Worship Pastors and their Teams - Lesson 8
Singing Songs and Song Writing
We sing individually, corporately and worldwide. There is always music somewhere in the world. Music and singing help connect affection for God and truth about God in one unified expression. Make it simple and nourishing. For a new song, introduce it three weeks in a row as a new song. Maybe even play through the chorus first to let people hear what a segment of the song sounds like.
Singing Songs and Song Writing
I. Singing is Encouraged Throughout Scripture
A. Singing Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs (Colossians 3:16, Ephesians 5:18-19).
B. Singing is a physical, emotional and intellectual activity.
II. How to Design a Worship Service
A. Accompaniment or immersive ?
B. Choosing which songs to invite people to sing:
1. Blended hymns and contemporary related to the sermon topic
2. 5 criteria for choosing specific songs:
a. Are the words truthful and can they be biblically reinforced?
b. Are the lyrics poetic and emotionally compelling?
c. Does the melody compel you?
d. Could a non-musical person sing this song with me if given a chance?
e. Where does this song fit in your spiritual diet?
III. Introducing a new song to your congregation
IV. Song Writing
A. Consider writing a song that's meaningful to you and your congregation.
B. Seven items to consider when writing a song for congregational worship:
1. Write Scripture songs: use scripture and add a melody.
2. Write melodies, not chord progressions. Melody is king.
3. Reach across the breach between your artistic brain and your analytical brain.
4. Write down your prayers and put them to a melody.
5. Write song hooks, something people will remember during the week.
6. Write songs with a specific form: when they are organized they are intuitive for people to sing.
7. Keep things simple but not dumbed down: strive for a marriage of simplicity and beauty, form and function.
C. Seek the Holy Spirit for inspiration and illumination.
D. Listen closely to people in your congregation: listen as they share and pray.
E. Write responsibly.
F. Think creatively: let your work represent who you are and what God is doing in your life.
G. Let your work represent a high degree of originality rooted in authentic experience.
H. Act courageously and be proud of your songs.
I. Treat your songs like you treat your kids.
V. Song: Million Times Over
Carl Cartee, a lifelong musician and experienced worship leader of 17 years, will be leading this course on how to effectively invite people in your congregation to worship God. He will cover topics such as choosing members for the team and mentoring them musically and spiritually, emphasizing truths during worship, and planning services. Students are strongly recommended to go through The Essentials of Worship by Dr. Gary Parrett beforehand for a theoretical basis for worship.
Worship leaders have an opportunity to paint a picture of eternity to reveal how beautiful and powerful God is. Worship can be defined as the mind’s attention and the heart’s affection expressed. Biblical worship is both individual and corporate worship. In each worship service, you as a worship leader should focus on communicating the one thing people in the congregation need to know, what they need to do and how you can help them remember it.
You are a child of God and you are chosen, royal and purchased. You are called, not so much to accomplish but to worship. You must be worshipping before you can lead others to worship. Work on your job, you’ll make a living. Work on yourself, you’ll make a fortune. Don’t stay where you are at. God invites us into his work, not because we are needed, but because we are loved.
Don’t let there be a disconnect between what you say at church and what you do in the world. In order to lead people beyond your title, you must earn their trust by making your life and words line up. When you depend on your title alone as worship pastor, you are being a fixture, not a shepherd. Prioritize time with God. Your calling is to a journey, not a destination. Bearing fruit requires time and effort, not from trying to cut the process short by copying someone else. Don’t try to make people happy, make them disciples. Pray that God will nurture in you an inward passion that transcends outward appearance.
If you are insecure, the temptation is to be nervous about what the people in the congregation are thinking rather than concentrating on having an attitude of compassion. Humility is the opposite of insecurity and you discover it in God's presence. One way to demonstrate kindness is to spend 30 seconds each with as many people as possible before you lead worship. You perform from a stage, you influence from a platform. Trajectory of a Christian leader is not an ascent into fame and influence but a descent into obscurity and service.
Creativity and thought can make an experience memorable. Core truths of the Christian belief are God is holy, man is sinful, grace is amazing and Jesus is the hope of the world. It can be valuable to include durable and well thought-out ancient confessions and creeds. We learn theology through well-written hymns. Be prayed up, punctual and prepared. Worship is a relational encounter with God and others. We don’t build temples, we dig wells.
