Hey friends. I have three stories and a question for you. I am wanting to start writing, co-writing, pushing others to write songs that the church needs. I am looking and asking what those songs are. If you are a worship leader, then please respond. If you are a worshipper and have a good idea, I’d love to hear it. In addition, please pass this post on to the worship leaders at your church or others you respect.
Here are the stories…
1) It was Wednesday. I received the order of service and found we were doing communion. As I tried to put together a worship set, I realized we don’t really have communion songs anymore. That led to the creation of You Are Good, one of the songs we now do at church and is on the new record.
2) I was talking to my pastor one day about why The Stand still has such an impact every time we play it. I hypothesized that we don’t have many songs of declaring commitment anymore. In fact, for an invitation, I’m much more likely to go back and pull out a hymn.
3) I was talking to a friend, a great worship leader a few years ago about Christmas songs. He talked about how we have songs about Christmas, but we don’t have many corporate worship songs for that occasion. We just end up singing Christmas songs corporately.
So my question to you is “What songs does the church need?” I’m not asking what you care about or what’s impacting you. Because I believe you will write those songs anyway. I believe our generation is doing a great job declaring the majesty of the Lord. I’m asking you what songs will help the Church worship. What topics are we missing? Giving? Sacrifice? I don’t know the answer. That’s why I’m asking. And I’m really excited about what the answers may lead to.
42 thoughts on “By The Church For The Church, A Post For Worship Leaders”
As a worship leader for about 7 years now (and also a senior pastor for the last 16 months) I totally agree with you about the communion songs. There just aren’t any. I have not heard your new song yet and am excited to hear it. As far as story 2 goes (commitment) I think there are a lot of songs about commitment, but all taken in perspective. In other words, if we have a sermon on repentance, then Keith Green’s song “Create In Me A Clean Heart” works well with stirring up the sermon. It’s up to the people to make the commitment. So there are a lot of songs out there, depending on the sermon, that could stir someone to make a commitment. As far as the song “The Stand” are you referring to the one by Michael W. Smith? We have not done that song yet, but are working on it. We are a small church (average about 30) but are only a year old and growing. We have a guitar and drums. I also agree about Christmas, most of the songs we have are the Christmas Carols that come from the old hymn book.
Now that I’m done agreeing with you, let me give you my take. I also think we need Easter songs. I’m always looking for songs for Easter and the resurrection. Not just the fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, but from the perspective that the power that is now in us is the same power that God used to raise Him from the grave. We have that SAME power.
Also, I have been looking lately for just more “fun” songs to sing. Very upbeat songs with fast and crazy lyrics. If there are some out there, I’m not seeing them.
I appreciate you asking the hard questions. They need to be asked. This generation will either shape or refuse to shape the church. I pray we just don’t stand by and let it go. It is our responsibility.
Forgive me as I attempt to express what I feel is missing when it comes to the Church and Christmas. We all know the songs which celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ yet it seems that these songs no longer give us full comprehension or help us to express our own feelings for what God did for us through this miraculous event. I believe that the same could be said about Easter and the death, burial and resurrection of Christ.
Great questions. One thing that comes to mind for me is that a lot of the worship songs out for the last several years have been very “I” focused and not the corporate “We”. I wonder if by making worship songs very personal, we have lost the impact of worshiping corporately, lost some of the reliance on the church body to hold each other up and accountable by making ourselves islands.
Another thing that I have been thinking about lately is something I heard in a Jason Gray video. He was talking about how we are pretty good with believing the hard things of scripture but believing some of the truths about be new creations and what not is much tougher. I think this is something you hit on the head with “Did you mean me”.
One of the issues that I keep running into in ministry here in my church, and others I’ve been in is people’s conceptions of suffering. We live in a culture that’s main focus is comfort, safety, and happiness. These values drive the vast majority of decisions in our lives and even in our ministry choices in church.
I think the church could really use some songs encouraging us to move beyond these societal – not necessarily biblical – values and to move into a kind of faith following that may not be safe or comfortable and focuses more on God making us holy and not just happy. I see this as the story of Jesus and his followers lives, but rarely does it encapsulate the lives of his followers in North America.
Scott, if you want a “fun” song, go with “Undignified.” It’s definitely a FUN song to sing, if you’re kind of goofy on stage.
