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A Letter to Christian Song Writers

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  • A Letter to Christian Song Writers

    http://www.tillhecomes.org/a-letter-...n-songwriters/

    completely phenomenal. I completely agree. We need to stop writing songs about how Jesus is my boyfriend and more about teaching doctrine and deep theology based lyrics that people can sing over their lives. Some might even call it prophetic worship.

    Worship is going into the Holy of Holies. From the moment the worship service begins, we are on a journey towards that place. One of the words translated worship in Greek is “Proskuneo.” It literally means to “prostrate oneself in homage.” It is used in Matthew 2:2 “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” (my emphasis). But while it means to bow it also means to “Kiss towards”, to blow a kiss towards God!

    Worship is like a bridge into the Spiritual realm. It takes us into God’s presence and to become aware of His presence is part of worship. We need to flow under the direction of the Holy Spirit because he has new things for us in every service. God is a God of variety and ever so original. Every sunrise is new and original, no two snow-flakes are the same, in the same way no two meetings with Him will ever be similar. He has something new to say to us whenever we stop to listen. The Holy Spirit is like the wind. We can’t see the wind, but the result thereof is visible:
    “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)

    Prophetic worship is catching the wind of the Holy Spirit for a specific service and flowing with it.
    The main aim of the Holy Spirit is to focus us on Jesus. This is difficult for musicians, worship leaders and pastors alike. We all have agendas, programmes and egos to struggle with. There needs to come a time when a true death to self and all these other things come so that we may indeed be lead by the chief Worship Leader, the Holy Spirit.

    If this is what we want, shouldn't we be moving from admiration and run towards sound theological doctrine that is sung over our people???

  • #2
    There is room for it all. I should be able to sing both about my simple love for God and about my soul-wrenching doubt during the hardest of times. What I want to stop is people like the guy who wrote this blog bashing other Christians. If you don't like it, don't listen to it, don't use it in your church. But, if it's not heretical, don't knock somebody down just because you're too immature to understand that God accepts both the simple and the deep.

    Furthermore, the ONLY way people learn to write deeper songs with greater theology is to start with writing simple songs with simple theology. Very few people have the ability on day one to write songs that are deep and emotional and incredibly impacting. If we were to force all those who are not writing deep songs to stop, the well would dry up.

    Nate
    Practical Worship

    Please Pray For My Wife

    Comment


    • #3
      If you don't like it, don't listen to it, don't use it in your church.
      What if you don't like it, you're a congregant, and it's used in your church?

      What if the theological terms are imprecise, the phrasing is clumsy, the focus is me-me-me, the metaphors don't work, the lyrics could be misread, and the musical motif of jumping an octave mid-song becomes too repetitious, and too strenuous for an average person's vocal cords?

      What then? At what point does a person's incessant distractions during worship become too much too handle, so that blogs of this nature ultimately become a last resort?
      Nick Alexander
      Host, The Prayer Meeting Podcast
      Worship that is Contemporary, Traditional, Charismatic, Contemplative, Spontaneous, based on the Church calendar, play it whenever you want.
      Find out what Nick Alexander can do for your conference, retreat or workshop.

      Comment


      • #4
        I can see the point, I share many of the same concerns. I agree we should have both, but the scale's tipped heavily towards the "hug & sway".

        Later in the replies, the blogger says he was venting from an emotional time, and I get that. He was frustrated about how he was trying to find a song that, really, was an organic experience, and what he was finding was this plethora of superficial rainbows and cliches.

        He was looking for a "Comfortably Numb" in a sea of 'Don't Worry Be Happy". I've been there. It's turning on Christian radio and song- after song- after song- after song- after song- is 'Jesus makes every day rainbows and unicorns." I remember one time hearing about Francesca Battistelli' s dented Fender and ripped jeans for the 30th time a week, and I'm thinking 'Lady, I've been in this battle so long my fender's been ripped clean off, my jeans are shredded, covered in mud and filth, and perfection is the LAST thing on my mind. I'm just trying to survive the next 36 hours. What kinda song you got for that?

