said. “A singing and praying church makes it easy for a preacher to preach.”
This may be one of the reasons why Charles finds congregational worship so important in the life of a church. Charles sees himself not above the congregation as their pastor, but as someone who is also a part of the congregation singing songs to God.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Maina Mwaura is a freelance journalist who lives in Atlanta, Ga., with his wife and daughter. They attend Johnson Ferry Baptist Church.)