Friday, 25 June 2010

Top 10 Reasons NOT to Write Songs For Your Church

Update 27/07/10 I've now added the 3 'missing' reasons. Click here if you're interested in why I wrote the post in the first place and here if you're curious as to why it was so controversial.

1) Wanting to write songs is probably an expression of your pride and shameless self promotion.

Pride can ruin all ministry. I used to struggle with it but actually gained complete mastery over pride and selfish ambition on Mar 23rd 1998 (around 11am) and since then I’ve been free to pursue songwriting.

I’m lying of course. (dang! That’s a sin as well isn’t it?). I’m proud. I wonder exactly how humble I’ll have to be before God can use me? And how will I know when I’ve got there?

2) God hasn’t told you to write songs.

Can’t argue with that. I mean, all that singing a new song stuff in psalms probably doesn’t mean literal songs that someone would literally write does it?

Aren't you glad you didn't do anything else today that God didn't ‘tell you to do’ - like eating lunch, reading books, planning a vacation…

3) God hasn’t given you any songs yet.

Maybe he will, but he hasn’t yet. Because he just gave you the ability to play an instrument one day didn’t he? It’s not like you actually practiced or anything.

I wonder what your pastor is doing while he waits for God to give him this Sunday’s sermon?

4) There are so many great songwriters out there already, no one needs your songs.

God has so ordered his church that each congregation will go through the same struggles in the same way, at the same time, causing those events to sync up with Chris Tomlin’s recording schedule in order to deliver the CD at just the right time for your congregation to learn. That’s what the doctrine of God’s sovereignty means, buddy.

Why on earth would a local worship leader know more about the life of his own congregation than a CCM superstar?

5) Somebody might steal your songs.

The world is full of crooks. Not only would a million secular artists out there like Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber & AC/DC kill to get their hands on your gentle worship song about Jesus, but there are ruthless multimillionaire worship artists out there, who are more than willing to steal someone else’s song so they can glorify Jesus with it themselves.

Sadly, even writing ‘copyright’ all over the lyrics may not be enough protection.

6) You don’t know anything about publishing, recording and the rest of the music business.

You can’t just write a song on a guitar and then sing it to people who know you. Every song needs a whole army of backroom staff doing ‘who knows what’ get it where it belongs – on the iPod’s of complete strangers.

7) Everybody thinks your songs suck, but no one will tell you why.

Knowing how to improve you writing would be so helpful, but one of the worst things you could do would be so unspiritual as to come straight out and ask for constructive feedback. That would open you up to the temptation of changing what God has given you and might even set you back in your struggle against pride.

8) It’s self-indulgent spending all that time writing songs on your own

As Christians we’re called to community and that means meeting together. Spending time alone in your room writing and rewriting songs is probably just another expression of your western individualism. How are you supposed to bless other Christians when you spend so much time shut up in a room by yourself?

9) You’re too busy doing ministry to write songs

If you’re a musician you’re probably playing in the Sunday services, mid week, maybe even rehearsing. Or perhaps you’re a youth minister or even a pastor. Whichever way you slice it you’re busy, busy, busy, doing a lot of ministering. You want to impact nations, change history, do something that’s going to reverberate down the centuries. You want to do something with eternal consequences, pastoring a church like John Newton or evangelising a nation like Charles Wesley, so you don’t have time to waste crafting something disposable as a song.


10) People in your church will be critical of your first efforts

It’s sometimes hard for us to accept, but our pastors, congregation and even our fellow musicians, know that people like Chris Tomlin and Brenton Brown came out of the womb with a fully realised gift for songwriting. The proof that they have been truly anointed by God is that they have never written a bad song or even one that needed any revision or rewriting. Well-meaning criticism or sheer indifference from fellow believers is God’s way of telling you that you just don’t have what it takes.

In a very few instances however it’s possible that you are anointed and that criticism (however constructive it may be) is an attack from Satan. In which case you should regard all such advice as a direct attack on the gift “God has given you” and secretly label such advisers as ‘unspiritual’.

What’s hindering your songwriting attempts?

Links to this post: Audience of One
Josh John's Blog

Related Posts: A songwriter's motivation
Behind the song: Jesus, Thank You

Free songs by Matt Blick


  1. On that theme...

  2. Restrictions of genre?
    Pathological hatred of acoustic rock and MOR?

    I love the idea of songs coming out a community and reflecting a community. I wonder if people feel bulldozed by the superstars.

    Great post.

  3. I'm trying to find humor in your post Matt but you are inferring that I steal people's songs and I'm a multimillionaire. Is this supposed to be funny or would you like to substantiate your accusations and assumptions? Maybe I'm missing something.
    Also, Bob Kauflin is probably the most selfless, teacher/ Pastor/ worship leader guys I've ever met. His book entitled "Worship Matters" is a must read for believers who aspire to authentic music ministry.
    The only book I've ever written is entitled "God Songs", "How to write songs for Worship" in order to encourage the local church to offer up their unique expressions of worship to God. Most of the songs I've written have sprung up from our Sunday morning church experiences at Community Christian Fellowship, where my family and I have served for the past twenty years.
    You're probably a nice guy with well meaning intentions but I fail to see why you are trashing me.

  4. Paul Baloche27/6/10 10:17 pm

    By the way, I've really enjoyed reading your Beatle song insights over the past year.
    Peace, pb

  5. I hope Paul eventually realises that your comment was not meant to slander him personally, I certainly didn't think it did when I read it, and totally agree with his comments regarding Bob Kauflin. It's good to see the graciousness of Paul's second response. I'm sure there's a way forward.

    It's difficult to try and make a dramatic point using humour, and I often do it, occasionally causing upset myself. I guess whenever you do use someone's name for such a point (even the secular ones - though the ludicrousness of the connection is even more marked), tread carefully.

    Peace in Jesus Christ to all.

  6. Great post, Matt. It's clear to me you meant the remark Paul's referring to completely harmlessly
    and humorously. But I fully understand why Paul would choose to comment.

    A good reminder that we need to take care of one another, and one another's reputations - Prov 22:1.

    Tonnes of grace,


  7. i thought matt's list (1-7 matt? asking us to fill in the rest is a bit of a cop-out) was a great challenge to worship leaders in their local context. Matt's style of writing, i felt, was not directed at other worship leaders, elders, critics or even God but was clearly directed to the reader.
    "god hasn't given you any songs yet", "someone will steal my music and lyrics" both examples of excuses we use to not write more. a challenge to write more and be diligent in writing.
    I thought point 5 was a challenge to my own pride...if i say i'm not writing songs because someone else may get credit for it, be they established writers or our best friend who's played for 3 months and knows more chords than i do, then the issue here is our pride. the other song writer is a non-issue, i thought matt, throughout the post, was trying to get at our heart behind writing songs.

  8. sorry, the post above is phil jordan (leicester)

  9. Ouch!

    I have apologised to Paul already, but for the sake of anyone else reading the post was "supposed to be funny".

    I thought he displayed real 'grace under pressure' in his comments.

    The post was never 'about' Paul - I might clarify further on what it WAS about in later posts (though most people seem to have 'got' it already).

    @Al - thanks for the bible verse. I have taken it to heart.

    thanks to everyone else for your comments.

    @Phil - points 8-10 will come. I wanted to give y'all a chance to add your own...


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