Dear brothers and sisters,
Over the past few decades, there’s been a movement among evangelical churches and seminaries in which pastors, scholars, and theologians have sought to reclaim a biblical understanding of the gospel and doctrine. This movement has given rise to a smaller but growing wave that is impacting how churches approach the issue of worship. Church worship leaders are seeking to reform their gatherings by focusing on the singing of the gospel as opposed to polished musical performance. They understand that the corporate worship service is less about giving expression to an individual’s personal communion with God, and more about facilitating our communion with God as a community of believers, that is, the local church.
Many musicians have contributed to this movement, including the Gettys and Gettys Music, Stuart Townend, Bob Kauflin and Sovereign Grace Music, Matt Boswell, Matt Papa, and Matt Merker, to name a few. These brothers and sisters have composed songs characterized by rich theology, beautiful lyrics, and singable melodies.
The Evangelical Movement in China
The evangelical and reformed movement is now gaining traction again in China, particularly in the area of doctrine. There are Chinese arms to various ministries such as TGC and 9Marks, which exist to help Chinese churches in their understanding and application of Christian theology. A growing number of Christian teachers have invested time to equip the Chinese church, including John Piper, Paul Tripp, D.A. Carson, Tim Keller, and others. Chinese Christians have also hosted “Grace to City” conferences that focus on promoting a gospel-centered urban church planting movement. The list could go on.
The situation in China is difficult and complex; still, in the last ten years, countless churches have been planted and the number of Chinese Christians has exploded. God blessed his servants, as he did to the early church after the day of Pentecost.
Praise as One
But much work remains to be done. After careful thought and prayer, we would like to support the broader reformed movement in China by resourcing and encouraging the Chinese church to come to a more biblical understanding of church worship. That is the vision behind this ministry. We call it “Praise as One.”
We named the ministry “Praise as One” on the understanding that we do not worship God each Sunday as isolated individuals, each of us preoccupied with our own thoughts and devotions. We worship God at our church services as a single body, a local congregation. There is a community aspect to it. We love and encourage one other through corporate worship. We praise God as local churches, with ONE voice, ONE heart, ONE body, ONE soul. Though many in number, we are spiritually ONE (John 17; Eph. 4:4-6).
Praise as One exists to promote a biblical understanding of Christian worship in China primarily through translation and writing. Our first priority is translation. By translating church songs as well as articles and books dealing with the topic of worship, we hope to encourage Chinese churches to reconsider how to practice biblical worship in their respective contexts. Second, we believe it’s important for Chinese pastors and seminarians to take a vested interest in church worship, in particular by writing Chinese articles and songs that reflect a biblical theology of worship.
On that note, this ministry is aimed at pastors in particular. It’s not because we think church musicians and worship leaders are somehow unimportant; we believe they play a useful role in local church ministry. But we believe the key to renewing church worship lies with pastors. A local church’s worship services should be rooted in and informed by the church’s theological beliefs. As such, we believe that pastors should be actively involved in putting together plans for the worship service, instead of dividing the idea of “worship” into two separate parts, with the pastor focusing exclusively on the sermon and delegating the music portion to the musicians.
Over the next year or so, we hope to realize this vision in a variety of ways. First, we are cooperating with TGC Chinese and 9Marks Chinese to translate articles, songs, and books and make them available on our website. Second, we plan to produce a recording of live congregational singing at a large Chinese Christian conference, similar to recording projects done at T4G events, with the hope of giving Chinese churches a vision for congregational singing. Third, we hope to put together a new songbook featuring translated songs from the Gettys, SG Music, Matt Boswell, Matt Merker, and others.
We recognize that this website will not be able to cover every area of need, but we will do our best to ensure that everything on the site is biblically solid, trustworthy, and true.
We are looking for a temporary solution to deal with the copyright issue in China. We ask you to bear with us in the meantime. 9Marks and TGC have worked through similar issues and serve as a helpful reference for us, but we may need to find another solution for the long term.
Finally, we understand that we cannot rely on human wisdom and strategy to achieve anything of lasting value. We rely on God’s sovereign wisdom and pray that he would use this ministry to bless many Chinese churches. We humbly ask that you pray for us in this regard.
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary