Corporate sound in the time of worship is a powerful asset, regardless if the words are spoken or sung. We provide few opportunities, generally “speaking,” for a “spoken” word or confirmation from the congregation as a whole.
It would be thrilling to visit the ancient scene when Moses delivered the Word to the Jewish nation to which they responded with corporate enthusiasm. Exodus 19:8 specifically states all the gathered elders “answered together.” At the reading of Law under Ezra and Nehemiah all the people answered, “Amen, amen!”
Of course we rightfully seek to distance ourselves from the ritualistic and often heartless responses found among churches that follow a liturgical pattern. But “baby and bath water” comes to mind. Certainly public reading of Scripture, in unison or responsively, is edifying to the saints and pleasing to God. Other corporate expressions may well be used effectively as well. Here’s an example of a printed statement used over a period of time to help prepare the congregation for the ministry of the Word of God. Following an appropriate hymn or song, the congregation is asked to read in unison the following: Congregational Confession, This is my Bible, God’s Holy Word! I will open it expectantly, study it prayerfully, and obey it thoroughly. I will seek the Christ connection in every passage, depending upon the Holy Spirit’s help. I will order my life according to its commands, its principles, and its patterns of godly behavior. I will rest upon it in the day of trouble, and let it govern my steps in the day of prosperity. I will seek to be skillful in the use of the Scriptures regarding all matters of life and ministry.
Just such summary statements were apparently used in the early days of the church after Pentecost, keeping the essence of Christological truth before the congregation prior to the close of the NT Canon. The scholarship pointing to 1 Cor. 15:3, 4 as an oft repeated “creed” is solid. Paul’s statement to Timothy would fall into the same category of “public” expression, well honed for perpetuation of the truth (1 Timothy 3:16). Some might object, “Are we not putting words in people’s mouths that may not for them be true?” Like the well constructed hymn or gospel song, the right thoughts are “set” before the congregation. God alone knows hearts and deals with all justly. We are convinced that “corporate sound” channeled purposefully can be an asset in our times of public worship.