As part of the body, I just want to encourage y’all to do meaningful songs as much as possible, rather than fluff (not suggesting that you currently use fluff). The body is drowning in milk and starving for meat!
being a church member who has been to various churches, I find that apathy and lack of true friendliness to be big problems for churches. People need to think of how they come across to others “in the name of Jesus” on the streets and in the churches. I see a lot of people just concerned about their own lives and own agenda and not taking the time to be concerned about someone who is hurting inside. You are so good about songs with conviction in them I know you will do great!
Todd, these are such good questions, and I’m grateful that you are opening this forum. With regard to Christmas, it seems that our team simply puts a more contemporary spin to Christmas carols, and that just doesn’t cut it. I also agree with Ed R with his observation about the worship songs being more “I” than “We” selections. Alot of times, we might tag a song with a chorus that includes “we” because it is important for us to raise our voices as a united congregation, much like we all look forward to doing in heaven. There are so many other areas where I feel we need more contemporary songs. Our Church has a beautifully blended service with incorporates hymns as well as Praise and Worship music. I feel that songs which remind us of just how desperately we need His embrace, and the reminders of God’s sacrifice, are the ones that speak to our congregation members. And yes, we need more worship songs that allow us to sing from our hearts about repentance and our gratitude towards forgiveness.
As a worship song writer and worship leader I have found that it really does not matter. Hang on before you get upset over that statement. Hear me out. I have for years written songs for special occasions and have never only used the song just once. I think the best songs are the songs that can be used for any time of worship. That’s not to say I don’t write and use other songs for specific types of services. I do. However, I find more times than not God uses the songs differently than I planned. For example… I was ask to lead a mens conference weekend for a church. I was told the theme was “being Godly men.” Well, Godly men can sing just about any worship song and be in tune with that theme. However, I searched for just the right song to capture the essence of that weekend. Much to my surprise, there was little to no modern worship songs to fit that format. So, you guessed it, I wrote one. The song is called Man of God. go figure… :0) Anyway, that song did not stop being used just for that event. People have used it for all kinds of worship services that embrace men connecting to God. Fathers day, father and son weekends, retreats, baptisms, weddings, funerals, the introduction or retiring of a pastor… you get the point.
I say just write whats on your heart. Let God worry about how the songs get used. The truth is we need a lot more of everything.
I am not trying to be controversial, you asked, so just take it for what its worth. There are probably no songs about Communion since Communion is not really a biblical concept. What we now call Communion is actually the Passover service. Breaking bread actually just refers to eating together. We could use more Passover songs, and Jesus as the Firstfruits from the dead. More songs about walking in the footsteps of Jesus. Christmas is really not a biblical concept either – Jesus was born during the Festival of Tabernacles – how about songs of the word becoming flesh (as a baby) and coming to Tabernacle with us? Songs of celebrating the final harvest when we will all be gathered together. Songs of how Yahovah’s eyes are always on Jerusalem, songs about praying for the peace of Jerusalem. I know there are artists out there that do some of these things (Paul Wilbur, Steve McConnell, Ted Pearce, etc) but a lot of their music has that overly Jewish/Middle Eastern sound and it would be nice to just have contemporary scriptural hymns and choruses and songs. God Bless and Shalom! Sally
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I find three areas that seem to be lacking in church music: 1. lament (confession of our brokenness, admitting our helplessness, asking God for help, and expressing joy in recovery as in Psa. 42); 2. intimacy with God (i.e. “Jesus, Lover of My Soul” or “My Beloved”); 3. loving and serving others well (living out the kingdom of heaven here on earth, i.e. “Mercy In Me.”)
Could it be that the plethora of “feel good” worship songs have kept the church numb, apathetic, unaware of our own desperate need, and blind or hardened to the needs of others?
I agree that there are many songs the church needs. We have lots of praise songs. Lot’s of happy songs. But there’s very few songs about asking for forgiveness. Or pleading with God for mercy. Granted you don’t really want to sing those types of songs every week, but when you need them, they are hard to find. Here’s a list of the kinds of things we could use.
– communion songs (we do communion quarterly and it seems like we always do the same songs)
– Forgiveness. Need songs about begging God for forgiveness or mercy
– songs that deal with pain or loss.
– new Christmas songs are always needed
– new Easter songs would be great too.
– In fact nearly all holidays could use some songs. It would be great to have a songs or two for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, (giving God thanks for our parents), thanksgiving (although there are songs about thanksgiving in general). American holidays like 4th of July or Memorial Day. How do we give thanks to God for our great country? That’s another time I’m likely to pull out a hymn or old song vs something newer.
