Lecture 8: Singing Songs and Song Writing

Course: Worship Pastors and their Teams

Lecture: Singing Songs and Song Writing

 

Let’s talk a little bit about singing songs and songwriting. A big part of my life in leading worship has been involved around songs and really getting an understanding of what worship leadership can be as it relates to singing. In the previous lecture we talked about speaking, so now we will talk about singing. I think it is super important to emphasize singing because, of all the things that we do, one of the things that gets emphasized in the Scriptures a lot is the invitation for people to sing. “Sing to the Lord.” As a culture, humans use songs to personify their relationships, love songs join hearts together. They melt reluctant hearers into emotional messes. They have 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. Globally, it is funny to think about this, but there is not a moment when music is not happening at all times, around the world. There is probably not a moment when peoples’ voices somewhere are not being lifted up in song. Something to think about.

 

I. Singing is Encouraged Throughout Scripture

A. Singing Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs (Colossians 3:16, Ephesians 5:18-19)

A few things about singing that the Bible instructs us with that I want to bring out. Colossians 3:16: “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” That is a favorite one for worship leaders, we say that a lot. Ephesians 5:18,19: “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is 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.” Paul and Silas, when the Spirit of God moved in Acts 16 in the jail in Philippi where they were in prison, and the sound of a song shook the place. In 2Chronicles 20 Jehoshaphat defeats Moab and Amnon by letting the singers lead the army into battle. Hebrews 12:2: He says, “I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters in the assembly and I will sing your praises.” Psalm 71:23: “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.”

 

B. Singing is a physical, emotional, and intellectual activity

The  Bible is full of commands to sing and stories about people singing, 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. Singing is a physical thing, it’s an emotional thing and it is an intellectual thing; and it is the one thing where all of those things converge, unified in expression. I think there is 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 that way.

 

II. How to Design a Worship Service

A. Accompaniment or immersive

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 read an article where someone described designing a worship service to be accompaniment or immersive. What they meant by that was, we design 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,  the way we play, the songs. That is one perspective and philosophy. The other one is immersive. We try to create and craft and design a service so that it is not as participatory as you might be in this other way, but it is 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 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 though they may not feel like they are a good singer, they know what’s up. They know that singing is something that most everybody can do because you are built with the instruments. I want to make sure that at least a part of, if not all, of the Gospel story that I am telling invites people in to sing along. We are in an age in the church where we used to all sing from a certain hymnal. It had a few hundred songs in it and those are the ones we sang. But now the church has probably never wanted for songs – the books, the Internet filled with songs. Every church has a songwriter it seems like anymore.

 

B. Choosing which songs to invite people to sing

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, what have been some of the methods that you have used to go about choosing songs for a set?

 

Brandon: Our church is very mixed in its age range. Our pastor and staff are all on the same page and we want to create a blended worship service. My job and the pastor’s is, we sit down together, we go through his message. We will try to pick songs along the same theme as his message a lot of the time and then try to blend the old and the new as well. Not all the time it works out, sometimes it will be more contemporary based and other times more hymns. Trying to create that blended service and having a good flow of music as well is important. There are a lot of elements that go into it, but the main theme is having a blended service at our church.

 

Very cool. I think that is pretty typical of a lot of churches. Churches are made up of diverse demographics, ages, stages of life, races, ethnicities. One thing that I like to do is to take any song that we are going to sing and hold it up to a criteria. Ask five questions of a song. There are so many songs and there are a lot of good songs. There is no lack of good songs anymore. Songwriting and recording technology is amazing to me, how good things are technologically. 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 recording necessarily doesn’t equal a good song.

 

I try to hold a song up to five standards, these five standards, 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 is important to point out that what I’m talking about is corporate worship songs. What makes a good corporate worship song? I have five things that I always like to ask. First, are the lyrics of this song truthful, and can they be Biblically reinforced? Can you use the Bible to justify your meaning in this lyric? Does the Bible reinforce or confirm what you are saying in the lyrics of this song? In pop songs we can say whatever we want to, it’s very subjective, it’s very emotional. And I think worship songs can have emotion, but never emotion apart from being rooted in truth. 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? That is 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 accessing the power of poetry and beauty and literature to reinforce the meaning of the song as well? Start with the truth, does the Bible reinforce it? Then, is this lyric able to draw you in and is it poetically compelling? Is it beautiful? If it’s not, I don’t know why we’re singing it. There is probably a better way to say the same thing. That is the second thing. Are the lyrics poetic and compelling?

