Archives For Jimi Williams

This question was asked at a conference where I was a guest on a panel on worship music. Honestly, at the moment I had a bit of a loss for words. The flow of new worship songs is essentially endless. I chuckle when I hear people say, “There’s just not any great new worship songs!” Depending on your definition of great that may be true, but there certainly isn’t a shortage of contenders.

So when the guy asked, “Should I be writing songs for my church?”, my first impulse was to shout, “No! Please don’t! We have plenty already!” But after thinking about it for a few moments, I said, “Maybe.”

Non-committal, right? Well, the answer to this question does require some thought and a little self inspection. Here are some probing questions to consider that will help you answer this for yourself:

1. Is this about you or your church? I’m in music publishing so I work with a bunch of songwriters. There are two extreme types of creative people: those that can create if needed and those who are compelled to create. Most creative people have elements of both types, but lean toward one or the other. If you lean toward the second category, you probably have to be creating something to be happy – writing a song, writing a book, painting, woodworking, etc. Life isn’t right unless you have a creative outlet. The other extreme are those who have creative talent, but will only use it if necessary. I know some great songwriters who won’t write unless there’s a pressing need or a clear reward. So where are you? If you must create, is your church worship the best outlet for that? I’ve seen worship leaders who were aspiring artists use their churches as a testing ground for new music. The church is not a test audience. Our congregations deserve to sing the best-crafted and richest lyrical songs available to us, regardless of who wrote them.

2. Is there a lack of existing songs that work in your ministry? I remember David Crowder saying he began writing songs because he couldn’t find songs that would work in his predominately college aged church. This could especially be true in urban and multicultural churches. Much of our popular worship songs come from white suburban writers, so there’s room for a new sound in worship. This might also be true in modern liturgical churches where the verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus song structure doesn’t work.

3. Do you need a song that says something really specific? With the abundance of worship songs available to us, it’s still hard to find songs that deal with really specific issues. I was leading at a marriage retreat weekend once and I began looking for a song on marital unity. I couldn’t find anything! I ended up using Scripture and writing a chorus that worked for the event. It was really special for those attending because they felt that it was something God was specifically saying to them. So if your church is starting a new series, this would be a great reason to write a song to sing throughout the series. Then if the song doesn’t connect with your church, you can let the song die with the series :).

4. Is God doing something unique right now in your church? The best worship songs, I believe, come out of authentic church experiences with the Lord. I love to hear music that arises from a move of the Holy Spirit. It’s always inspired and fresh. And we should celebrate what God is doing through music. Having the resources and talent is never a good reason to write worship songs and record an album. Unfortunately, many churches are making this mistake. We should write worship songs as a response to God’s greatness, not as a sign of our giftedness.

5. Are you a gifted songwriter? This seems obvious, but have you watched American Idol? I meet people every year at songwriting events who are convinced they are supposed to write songs, but have no real talent. I used the word “gifted” for a reason. I believe creative people must first have a gift and then they must work at developing that gift. If you have no songwriting gift, no amount of work will make you a great songwriter. Or, you may have a songwriting gift, but if you don’t work to develop it, you will never be better than average. Have an objective third party evaluate your songs and give you honest feedback. If songwriting isn’t your talent, don’t even think about making your church sing your songs.

Hopefully this will help you determine whether you should be writing new songs for your church or not. Remember, as a leader, your job is to serve the body. So, whether you sing your songs or those written by others, make sure you are shepherding your church well.

With any live performance, there’s always the possibility of something unexpected happening. I was reminded of this once again last week during worship. The tracks/click we were using went wacky during the first song. I had no option but to kill the tracks and click. After the tracks went down, the whole band was on edge having to adjust. And of course that led to a mistake. Me, the keyboard player, started a song while still transposed a half step down. I didn’t realize it until the singer came in. That’s the worst feeling in the world – trying to decide between two equally awkward options.

So after the message I decided to restart my iPad and maybe get our tracks back online for the last song. Not today! As soon as the iPad powered off it sent a bone rattling buzz into the mains that wouldn’t stop until I yanked the cable out of the iPad. At this point, I was ready to curl up in the fetal position and go to my happy place or grab the prayer oil and begin casting the demons out of the room.

Continue Reading...

Yes! Okay, that would a pretty boring blog post, so allow me to digress. I’ve been in church pretty much my whole life. Admittedly, my church experience, as with most of us, is limited to a pretty narrow stream. But why is it that most of the time when I worship at church, the band looks like they are either mad, scared or bored?

Continue Reading...

The In-Between Songs

Jimi Williams —  July 10, 2014

There are stages of every Christian life: Justification (salvation), Sanctification (working out our salvation) and Glorification (heaven).

Continue Reading...

There are big differences in starting a band and building a worship team:

A band picks members that all fit together. A worship team picks members to represent the body.
Image is really important in a band. Image is not important on a worship team.
A band is typically the same people all the time. A worship team should be different people a lot of the time.

Continue Reading...

“That new song has such a killer melody! I love how it builds into the chorus and that bridge section really explodes!”

Songs that sing great and sound great really grab our attention. It’s how we are made. We naturally connect to catchy melodies. And depending on how we are hardwired, we might be more inclined to sing a great melody than a great lyric. Raise your hand if you’ve ever caught yourself singing along with a pop song on the radio without really thinking about what you are saying. I’m guilty!

Continue Reading...

We all struggle at times as worship leaders, musicians and techs on the right balance between presentation and performance, humbleness and showiness, reverent yet engaging. There are a hundred words to describe the point where a worship service crosses our proverbial red line. In many ways our creativity is at war with our conscience. To aggravate things, musicians and techs are often called out as being too slick or showy – much more than teachers and preachers are – even though we implement many of the same techniques to communicate with our audiences…

Continue Reading...

Planned or Spontaneous?

Jimi Williams —  February 13, 2014

Whenever I teach about preparing for worship at an event, I inevitably have someone raise their hand and say “I don’t like to plan too much. I’d rather be spontaneous and respond to what the Spirit is doing.” Or I’ve heard people say they won’t use tracks during worship because it limits there spontaneity.

Let’s think this through. There is nothing spiritual or unspiritual about making a plan. In fact, Proverbs 16:3 says “Commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed.” The Bible is filled with examples of people who made detailed plans to do something important for God. Nehemiah rebuilt the entire wall around Jerusalem. David built the first temple for God. Jesus’ plan was to endure the cross…

Continue Reading...

I had a very wise pastor tell me once to never do ministry alone. As worship leaders we need to understand that we can lead a band every week, be surrounded by a team of people, but still operate our ministry as a “lone ranger”. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to see if you are really building a team…

Continue Reading...

A Walk One Winter Night

Jimi Williams —  December 12, 2013

What started as a simple, late night stroll to clear his head from the hassles of the season turned into something that can only be described as…real. The new Christmas story by Al Andrews is a wonderful insight into the real story of Christmas. Beyond the shopping, the ornaments and plastic portrayals of the baby Jesus, Al uncovers the real Jesus, Joseph and Mary behind the facade.

“A Walk One Winter Night” started as an invitation from Dave Barnes for Al to share a Christmas story at Dave’s Christmas concert. There was such an overwhelming response to the story that Worthy Publishing decided to turn it into a book…

Continue Reading...
Page 1 of 512345