It would also be great to have some songs that touched on different styles a little bit. Much of the praise and worship songs have the same style. Let’s hit a little bit of the blues. Or a little country. Mix it up a little.
Thanks for tackling this. This will be great help to churches that don’t have the talent to write their own songs.
I would like songs about:
– how having a relationship with Jesus is not just marrying Him and then going my own way and living as if nothing changed, but of constantly letting His way guide my thoughts and actions.
– how walking with Jesus can be painful, lonely, challenging, confusing, and frusterating, but that it is the best and only way to invest in an enternity of glorious splendor!
– of understanding that I will constantly be going through purification on this earth, and to never think of myself as being above the temptation or ability to sin. (Daniel 11:35 might make an interesting song.)
– about praying over others
– about the beatitudes
A timely post??
thanks for letting me know about this. Great questions. This is the kind of thing that sets you apart as a true worship pastor and not just a good musician who sings about God.
Here are a few thoughts.
For most of my career as a songwriter and worship leader, I’ve tried to do something that I call “writing in the spaces.” What I mean is that there are lots and lots of songs that say the same things. That’s not bad. Some themes are just really central to the people of God. And most songwriters will go those themes. In addition to those themes being very common to orthodox doctrine, they are also (usually) really universal. Meaning they are themes that can be sung at pretty much any time — and in any place — that Christians gather. When i say “in the spaces,” i just mean that I usually don’t try to restate the things that have already been stated (after all, lots of those songs are just really, really good and are able to say all that I desire to say), but instead, i look for “the spaces” in between, where there are ideas and topics and themes that maybe haven’t been explored as much or as well. I hope I’m making sense.
Anyway, that’s where I’m going with this. The bad news is that the really “big” songs are usually about the really common, universal themes, so if you write in the spaces, you have less chance of your song being “really big.” We all know that these kinds of things shouldn’t matter, but please have grace for those of us who are still shaking off the earthly trappings of money, fame, and whatnot.
OK, enough philosophizing. What ideas and themes are “in the spaces”? Well, I can only tell you what i think, and my context (i.e. my faith community and my personal and communal journey) may not be like yours.
but i have found that there are very few songs about these things:
Community/Unity — this ain’t sexy or “anthemic”, but “loving each other well” is the thing that Jesus prayed about just before he got betrayed and carted off to be killed. He said the world would know that He was for real by our love for each other. And then of course Paul spends most of his epistle-writing energy talking about it as well. So why don’t we sing about it?
Repentance — how many times have we sat (or stood, or kneeled, or danced) at a worship gathering and thought, “i really wish my sin wasn’t weighing so heavily on me right now”? Maybe it’s just me. But it would be great to have songs that say “I acknowledge that I’ve loved/worshiped other gods, but I turn to You as my One and Only.” In other words, “I repent.” I really don’t think I’ve heard those concepts in music much.
Justice/Poverty/Adoption/Widow care/aliens/prisoners/unborn/etc — I’m lumping all this stuff together because it all falls into the same general category of “stuff that only liberals ever talk about.” Well, all except the unborn. It would be nice to sing some songs that make us understand that the Gospel isn’t just “the plan of salvation for the soul,” but also “the plan of rescue for the needy.”
That’s all i’ve got for now, but i guess that’s plenty.
Again, thanks for inviting into the conversation, Todd. It’s great to be reconnecting with you.
I feel you wanting to fill a gap in our repertoire – and there are enough of them. But the first thing that came to my mind is much akin to what Ed was saying – when songs arew written for a very specific purpose, they tend to be for that alone and never be hears again.
I for one like the fact that many churches are writing music these days. So when the pastor does the series on Ruth, or is covering the part of Ephesians that gives him a very atypical sermon topic for that week, many places have a songwriter just waiting to expound on that subject. But rather than going on about that, and how I wish all the “lesser stars” of the songwriting sky could see each other better, I’ll give you the one topic that seems to be the hardest to find good music for. It is, after all, what you asked.
The unity of the body – There is much said about us being one body (the church, the bride, etc) in the New Testament, but we have few songs about the unity of the church that can be sung in unity by the church. There are some old hymns (as I recall), but in truth none of them do it for me.
I think the reason for that is.. the church is not united. Not in this country anyway. We are far too focused on castle building rather than Kingdom building. Most congregations want to be “the best” at what they do and that ends up pitting themselves against other congregations. They build they’re own castle.