 

The third thing, does the melody compel you? Is the melody powerful? There are a lot of great songs whose melody really makes the complete difference in whether or not the song is palatable or sweeps you away. That is like the song, Happy Birthday. The lyric is truthful, not so poetically compelling, but the melody takes you on a journey. It takes you places. It lifts you up, it drops you back down, it lifts you up a little higher, drops you back own, lifts you up way high and drops you back down. It’s a melody. That song is not popular because of the lyrics, it is popular because of an amazing melody. That is the third thing. Is the melody of this song married to the lyric in such a way that I am drawn in, that it is beautiful. Is the melody powerful?

 

The fourth thing. This is a specific question that I ask of a corporate worship song. I always ask, could a nonmusical person sing this song with me if given a chance? 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 sing along with it? That is subjective, it probably would be a different measure from congregation to congregation. But it is a fair question to ask, just to say, hey, can my brother who doesn’t care anything about music, sing along with this song? Is it enough of a song to draw them in? Is it valuable 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 it. That is one of the great objectives I think of worship leaders, is choosing songs that say to people, this is accessible to you. Welcome in to this song. Participate in this with me, don’t watch me do this. Instead of performing from the stage, influencing people to come along with you. That is the fourth thing.

 

Then, fifth question is this, where does this song fit in our spiritual diet? I learned this from Bob Coughlin, great pastor and worship leader, a friend of mine who says that we are the spiritual dieticians for our congregation. So if we feed them, offer them things, are we offering them nourishing things? Are we offering them a whole lot of sugar? Are we offering them not much to feast on? 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. I like ice cream. But you know, too much ice cream and you are not well nourished. By the same measure, facts and figures and all the information, you lose a little heart, you lose a little joy, you lose a little mystery. How many sugar songs have we been singing? How do we balance the diet of what we feed our people?

 

That is just those five questions that I ask of every song that we are doing. Are the lyrics Biblically reinforced? Is the lyric poetic and compelling? Is the melody good? Can I teach this song to a non-musical person and have them wholeheartedly participate? And where does this song fit in the feast that I am laying out? That is just my way, there are other ways, good ways. That is just one way of saying, hey, is this song worth leading at our church? The next worship ministry comes out with an awesome album, it probably has 12 songs on it. How many fit? There is always an outlier, there is always that one song where you are like, we need to be singing this. Our church needs to be singing this. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that as long as the truth component is there. I would say that is the most essential thing for any song. If it’s not reinforced by the Bible, it is just not for Christianity. Then you move up from there. Is this worth singing? What kind of melody does this have? I wonder if Brother Johnny will be able to sing along with me. Does this fit into what we want to say of our church? Those are just a few ways of picking out a good song, really working to pick out a song that encourages people to sing. For me, as I have 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. A song like, “How Great is our God” is a very simple melody, beautiful truths, reinforced by the Bible, but let me make this accessible for you. People latch onto those things and I think it’s awesome any time we get an opportunity to put something that is simple and nourishing into our peoples’ hearts. That is the important part about singing songs.

 

III. Introducing  a new song to your congregation

Question: Let’s say you have a new song you want to use. What are some things you have done in the past introducing a new song? Any advice to speak on that to the congregation, helping, say it is something they have never heard before, and introducing that song.

