Should we sing songs TO God or ABOUT God?

Should all of our worship songs be addressed TO God? Is it weird to sing about God when He’s right there in the room? When is a testimonial song appropriate in a worship set? Andi Rozier and I answer these questions for an Academy member in this episode. Be encouraged and forward this episode to a friend who you think would benefit!
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Alex | Hello and welcome to the Worship ministry training podcast. My name is Alex and Fijian. I’m so glad you are tuning in today. This podcast is for worship leaders and worship team members who want to improve in your craft and calling. And if you are a new listener, welcome. I want to encourage you to hit the subscribe button whether you’re watching on YouTube or listening to the podcast in your favorite podcast app. Why? Because every single month you will get a helpful, practical, in depth, topical teaching on worship ministry and how to improve your worship ministry. So go ahead, hit that subscribe button so you don’t miss any future episodes. Also, if you’re a new listener, check out all the past episodes from the last eight years. I want to encourage you. We’ve done tons of topics, tons of content, all for free. So check out the content library and just scroll back in time. Hit any episodes that you want to listen to that will help you in the season of your ministry. And if you are someone who is really hungry to grow and you desire to grow as a worship leader, I’m going to point you to the Worship Ministry Training Academy.

Alex | What is the Academy? It is basically a community filled with everything you need to build a thriving worship industry. Literally everything. We have ten in depth courses on topics like set building, team building, group communication, administrative systems. So we have courses, we have live monthly trainings on topics like wise boundaries in ministry because all these pastors are failing and falling. So monthly workshops, we have team resource documents, we have team discipleship material for your worship team. So check out the academy. It is one dollars to try for 15 days. You get full access to play around for one dollars. And then after that, it’s just $29 a month. And that’s full access to everything. Literally. We have team member training materials for you. We have an onboarding process that’s already done for you. We have an audition process that’s already done for you. So it’s literally like if you need help in your ministry, this is the resource that you need. So go to worship to check that out and to start your trial. And I hope to see you inside of the academy. Part of the academy is we do live interviews with experts.

Alex | So different worship leaders that you’ve probably heard of. Recently we’ve had Andy Rosier on from vertical Worship and Andy did a Q and A session. And so this month, instead of giving you one podcast episode, I’m going to be giving you three podcast episodes. We’re going to be breaking up the questions into single episodes. And in this third episode of the month, one of the academy members is asking how we should think about Testimony songs like, should we only sing to God, you Lord, you Lord? Or can we sing about God? He is good. So how should we balance that? And are there any pros and cons to using you songs versus he songs, songs to God versus songs about God? So let’s get into this Q and A topic and I’ll talk to you at the end.

Student | I feel pulled more towards true worship music. Unless, like, testimony, songs.

Alex | Yes.

Student | Have anything to say about that? I think I used to like just pick a song like, oh, this sounds good, it sounds catchy, it sounds cool. And then once I really dissected the lyrics, I’m like, this is more about us than us.

Alex | Just play all of Andy’s songs.

Andi Rozier | No, let me say this in the shortest way I can. I think style, lyric and style are both at the table, but in a fist fight, lyric always has to win. Charles Wesley said, you’ll know, a church’s theology by the songs that they sing. And that’s a huge statement right there. But I entirely believe I think pastors preach great messages, but when parents are sitting in the Er at 02:00 A.m. With their kids, they’re not referring to like the second point in the trials message that was preached eight months ago. They are saying to themselves, you give and take away. You give and take away. My heart would choose to say blessed to be your name. They’re referring to like a lyric and I’ve subscribed to a flow. Let’s call it a gray line, not a heart. This is the only way I’m going to hike up the mountain. I think there’s many ways to get up the mountain, but to achieve the goal at the top of the mountain, which is like sending people back to their car, say God is awesome and not my church is awesome, you know? And if you were to break up the top 100 CCLI, for instance, today, you would see that actually probably 70% of the songs in there are Testimony songs.

Alex | Wow.

Alex | And the reason that is it’s not a problem to me because I’m a songwriter and it’s really hard to write a song and not pull yourself into the narrative of the song. Okay. But if every song is a hand and written on that hand is awesome things about God, there is a finger pointing on that hand. And songs like, Holy Spirit, you are welcome here, we are here for you. Come have your way among us. We welcome you here, Lord Jesus. Awesome things about God, but the finger is pointing out to the congregation, come on, let’s go wash a God together. Right? And my greatest observation, critical observation of how those songs are used is if you came over to my house for dinner and you came in, we chatted, we sat down, we had some appetizers, we had a great meal, then we’re halfway through dessert and I jump up and shout welcome. That would seem crazy to anybody, and yet we do it in our worship narrative. We’ll go like two thirds of the way through the worship and be like, Holy Spirit, you’re welcome here, as if he’s not living an active, present God in the room who is like, I’ve been here.