Different people often view the same experience in different ways. People may be deeply moved even though they don’t express it outwardly. Earn trust short term by using a welcome using gestures you use daily, like a smile or a nod or a greeting. Think of things that are universally welcoming. You need to break down resistance, curiosity, reluctance. Earn long-term trust by representing the bible well over time and musical integrity and proficiency. Be careful about “barking orders” right away. Tend the flock rather than driving cattle. Don’t force-feed people information but offer them a meal. Rather than be a cheerleader, encourage and invite people to have an encounter with Christ. Make your body language match what your mouth is saying. Open your eyes to connect with people. Body language can also help non-musical people participate and sing. Use your music to take people on a connected journey. Try to add familiarity in everything you do.
Use words purposefully (Prov 12:18, 10:19). The worship leader is often the second most influential person in the church so your words carry weight. Prepare your introduction. Invite people in by telling them what is about to happen and by telling them, who you are, what you are about to do and why you are doing it.
We sing individually, corporately and worldwide. There is always music somewhere in the world. Music and singing help connect affection for God and truth about God in one unified expression. Make it simple and nourishing. For a new song, introduce it three weeks in a row as a new song. Maybe even play through the chorus first to let people hear what a segment of the song sounds like.
Introduce a song as new for 3 weeks in a row. Introduce people to parts of the song the first few times. When choosing songs, think of yourself as your congregation’s spiritual dietician and give them a balanced diet across a range of emotions and thought. The best songs seem to be ones that people can sing with and engage with. Know who you are leading worship for. Establish an understanding of how they hear you vs needing to say what you think. Respect the direction of the pastor. If you are younger than the pastor, you earn their respect by your character. Three levels of communication with your worship team: 1. Information, 2. Encouragement, 3. Insight. Pray for what you envision for your congregation. Christianity is not purely a thought, it’s the expression of thought…the Word became flesh.
Questions about how a pastor and worship leader can work together to create a seamless worship experience and model working together in relationship.
As a worship leader, you don't lead music for people, you lead people with music. What do you do and say that is effective in inviting people in your congregation to worship God? How do you choose members of your worship team and then mentor them musically and spiritually? What truths do you emphasize and how do you articulate them? How do you design and implement a plan for your worship service? What should your planning time with your pastor look like?
The speaker for this class is Carl Cartee who is a lifelong musician who has had experience in playing concerts and recording music. For the past 17 years, he and his wife Heather have been leading worship, writing songs and mentoring musicians.
We strongly recommend that you attend this seminar in conjunction with Understanding Worship seminar by Dr. Gary Parrett. Gary will give you the theoretical basis for worship, and Carl will give the practical applications.
Worship Pastors and their Teams
Singing Songs and Song Writing
Well, let's talk a little bit about singing songs. It's songwriting. It's a big part of my life. In leading worship has been involved around songs, really getting an understanding of what worship leadership can be as it relates to singing. Minute ago you talked a lot about in the previous lecture, we talked about speaking. So now we'll talk about singing, but I think it's super important. To emphasize singing because of all the things that we do. You know, one of the things that gets emphasized in the scriptures a lot is the invitation for people to sing, sing to the Lord. And as a culture, humans use songs to personify their relationships, love songs, join hearts together. They melt reluctant here's into emotional messes they've aided to create deeper emotion and atmosphere in almost every aspect of life. Since the beginning of time individually. We sing. For so many reasons, so many forms of expression. Collectively, people sing about things, their favorite sports teams, and then globally. It's funny to think about this, but there is not a moment. When music is not happening at all times around the world, there's probably not a moment. When people's voices somewhere are not being lifted up in song. Something about that, you know, something about that to think. A few things about singing. That the Bible instructs us with that I want to bring out questions. 316 Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly. Teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom. Singing songs and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. That's as a favorite one for worship leaders. We we say that a lot. Ephesians 518 and 19. And do not get drunk with one for that's debauchery, but be filled with the spirit addressing one another, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.
Singing and making music and making melody in your heart to the Lord. Oh, Paul and Silas. When the Spirit of God moved in Acts 16 in the jail in Philip II. They were they were in prison. And the sound of a song shook the place. In Second Chronicles, 22 Joseph Defeats Moab and Amnon by letting the singers lead the army into battle. Hebrews 12 two. He says, I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters in the assembly and I will sing your praises. Some 7123. My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you. I whom you have delivered. Psalm 105. Sing to him, sing praise, tell of his wonderful acts. The Bible is full of commands to sing in stories about people singing and the emotions and affection expressed. The body's breath expressed its movements and its muscles unleashed and the intellect of the mind expressed. Music and singing help to connect affection for God and truth about God in one unified expression. Like it's a singing is a physical thing. It's an emotional thing and it's an intellectual thing. And it's the one thing where all of those things converge unified in expression. I think there's something to that. I don't know of a lot of other things that we do that connect our emotions, our intellect and our passions. And our physical bodies in in that way. So knowing how important singing is, I want to talk a little bit about how worship is designed and a couple of different philosophies or perspectives on how you might design a worship service. I had read an article where someone described it designing a worship service to be accompaniment. Or immersive. So what they meant by that was we designed a worship service with music and elements to draw people in.