 

I usually have somewhat of a formula if it is a new song they have never heard before. Say it is a song I have written. If it is a new song, I’m leading it three weeks in a row. I don’t care. Maybe, for whatever circumstance, it has be this way three out of four weeks. But I always say, hey, I want you guys to know this is a new song, you have never heard it before. What that does is give people permission to say, okay, now I’m in learn mode. Versus high-jacking them and making them think, I’m supposed to know this, but I don’t,  and I’m just going to look around. Just 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 who say, that is not new to me, I was here last week. We have found that people are in church about half the month anymore, at least in our context. Two out of four Sundays, that seems to be a regular rhythm for a lot of people. Not everybody fits into that category, but it averages out. So if you sing a song three times in a month, it is still very, very new. So we will sing it three times in a row. Every time I will say, hey, this is a new song, I want you guys to know. Usually, for the first two times, I lead it, I always take my guitar and just say, hey, I want to teach you guys this chorus before the band starts playing with me. I just want to give you a chance to hear just a segment of the song. So they will be set up a little bit more. It doesn’t take a lot of time, but just so they will be set up a little bit more. Okay, I’m leaning in. Set the song up. Like we were talking about with the communication piece, singing a new song is a great time to inject meaning into what is about to happen with some intentional things that we say, like, I’m going to set this song up, this is an awesome song. I wrote this song because of this circumstance in my life. You might feel like this, I’ve felt that way, too. What I have found is this. This song is awesome. And just teach a little piece of that chorus. For us, unless we are willing to lead it three weeks in a row, we are not going to introduce that song. We have to believe in it enough to say we are going to put this song in a good rotation for our people.

Good question.

 

IV. Song Writing

A. Consider writing a song that’s meaningful to you and your congregation

Turn the corner a little bit from singing songs now to songwriting. I have been a songwriter since I was a little kid. 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 that I understand that perspective. But is there a world you could imagine where every worship leader did try and write a song? It doesn’t have to be a famous song, it doesn’t have to go around the world, it 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 is 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, they are positioned better than anybody in the world to be the writer of a prayer, to be the voice of a prayer, to be the collective 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 100 people, these 3500 people. I think that local worship leader, writing for his local church, is in as good a position as any famous songwriter that you might know.

 

B. Seven items to consider when writing a song for congregational worship

That is why I would talk about this and bring this up. For people who haven’t ever written a song – I’ve very rarely met musicians who will say, I have 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 our minds. Who would ever do anything crazy? Don’t do anything crazy. For people who are just getting started writing songs in this context, writing songs for people to sing, a congregation, I am going to offer a few perspectives, seven things to think about when you write. We will put these on the website as well.

 

1. Write Scripture songs

     Use Scripture and add a melody

Write Scripture songs. We don’t have enough of those. The lyric is already there, set it to melody. That is 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 favor for whatever reason. Things cycle and come around. But the Psalms, they had melodies for them. I think it would be awesome if new songwriters wrote Psalms for their church and put the Psalms to melody. That is a great place to start. Honor the Lord’s Word, write some Scripture songs.

 

2. Write melodies, not chord progressions

Next thing, write melodies, not chord progressions. Melody is the king in music, not chords. I will say that again: Melody is the king to music, not chords. So you give melody the attention that a king deserves. A lot of times a guitar player will let the chords that they know dictate how the melody of a song goes. Worship songs sound in some cases like they are written by a guitar player who only knew four chords because they move around in the same and similar way. That is not to criticize them; it is just to say they take on a certain sound because of the limitation of the chords.

 

How do you write melodies? I am a better guitar player than I am a piano player so I am very simple on the piano. Taking those single-note melodies and playing the note, not touching my guitar because I know that I will 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 king. When you write songs, write melodies. That is a thought. It is kind of a little bit backwards because you think, I have to play and sing. I have to write to what I know. It’s easier than you think. Chords are great and there have been a lot of good songs written that way. If you have to choose one or the other, melody is king in songwriting. Write a good melody.

 

3. Reach across the breach between your artistic brain and your analytical brain

    Find common ground with your audience without breaching artistic integrity

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 are writing for congregations, most artists will write for a congregation; and if you are being super creative, your most expressive, you might write for a congregation and feel misunderstood. But that is because artists tend to do things that most people don’t understand. There is often a little bit of a gap between the creative mind, expressive mind, a deep feeler, deep emotionally connected – all things that make you a great worship leader. And sometimes when you write a song that you are asking an engineer or a plumber or a school teacher to sing along with you, you have to make it so that you find the common ground – that space between why poetry is meaningful to anybody and also the roots of, I understand this, this truth makes sense to me. Bring those two worlds together, reach across that breach. Common ground without compromising artistic integrity is hard, but it must be reached for the good of the congregation. It is something that creative people have to work toward. For most of the time it is an exercise for the creative person to reach back and say, come with me, not trying to say, you guys catch up. But I’m going to come back towards you because it is more important for me to help you with your expression, than it is important that you understand my song.

