In case you haven’t noticed, the fourth of July falls on a Sunday this year. As a worship leader, what do you do? It can be an awkward Sunday to know what songs to pick, how much attention to pay to the fact that’s Independence Day, how much weight to give to people’s preferences, etc.
Here are some brief thoughts on what to do:
Submit to your pastor. Ask him what he has in mind. If you disagree, communicate that with him in a godly and humble way. But at the end of the day, you won’t be honoring God by dishonoring your pastor.
Choose songs wisely. I would strongly encourage you to stay away from most, if not all, patriotic songs in church. I think these songs are fine to sing at BBQ’s and fireworks shows, but not in the context of corporate worship. You want to avoid songs that sing to America or about America. Songs that pray prayers for the world, our nation, and/or our cities are more appropriate.
If your pastor wants you to lead a patriotic song and you’re uncomfortable with it, I’d suggest you do two things: First, see my first point. Communicate with him beforehand why this makes you uncomfortable, and propose a different song you think would be more effective. Second, if your pastor listens to you and still asks you to lead a patriotic song, then submit to him and do it.
When and if you have to lead a patriotic song that your pastor requests, then you might consider introducing the song on Sunday morning by saying: “Our pastor, (insert his name here), has asked that we sing this song together. So let’s stand and sing.” This way the congregation knows this is something their pastor has asked for, not you. Don’t do this in a subversive way. And ask him if he’s comfortable with you doing so.
Or better yet, ask your pastor to introduce the song himself. Tell him you respect his decision and will plan on using the song, but that since you’re uncomfortable with it, you’d really appreciate him introducing it.
Find ways, other than singing, to recognize and celebrate God’s good gift. Devoting a good portion of the service to praying for this world, this nation, our communities, the military, and our leaders is a good way to recognize that it’s the fourth of July. We don’t want to ignore the fact that it’s Independence Day. We just want to avoid the temptation to do so at the expense of the firm centrality of the gospel in our weekly meetings.
Worship God freely. God, in his sovereignty, has placed those of us who live in America in a country where we can worship him freely. By singing songs that magnify his glory and his grace – we are exercising that God-given freedom. So it’s good and appropriate to thank God for this country, thank all the men and women who have fought and died to protect our freedom, and pray for our leaders. But it’s even better to use that freedom to thank God for the victory he’s won for us through his Son. That victory is what we’ll sing about for all eternity!