Seems like we’ve got more worship leaders than ever writing songs. This is a great thing! I believe writing songs is something more believers should do, regardless if the songs are ever heard by anyone else. If you study church history, you soon discover that many of yesterday’s great preachers were songwriters.
I have four words of encouragement for believers who are writing songs —
Write something that says something.
Whatever you do, write songs that express the wonder of God and the beauty of Christ. Talk about Him, not just about you feel about Him. Use scripture in your lyrics – lots of it. Identify a main point you want to make and write a song that makes it. Don’t settle for the first draft that comes out. Work on it. Make it simpler, clearer. And whatever you do, write something that says something that matters.
Write something we haven’t heard a thousand times.
They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. If that’s true, then a few of the songs churches sing today must be amazing because so many songs sound just like them! The biggest concern I have about today’s worship songs is that they tend to express the same thoughts and use the same musical devices over and over again.
Aspire for something greater than just giving us another song just like the rest of them. Continually expand your musical and lyrical palettes so that your songs can grow in their musical and lyrical content. Maybe the best way you can use today as a songwriter is to practice your instrument, listen to a masterwork, or read some great writing. That might have a greater impact than just cranking out one more song that sounds just like the rest of them.
Write something and sing it where you are.
Writers that are focused on their songs being heard still have a huge lesson in front of them. Whenever a writer becomes consumed with being published or getting their song recorded and are not focused on the quality and nature of the songs themselves, they are set up for frustration and a crisis.
The secret to writing songs that will have an impact is to focus on the writing, not the publishing. If you write a song the world needs to hear and just start singing it in your corner of the world, pretty soon, others will hear about it. You can’t hide a great song.
Write about a person you know to impact a person you know.
Most of all, spend a bunch of time with your subject. Write from a place of experience with the Lord. Stay in His word, in prayer, and always open to what He wants to say to you – and through you – to a person you know in the place where you live.
Mike Harland is the Director of LifeWay Worship. When he’s not directing 30+ employees, you’ll find him leading worship at various churches around the country, writing/arranging worship songs and/or, writing his next book (checkout his latest book: Worship Essentials). In his spare time, he loves playing basketball and spending time with his family (and his two new grand-babies). Visit MikeHarland.com to keep up with all that Mike has going on.