 

Next thing, write your prayers down and then put those to melody. Listening to people pray has been an unbelievably deep well of songs for me. I listen especially to old people, old people who have been following the Lord for many years. When you hear them pray, they pray in songs. There have been many times I have heard someone say something to the Lord and it was a fresh way because their experience was dimensional and dynamic and rich and deep. And they have done enough living to where they weren’t drawing on just some familiar thing that they heard somebody else say. Their heart was really overflowing; and I am like,  I can make that a song. I love hearing people pray and I love taking my own prayers and just writing them down and then looking back at it and say, can I sing this? And if I can, how would this matter? This would be a good diet for my congregation. What would be the great melody I could give this? Write your prayers.

 

The next thing. Write song hooks that are popular. Pop music right now is really hook heavy. So many songs you can listen to on the radio or on the Internet are, this hook, there is a hook there, there is a hook there, there is a musical hook, there is a lyrical hook, there is a vocal hook, there is a guitar theme. Those things are intentionally crafted to just melodically draw you in. It happens to all of us. People love hooks because they need a place to kind of hang their hat. Some of my favorite preachers are one-point sermon guys because they drive home the idea and they approach it from this angle, and they approach from that angle and then this angle, but the whole time I’m getting the hook. I know exactly what they are saying, I know what they mean. Especially when it is set to melody, that meaning can bore deep down in your heart. So, long after church is over, you are Wednesday at work, you can’t get it out of your head. It is a valuable and powerful thing, especially when we’re trying to communicate truth. Write good hooks.

 

These next two things. Write songs with specific form: Verse, chorus, verse, chorus or verse, verse, verse. Hymn form: Verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus. Songs that have specific form are helpful because they are organized in ways people can intuit. Even the least musical people in the congregation might know, this is the chorus, I bet it comes back around again. There is probably a bridge somewhere, or this is an AB, AB kind of song form especially for corporate worship songs. That is why hymns have a certain form and make sense to people: Verse, refrain, verse, refrain because they are organized in a way that is easy for people to digest. I can participate in this based on the melody and how the syllables of the words are organized. I can get in on this. All songs don’t need to have hymn form, but it is good to honor the idea that specific song form is very helpful for people when you want them to sing along.

 

The final thing is to keep things simple but not dumbed down. There is a difference. Simplicity is different than being dumbed down. “Be Thou My Vision” is one of the most simple melodies, but it is stunning in its beauty. It is very simple. I could teach anybody to sing that melody. But it has this way of drawing you in. The lyric is simple and plain, it is a beautiful and profound lyric. Shoot for something like that, that marriage of simplicity and beauty. Mastery of a craft has ultimate form and function. Everyone is always trying to let those two things converge in perfect balance, form, and function. Keeping things simple and as beautiful as you can is the most important thing in writing a worship song because those are the kinds of things that universally appeal to people.

 

One more time I will list these seven things:

1.Write Scripture songs.

2.Write melodies.

3. Reach across the breach between the artist and the engineer, help find common ground.

4. Write your prayers.

5. Write hooks.

6. Write good specific song form.

7. Write simply.

 

I will never forget the first song I wrote. I was seven years old, riding home with my mom in a car and I began singing a song, kind of to the window. She said, what are you singing? I’m singing a song that I wrote. She said, okay, what is it called? For a person who actually wanted to become a songwriter from a young age, the fact that the first song I wrote was called, “They Would Not Listen.” That is a jarring reality. It was a little song about how the people wouldn’t listen to Jesus when he was on the earth preaching his message. I remember this very vividly. I remember my mom saying, I like your song. She said, keep trying that, keep writing, that is a good song, even though it was called, “They Would not Listen.” She encouraged me to keep writing songs. 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. People won’t 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 and sing it for themselves, then you have done an extraordinary thing. I think, for the Christian creative that is super, super important. You can’t deny it.