But our music is accompaniment to singing. So everything we do, we try and accompany the singing. So the way we play the song, that's one that's one perspective and philosophy. The other one was immersive. So. We try to create and craft and design a service so that it's not as participatory as you might, you know, be in this other way. But it's designed to create an immersive atmosphere where the sounds and the sights and the smells and the tastes. Come together to converge in an immersive experience. Not one of those is right or not one of those is wrong. I would tend to say, though, that if we had, if I had to choose. That inviting somebody to participate in the worship service through singing, which is one of the most easily understood and universal concepts that you can ask somebody that they might not feel like they're a good singer, but they know what's up. They know. They know that, you know, singing something that most everybody can do because you're built with the instruments. So I want to I want to make sure that at least a part of, if not all, of the gospel story that I'm telling invites people in to sing along. And we're in an age in the church. Where. You know, we used to all like, sing from the, you know, certain hymnal. You know, it had a few hundred songs in it. And those are the ones we sang. And now, I mean, the church has probably never. Never one in four songs, you know, uh. The the books, the Internet filled with songs. Every church has a songwriter. It seems like any more so. One of the things I think would be important for us to talk about is going about choosing what songs we allow people to sing or invite people to sing at this point, like what has been some of the method maybe that that you've used to go about? Choosing songs for a set or church is very mixed in its age range.
So we're our pastor, our staff is all on the same page where we want to create a blended worship service. So it's my job in the pastors is we kind of sit down together, we'll go through his message, we'll try to fit songs along the same theme as his message a lot of the time and and then try to blend the old and the new as well. Not all the time it works out. I mean, sometimes they'll be more contemporary based or more times towards the hymns, but trying to create that blended service and having a good flow of music as well. So there's a lot of elements that kind of goes into it, but that's the main theme is having a blended service at our church. So very, very cool. Yeah, well, I mean that's I think that's pretty typical of a lot of of a lot of churches because churches churches are made up of diverse demographics, you know, ages, stages of life, church races, ethnicities. One thing that I like to do is to take any song that we're going to sing. And hold it up to a criteria. Ask five questions of a song now because there's so many songs and there's I mean, there's a lot of good songs, you know, there's no lack of good songs anymore. Songwriting and recording technology is at a place. It's like, it's amazing to me how how good things are technologically. And so you can record and sound great and it's always good. But those kind of things don't necessarily make for a good song. A good song. Doesn't equal a good recording necessarily doesn't equal a good song. So I try to hold a song up to five standards like these Five standards.
And speaking of songs in the context of a corporate worship song. There are a million different kinds of good songs. Not all of them are for this purpose, but for this purpose. I think it's important to point out. What I'm talking about are corporate worship songs. What makes a good corporate worship song? So I have five things that I always like to ask. First. Are the lyrics of this song truthful and can they be biblically reinforced or can can can you use the Bible to justify your meaning in this in this lyric? Can the but does the Bible reinforce or confirm what you're saying in the lyrics of this song, in pop songs? You can say whatever you want to. And it's it's very, very subjective. It's very emotional. And I think worship songs can have emotion, but never emotion apart from. Being rooted in truth. Yeah. And so first question I always ask are the lyrics truthful and can they be biblically reinforced? Does the Bible stand underneath the song and hold it up? So that's the first thing. If the answer to that is no, I don't care how good the song sounds. Toss it. Are the lyrics poetic and emotionally compelling? Is this just a list of boring facts, or are you using? Are you accessing the power of poetry and beauty and and literature to reinforce the meaning of the song as well? Like start with the Truth. Does the Bible reinforce? And then is is this lyric? Is it able to draw you in? Is it poetically compelling? Is it beautiful? If it's not, I don't know why. I don't know why we're singing. There's probably a better way to say the same thing. So that's the that's the second thing.