I won’t pretend to know how to stop it but “church” has become very competitive, and the first ones to say they’re not, are the worst.
hehe.. reminds me of another song I wrote called Heal Our Land. Starting in “christians” hearts, may God take back this country. May we be more in rhythm with God’s purpose. May we be about building the Kingdom of God.
I have been in ministry 40 years. I started at 16 and I agree with you on communion songs or blood songs as far as that goes are needed. Commitment is almost forgotten in this me generation it seems to be about what can I get instead of what I give. If things get rough I leave instead of allowing God to change me. Anything that helps the congregation worship instead of watching. There is a real need for the body to understand God is a loving God but also a just God that requires us to die to self and take up the cross. Once you take up the cross your not coming back the same.
I’m not a worship leader but I love praise and worship music and am blessed to have an incredibly talented praise and worship team at the church I attend. Just thought I would share a few thoughts that came to mind. Our church sings a lot of Hillsong/Hillsong United songs and I find some of them to be more focused on an intimate relationship with God, than just a simple praise song. Examples of some of my favorites are: It’s Your Love and The Father’s Heart. And other favorites of mine along that same vein that we sing are Running by Christ for the Nations Institute, You Won’t Relent by Misty Edwards. We also sing several songs by Fellowship Church including Everlasting God and Sons and Daughters of the King. Sons and Daughters was sung at our Easter drama and was very powerful and has become a favorite of our congregation. Those who are looking for an Easter song, this is a good one.
As far as communion songs, a song from City on a Hill came to mind titled I Remember You with vocals by Mac Powell. For a different Christmas song, listen to How Many Kings by Downhere. We recently saw them in concert for the first time and were extremely impressed with their lyrics and vocals. And Todd, DYSWIS will always be a favorite at Christmas for us.
As a long time P&W guitar player, I have seen just about every type of songs come & go.
“Tasting Forgiveness” by Robbie Seay Band is a GREAT communion song. one of the only ive heard like its kind. check it out todd. love your music bro. true points all around on this post.
Todd, read “Pagan Christianity” by Frank Viola and write some songs from your thoughts of that book. I think some amazing songs about what the New Testament says Church is and the business known as church today will come forth and open eyes. It will allow us to drop things that aren’t in the Bible, and allow our focus to be on Christ alone.
One of the biggest commandments that Jesus gave us was to go & make DISCIPLES of all nations. One of my favorite CD’s to listen to is LeCrae’s “After the Music Stops.” He speaks a lot of discipleship on that whole entire CD, which is waaaaaay cool. But that’s Christian Hip-Hop. That’s a whole other genre then what we’re talking about.
The thing is I turn on K-Love & listen to what’s being played, I almost NEVER hear any songs speaking of discipleship.
Why is the Great Commission so greatly ignored in CCM?
(sorry about the above post)
Great topic & one could write a essay concerning it – I will keep it short
There are a lot of GREAT writers in Christian music today & as a long time P&W guitar player, I have seen songs come & go covering every vain. The one focus I do not see a lot is; “Heaven”. It would seam we have lost sight of the rewards heaven offers to those who give their life’s to the spreading of God’s love. It’s my opinion that we need songs that encourage people to “Pack their Bags” with good works. The songs that go over the most in our church are those that are simple & have a good chorus.
I’ve always loved your music from the first album (matter of fact, my wife’s maiden name is Agnew so I might have married into your family!). My favorite is This Fragile Breath and I think it speaks perfectly to this post…what song can I sing, what poem can I write…to bring glory to your name?
As a worship leader, I find fewer and fewer songs doing that as a primary purpose…glorifying God. Too many seem to focus too much on our relationship with and to Almighty God…not a problem for the radio or for concerts…but the corporate worship service is supposed to be about bringing God glory first and foremost.
All that foundation aside, what I’d like to see would be more scripture songs. A whole album devoted to the psalms (more so in concepts or major themes than a word for word representation maybe?). I’d love to have musical commentaries on scripture verses, like Matthew Henry expositions, but in musical form.
I wholly agree with Jerry H in that we need ANYTHING that will help the congregation worship instead of watch.
I also agree with Bill A in that we desperately need some diversity in musical styles. One of the things I love about your music is that it doesn’t sound like everything else.
