Five Ways to Connect with Your Calling
Write Powerful Praise and Worship Songs for the Church
When did you first feel called to write worship songs? Was it standing in a church service belting out “Oceans” from Hillsong, or Bethel’s “King of My Heart”? Or was it the moment that Anthony Brown and Pat Barrett’s “Good,Good Father” hit you in the heart, and you felt inspired to bring that same feeling to other worshipers?
Regardless of how and when it happened, your call to write powerful songs for praise and worship is genuine, and something to be developed as you would develop any talent or skill.
The “call,” that moment you knew deep inside that you were supposed to pursue songwriting seriously, was just the beginning. Now it’s time to roll up your songwriting sleeves and learn all you can about the craft to fulfill this vocation with anointed excellence.
Here are five quick ways to connect into your calling to write powerful praise and worship songs for the Church.
- Choose a universal theme. Basking in the presence of God, the love of God, and all aspects of the finished work of Christ on our behalf are powerful themes for your songs. If your goal is to reach believers in different churches around the world, phrases and ideas that are specific to your Church may not be understood as well in other places. Keep the main thing the main thing in your worship songs to reach a wider audience.
- Center your song on a single idea. Once you’ve chosen the broad theme you wish to write about, narrow it down to one idea that communicates it most effectively to the congregation. “Good, Good Father,” for instance, focuses on the goodness of our Father and doesn’t stray off into different ideas that might confuse the listener. Stick to supporting a singular hook and title so that worshipers can follow easily without distraction.
You may also want to browse through CCLI’s SongSelect as you’re writing to study how other great songwriters have stuck to their One Big Idea (or, the “OBI” we call it in our songwriter training) to drive this singular idea home.
- Write an emotionally appealing melody. Worship songs need to be supported and enhanced with an emotionally appealing melody. The words of “What a Beautiful Name It Is” ride on a melody that brings them to life, making them immediately memorable because of the perfect marriage of lyric with an emotional melody that evokes praise and worship. Pay attention to how you’re crafting melodies to help deliver your lyrics in ways that help listeners engage with their hearts and not just with their heads.
- Use consistent language throughout. Be aware that tossing in a few profoundly theological words can confuse listeners unfamiliar with their meanings. If your lyric is more conversational, i.e., our example of “Good, Good Father,” using the word eschatological might prove to be more of a stumbling block than a blessing. Choose your words carefully and stay “in voice” throughout the song.
- Get feedback and be willing to rewrite. If you claim your songs are divinely inspired just as they come to you, any possibility of improving them goes out the window. Who wants to argue with God? Instead, acknowledge the inspiration may come from Him, but writing the song is up to you. Yes, you can write a song in ten minutes, but that doesn’t guarantee it’s a well-written song.
Sing your worship songs for whoever will listen and then listen to them. Be open to honest praise AND criticism, allow them permission to tell you if the song brought them into worship or tossed them out of the Spirit. Humility is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 11), and wise songwriters always get feedback and then rewrite until it’s a great (and useful) song.
Worshipers worldwide will always be looking for powerful expressions of their praise to God. You, as a worship songwriter, have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to give them their love language to God with excellence and anointing.
Use these five ways to connect even more deeply into your calling to give the Church its voice to praise our Father the way other songwriters have helped to give you yours.