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Writing Better Songs For Your Church

There are dozens of articles, blogs, and books about what it means to write songs for your local church. I thought I would add to discussion what I have learned from writing and where I hope we can get to for my own worship team and church.

1. Write because Other Songs Are Not Saying What Your Church Needs To Say.
I read an interview with Brian Doerksen (Come, Now is the Time To Worship and other songs you would know if this blog post interests you.) where he said that the reason he started writing for his church was that he could not find songs that were saying what his church needed to say. I have always tried to keep this in the back of my mind as a good reason.

2. Capture The Heart Of Your People
Writing for other people (which is the reason you write for corporate worship) will mean that you need to know the people in your church. What are they afraid of? What are their hopes and dreams? What do people most care about in your church? I suppose that this is universal but I also think that God wants to form unique expressions in every local church. Capture that in your writing and your people will sing boldly the words you put in their mouth.

3. Write As A Group
I believe most good songs are birthed out of pain. (Even happy ones ) Different people are in different places at any given time and when you share the process of writing songs you are processing the pain together. The truth is, we were never meant to do life alone. We are made for community. In this next year, I hope to write more with our team and I am hoping it spurs our community as well.

4. Allow others to Edit You Lyrics
I am grateful that my church loves me. I have made them sing some stupid lyrics a time or two in the name of artistic expression. Let others edit your songs in love and speak life to you. It took me a long time to get to the point where I actually wanted feedback on my lyrics. This is actually a protection for you and for the church.

5. Understand the Limitations of The Genre
Let’s be honest. The genre of corporate worship music does not hold a drastic amount of artistic expression. It simply can not hold poetic license the way other genres do. If you want your songs to be usable to more people, understand what you are writing for. I love writing worship music. I love hearing my church sings my songs. I do. But I also have to acknowledge that sometimes, the genre is limiting in the scope of subjects I can talk about and others find helpful. There are the Christian artists that are poets among us. (Listen to Andrew Peterson) They write incredibly poetic and beautiful songs but this is different than typical Sunday morning worship.

Limitations don’t have to be a hindrance but they have to be understood to birth creativity.