        Then at work I hear "Comfortably Numb' "You are only coming through in waves/ your lips move, but I can't hear what you're saying. When I was a child, I caught a fleeting glimpse/ Out of the corner of my eye/ I turned to look, but it was gone/ I cannot put my finger on it now, the child is grown, the dream is gone/ and I have become Comfortably Numb

        That, I could identify with. I know what it's like to be "Comfortably Numb"- going through the motions, not really feeling anything, losing that sense of wonder. Of course, what was missing is the 'but I still trust you are God and You will get me through this" piece of it. But this was something that I could identify with. This song expressed my reality.

        So I understood where he was coming from. He did lose me a few times, but he has a good point. I definitely see a gap there. For one 'Praise You in this Storm" there are 100 "Free to be Me"s.
        If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.

        Comment


        • #5
          Christian Radio will not play Michael Card's "The Edge", which touches upon what you're talking about. The producers HATED that song, and demanded he write a complementary song called "Hope." So he did, and it's easily the most forgettable song in his full catalog.

          Nonetheless, Christian Radio targets the 30-something soccer mom with the name "Becky."

          And sometime in the mid-90s Christian Radio began warming up to praise and worship music.

          The merger between Becky-targeted Christian Radio and Praise and Worship is an odd one. Not too challenging; but vocally, not congregant-friendly. People go to their worship leaders demanding to play THAT LATEST HIT FROM THE RADIO, but even when they do, nobody sings, because it's not singable to average folk.

          And if a song takes off, and if this song has problematic lyrics (though not written with any wrongful intent), should the song's popularity be taken as a sign that God has ordained it? When is a song's popularity be taken as it having "anointing", whereas another song's popularity be taken as the "wide road that leads to destruction."
          Nick Alexander
          Host, The Prayer Meeting Podcast
          Worship that is Contemporary, Traditional, Charismatic, Contemplative, Spontaneous, based on the Church calendar, play it whenever you want.
          Find out what Nick Alexander can do for your conference, retreat or workshop.

          Comment


          • #6
            I've got to say I've been concerned about this very same question when I visit different congregations. And although I think it's notable to bring it up, I also think it's notable that music by it's nature is highly susceptible to trends. We appear to be in a "hug and sway" trend right now where the popularity of a particular style or sentiment seems to be dominating the music. I personally think it's my responsibility as a worship leader to find music, or create music, to balance out these trends. Not everything that Jesus or Paul had to say was particularly comfortable for their audience to hear. Sometimes our music has to challenge people to put the human condition that we all have to survive in this life under the microscope so we can deal with it.

            My personal approach in this regard is to NOT limit myself to what is popular on Christian radio. There is good material there, but there is equally great material from a variety of lesser known artists and artists of a different era that;s out there if you're just willing to search for it. However, not all of these are great "sing-a-long" songs and they aren't meant to be. Sometimes I think the message of the song takes precedence over getting everyone to participate and sing along.
            Last edited by DunedinDragon; 06-19-2014, 04:11 AM.
            The Posse Band live performance tracks can be heard by CLICKING HERE

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            • #7
              Originally posted by NickAlexander View Post
              What if you don't like it, you're a congregant, and it's used in your church?

              What if the theological terms are imprecise, the phrasing is clumsy, the focus is me-me-me, the metaphors don't work, the lyrics could be misread, and the musical motif of jumping an octave mid-song becomes too repetitious, and too strenuous for an average person's vocal cords?

              What then? At what point does a person's incessant distractions during worship become too much too handle, so that blogs of this nature ultimately become a last resort?
              I thought we were talking about deep verses shallow...if a song is universally viewed as pure crap, that's a whole different discussion altogether.

