Fifty songs in one year. That’s the goal. Let me explain…
Until recently, my Venn Diagram of “Jesus & Music” never overlapped much. I grew up in a house that didn’t allow any non-Christian music, and in my creative rebellion I swore off “Christian” music forever. I used to be the guy who stood in the back of the church sanctuary with my arms crossed, terrified that someone might see me singing along to the worship music. I played in the worship band growing up, but I rarely sang along. And if I ever saw anyone from outside of church, I wanted to crawl under a rock.
During my high school years I survived on a steady diet of Pop-Tarts, Cherry Coke, and back-issues of Rolling Stone that I borrowed from the library but never took home. I heard the “White Album” for the first time my junior year and freaked. I became an obsessive songwriter. And as my love for well-crafted pop music grew, my appreciation for church music shrank drastically. In my mind the two were mutually exclusive.
But my love for Jesus also grew, and a certain restlessness starting brewing. I was discontent to have such a distance between my music and my faith. The tension started mounting, but God was kind to me. I began to find Jesus in places where I wasn’t even looking for him. Slowly, God began to reveal something I hadn’t even known myself: I love worshiping God through music.
Fast forward several years, and now I’m a pastor. I began to wonder what it would look like for God to redeem my songwriting, to turn my self-serving ambition and musical snobbery into something that could be useful and helpful for the Church.
I began to look at creativity as a spiritual discipline, a means of loving God with all of my “heart, soul, mind, and strength.” I began to re-learn the craft of songwriting through a different lens and context. Songwriting is hard enough, but writing worship songs for diverse people to sing together is a whole new ballgame. Over the past few years, learning the art of writing worship songs has been a joy and a challenge.
So I came up with this idea. What if I tried to write a song every week? Like, not just a melody or a few lines, but a full song. Verses, chorus, pre-chorus, bridge, super chorus, whatever. And then demo the songs for people to hear. Could I be disciplined enough to actually write and demo fifty songs in one year? And not just fifty songs, but fifty good songs. Quantity is only one part of the equation. I’d like to improve my craft in the process.
Fifty reps ought to be a good start, right?
I figure the risk is low enough. Sure, I’ll have spent a bunch of time learning how to write better songs, but I would’ve done that anyhow. Even if no one listens, having a catalog of fifty songs will be pretty cool to look back on.
Whether I “succeed” or not probably depends on your definition of the word. For me, accepting my own musical challenge is success enough. What will come of it? I guess we’ll have to wait a year to find out. In the meantime I hope you’ll listen in, share the ones you like with friends, vote for your favorites, and join me in attempting to “love the Lord with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength.”
December 29th, 2015