KINGDOM SONGS ’16 in Review


Songs are sermons that people remember.” – Matt Papa

This post may strike some as an advertorial – where a client pays a publication to compose a glowing piece about their service, or even provides their own content for print. It is not. I paid my way, & all expenses because I had heard exciting reports from last year’s attendees. As it turns out, the hype was not hype at all – every word of it is true: Kingdom Songs is a game-changer.


Meaghan Mitchell, Shannon Lewis, Wisdom Moon, James Tealy, & Michael Farren at KINGDOM SONGS ’16

Created for Worship Pastors/Leaders who are also creating original worship songs for their congregations and beyond, the Kingdom Songs Retreat is a vetted event hosted by the All About Worship team at Gateway Church in Franklin, TN. Founded by Wisdom Moon, who now serves at Integrity Music managing & Song Resources, Kingdom Songs is carried forward by Michael Farren & James Tealy, though both claim that their assistant, Meaghan Mitchell, does all the heavy lifting!


Every Sunday people come with arguments in their heads – write songs that take thoughts captive & demolish strongholds!” – Michael Farren

Michael, worship pastor at Gateway Franklin, & a songwriter with songs recorded by Michael W. Smith, Big Daddy Weave, & Lauren Daigle (her current hit “Trust in You” is a co-write), among others, directs the retreat with a true pastor’s heart. James, worship pastor at Redemption City Church, Adjunct Professor of songwriting at Belmont, & an equally notable songwriter, with songs recorded by Kari Jobe, Chris August, Unbroken, & hundreds of others, is more the Teaching Pastor of the pair, unloading vast loads of content. Sitting under James’ teaching is truly like drinking from a fire hydrant, albeit a very tall, boisterous, & high energy one! He began his first teaching with, “My intention is to completely overwhelm you, because if you are here, I’m assuming you can take it…

One highly experienced songwriter after another shared their spiritual insights, tips, & personal stories, & each was present throughout the rest of the week for one-on-one conversations & Q&As. As the icing on the cake, every attendee was teamed up with a larger group of “pros” who were brought in for a Friday afternoon co-writing session. I was honored to work with Krissy Nordhoff, writer of Natalie Grant’s hit, “Your Great Name.” Our team created something I could have never come up with on my own – a powerful horizontal number about living our faith boldly – which I could totally hear led with a huge gospel choir!

Don’t tell people what they are supposed to feel – show them something that leads them to feel.” – Sue Smith

There was more than one occasion that I had to fight the urge to stand & applaud because the content was so good that I thought I might just explode. It’s impossible to trim the fat from this event because it was all meat: I returned to my room late each night happy but exhausted because they gave us our money’s worth & more. That’s not even mentioning the many budding friendships with other like-minded creatives in attendance!

If you are a worship songwriter with a growing gift & passion to serve the church with your songs, I can’t recommend Kingdom Songs enough. Bookmark their website, follow their Twitter, Facebook, Instagram accounts & podcasts, & be sure to sign up for their next event. You will not be disappointed!


Shannon Lewis is “The Worship Community Guy“. Passionate about helping others respond to God, & training people who are passionate about the same, Shannon also blogs at SaintLewisMusic, where you can grab his free eBook, UNSEASONED: How to see Godly Growth in an Inexperienced Worship Team.