God created us all for a purpose. Generally, we are to reflect his glory and return his affection. Specifically this happens in unique ways. We are all made to glorify God by being the best version of our original selves as possible.
God has made people of every genre, and he is an amazing artist. He has made incredible accountants, lawyers, poets, architects, bartenders, managers, painters and more. When we are lazy and not living into our potential, I imagine that God yawns and shakes his head. And hopes that we will change.
Worship songwriters, let me now address you for a minute. Yes, David Crowder, Matt Redman, Tim Hughes, Chris Tomlin, Kim Walker-Smith, Chris Quilala, Michael Gungor, John Mark McMillan, Jeremy Riddle, Kristian Stanfill, Martin Smith, Jon and Tim Nuefeld, Paul Baloche, Darlene Zschech, Glenn Packiam, Lamont Hiebert, Erik Cooper, Nathan LaGrange, Nathan Partain, and many many more international and local worship songwriters, I’m talking to you… Some of you have been amazing at pushing forward musically and lyrically (Gungor and McMillan, I’m looking at you…). But some of you have been lazy. Really lazy. Just because Matt Redman can pull off a simple line with incredible depth does not mean that you should try to write simply all the time. Now, I must admit that I have contributed to this problem. I have written some terrible lyrics in my day and am SO glad I discovered the power of co-writing a few years ago. But I can still improve. I must. I can. We all can.
So after two decades of leading worship, let me humbly request the following:
Please do not
- regurgitate the same lines from old worship songs and put them into new songs.
- use a religious term to end a line simply because it will rhyme.
- default to religious language because it is common.
- use “Lord” or any name for God as a comma.
- repeat the same word or phrase over and over if it can be avoided.
- overuse the words following words: light, shine, you, your, woah, yeah, oh, holy, glory, sing, praise, lift, mountains, voice, awesome, raise, grace.
- use future tense when present tense will do, especially if we are already engaged in such activity. (eg: we will praise, we will sing, we will stand)
- a good poet.
- theologically sound (not theologically popular).
- unwilling to settle.
The church needs artists. We need songwriters. And we need you to be the best that you can possibly be. Some of us have a lower ceiling than others, but we must continue to push and grow and not settle. There is greatness in us planted there by the greatest artist of all. May our best continue to emerge as we reach higher.