Always have your antennae up. A large part of a songwriter’s job is to find and retrieve inspiration. Tune in and listen to what the members of your congregation are saying when they pray or worship. It reveals what they want to say to their God and how they feel. Notice the way words are put together, how they sound, how they will be sung.
Very often the sermon will spark an idea and you think to yourself, “We need a song that says that.” As an exercise, I often try to write a song in my head as the pastor is delivering his message. Scribbling the main points on the back of the bulletin, I try to write a simple chorus in my head that summarizes the sermon. Frequently I’ll close our services with a very simple “new song” that reinforces the morning message.
Writing on Assignment
Not every song begins with an inspiration. Some are born out of a need. Your pastor may need a song to go with a particular message that he or she is going to preach, and you can’t find one. Or a pro- gram needs a theme song. This is where some craftsman- s h i p comes in. First, gather all the pertinent facts and Scripture references that need to go into the message, cluster them, pray and commit your way to the Lord, and let your God- given creativity take over. Even though the song didn’t start from an emotional experience, it can still have a powerful impact. Just remember to make all the elements work together to enhance the feeling of the message.
Finally, consider yourself a servant with your songwriting. We are servants and songs are our tools. If you really care for God’s people, like a true pastor longs to see his congregation built up and thriving in their faith, then you will make musical and lyrical choices that best serve the church. Don’t write music to impress your “music friends.” Keep it simple. Strive to serve and inspire others with music that they can really sing.