Writing your own songs is not a life or death issue for your worship team.
You don’t need it to be successful. It’s quite OK to sing the great songs of worship leaders like Matt Redman, Paul Baloche, Tim Hughes, Israel Houghton, Kari Jobe, and others.
The presence of God can still be present in your gatherings and the favor of God can still fill your ministry.
But I think you should give songwriting a try. And, I think you should consider hosting a songwriting retreat with some members of your worship team.
As you read this, I am currently at a songwriting retreat with my worship team. We are at a local retreat center here in Pittsburgh for a day and a half of intense writing. In a future post I’ll outline what happened.
But for now, I want to give you 6 reasons why you should try one for yourself.
1. To Foster Creativity
If you wait for inspiration, you may never write a song. Songwriting is hard work and you need to put in the work if you’re going to write great songs that serve your church. With that being said, there’s nothing wrong with boosting your team’s creativity once in a while. I’ll never forget Mark Batterson’s axiom: Change of pace + change of place = change of perspective. Getting away for a songwriting retreat is a way to flex your creative muscle. It removes your team from the predictable norm and places you in a context for inspiration.
2. To Collaborate
I believe the best songs are written in collaboration. Every writer has their strength, whether it’s melody, harmony, lyrics, or arrangement. It can be difficult to agree on ideas but that very tension results in stronger songs. Collaboration also fosters a team mentality in your songwriting. This isn’t about one person and their songwriting gift. It’s about a collective of musicians and singers working together to serve their church. That’s a beautiful thing.
3. To Voice What God is Doing
Like I said, writing your own songs is not necessary. But I think it’s important because it forces you and your team to be proactive, rather than reactive. Rather than saying, “what new hit songs are being written by Hillsong, Jesus Culture, & Planetshakers,” you start asking, “what is God speaking to our community of faith?”
It forces you to engage with your pastor’s sermons, you church’s mission, and your congregation’s need.
4. To Serve the Church
There’s a lot of debate surrounding worship songwriting because a lot of guys make their living off of the worship songs they write. There almost seems to be this underlying motivation to write great songs for money. I’m not arguing that it’s wrong. I’m saying you shouldn’t write with this motivation.
Particularly with a local church worship team, write to serve YOUR church. Don’t think about making the top 10 in CCLI. Think about how you can give voice to your congregation. Think about how you can lead them in the truth you’re learning as a local body. Pray for them. Love them. Write songs for them that will change their lives. Resourcing the wider body of Christ may overflow from that, or it may not. Success isn’t defined by royalty checks but by engaged worshipers in your congregation.
5. To Strengthen Your Team
There’s something about getting away that changes people. Remember going to youth camp? I’ll bet my top dollar you encountered God there. I’ll bet even more that you made new friends and had an absolute blast. Getting away for a night in a new place will connect your team in a way that months of worship team rehearsals will never do. And it’s always better to do ministry with people you love.
6. To Raise Up New Songwriters
There are members of your worship team who are telling themselves they can’t write songs. They’re just a drummer, or they’re just a singer, or they’re just…blah, blah blah. Songwriting is an acquired skill. You don’t just wake up awesome at it. Invite team members who haven’t written a song before. Empower them to share their ideas and offer their input. It may be just what they need.
Question: Do you write songs for your local church? In what ways have you brought your worship team together to write? You can leave a comment by clicking here.