Are the lyrics poetic and compelling? The third thing, does the melody compelling you? Is the melody powerful? There are a lot of great songs whose melody really makes the the complete difference in whether or not the song is. Palatable or just like it sweeps you away. It's like, you know. The song Happy Birthday. You know, the lyric is truthful, not so poetically compelling. But the melody. It takes you on a journey that I, that, uh, uh, you know, it takes you, it takes you places. It lives you up. It drops you back down. It lifts up a little higher, drops you back down, lives your way and drops you back down. And then if it's a, it's a, it's a melody. That song is not popular because of the lyric. It's popular because it's an amazing melody. So that's the third thing is this is the melody of this song, married to the lyric in such a way. And it's like, Man, I'm drawn in. It's beautiful. So is the melody powerful? The fourth thing and this is a specific question to ask of a corporate worship song, and I always ask, Could a nonmusical person sing this song with me if given a chance? You know, they might not be able to sing it the first time. But if I teach it to them after about the third or fourth time, could a nonmusical person be like, I can sing along with this? And and that is subjective. It probably would be a different, different measure from congregation to congregation, but it's a fair question to ask if to say, Hey, kin to my brother, who doesn't care anything about music, sing along with the song. Is it enough of a song to draw them in is invaluable enough in its content for them, whether they can sing great or not.
To be able to say Absolutely. I believe this and I want to participate in this. That's one of the great objectives I think of worship leaders is choosing songs that say to people this accessible to welcome into this song, participate in this with me. Don't watch me do this. You know what I mean? Mm hmm. Instead of performing from a stage. Influencing people to come on with you. Sure. So that's the fourth thing. And then fifth question is this Where does this song fit in our spiritual diet? I learned this from Bob Kaufman, a great pastor and worship leader. A friend of mine who says that we are the spiritual dieticians for our congregation. So we feed them, we offer them things. Are we offering them nourishing things or we offer them a whole lot of sugar? Are we offering them now? Not much to feast on, you know. And so as we choose a song, ask of the song. Where does this fit in our diet? It's okay to have dessert every now and then. It's awesome. You know, I like ice cream, but, you know, too much ice cream, and you're not well nourished. You know what I mean by this? By the same measure, you just like facts and figures and you know all the information. You lose a little, you lose a little heart, you lose a little joy, you lose a little mystery. And so how many sugar songs have we been singing or, you know, like, how do we balance the diet of what we feed our people? That's a that's just those five questions that I ask of every song that we're doing. Are the lyrics biblically reinforce? Is the lyric poetic and compelling? Is the melody good? Can I teach this song to a nonmusical person and have them wholeheartedly participate? And then where does the song fit in in the feast that I'm laying out for folks here? Yeah, that's just.
That's just my way. There are other ways, good ways. But that's just one way of saying, Hey, is this song worth leading at our church? You know, the next worship ministry comes out with an awesome album. It's probably got 12 songs on it. How many? How many, you know? Yeah, how many, how many fit, you know? And so there's always an outlier and there's always, you know, there's always just that one song where you're like, We need to be singing this. Our church needs to be singing this. And I don't think there's anything wrong with with that, as long as you know that the truth component is there, that actually that's the most essential thing for any song. If it's if it's not reinforced by the Bible and it's just not for Christianity. And and then and then you move up from there, you know, is this worth saying? What kind of melodies is God? I wonder if Brother Johnny will be able to sing along with me and, you know, does this fit and what we want to serve our church? So those are just a few ways of picking out a good song, but really, really working to pick out a song that encourages people to sing. Mm hmm. For me, as I've led worship and tried different songs out. Spent time thinking about this thing and then listening to people's feedback. I think that songs that connect with people the most. End up being the ones that are most accessible from a singing standpoint. Song like, you know, How great is our God? You know, it's a very simple melody, beautiful truth reinforced by the Bible, but it's like, let me let me make this accessible for you. And those things, people latch onto those things, and I think it's awesome.
Any time we get an opportunity to put something that's that simple and nourishing, you know, into into our people's hearts. And so that's the important part about singing songs. And now I want to turn a little bit to songwriting. Any anything come up in your mind? Yeah. Just a quick question. So say you've got a new song you want to introduce. What are some, you know, some of the things you've done in the past introducing a new song. Any advice to speak on that to the congregation? You know, helping and say it's something you've never heard before? Yeah. In introducing that song, yeah, I usually I usually have somewhat of a formula. If, if it's a new song they've never heard before. Say, it's a song that I've written, I will, I will say three weeks in a row. Oh, if I, if it's a new song, I'm leaving in three weeks in a row. Gotcha. I don't care. You know what I mean? Maybe if. If for whatever circumstance, it has to be this way. Three out of four weeks. But I always say, Hey, once you get to know this is a new song, you've never heard it before. And what it does is give, give, give people permission to say, okay, now I'm in learn mode, You know what I mean? Yeah. Verses like kind of hijacking them and making them think, Well, I'm supposed to know this, but I don't. And I'm just going to kind of look around and wonder, does this let everybody off the hook for three weeks in a row? Hey, I want you guys to know this is a new song. Even though each week there will be people is like, That's not new to me.
