Having a clear vision and direction for our songwriting teams is essential for producing great songs for the church. The Bible reminds us of this in Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) when it says, “Where there is no vision, the people will perish.” Our songwriting teams will never reach their full potential unless we as leaders communicate clear vision for our writing. The second part of vision is that it can’t be our vision but God’s vision for our songwriting. Our writing should support what God is doing in and through our local congregations, not our own agendas. Psalm 127:1a says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” We need to allow God to build the house of our writing teams, otherwise, we waste time spinning our wheels trying to write the next great worship song, or, what we think is best when in reality we should be seeking God’s direction.
The question is “how do we determine God’s vision for our writing team?” I think there are a few simple steps we can follow to develop a clear vision for songwriting. The first is prayer. This should go without saying. As believers, prayer should always be our first step with anything we do but it is true with our songwriting as well. Take time to ask God to lead and guide you as you lead your team of writers and to provide clarity of vision and direction for your team. The second step is relying on God’s Word. God reveals so much of Himself to us through His Word. When we are consistent in studying and letting the Bible guide us it is the most important resource we have as church leaders. The third step is understanding our church’s vision and how the music supports that vision. The best way to get your church leadership and pastor onboard with producing original worship songs is to support what they are already doing and trying to accomplish in your community. As we discussed in the first songwriting post, no one understands your congregation like you do. Write songs that speak directly to them and to the circumstances your church is facing or the things you are celebrating.
After we develop our vision for songwriting we have to communicate it. This is so important and can’t be emphasized enough. Most of the time vision needs to be over communicated to our teams. The more ways and opportunities you can come up with to communicate your vision the better. This can be done many different ways. If you are going to sit down for a co-writing session with your team, take some time up front to review why you are writing, your goals for that particular writing session and the desired outcomes. Sometimes it’s as simple as sending an e-mail. This is something I use on a regular basis. My writing team consists of three people including me. Since I am the only team member on church staff I don’t have daily contact with the other two writers which means we use e-mail to send song ideas back and forth; e-mail is also used to communicate vision and upcoming opportunities.
A really important part of your vision is “what type of songs are you looking to write?” Are you looking for congregational songs? Are you looking for a song that can be used as a special to support your pastor’s message? Do you want to write songs that are more outreach focused to reach your community? Knowing the purpose of your songs will help your team really focus in on a specific goal rather than just trying to pull ideas out of thin air. In a recent e-mail that I sent to my writing team I was communicating the vision for our Christmas services this year. I supplied my team with the theme for the Christmas sermon series, the theme of each week and the main scripture passage they could pull ideas from. I also emphasized that our goal is to write congregational songs so we either needed to re-work or rearrange traditional Christmas songs or write originals that had a congregational feel. This gave my team a clear direction for writing and arranging songs for the Christmas season. A little bit of vision will go a long way in getting all of your writers on the same page.
The last thing to discuss regarding vision is the importance of emphasizing excellence and creativity. God deserves our best. He deserves the best of our lives. He deserves the best of our worship. He deserves the best of our families and He deserves the best of our writing. He created the universe, which makes Him the ultimate Creator. The Bible says we were made in His image, which means He made us to create. We never want to be satisfied with just getting a song done to meet a deadline or because we are frustrated and want to be done with it. We need to strive for creative excellence producing songs and music that we are proud of, that honor God and that speak encouraging truth to our congregations.
Never underestimate the importance of vision for your songwriting team. Never underestimate the importance of communicating that vision to your team. Strive for excellence and creativity both musically and lyrically. Most importantly, write songs that honor God and draw people to Him.