Thanks for giving your gifts to God and therefore to us.
i think we need more laments. most of the psalms are laments (praise in a minor key) but the western church is stuck on the feel good happiness warm fuzzies that a worship experience can give. this world is a rough place filled with loss, pain, and suffering. the church needs to express this and recognize that God will deliver us even though we don’t see how it could ever possibly happen.
What songs do the church need?
For me, personally, songs about Heaven – Eternity – Jesus Coming. The reality is that Jesus is coming back soon and I find great joy in singing about His Glorious Appearing!
Let us sing more songs about “His Return” and Rejoice in the Truth that He will Make All Things NEW!
I love “Glorious Day” and I was so surprised to find that this song was written in 1910 ~ simply timeless …just like the Bible.
We need hope in a lost world ~ blessed hope.
After reading most of the posts above, I wonder what can be done to create a calloborative venture to 1) share songs that are already out there for the purposes you are asking about (especially originals by worship leaders who don’t have a record deal or publisher), and 2) link up song-writers to co-write the types of songs that we are calling for.
I am not a computer guy, but I’m sure it wouldn’t be too hard to create some type of group or page or whatever to help facilitate this kind of collaboration. As a worship leader and song-writer, I would LOVE to participate with others in this type of endeavor.
Also, I would love to see more songs on biblical themes like forgiveness, radical discipleship, the fruit of the spirit, suffering. When these are done well, they can have a huge impact (ie. “Praise You in this Storm,” “My Jesus” BAM 🙂
I am so glad you asked Todd. This has been a discussion/observation between my wife and for the last few years. We are to worship the Lord. We should want to do this. It should be something intimate and honoring to Him and Him only. I have seen way too many songs being incorporated into church worship that we NOT worship of our Lord but worship of us and what we are doing. For example: We lay down, We raise our hands, we bow down, we sing, we , we, I , I , us, us, us,we…. you get the picture. That is worshiping of what we are doing not genuiunly worshipping Jesus and what He has done.
We desperately need to refocus our songs away from what is popular and what we do, to what He has done, Who He is, and How magnificant, awesome His Love for us is.
Todd, I think the church needs songs about obedience. We are not going to get anything else right if we are not obedient. We have just started writing some of our own worship songs, and God is blessing that. I would love to see a collaborative of other worship leader’s songs.
As a worship leader I find myself constantly tossing aside songs that portray our future hope as nothing more than floating on a cloud in heaven, smoking dope, playing a harp, singing hymns, loving everyone and everything for eternity. My husband and I find ourselves in a constant state of frustration over the lack of understanding of what exactly our future hope beyond this life looks like. Our future hope is a new Heaven AND A NEW EARTH IN OUR GLORIFIED RESURRECTED BODIES. One in which we will not only worship, but work to the glory of God finally free of the curse of labor administered by God to fallen man in the garden (see Gen. 3:17-19). While this may push the buttons of some denominational doctrine/scriptural interpretation, to some extent we should all be able to agree that the bible does NOT teach Heaven as our final destination, but rather a “New Jerusalem”-one so NON-ethereal as to have walls and dimensions (see Revelation 21).
Again, I’m not looking to incite a doctrinal debate here. I’m just pointing out that it would be great to have songs that tell the full story of our future hope. After all, that is the story of the completion of Christ’s working in making “ALL THINGS NEW.” Hope that helps!
One of the problems with a lot of today’s new worship music is that it isn’t easy for non-professional musicians to play. There are drum loops, lead lines, complex harmonies, and incredible effects on both vocals and instruments that are so time consuming and difficult to emulate efficiently. Practically all of David Crowder’s “Church Music” album is UNPLAYABLE in a congregational setting, minus, perhaps, How He Loves. I feel like the top “itunes” artists of the Christian sphere of music have a responsibility to produce songs that can be stripped down enough for a youth pastor to play with just a guitar.
Phil Wickham, when he released “Heaven & Earth” also recorded a simple and stripped down acoustic version of the album that you could purchase in a special promo package. It made all of his songs playable for the AVERAGE worship leader….because often times arranging today’s music is extremely difficult if you don’t have incredible musicians and tech people on your team.
I know I already posted, but Dn Navarra hit the nail on the head from a very practical standpoint. Most of my ministry of 20 years has been in the medium to smaller churches lacking in any serious musicians. Finding time to arrange the music for them often prevented me from actually ministering to them as then may need.
Grant it…4 chord songs can get old quick, but if it can’t be done with just one guy and his guitar or keyboard, that means it can’t be done by the majority of our medium to smaller churches.
