July 3, 2018

Three Keys to Songwriting for Your Church

James Stockstill

As worship leaders, we all want to lead our people into worship with fresh songs that come out of the season we're in. We want songs that reflect where we are as a church. We believe that songwriting is not limited to a certain personality type or creativity level but accessible to anyone that devotes themselves to the heart, skill, and discipline of writing. YOU can do this! 

Possibly the greatest worship songwriter of all time is David. From his life and these scriptures found in Psalms we have learned 3 keys to apply to our writing processes. 

If you want to write songs for your church to sing, start here!"

1. The Heart

Psalms 96:1-3 "Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples."

"The pinnacle of songwriting is to put the praises of God in the mouths of His people to sing to Him."

People often lack the words to accurately communicate their heart to God. Our desire should be to give them language they can use to express worship and encounter God. We write songs to serve God's people and give them the words that express their heart. 

In order to develop:

  • Feel the heartbeat of your church. To write songs that really connect with your church, know where you're at as a church and approach writing from a servant's heart. What season are you in? What vision is your pastor communicating? Are you in a sermon series? What's next for your church? What are the needs of your city? You can take all of these things into account when you're looking for the heartbeat of your church as a place to begin writing from. 
  • Prioritize loving people through this gift. Songwriting is a gift and we should steward it well. We've all known what it's like to encounter God in a new song that takes us straight to His heart. When we write songs that connect people to God, we're loving them and serving them well. 
  • Create a songwriting culture. You shouldn't write alone. Write with a team of people that complement each other in their talents and abilities. Collaboration is so important to writing great songs. Don't be afraid to let other people get their hands on your songs. More than likely, they will only make them better. 

2. The Skill

Psalms 33:3 - "Sing to Him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy."

"Skill makes the chaos of songwriting palatable."

While writing, ask yourself these questions:

  • The tempo. Do you want the song to be upbeat, mid-tempo, or anthem-y? 
  • The sing-ability (lyric spacing). Can the person with no musical talent sing this song? 
  • The key. Is this song in the range of the average person? 
  • The phrasing. Do your words roll easily off the tongue? 
  • The musicality. Can the average volunteer play this? 

3. The Discipline

Psalms 119:164 - "Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws."

"Discipline is the catalyst for creativity."

Discipline yourself in 4 ways:

  • Discipline to write. Set a goal to write X amount of minutes a day or a week.
  • Discipline to present. Make yourself share what you're writing with others and look for feedback.
  • Discipline to record. Set aside time to go to the next phase of what you're working on and record it. 
  • Disciple to lead. Take risks to introduce new songs to your church and gauge interest. 

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