 

You may have yet to write your first song, but if you are called to lead a group of people in worship, I think you had better get started. 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. People will say, there are plenty of good songs already out there. All of those are probably valid reasons, but they are not excuses. Psalm 43 talks about, “You put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and 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 illicit a response, they call people into an experience, compelling them to engage. If you are 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. That is a good thing. For the local church, there is 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 is sick. What voice could give better context to a season of uncertainty and confusion than the one who is walking the same path as everybody else? I know what you know, let me help you express this in song.

 

C. Seek the Holy Spirit for inspiration and illumination

Where are the songs at? You hear me say, I want you to write songs, I want you to give your congregation a voice. Just a few things. Seek diligently. Your songs will take better shape from a heart and mind surrendered 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 know this 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 has called me to sing. So seek diligently.

 

D. Listen closely to people in your congregation

     Listen as they share and pray

Listen closely. As the mouthpiece of your congregation, listen closely 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. You are the voice that is connected to a heart, so listen and express what your people are saying about Jesus. Listen closely.

 

E. Write responsibly

The third thing, write responsibly. You are charged with putting words about God and the Christian experience into 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 theme is important. You are writing songs for people to sing. That is heavyweight stuff. It has to be done that way.

 

F. Think creatively

    Let your work represent who you are and what God is going in your life

Think creatively. There are plenty of songs that represent emotions and experiences across the Christian spectrum. There are tons of them. You might be compelled to write a song about a familiar topic and that is great, just find the most creative and compelling way to say that. As Christian songwriters and worship leaders, we are trying to tell the same story, but we are trying to synthesize it in a myriad of different ways. Express the human experience through the lens of Christianity. There are a bunch of different ways to do it, so don’t settle for just saying something because it rhymes, that is too low of a bar. Push yourself creatively. Let your voice, rising up from your heart, be what distinguishes you.

 

G. Let your work represent who you are and what God is doing in your life

 Let your work represent a high standard of originality that is rooted in authentic experience. I don’t think songs hit well or land well. People are curious about songs, but they are not really an authentic experience. If someone sits down and says, let’s write a song about how good God is, but it is not connected to authentic experience, someone really in a tangible way, connected to a story, connected to an idea, an experience. Those are the songs that kind of cut through the clutter and start to say, this is an original voice, this is a word spoken that sounds fresh and unique and creative. Shoot for that stuff.

 

H. Act courageously and be proud of your songs

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 is either because he did not want them anymore or he wanted you to sing them. 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. Be gracious about your songs. Play your songs for people. If you have been given a writer’s gift, don’t keep it to yourself and never be ashamed of it. It is an honorable thing.

 

I. Treat your songs like you treat your kids

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. 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, you did a good job.

 

Those are some thoughts about writing songs. My buddy, an extremely successful songwriter, also an elder in my church, good friend of mine, Tony Wooden, 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 an impure life and allowing yourself to see impure things and think impure thoughts. You can’t write about it unless you are living it. I Iearned this from him, he said, nothing destroys contentment like comparison. Don’t write to impress your songwriter buddies. Write to serve your church and the context that you are in.

 

What is the one thing you need to know? Singing is Biblical. When we lead worship, we are 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 has been intended to use and has been used to express adoration and praise to God. We sing to him, we bless his name. That is a central part of what we are called to do. Orient ministry toward helping people sing and experience a comprehensive expression of worship to God. I wish every worship leader could be okay with the idea that their job is not to be a singer, but to help people sing. I think it would change the dynamic, the climate, and the atmosphere of worship.

 

I love singing. I am a singer. I am someone who sings. But when I’m leading worship, my job is to help people sing. How can I help you remember? It is practice in the trenches doing this kind of thing. It is really letting go of one thing and holding tightly to another. Singing, as good of a singer as I might be, when I’m leading worship, that is not when I’m a singer, it is when I’m a coach, an encourager, I’m helping people to sing. I am also looking at the songs. What kind of diet am I feeding these people? Am I feeding them something that really feeds my ego? Am I giving them something that is really kind of self-serving? Or, am I filling their mouths with nutrients, with a 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 will finish our time talking about songs. “I pray that you, being rooted and 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. Now to him 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, for ever and ever. Amen.”

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