              Nate
              Practical Worship

              Please Pray For My Wife

              Comment


              • #8
                Let me say this...part of the reason I hate this conversation is because it doesn't affect me and my church. And quite honestly, I've never attended a church that it does affect. Whomever is writing and using the songs that are being complained about on this thread must be doing it in parts of the world I've never visited. I have always been under the impression that this forum is for those who lead worship in local churches. If complaints are being brought to this forum about our own local churches, my advice has always been, "put your bug boy pants on, lead to make a change, or go find another church." If complaints are being brought to this forums about "other" churches, we're just wasting our time.

                I've got too many responsibilities in my life with my own church to worry and complain and bash about what the church down the street is doing. The OP said "we need to stop writing...", therefore, I assume he's talking about himself, somebody here on this forum, or somebody he knows in real life...if so, make a change in how you lead, or go to the person doing it wrong and confront them personally. If not, this entire conversation is a waste unless it addresses something that one of us is doing "wrong"...so far, the only comments I see here are "us" talking about what other people are doing wrong. I ain't got no room in my schedule for that kind of waste.

                What good is this conversation doing here? If anybody is reading this thread and is convicted about the songs they are leading in their own local church, please speak up...if this conversation is actually making a change in somebody's local church, I'd love to know about it so I can shut up. If so, then yes, this thread is serving a constructive purpose. Otherwise, let's talk about things that matter.

                My perception of this entire conversation may be off...if so, I apologize.

                Nate
                Practical Worship

                Please Pray For My Wife

                Comment


                • #9
                  Here's a thought. Nick, you're the CCLI data king. Go round up the list of the top however many song being used in churches today, present them here. Let's discuss which songs we use or would use, and which songs we do not or would not use in our own local churches, and why (without feeling the need to bash the author of the song(s) in question or any church that uses the song). If that list contains a large percentage of songs that most of us would agree are fluff and/or bad theology, maybe we can have a conversation that actually means something and provokes change in somebody's local church. I could totally be into that conversation if it were serving a constructive purpose.

                  Nate
                  Practical Worship

                  Please Pray For My Wife

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Nate,

                    The top 200 songs of such a list constitute the 50% marker of the survey. That is, in all the results of the survey, 50% of all entries will go to these 200 songs, and the other 50% go to the tens of thousands rest.

                    Do you really want to open a can of 200 worms?

                    Because we've already covered some of the biggest offenders in other threads. (How He Loves, Like A Lion, Agnus Dei, Draw Me Close, Glorious Day, every single song saying God is "Holy Holy", etc). Not to mention every song with extreme range (the octave-jump songs). Not to mention the songs including "Wo!"

                    I thought we were talking about deep verses shallow...if a song is universally viewed as pure crap, that's a whole different discussion altogether.
                    Who's to say "universally viewed"--Top 200 or Ignored Completely--is a proper indicator of religious orthodoxy?
                    Last edited by NickAlexander; 06-19-2014, 10:02 AM. Reason: Added two more "not to mentions"
                    Nick Alexander
                    Host, The Prayer Meeting Podcast
                    Worship that is Contemporary, Traditional, Charismatic, Contemplative, Spontaneous, based on the Church calendar, play it whenever you want.
                    Find out what Nick Alexander can do for your conference, retreat or workshop.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by NickAlexander View Post
                      Nate,

                      The top 200 songs of such a list constitute the 50% marker of the survey. That is, in all the results of the survey, 50% of all entries will go to these 200 songs, and the other 50% go to the tens of thousands rest.

                      Do you really want to open a can of 200 worms?

                      Because we've already covered some of the biggest offenders in other threads. (How He Loves, Like A Lion, Agnus Dei, Draw Me Close, Glorious Day, every single song saying God is "Holy Holy", etc). Not to mention every song with extreme range (the octave-jump songs). Not to mention the songs including "Wo!"

                      Who's to say "universally viewed"--Top 200 or Ignored Completely--is a proper indicator of religious orthodoxy?
                      That's my point. Those conversations about specific songs are valuable, at least to me. I've even participated in a few of them, and they've caused me to pause and think. They are discussions about specific issues in specific songs, as opposed to some arbitrary rant about how the whole thing is going to pot.

