Despite the lack of activity on the blog, I assure you this has been a busy summer. Due to some leadership transitions at our church, I’ve been preaching more frequently, I’ve been writing on the church blog, taking a summer school class at DTS, and I started a recording project with Jordan Critz of Third Orbit Studios. Oh, and we have a seven month old that has been thrown into the mix of our family.
Now that the summer’s coming to a close, along with a lot of the leadership transitions at my church, I’m excited to jump back into the blog world and share more about what’s been going on with me regarding church and worship. One of those things is the role of songwriting and worship leading. For most of my life, I have written music. This led me to form a number of bands throughout my life, record various albums (some better than others), and play what seemed an endless amount of shows at coffee houses and bars.
Even though I wrote my first song in the sixth grade, it wasn’t until this last year that I wrote my first worship song. Part of this was due to wrestling with whether or not I even wanted to be/was supposed to be a worship pastor (a story for another blog post). But I think some of it was deeper. Early on in my music career, I made a distinction between worship leading and musical performance. In essence, I think it is a good distinction. But a result of this distinction is that I began to see “non-worship” music as superior to “worship” music and poured all of my creative energy into “non-worship” music while I creatively skated by as a worship leader.
This has since changed. It started with how I distinguish between worship leading and musical performance. There should be a difference between how music is presented as a performance and how music is presented in a worship service. The main difference is that in a musical performance, the main object of people’s attention is the music, but in a worship service, music serves to draw our focus to a different main object–God. So, in methodology, worship music should always look differently than musical performance.
The shift in my thinking came when I realized that this distinction in methodology does not mean a difference in creativity with regards to the music. I love the challenge of songwriting, staring at a blank page with an infinite number of possibilities and permutations. I love taking a spark of an idea and drawing it into a fire. Unfortunately, it took me until this last year to realize that this challenge is equally true for worship songs. In fact, in some ways writing good worship music is more challenging.
There must be a blend of authenticity and accessibility, a marriage of uniqueness and familiarity in both the music and the lyrics in order to draw the congregation into a shared experience of responding to God. The goal is to write a song that can be relevant to the greater church while being rooted in the experience of the local body, all while drawing everybody into the historical and redemptive narrative of gospel renewal.
Because of all that the Spirit has been forming in me with regards to this, I’m excited to announce the release of an EP of original worship songs called Psalms and Gospels! Most of it has been recorded, so now we are working on the mixing and the artwork. All the sales will go directly back to my church and it will be streamable for free.
Keep checking back here for more updates as it gets closer to the release date this fall.