I was here last week. We found that, you know, people are in church about half the month anymore, as at least in our context. You know, two out of four Sunday's, you know, that seems to be a regular rhythm for a lot of people. No, no. Not everybody fits into that category, but it averages out. Yeah. So if you sing a song, you know, three times in a month, you know, you might you might it's still it's still very, very new, you know? So we'll sing it three times in a row. Every time I'll say, Hey, this is a new song I want you guys to know. And usually for the first two times I lead it, I always take my guitar and just say, Hey, I wanted you guys this chorus before the band starts playing with me. I just want. I just wanna give you a chance to hear just a segment of the song so they'll be set up a little bit more. Doesn't take a lot of time, but just so we set up a little bit more to like, okay, I'm leaning in. Set the song up. Always like we were talking about with the communication piece. Singing a new song is a great time to inject meaning into what's about to happen with some intentional things that you say. You know what I mean? Like, I'm going to set this song up. This is an awesome song. I wrote the song because of this circumstance in my life. You know, you might feel like this. I felt that way, too. What I found is this song is awesome, you know what I mean? And then go in and just teach a little piece of that chorus. And so for us.
Unless we're willing to lead it three weeks in a row. We're not going to we're not going to introduce that song. We had to believe in it enough to say we're we're going to we're going to put the song, you know, in a good rotation for for people. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Good question, though. Yeah. So turn the corner a little bit. From singing songs now to the songwriting, because I I've been a songwriter since I was a little kid, and it's a big part of my heart. And while I understand that not every worship leader feels like they have a calling to be a songwriter, the only thing I would say to challenge that is, is that I understand that perspective. But is there. A world you could imagine where you did, where every worship leader did. Try and write a song. Doesn't have to be a famous song. Does it have to go around the world? Doesn't have to be recorded by whatever Christian artist. But could it be a song? For your people. At a specific time about a specific thing in their vernacular that meant something to them. I think almost anybody who's in a position as a worship leader who has some level of musical ability should at least try because they are positioned better than anybody else in the world, better than the best songwriter in the world. Their position better than anybody in the world to be the writer of a prayer, to be the voice of a prayer, to be that collective like guy who speaks on behalf of everybody else, to say, this is the cry of our hearts. This is the cry of these 50 people, these hundred people, these 3500 people, you know. I think that local worship leader writing for his local church.
Is is in as good a position as any, you know, famous songwriter that you might you might have. So that's why I would talk about this and bring this up. But for people who haven't, like, ever written a song, I very rarely met musicians who who will say, like, I've never, ever written a song. I don't even think about it. Maybe you haven't ever written a song, but it seems to be always in the back of back of our minds, you know? Do you write songs? A few, yes. Crazy and nothing crazy, of course. Who would ever do anything crazy? Don't do anything crazy. But for for people who are just getting started writing songs and again, in this context, writing songs for people to sing the congregation, I'm going to offer a few perspectives about seven things. To think about when you write and we'll put these up on on the website as well. Number one, write scripture songs. We don't have enough of those. The lyric is already there. Yeah, set it to melody. That's a great place to start. We are not grounded enough in the Bible because we have moved away from Scripture songs. They seem to have fallen out of out of favor for whatever reason, but things cycle and come around. But the songs, you know, they had melodies for them, you know. And I think it would be awesome if, uh, new songwriters wrote Psalms for their church and just put and put the songs to melody. And that's just a great a great place to start. Honor the Lord's word, write some scripture songs. Next thing, write melodies. Not chord progressions. Melody is the king of music, not chords. I'll say that again. Melody is the king of music, not chords.
So you give melody. The attention that a king deserves. So, like, you know, a lot of times a guitar player will. Let the chords that they know. Dictate how the melody of a song goes. Yeah. We have to pull away from that because. Chord progressions, you know, especially in a lot of worship songs. Well, worship songs tend to sound in some in some cases, like they were written by a guitar player who only knew for chords. You know what I mean? Yeah, because they move around in the same and similar ways. Sure. That's that's not to criticize them. And anyway, it's just to say they take on a certain sound because of the limitations of the chords. So how do you break out? How do you write melodies? I am a better guitar player than I'm a piano player, so I'm very simple. Simple on the piano. But taking those single note melodies and playing the note, not touching my guitar. Because I know that I'll go to old familiar places on my guitar, but letting the melody kind of find its way on the piano and then afterwards picking up my guitar and finding the chords that go with that melody. Melody is key. When you write songs, write melodies, and the thoughts and reverse of what most people probably are starting with. Well, and that's right. It is. It is kind of a little bit backwards because you think, well, I got to you know, I got to play and sing. So I got to I got to write to what I know. But it's it's easier than you think. And I think the chords and chords are great. And there's been there's been a lot of good songs written that way. But if you have to choose one or the other, melody is king in songwriting and write a good melody.