                      Nate
                      Practical Worship

                      Please Pray For My Wife

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        In terms of the Top 200...

                        Can we wait one month? That way we can get the latest results.

                        Does this warrant a separate folder? With one song per entry?

                        Anybody want to help me craft 200 unique posts?

                        Or...

                        Do we try to look at the 200 songs, and Gladwell-ize the list? ("Gladwell-ize"=Malcolm Gladwell, author of many non-fiction bestsellers, who takes random bits of information and tries to find threads between each of the stories).
                        Nick Alexander
                        Host, The Prayer Meeting Podcast
                        Worship that is Contemporary, Traditional, Charismatic, Contemplative, Spontaneous, based on the Church calendar, play it whenever you want.
                        Find out what Nick Alexander can do for your conference, retreat or workshop.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          There's another factor here that I just remembered.

                          The Top 200 List is proprietary information. The Top 25 is free, and one can read the Top 100 if they have access to SongSelect. Everything else (Top 500, Top 2000) costs money.

                          I don't know if I feel comfortable crafting a list of songs on a thread on this board that is, I believe, private information that is only to those who paid for such.

                          When I pass along lists, I focus intently on the risers of the bunch, which allows me to craft new information from the old, which I can claim as my research. But to do a datadump of this nature may actually be violating a copyright that CCLI owns.
                          Nick Alexander
                          Host, The Prayer Meeting Podcast
                          Worship that is Contemporary, Traditional, Charismatic, Contemplative, Spontaneous, based on the Church calendar, play it whenever you want.
                          Find out what Nick Alexander can do for your conference, retreat or workshop.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Although I agree with much of the sentiment in the article I found a lot of the tone of it disturbing.

                            I agree that Jesus isn't my girlfriend and am irked in the same way by many of the songs he's probably talking about. I think the whole idea of why so many men hate church could be discussed as its own thing, but those kinds of songs are a large part of it.

                            As to the blood, that's kind of our deal as Christians. We're basically told as much in scripture aren't we? If we're not about the blood, what are we about? If it's every song, every week, I could understand that you're maybe marginalizing the more unchurched people in your service. But if you're avoiding singing about the blood of Jesus, aren't you marginalizing the gospel to suit people's comfort?

                            I get the feeling that maybe he's talking more about "blood" lyrics being sung to a sweet, happy tune. They don't necessarily have to all be like that, and all of them certainly aren't, but I can't really find a justification for Christians not celebrating the blood of Jesus. This teaching was very difficult for Jesus' disciples and it's difficult now, especially in a modern time when we don't sacrifice animals to atone for sins. But our cultural unfamiliarity with the principle of blood atonement speaks more to the church needing to teach people about it than it does to our need for eliminating references to it in the songs of the Church.

                            As to pain, it's mostly personal. There are some pretty good songs that somewhat address it, but it's mostly more obvious to address what's universal: God's unchanging nature, sovereignty, love and care for us etc. when we do experience pain. I agree that it sounds like it's probably more about the worship leaders at whatever church he's talking about than song writers. There are "pain" songs out there.

                            The thing about the pain songs is they're pretty much going to start getting on his nerves as well, because they're going to lean more towards the "Jesus isn't my girlfriend." intimacy that bothers him. I get that the article is supposed to be ironic and a kind of dry humor or whatever. I just found it unsettling. "Enough with the blood already..." is a bit much for me.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by NickAlexander View Post
                              In terms of the Top 200...

                              Can we wait one month? That way we can get the latest results.

                              Does this warrant a separate folder? With one song per entry?

                              Anybody want to help me craft 200 unique posts?

                              Or...

                              Do we try to look at the 200 songs, and Gladwell-ize the list? ("Gladwell-ize"=Malcolm Gladwell, author of many non-fiction bestsellers, who takes random bits of information and tries to find threads between each of the stories).
                              200 would take too much time, IMO. If you're going to do it, go with a smaller number.

                              Nate
                              Practical Worship

                              Please Pray For My Wife

                              Comment

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