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Overcome Part 3 – Writing Songs For A Community…And Then The World


Take yourself out of the context of a believer for a moment.  Put yourself in the shoes of a man who is just “kicking the tires” of church – maybe even for the first time…and you’ve entered a worship service at your church.

What do you feel when you listen to the songs?  Don’t adjust that sentence…I said it just as I meant it….”when you listen to the songs”.  You more than likely don’t know the words, you don’t have an intimate relationship with God so you aren’t going to be instantly moved to tears…what are you going to feel?  I’m leaving out a whole lot of variables, aren’t I?  It’s hard to know what you would feel without knowing where you are in life.

When writing songs for your community – it is crucial to know where the people in your community are in life.  Lets assume this – the largest employer in your city is a manufacturing plant and, after 75 years in business, they are now shutting their doors.  Lifetime employees now have nothing.  One of the laid off men from that plant, for what ever reason, decided to “kick the tires” at your church…and there you are singing “God, you are awesome! Yeah, you’re the greatest!  You do wonderful things for me!” (Not quite sure what song that is…but I’ll digress.)

There is nothing wrong with the lyrics to the song…in fact, they are quite true.  The question is, will they connect to the man laid off from his job and then, in turn, connect him to a closeness to God?  Probably not.  In fact, he’d probably scoff at the idea.

Now lets contrast that with a song by Carl Cartee.

Could I let go of all that you’ve given If it meant that it all would be yours
Could I sit at your feet, and forget about me, and remember what I’m here for

Honestly I need to be broken
Honestly I need to fall down
Go ahead and shake my foundation
Cause Honestly I’m figuring out
that of all that I have, all that I need is you

Do you think that the man who just lost his job may have a closer chance of connecting with this song?  I’d dare say yes.  I don’t know what stage Carl was at when he wrote this song…or who he wrote it for…but I know that it has power, it is true, and it reaches.

I think as songwriters, we loose touch with writing songs that reach others where they live.  We need to, first and foremost, be writing for our Creator – but not neglect those who we may reach.

Think about the power of the songs we write and the songs we select to lead for our communities…and, while you are thinking about it…watch Carl leading “Honestly” live.