Gotcha. The next thing, reach across the breach between your artistic brain and the engineer type analytical brain that most people in the congregation will have when you're writing for congregations. Most artists will write for a congregation, and if you're being super creative, you're most expressive. You might write for a congregation and feel misunderstood, but that's because artists tend to do things that most people don't understand. So there's there's there's often a gap, a little bit of a gap between, you know, the creative mind, expressive mind, a deep feeler, deep emotionally connecting all things that make you a great worship leader. It's sometimes when you write a song that you're asking an engineer or a plumber or a schoolteacher to sing along with you, you've got to make it so that you find the common ground, that that space between why poetry is meaningful to anybody. And then also the roots of like, yeah, I understand this. This truth makes sense to me. Bring those two worlds together, reach across that bridge. Common ground without compromising artistic integrity is hard, but it must be reached for the good of the congregation. It's something that creative people have to work towards and really. For most of the time, it's an exercise for the creative person. To reach back and say, come with me. Not, you know, not trying to say you guys catch up. You know what I mean? It's like, hey, I'm going to I'm going to come back towards you because it's more important for me to help you with your expression than it is important that you understand my song. Yeah, You know what I mean? Definitely. So next thing, write your prayers down and then put those to melody. Mm hmm. Listening to people pray has been an unbelievably deep well of songs for me.
Really. Like, I. I listen to especially old people. Old people who've been following the Lord for many years. When you hear them pray, they pray and songs. It's, you know. And so there have been many times, you know, I've heard someone say something to the Lord and it was a fresh way because of their experience was was dimensional and dynamic and and rich and deep. And they'd done enough living to where they weren't drawing on just some familiar thing that they'd heard somebody else say their their heart was really overflowing. And I'm like, Oh, yeah, I can make that a song, you know? And I love I love hearing people pray and I love taking my own prayers and just writing them down and then looking back at it and said, Can I sing this? And if I can, if I can help in this with this matter, you know, this be a good diet for for my congregation. What would be the great melody I could give this so great your prayers. The next thing. Right song hooks. You know, the popular, you know, pop music right now is really hook heavy. You know, so many so many, so many songs, you know, you can listen to on the radio or on the Internet. It's like, man, this hook, there's a hook there. There's a hook there, There's a musical hook, there's a lyrical hook, there's a vocal hook, there's a guitar thing. Those things are intentionally crafted to just melodically draw you in. Yeah. And I mean, it happens to all of us. You know, people love hooks because they need a place to kind of, like, hang their hat, you know, like, All right. You know, some of my favorite preachers are like one point sermon guys because they drive home the idea and they approach it from this angle and they approach it from that angle and then this angle.
But the whole time I'm getting the hook, I know exactly what they're saying. I know what they're mean. And that and especially when it's it's a melody that meaning can be deep down in your heart. And so long after church is over, you know, your Wednesday at work, you can't get it out of your head. It's a valuable and powerful thing, especially when we're trying to communicate truth. So. Right. Good hooks these next two things. Right song with right songs with specific form, verse, chorus, verse, chorus or verse verse verse him form, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus. Songs that have specific form are helpful because they're organized in ways people can into it. Yeah, you know what I mean? Even the least musical people in the congregation might know. All right, this is the chorus. I bet it comes back around again. You know what I mean? There's probably a bridge somewhere. Or this is an a, B, a B kind of song form, especially for corporate worship songs. That's why, you know, hymns have a certain form. Yeah, they make sense to people, verse, refrain, verse, refrain, because they're, they're organized in a way that's easy for people to digest. Yeah, I can participate in this based on the melody and how the syllables of the words are organized. I can get in on this, you know what I mean? Now, we don't all all hymns don't have all songs, don't need to have him form. But it's good to honor the idea that, hey, specific song form is very helpful for people when you want them to sing along. So that's the final thing, is it's to keep things simple but not dumbed down. The difference totally. Simplicity is different than being dumbed down, you know, be down.
