Songwriters are called to write songs, just as worshipers are called to worship. But songwriters are also subject to songwriters’ block. What is a worship songwriter to do when it seems like there’s just nothing there?
Well, folks, I’d like to share my two cents on that, because I was on that sinking ship for several months. More than a year, to be frank.
A few days ago, a couple of days after writing my first worship song in months, I reviewed some of the songs I had written since attending the Every Nation Worship Writers’ Workshop last February 2014. As I reviewed them, I found myself overcome with gratitude for the season that He gave me to write worship music.
But after exercising a songwriting muscle that found me creating almost 10 songs in two months–songwriter/facilitator Mia Fieldes recommended regular songwriting time, which I was able to do until life sorta stepped in–I began a songwriting drought that lasted more than a year. During this time, I knew what I needed to do, but in my pride and flesh, I continued to resist God, and everything I’d learned during that workshop.
Well I sat down in my son’s room and decided to just worship. During this time, God gave me a new song–my first in over a year!–and God revealed to me what I’d been missing all this time. Here are three reasons why Christian songwriters should write worship songs:
1. Worship songs help people remember who God is and what He has done. Deuteronomy 31:21 says “…when many disasters and calamities come on them, this song will testify against them, because it will not be forgotten by their descendants.” Worship songs remind people of God’s identity and attributes. They also help us remember certain phases on our personal faith journey. (We often remember with fondness what songs were playing in church when we first drew near to God, and what songs we listened to during times of difficulty or happiness.)
Worship songwriters take scripture, ideas, and Biblical concepts, and put them into lyrics and melodies that help believers remember God’s identity and attributes. They have the sacred role of translating His Word into something that people can identify with and remember, long after the message has been processed. Has it happened to you that you don’t remember what a preacher shared during a worship service, but end up leaving and singing a song from that service for the rest of that day? That’s the power of the worship song.
2. Worship songs invite people to focus on God and not their circumstances. Life is hard, and oftentimes, if someone’s going through a tough time, mere platitudes and well-meaning advice can wash off a person, despite our best intentions. Music, however, has the power to sink in deeper and more effectively than a person’s advice. Next to God’s Word itself, there are fewer more potent tools at a discipler’s disposal.
Take Psalm 89, for example. It’s a great song that invites people to praise God in the difficulty of life and in the midst of the storm. It starts with exuberant praise, but the joyful tone changes at some point during the psalm, and goes all dark and emo. However, at the end, despite the horrible situation the psalmist is in, he ends with the conclusion, “Praise the LORD forever! Amen and amen!”
What songs have you sung in the midst of your heartache, in the eye of your storm, at the most jarring moment of your pain? There is freedom in worship, and music ushers us into that place of total praise.
3. Worship songs are an effective evangelical tool. When I was dating my ex-girlfriend–she’s my ex-girlfriend because she’s now my wife–she would take me to church, where I would get freaked out by all these people raising their hands and clapping along to songs with titles like Touching Heaven, Changing Earth and Church on Fire. (Yeah, I’m giving you an idea of how old I am.) It weirded me out, but I liked this girl and I wasn’t going to let some hokey music get the better of me.
But it did. Two months into “going to church,” one Sunday, they sang a song titled Heart of Worship, and the lyrics just flooded into my heart and soul like a tsunami of emotion. I was overwhelmed by this sense of awe and love, and I found myself sobbing in my chair. (It got so bad I had to step out of the hall. It was really embarrassing.)
God met me in that place, and used a worship song to break down the walls and barriers that were stopping me from truly connecting to him in an authentic and genuine way. When worship songwriters write worship songs, they reach out to people who don’t even know God, and can use those songs to usher their hearts into a place where they can know Him and come to a saving knowledge of Christ.
I should know. I am one of those people. And today, I’m humbly doing my part to carry on that esteemed role. If you are too, delight in it as much as you reverently carry out what God has called you to do in your season, and I am in faith that He will use you to birth amazing songs that will speak to the church.