We have learned to talk our message. Much time is spent in organizing the sequence of evangelistic topics, and sermons are carefully planned. Have we learned to sing the message as effectively?
The same sequences utilized by our evangelists in speaking can also be used by the song leader. He can take the pattern followed by speakers: that is, (1) win the favor of the audience, (2) present the" message, (3) stir the heart, and (4) call for a decision.
In his doing this his music will stand as a partner to the sermon in the task of winning hearts.
The soul-winning song leader's first objective is to gain the favor of the audience and weld them into a unit. Fortunately he has at his disposal the most friendly of all friendly agencies, the song. So he begins with well-known, favorite songs, hymns, and choruses. He fellowships with the audience, and warms up to the individual in the audience. For that individual the day's nervous tensions soon begin to dissolve. He forgets himself and fuses into the happy, singing family.
The experienced song leader knows something of the burdens carried by the folks in front of him. He helps them lose these burdens in Christ. Careful not to tip over the balance carrying them from one extreme to the other he leads them toward genuine Christian fellow ship without introducing hilarity. Gradually he molds the thoughts' and sentiments of the congregation into a single mood using some cherished hymn as a finishing touch.
The Message in Song
Now he presents the message of salvation with an old favorite, perhaps "There Is a Fountain."
"There are few means more effective for fixing His [God's] words in the memory than repeating them in song." Education, p. 167.
Songs that teach about heaven or the second coming of Jesus, choruses like "There's a New Day Dawning," special singing with numbers such as "Though Your Sins Be as Scarlet" or "My Home, Sweet Home" all teach the message and give opportunity for variety.
The truth of salvation is followed rapidly with a heart-stirring, emotional song. As hungry souls hear the testimony of singing Christians, "Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb," they long for the same experience. The song might have been "Down at the Cross" instead. On other occasions, "Since Jesus Came Into My Heart" and "Blessed Assurance" produce a longing for salvation on the part of the un converted. Then, while the desire is there, the song leader appeals for the decision.
After the judicious use of a touching story he leads the whole group in appealing, "What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus." Someone is asking himself that question, and the song may help him to decide definitely that he wants to be clean. Then he hears the song "Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross." It becomes his prayer: "Help me walk from day to day, with its shadows o'er me." As the song leader calls for a standing testimony, this individual rises singing, "In the cross, in the cross, be my glory ever, till my raptured soul shall find rest beyond the river." He might have found his prayer with equal ease in "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing."
The appeal is expressed in a combination of a story, a song of Christian testimony, and an invitation song. The order should be varied, and different elements omitted from time to time. Note how the invitation song may be dropped without loss when "Jesus Paid It All" is followed with "I Remember Calvary." The decision is gained either through a song of prayer or testimony urging the individual to identify himself with that prayer or testimony.
Continuity of theme is imperative. An appeal based around "Let the Saviour In" or ''You Must Open the Door," and a story stressing the individual responsibility of opening the heart to Christ would naturally be followed with the prayer chorus "Into My Heart." Vary the mood. When the message song is about heaven, the appeal might be made in "The Glory Song," and the decision found in "Face to Face."
Thus the song leader can use a definite decision pattern in his work by using (1) fellow ship songs, (2) mood songs, (3) a truth song, (4) heart-stirring songs, and (5) a decision song.
Such a song service might well make a difference in the number of decisions gained publicly in the meeting which follows.