My vision is one of the most simple melodies, but it's stunning in its beauty. It's very simple. I could teach anybody to sing that melody. Yeah. But it's. Got this way of drawing you in. The lyric is simple and plain. It's a beautiful and profound lyric. But. But shoot for something like that. That marriage of simple simplicity and beauty. You know, it's like mastery of a craft has ultimate form and function. You know, that's like everyone's always trying to let those two things converge and perfect balance of form and function. Keeping things simple and as beautiful as you can is probably the the most important thing in writing, writing a worship song, because those are the kind of things that universally appeal to people, you know. So one more time, I'll list these seven things off again, write scripture songs, write melodies, reach across the breach between the artist and the engineer. Help find common ground. Write your prayers, write hooks, write good specific song form and write simply. You know I will. I'll never forget the first song I wrote. I was seven years old, right at home with my mom in a car, and I began singing the song kind of to the window. And it was she was like, What are you singing? It's like, Oh, I'm singing. Sing the song that I wrote. She's like, Oh, okay, what's it called? And this is actually for a person who wanted to become a songwriter from a young age. The fact that the first song I wrote was called They Would Not Listen is it's a jarring reality. It was it was a little song about how the people wouldn't listen to Jesus, you know, when he when he was up on the earth preaching his message.
And when I wrote that song and I just remember mom, I remember this very vividly, I remember mom saying, Hey, I like your song. She keep trying that if you keep writing, that's a good song. That's a good song. Even though it was called They would Not Listen. But she she encouraged me to keep writing songs. And I just want to encourage. Worship leaders to at least try to voice the prayers and the petitions and the praises of their local church. At least try, because you can do so much with a song that you can't do with any other medium. You know, people will remember. Something you say a turn of phrase. Maybe if you're lucky. But if you put that to melody and let that melody be compelling enough to move somebody to join in saying it for themselves, then you've done an extraordinary thing. And I think for the Christian creative, that's super, super important. Oh, yeah. And he can't. He can't deny it. Um, you may have yet to write your first song, but if you're called to lead a group of people in worship, I think you better get started. Um, there are tons of excuses that could hold you back. What if my songs aren't good? I've never written a song before. People will make fun of me, I'm afraid, And people will say, Well, there's plenty of good songs already out there. Um, all of those are probably valid reasons, but they're not excuses. Um, some some 43 talks about. He put a new song in my mouth. A hymn of praise to our God. Many will see in fear and put their trust in the Lord. This verse is reason enough for those of us who are able to write and share our work.
New songs elicit a response. They call people into an experience compelling them to engage. If you're fortunate enough to write a song that leads people to fear and put their trust in the Lord, then I don't think you can get a better return on your talent. It's a good thing, you know, for the local church, there's no better boy, no better voice to speak on their behalf than the one who not only knows about their burdens, but shares their burdens. Who better to rally the prayers of the congregation on behalf of a sick member than one who personally knows the one who's sick? What voice could give better context to a season of uncertainty and confusion than the one who's walking the same path as everybody else? It's like, I know what you know. Yeah. Let me help you express this in songs. So, okay, where are the songs that you hear me say? I want you to write songs. I want you to give your congregation a voice. Just a few things. Yeah. Seek diligently. Your songs will take better shape from a heart and mind. Surrender to the Holy Spirit, Embrace his power and what he is capable of through you. Anxiety has a way of fading in that kind of truth when you seek God and what He would have to say through you. The fact whether or not you're nervous about your song being good or bad tends to diminish in the light of the fact that you can be assured I'm singing truth. I'm singing what God's called me to sing. So first, seek diligently. Listen close. As the mouthpiece of your congregation. Listen close to what people are saying. Make it your business to recognize themes from testimonies, prayer requests, sermons and conversations and then put them in the songs.
I have written a lot of songs from listening to old people Pray, and you are the voice that's connected to a heart. So listen and express what your people are saying about Jesus. So listen, close that third thing, right? Responsibly. You're charged with putting words about God and the Christian experience in the people's mouths. That is a terrifying responsibility. That is an unbelievably scary responsibility to bear that weight. So do it with responsible thoughts. Do it with great care. Do it with great caution. Songs are uniquely capable of sticking with people. So make sure that what you say holds water. Make sure what you put into people's mouths is full of as much truth as it is beauty. Exhaust yourself to make your music and your lyrics represent the clearest biblical truth. Never settle for the easy way out. That thing is important. You're writing songs for people to sing. That's heavyweight stuff. It's got to be done that way. Number four, these little things think creatively. There are plenty of songs that represent emotions and experiences across the Christian spectrum. There's there's tons of them. You might be compelled to write a song about a familiar topic, and that's great. Just find the most creative and compelling way to say that as Christian songwriters and worship leaders, we're trying to tell the same story, but we're trying to synthesize it in a myriad of different ways, like express the human experience through the lens of Christianity. There's a bunch of different ways to do it, so don't settle for just like saying something because it rhymes. Yeah, that's too low of a bar. Push yourself. Push yourself creatively. Let your voice rising up from your heart. Do what distinguishes you. Let your work represent a high standard of originality that's rooted in authentic experience.
