Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Developing a Worship Songwriting Community

For several years now, I’ve been mulling over the need for a network of Christian musicians in the Triad area.  After speaking with several worship leaders, one of the most common struggles is finding musicians to fill certain gaps in their teams.  The triad region (Winston Salem/High Point/Greensboro) has a vast array of musicians.  With colleges like UNC School of the Arts and UNCG School of Music, and the magnet high school in Greensboro that has a strong music program, I often wonder why many churches struggle with finding musicians for their worship teams.  So, after speaking with these worship leaders, I found out that by having such a network would bridge many gaps in the music community, especially among the church.

Several factors come into play here: relational gaps, generational gaps, denominational gaps, and genre gaps.  In the church world, we call this the “worship wars.”  The worship wars are more of a battle between mindsets that don’t want worship music to change, and mindsets that constantly push worship music to change.  It’s a vicious cycle, really.  One generation pushed the use of hymns when whatever-church-music-styles-before-hymns were the norm.  When hymns became the norm, another generation pushed for something more contemporary.  Now that contemporary music is the norm, another generation is pushing for change.  Is there a balance?  Is there a way to bridge the gap between traditional and contemporary?  Who knows, but I’m willing to find out.

The most important question to ask is: what (rather who) does every Christian have in common?  The answer is obvious – Jesus Christ!  If every Christian worships the same savior, why are there so many divisions/denominations among us?  To put this in perspective, the triad region has roughly 1500 churches.  That’s A LOT of churches!  What statement does this make to non-Christians?  Is there something we can or should do about this division?  Is it a cultural issue or is it a spiritual issue?  So, I let my brain wonder a bit and seek some ideas to promote unity (not uniformity) among the denominations in the area.  Songwriting seems to be a very effective means of networking the denominations.

In my seeking, I asked myself these “what if” questions:
* What if local congregations shared musicians?
* What if local congregations wrote original worship songs together?
* What if local congregations exchanged each other’s original worship songs?
* What if local congregations gathered together for one evening periodically and worshiped together?

What would all of that look like?  If any of these “what if” scenarios come true, I believe it would have a huge impact on the church in the triad community.  With that said, I found some great insight from Bobby Gilles, a worship leader in Louisville, KY.  Bobby Gilles provides some incredible insight into community songwriting with a four-part article he wrote for TheWorshipCommunity.com:
            Part one provides a biblical and historical look at worship songwriting.
            Part two explains the foundation for worship songwriting
            Part three addresses the “shepherds” of the church
            Part four provides clear direction on developing the group

When reading this series, I’m encouraged and motivated to nurture something like this in the triad region.  It will take time, it will take prayer, and it will take like-vision among the group to see this group grow into its vast potential.  So, I continue to seek the Lord for guidance with this.  I recognize the need and the potential.  Time will tell what kind of worship music comes from the local church for the local church.  In the meantime, it’s a really good way to get to know people better and serve one another through creative means.


  1. I think you are right on in your thinking that songwriting is a unifier in the body of Christ. I think of the different denominational backgrounds (whether mainline or non-denominational) that my favorite songwriters come from, and in the end it doesn't seem to matter. The songs that have the greatest and most lasting impact are based on the timeless truths from God's Word that we ALL hold near and dear to our hearts.

    1. Amen!!! Hope you can stop by and join our group at the luncheon. God bless!