SONGWRITING FOR CORPORATE WORSHIP #2

Second installment is available now. In this episode, we talk about three specific techniques to make your songs more singable for the congregation.

This episode is a good bit longer than the previous show, but I tried to give as much detail and as many examples as I could muster! Thanks for listening. Hope you're encouraged to write singable songs


EASTER PREP PT 1: MORE THAN SUNDAY SONGS

Ask your congregants about Easter and they'll look at you funny. To most folks, Easter is a long way off. But worship leaders know - IT'S HERE.
If you work in a larger church, you've probably already been in meetings about what you'll do for Easter. But for a lot of us, we're just now realizing that we need to get to work.
That's why I've decided to get you fired up for Easter planning this year! For the next three weeks, we'll be sharing a few things to think about as you prepare to lead worship for Easter. How you think and prepare yourself makes a huge difference in what happens when we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus.

There's a temptation to spend all our time on perfect the setlist for Easter Sunday. And while song selection is SO important, we can negatively impact the quality of our ministry if we're only focused on music. As you prepare for this Easter, do a little brainstorming and try to think of as many "non-musical" responsibilities you'll have that day.

THE WEEKEND

Remember that your job doesn't just happen on Easter Sunday. Most of you will also lead a Good Friday service or Maundy Thursday. Take a few minutes to think all those other services - they should work together to lead our people to an honest realization of the victory of Jesus and to passionate worship for what He accomplished on the cross. And what about when the weekend's over? Do you have a plan in place to get some rest so you can recover? Do you write thank-you notes or send out emails to your band and tech team on Sunday night to thank them for all their hard work?

Carving out some time to think about the whole of Easter weekend may be overwhelming, but you'll be glad you did. Commit to working on at least two Easter-related duties this week. It will make a huge difference!

NO NEW SONGS ON EASTER

You read that right. Do NOT add a new song on Easter Sunday. (No matter how epic and awesome it is.) Think about it for a second - your church will be filled with a lot of guests. Many of those guests won't know your songs (especially if they're unchurched.) So your congregation is gonna' have to sing out, right? Then why would you throw a brand new song at your people?

However...If you want to add a new Easter song and have it bless your congregation, teach it in the weeks proceeding Easter Sunday. Give your folks time to learn it so that when we meet to celebrate the Resurrection, we can sing it like we believe it. (I also recommend NOT introducing the song with "Uh, we're singing this on Easter so y'all better learn it...") Make it a part of your normal song catalog. If it's a good one, hopefully you'll continue singing it long after Easter is over.

WHAT'S THE STORY?

Holy Week is an extremely busy time in the life of a church, which means it's easy to operate on assumptions, specifically as to who's-doing-what on Sunday morning. Often, we neglect one of our most important relationships - the person preaching! The teaching pastor who will stand on the platform and teach bears a huge responsibility: to preach a big message in a short amount of time (especially if you're doing more services than normal.) Many of us show up on Easter Sunday having spent very little time talking to the person who's delivering the message. A few conversations over coffee or a lunch can go a long way toward building some cohesion between what the two of you do. Does the music need to setup something that the preacher needs to utilize in the sermon?

Make an effort today to get with your pastor and talk through Easter Sunday. You'll find that you both come into Easter Sunday more prepared and confident in what you've got to do. I guarantee your pastor will appreciate you making the effort!

Easter Weekend is so important! Start thinking and praying now that your ministry will clearly present the Risen Savior! If you've got tips about Easter, share them in the comments.
What do you do to get ready for Easter and make sure that your ministry is as excellent as it can be?

FREE SONG DOWNLOAD

The new year is here and that means brand new music! I'm excited to release the first free song of 2016 as a part of Bethel's Songs For Singing initiative. If you're new around here, we release original worship songs each year at absolutely no charge. Through this site and Bandcamp we offer free mp3s/wavs along with chord charts so that we can share these songs with churches near and far!

This year looks to be our biggest year yet with FOUR free song giveaways and (hopefully) a worship EP this fall. These songs are written for the local church and we encourage you to use them in your worship!

Our God Is Stronger is an interesting choice for the first free song. It's a song I finished early last year, but I wasn't sure if it was a "keeper." When I'm considering original songs to add to our worship at Bethel, I'll often ask my wife to listen through the potential tunes and give me her opinion. (She's right every single time, BTW.) This song was pretty low on my list, to be honest. There were a few other songs I thought were cooler or more creative, but once my wife heard this one, she started nodding.

"That's the one," she said. "That's it." And then she walked off. Case closed, I guess!

Later that month, I led the song at a Night of Worship service and finally decided my wife was right. The lyrical direction and musical setting of the song seemed like a perfect fit for where we were (and are) as a church. At the end of the year, I contacted my friend Michael Child about producing the track. We worked up until Christmas and then finalized the vocals and mix in January.

You can download the mp3 and chart by clicking the MP3 & CHARTS link at the top of the page. If you'd like to purchase the song, you can "pay what you want" at the Bandcamp page. If you wanna' purchase through iTunes, go here.

I hope this song is a blessing to you. I need reminders like this - that the God we serve is bigger than fear and worry. Let's remember that there's no one above Him and that His name is high above any other name. I hope you sing this song in your church. I hope it encourages you to worship with passion and reverence.

 

NEW YEAR / NEW YOU

It's January 12. I just now took our Christmas lights off the house. Which means I'm either WAY BEHIND schedule or WAY AHEAD. Either way, not good.

The new year is kinda' like that, isn't it? You finish up Christmas and think, "Ah, I wonder what the new year wi-" and then the new year kicks in your office door, kicks a chair over and drops a bunch of work on your desk.

If you're like me and you're feeling way behind, let me encourage you to do whatever it takes to carve a little time for thinking, planning and dreaming. I know it's hard to find the time, but time spent thinking creatively and clearly about your upcoming ministry year is always worth it.

If you're not quite in the "resolution" mindset, let me offer a few suggestions of things to consider in the new year.

TEAMS

Your band and tech team most likely loves serving with you. I'm willing to be they're invested and are faithful, willing servants. Most of them are are ready for whatever you'll throw at them. So...what are you going to throw at them?

What's your vision for your band and technicians? What did they accomplish in the previous year that you can build on? Think about some practical goals that will rehearsals run more efficiently or increase the musical chops of your team. Try to remember some of the challenges your tech team faces weekly and work on minimizing the chaos level for them.

EXPRESSION

What sort of worship expression is lacking in your place? If you serve in a overly demonstrative church (hands raised, shouting, applause, etc) what are some ways you can add more quite, thoughtful elements into your service? If you're at a fairly subdued church, how can you lead people into appreciating all the Biblical expressions of praise?

People are content to do-what-they-do. They need an influence in worship who can model and teach them when it comes to what worship looks and sounds like.

SONGWRITING

I know, I know - I'm like a broken record, but I really believe that churches should write original songs. Make some time to think about how original worship songs might come to life in your congregation. Maybe you're not a writer, but perhaps someone on your team has that ability. Look for ways to "mark" moments in the life of your church with songs.

And don't be afraid of writing terrible songs - focus on two elements and the songs will do their job. (BE BIBLICAL & BE SINGABLE)