Thanks Dan for pointing that out!
I agree with Dan (and not just because we’re real-life friends… hey buddy!). One of the greatest things about Tomlin and other writers is the intentional (I believe) simplicity of their music. It’s still impactful, Spirit-filled music, but someone can play their songs with 4 chords, and maybe one different chord in the bridge or pre-chorus. So thank you for that!
As far as topics go, we need more songs that reflect the importance of God being a priority in their lives. Giving their time. Battling religious consumerism. Taking off the “yeah, I’m a super good Christian” mask. Songs about God being first in our hearts.
My husband is a musician for the Lord. A prophet told him that his music would not only be used for worship, but also healing. I don’t think we’re missing topics such as you mentioned. The Bible says to “sing a “new” song etc. So with that being said couldn’t one musician start playing a chord then others join in slowly one at a time bringing a “new” song, unrehearsed, just flowing with the spirit, using words that the Lord may put on your heart at that time. Also if a musician has the gift of tongues why couldn’t tongues be sung while the music is flowing. With that being said, we wouldn’t need to categorize our songs into songs for communion, christmas, church favorites or “old hymns”. By stepping out on Faith and improvising a “new” song to the Lord, wouldn’t that give God the chance to seize the moment and let him lead. It might be a 3 minute song or it might last for 20 minutes but the point is that God is the one leading the music. We do this at our church and it works! Nothing is rehearsed, one musician simply starts playing his acoustic then another joins etc…
—songs that tell less of the story–
I’ve not been at this long, but just trying to plan the Palm Sunday service was very difficult. Easter hasn’t been easy to plan either. The biggest thing I’m running into is that the Easter songs tell the whole story in one song. So to do two in a row is really to do the same song twice.
It would be nice to have smaller chunks of substance spread out more deeply over one song. Then there could be some more teaching through the words and more time for that to sink in. It’s too easy to fill in the blanks when the song is Easter short notes. To have a set of songs that serve as chapters of a story would give greater flexibility.
The same is true of basic Christian doctrine. More and more I’m noticing that people who sing the same songs I sing, don’t have a depth to their understanding. So songs with narrow focus, but depth would be helpful.
Also, there’s value in making the songs more readily singable for the congregation. Some take too long to catch on. It’s helpful if a song is catchy enough that a new listener will be willing to join in by the second or third chorus. Clever songs sometimes trick people into singing in rests, resulting in less risk taking in the congregation.
One more thing. I’d love for songs to be in an original key that transposing instruments can play more easily. I had to pick a different arrangment of one new song because the original key was B, meaning the clarinet would have to play seven sharps. But then, there’s not a recording in the new key, so my by-ear guitar guys and vocals have more trouble.
I believe we definitely need more songs on being committed to Christ, through hardships and adversities and through seasons and times of waiting on the Lord. I have seen over the years as a worship leader people fall away when things got tough & take matters and decisions into their own hands after becoming discouraged or upset when what they were believing for didnt come to pass. Alot of times there is an immature, “all about me” attitude, not realizing that they have been crucified with Christ and no longer live but Christ now lives through them so now its all about Him! There is also a need for songs about compromising with sin. Nowadays you cant seperate the christian from the unbeliever because of the same ungodly lifestyle! The same people leading, singing, playing instruments, running a ministry Sunday mornings, & serving the Lord for years are wallowing in fornication, adultery, & secret sin behind closed doors. The word teaches that judgment begins with the house of God first and that God is not to be mocked, we will reap what we sow! Our confession and our lifestlye must match so that we can reach the lost! No, were not called to be perfect but the body of Christ is called to be holy and set apart.
As a pastor (for 20 years) I humbly offer the following suggestions when producing music for the church:
1. Know your theology. There is no such thing as a generic Christian. We all have a theological perspective. That theological perspective influences our view of worship.
For example, as a Lutheran pastor I view worship as primarily “God in action.” Worship is an opportunity to hear what God has to say. The reason we call our worship an “Order of Service’ is because here God serves us. Therefore all the elements of worship should reflect not so much what we do but rather what God has done and continues to do. Our response during worship is a faith response to what God has done. Even that response is only possible because the Holy Spirit is working through the Scriptures.
As a Lutheran Christian my primary purpose in life is not to give God glory but rather to share the crucified and risen Christ in my words and actions. The glory of God is in the cross of Christ!
My purpose in going to worship is to hear God’s Law and Gospel so that I can be better equipped to be a faithful disciple and witness for Christ.
