This article was copied from the Word Worship Website and was posted on Feb 13, 2013.
My pastor is an excellent communicator. He truly has a gift of teaching that really leaves you with one truth or idea to walk away with. I’ve known him for twelve years now and I have had the privilege of watching him grow and improve as a speaker. Just recently in our staff meeting, he gave us some insights into how he goes about prepping his message. As I listened, I was a bit floored by how relevant much of what he was saying is for the process of writing a good song. So I just want to pass along some questions and some points to consider.
Who am I talking to?
What is the proper communication context?
“The one communication style that has never gone out of style is conversation” Hadden Robinson
“Talk with people, not at them”
Am I starting from an idea or a text? (or a melody for songwriters)
Specific thoughts about writing from text of scripture:
– Read and then re-read the text over and over again.
– Read multiple versions/translations to look for the emerging big idea and interesting ways to communicate the idea
– Do a word study of the words from the text.
– What did that word or text mean to those with was written to at the time it was written?
– What was the context that would have framed how those people would have heard that text in their time?
– What questions does the text bring up for the hearer?
– If you were to have a conversation about the text, how would that conversation play out chronologically? (Basically, imagine the flow of the conversation)
Specific thoughts about writing from an idea:
Three questions to ask:
– “What?” – (this often but not always plays out in the form of a verse)
– “So What?” – (this often but not always plays out in the form of pre-chorus and sometimes chorus)
– “Now What?” – (this often but not always plays out in the form of the chorus and/or the bridge)
– Great writing is often determined by what you choose NOT to say or talk about.
“You can usually tell how good a message (or song) is going to be by what is left on the cutting room floor” Jerry Gillis
– Try to keep your message (or song) down to one big idea or thought.
“You’ll say it…you’ll say it again….and you’ll say it again” Jerry Gillis
“Start with a bang & quit all over” Hadden Robinson