Alex | Yeah.

Andi Rozier | Why are you welcoming me two thirds of the way through this? And our response to that is because we like this song and we like where it is in the set. Gods like, I don’t care what you like. This worship is about me. It’s not about your preference. This is about my preference. Go back to the Bible and read where you exist in the order of I will not share my glory with another. There’s kind of like three big buckets of songs, really, in worship. There’s the songs that cause people to worship, and then on the other end of the spectrum, there’s the songs that you’re talking about, Monica, which is kind of like, let’s ascribe worth completely to God. And there’s a lot of songs about that, but they’re kind of hard to come by because worship songwriters pull themselves into the narrative. And that’s why, like, 70% of probably the songs that are in I’m using CCI as an example because they cover all the churches across the US. Right? So 70% of the songs that are being sung are Testimony songs. Are they bad? No, they are not, because our churches are hospitals.

Andi Rozier | They are spiritual hospitals for the broken to come in every weekend. And it’s important that we sing a narrative where we say, lord, I need you, oh, I need you every hour I need you. People need to remind and rehearse themselves into the narrative. The blood of Jesus Christ covers me and he is able to take on the weight of my sin and my shame and he is able to help me find a way out of this. And that’s all about me. So awesome things about God. That finger is pointed here. Where it becomes a massive problem is if we plan our songs to the point that when we arrive at the destination of our worship set, people are standing there and they’re basically going, me. This is about me. This is about me. And that’s when Testimony songs become to wear on us a little bit, they start to wear us down. Because actually, we’re kind of like creating a narrative within our churches where the finger is pointed at us. So that’s why I would subscribe to a flow. And like I said at the beginning of this little ramble, I think there’s a thousand ways up the hill, but I would start with songs that call people worship.

Andi Rozier | I would end with songs that ascribe work entirely to God. And in the middle, I would sing songs of Testimony, where people get to be reminded of the gospel truth within their lives.

Alex | Yeah, write that down. Start with a call to worship song, two Testimony songs and then a Godcentered song as the closer. Right? And I think that’s really helpful. And I have monica, you probably already took it, but I have a course set building course, and like, it shows you how to build a great set. And the last song should always be a Godcentered song. Andy, I think you’re talking about two categories of song. It’s like ascription songs, all God and then me songs, what God has done for me. Then there’s a whole other category that maybe Monica is referencing, which is he songs. So not songs you God, but he so come all you weary, come all you thirsty. Come to the world and everyone’s dry drink. It is goodness. God so love the world, for God so loved the world that he gave. It’s like you never are talking to God or Come to the altar. It’s like, we do this, but we’re not talking to Him directly. And that’s a whole other category. Is that kind of also what you’re talking about, Monica? I try to avoid those songs. I’ll come to the altar.

Alex | Of course, you got to use it when it’s alter call.

Alex | Yeah, thank you. That’s very helpful.

Andi Rozier | I agree with that. Like, it’s kind of like if God’s in the room, he’s like, are you going to sing to me or you’re going to sing about me? But not to kind of like throw it all out, which I know you’re not doing anyway. But like you just said with, oh, come to the altar, just kind of like, yeah, but there’s like an altar call and that’s a great song to sing. It like a lot of those songs sometimes that sing about God, if they’re placed in the right way, can have some significant impact because they’re beautiful songs and they say some amazing things about God. But yes, in general, I think the principle is Psalm 96. All the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens splendor and majesty of the Him strength and beauty or in the century ascribe to the Lord, o families of the peoples. Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory, do his name bring an offering and come into his courts. Four lines from Psalm 96. That basically bullseye versus about the worship service. And the word is to not ascribe about the Lord or ascribe for the Lord that ascribed to the Lord, he’s present in the room, therefore sing to Him.

Alex | There’s a story I heard once about the best example of that is kind of like we’re all sitting at a table in a restaurant talking about God, talking about God, and then God sits down at the table and we keep talking about God for the rest of the conversation. And he’s like, I just sat down with you guys. Are you going to talk to me? Or you can just keep talking about me.

Alex | It’s so good. All right, well, hopefully this episode was helpful to you. And again, I want to encourage you. If you are serious about growing in your craft or if you just need help to strengthen your worship ministry, check out the Academy. It is designed to give you everything you need to build a thriving worship ministry. Like you’re busy. You need to focus on leading your team and let us focus on helping you do that well. We’ll give you all the tools and everything you need to lead your team. Well, you focus on them, we’ll equip you and everybody wins. So check out to sign up for the Academy today. Hope to see you on the inside.

Alex | God bless.