2. Bible based and Christ focused. All of Scripture points to Jesus Christ. As God’s inspired Word it is a revelation of Himself. His ultimate revelation is Jesus. Scripture’s guidance for our lives comes only after we know who Jesus is and what he has done for us. This means that what we do in worship is not focused so much on what we do and how we feel but rather on what God has done for us. If what we’re singing makes us feel good but we don’t know why we feel good – what’s the point? The songs in worship should always have something to say about the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sin and our hope of eternal life. With this revelation being explicit we can then respond with joy, praise, thankfulness and lives lived as His redeemed children.
3. Easily sung by the congregation. A contemporary Christian song may be a great song in and of itself. It may even have a wonderful message. But if the congregation can’t participate the message may be lost as the congregation struggles to sing along. The songs of the church need to teach the faith and also enable sharing the faith. Songs can do that only if they are easily sung and remembered.
May our gracious Lord guide and bless your efforts to serve Him and His church as you use the gifts and talents He has given you!
More songs about atonement…about Christ’s sacrificial giving, and how it has set us free from the burden of sin…praise God!!! He gave His all…
I think a lot of contempary worship walks the fine line of becoming mindless and repetitious – something which Jesus warned us not to do, so I think we need some songs that keep us on our toes. I am ever mindful as a worship leader for the past several years that if I am in front of people being mindless or just pleasing myself, I am not worshipping, nor am I facilitating worship. For Whom am I singing/playing anyway?
Many Christmas songs are totally incorrect – it was NOT a cold winter’s night with snow so deep, for crying out-loud! Talk about mindless! Besides, the Western Christmas is fraught with pagen roots that muddy it terribly (especially since Jesus came at the Feast of Tabernacles), so I think we need songs that get the facts straight. I talk (and witness) to wordly people who think all Christians are totally stupid because of some of the things that are said, sang, and done “in the Name of Jesus” when Jesus has little to do with it really.(Their hearts may be in the right place, but their facts are not – do we even pay attention to what we are singing anymore?) Same goes for “Easter” (BTW the name of the false goddess who claimed to be queen of heaven). Just because Passover and the pagan holiday are very close (different calendars) does not mean we should go calling our Lord’s ressurection by the name of a pagen idol (lover). There are not many communion songs because Jesus last meal was actually a Passover meal (Christ the Passover is sacrifice for us, therefore let us keep the feast – Corinthians). The (unleavened) bread and cup have great significance in the context of the meal and those who do not understand the feasts of Messiah miss out on a lot. So I think we should have more “accurate” songs that peel away the layers of understanding God gives us throughout the entire Bible, not just the new testament.
That said, I think that any praise song is powerful spiritual warfare, so we should keep them coming. Any song born out of a heart truly seeking God is a good song whether or not it is worthy of leading others in worship.
Wow! What a great wealth of ideas!
I think statistically, there are people in every worship service who are facing hurt, pain, loss, and suffering. With so many “happy” songs, we might be fostering a perceived prerequisite to “put on our happy faces” in corporate worship.
Personally, my pain often comes from my own sin. I cannot recall too many songs about confession and repentance. “Change my heart, O God”; “Your kindness leads me to repentance”. I am thinking of small groups who share “prayer requests” and it’s almost always concerning physical issues. I thought we were supposed to “confess our sins, one to another…” THAT’s the kind of healing I need! Or courage to die to self? Perhaps a song with a long instrumental bridge where there is time for God to illuminate the sin that separates us. Goofy?
“It’s our confession, Lord, that we are weak…so very weak, but You are strong….” opens communication in a pure way for me. I can rarely utter the word “weak” without immediately sensing my guards coming down, my eyes being opened to how God sees things, and my heart breaking for -yet another- chunk of time I’ve tried “it” on my own AGAIN. Though I am annoyed when songs are overly repetitive, I NEED “Let your mercies fall from Heaven” to repeat a kajillion times…it’s one song, that facilitates worship for me, and I ALWAYS feel like it ends too soon:)
I love all the songs about how great and powerful God is, but I feel like we don’t totally make the connection that THAT power is available for our daily lives…to do “far greater things”. Perhaps the oom-pah musical swagger of “There is Pow’r, Pow’r wonder-working Pow’r in the precious Name of the Lord…” ironically shut my generation off to the Power of those lyrics.
This post has been a blessing to me today. Thanks, Todd!
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