I don't think songs. Hit well or land well or. Or, or. People are curious about songs if they're not rooted in authentic experience. Hmm. If someone sits down and say, Oh, let's try. Let's write a song about how good God is. But it's not connected to authentic experience. Someone really, in a tangible way, connected to a story, connected to an idea and experience. Those are the songs that, like, kind of cut through the clutter and start to say, Hey, no, this is an original voice. This is this is a this is a word spoken that sounds fresh and unique and creative. Shoot for that stuff. Sure. Finally, act courageously about songwriting for your congregation. Be proud of your songs. Be proud of those things. When God gives them to you, it's either because he did not want them anymore or he wanted you to sing them for people. Sometimes people. But God, God gives us songs for reasons, and I think God gives us worship songs because He wants us to teach people to sing them. But it is a very intimidating process. So be gracious about your songs, but play your songs for people. If you've been given a writer's gift, don't keep it to yourself and never be ashamed of it. It's an honorable thing. Treat your songs like you treat your kids. Show them off in public, but do the work in private to be disciplined and consistent so that when you take them out of the house, they don't embarrass you? You know what I mean? So I'm sure I'm showing my songs off in public, but I'm doing the discipline work to craft them, to make them creative, to hone them, refine them, dignify them so that when I do show them off, people aren't like, Oh, that's cute.
Yeah, you did a good job here. I mean, yeah. So those are some thoughts about about writing songs. My buddy, extremely successful songwriter, also an elder in my church, good friend of mine, Tony Wood, gave me these three thoughts about songwriting. He said, Write with a high view of God. You will never write better than your theology. Excellent sermons and books that cause you to grow in your understanding should be the underpinning of your songs, he said. If your brain is a writing muscle. Keep it pure. You can't expect to write about purity by living in impure life and allowing yourself to see impure things and think impure thoughts. You can't write about it unless you're living it. Yeah. And then I learned this from him. He said Nothing destroys contentment like comparison. Don't write to impress your songwriter buddies. Yeah, right. To serve your church in the context that you're in. What's the one thing you need to know? Singing is biblical. When we lead worship, we're using music to help people and enable singing of the gospel, the most accessible human expression of worship. That's it. Why do we need to know it? Music in the church is complicated and needs to be stewarded well. It's been intended to use and has been and has been used to express adoration and praise to God. We sing to Him. We bless his name because that is a central part of what we're called to do. Orient ministry toward helping people sing and experience a comprehensive expression of worship to God. I wish every worship leader could just. Be okay with the idea that their job is not to be a singer. Help people sing. Think it will change that? The dynamic in the climate and the atmosphere of worship? Absolutely.
I love singing. I am a singer. I am someone who sings. But when I'm leaving worship, my job is to help people sing. And how can I help you? Remember? Man. It's it's practice in the in the trenches doing this kind of thing. And it's it's really it's really letting go of one thing and holding tightly to another, like singing as good of a singer as I might be when I'm leading worship. That's not when I'm a singer, it's when I'm a coach, an encourager. I'm helping people to sing. And then I'm also looking at the songs. What kind of diet am I feeling? These people, you know, Am I feeding them something that really feeds my ego? Am I giving them something that's really kind of like self-serving or my filling their mouths with nutrients, with the balanced diet, things that they enjoy, things that challenge them, things that make them think, things that make them cry? Am I serving my church? Well, let me pray for us and we'll finish our time. Talking about songs, I pray that you being rooted in established in love may have power together with all the Lord's holy people to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God, that a hymn who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. The man. I was wasn't desert. You know what? I was in awe. You are my father. You gave this back a seat at your table.
I was in pieces. You are my healer. I was in bondage. You are my freedom. You made this outcast an end to your kingdom. Times are bad. Back to. There. Jesus. Oh, have you. Jane Sue Edwards. They. Jesus. A million times over. I was lifeless. You breathe revival. I was a lost cause. But that's not what you saw. I have a future. Your word is fine. Well jobs on the to back. I spent all day. Oh, how. Soon. I learned that. Jesus. You sound so good that you see this. Your job is. I had no way home. But you came right here. I was unwanted. Lord, you bring me. I was very brown. But then you raised me. I'm go back to. I spend all day. Jesus. Oh, hi. I was. Do your job. You know. That seems to I was that.