A problem with communal singing and communal praying and any form of communal liturgy is that at some point someone is saying or singing things they don’t mean. In church. I’m not sure I would call that lying in church, but I’m not not sure either. Maybe most of us have told worse lies than that we’re “waiting here for you,”when we’re not really waiting or that “We raise our white flag. We surrender all to you,”when surrender just isn’t happening at the moment. Or “Holy Spirit, you are welcome here,”when we would prefer the Holy Spirit not meddle so much in our business.
But maybe this fits with our whole approach to church—we put on our best clothes and our best facade and pretend like we are better than we are. Many of us are educated, whether through Sunday school or seminary, far past our level of obedience. We are better pretending than we are obeying. So why would we not expect to sing songs that make us sound like we are more godly than we are?
Because worship is formative, it’s okay to sing the words we don’t necessarily mean in the deepest parts of our hearts. There’s no church full of flawed humans where everyone can honestly sing “I Surrender All.” And that’s okay. We may sing lyrics that aren’t one hundred percent true in the moment, but that doesn’t make us liars.