Building Confidence in Songwriting w/ Anna Golden

Anna Golden joined Matt McCoy to talk about serving at her local church while releasing music, building confidence in songwriting and her new music!

Being planted at a church

[Matt] So you’re in the trenches serving at a church, in Planning Center, choosing songs. It has to be interesting balancing both worlds of serving at your home church and then going out on tour and writing with big artists. How do you balance the two?

[Anna] I think we were never meant to have one without the other. If you’re a worship leader that isn’t planted in a house, that’s where we create this celebrity worship culture. We forget that we’re just leading our flock of people and we get to pray with people and be in the trenches. I feel so honored that I get to do what I do, but the most rewarding part is hearing the stories, and if I’m not able to be in a community where I’m hearing stories, I don’t know what’s feeding me. I think we were created to be part of a house that we get to build.

Writing and releasing songs

[Matt] Do you write songs with your church community?

[Anna] Yeah, last year we started the journey of songwriting within our church. We gathered our church staff and volunteers on our team for a writing camp. We didn’t really know what we were doing, but we wanted to go for it and see if the Lord wanted us to do it. We’ve done some of the songs in our church, but we haven’t released more than one or two songs. If you’re a worship leader watching this and your’e feeling the pressure of releasing music in your house, do it when the Lord tells you when to do it. And if He doesn’t, be at peace. I think there’s a sense that we all have to create our own thing, and I think the Lord graces us for seasons. Sometimes it’s time to do someone else’s music and do it with the heart of our church, and sometimes it’s creating within the house.

Building confidence as a songwriter

[Matt] Do you have any tips for worship leaders who are interested in starting to write?

[Anna] I think the biggest misconception with songwriting is that it’s not a craft. I would say songwriting is 90% wherewithal and 10% inspiration. As worship leaders we get to be a part of these incredible moments of worship and the Lord will sing this melody over you, but that can live in your voice memos forever. So put in the hard work, every single day I try to sit down and I try to write something. Songwriting is a muscle and you want to keep getting better and better at that. Then you can be trusted when the Lord gives you a melody or chorus, you can sit down and finish it. Whenever I’ve done a songwriting workshop the hardest thing for everyone is ‘I don’t know how to finish it’. So that’s when you sit down and keep working at it to try to finish it.

Then bring other collaborators in on it. I love in worship music that we get to bring other people in. Sometimes you’ll see five writers on a song. You’ll get different perspectives and different people on songs. Then keep writing and keep refining. Just because you got something in worship, doesn’t mean it’s completely done.

Another tip is to listen to really well written songs. I feel like I’m so fortunate to be in such an era where the songs that are releasing are beautifully crafted. We also have a “cheat sheet” as worshipers, that we have an entire book, the Bible is full of songs. You could sing Scripture and not miss. We couldn’t articulate anything better than Scripture, so if you’re stuck literally sit down at the piano and take a Psalm and sing it out. Sing it into a chorus or verse and see how the Holy Spirit breathes on that.

Watch the full interview below! Be sure to listen to Anna Golden’s latest album Church. Chord charts and lyrics are available on SongSelect and the Master Tracks are available on Loop Community!