So much of worship music today has focused on creativity over clarity and catchiness over truthfulness. The problem with that is that Biblical worship is always revelation, then response. When Christ is clearly revealed in our songs, people will passionately respond in praise. Brett and the team at Journey Co Worship have decided to emphasize clarity over creativity as they write songs for their church.
In this conversation, we’ll be discussing how we can do the same and consider other important factors while selecting songs for our church’s worship vocabulary.
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Alex | (00:00)
Welcome to the Worship Ministry Training Podcast, a monthly podcast for worship leaders who are serious about growing in their craft and calling. My name is Alex, fellow worship leader. Super stoked you’re here. If you’re a new listener, I’m going to encourage you to hit that Subscribe button because every single month I’m going to give you helpful, practical guidance that you can immediately implement into your ministry. Hit that subscribe button and then go back through the past nine years of episodes and binge listen your way to a healthier ministry. If you’re someone who is really serious about growing as a worship leader, I’m going to point you to the Worship Ministry Training Academy. What is the academy? It’s an online training platform that will give you everything you need to build a thriving worship ministry. You’ll get 10 in-depth courses on topics like set building, team building, musical excellence, vocal technique, and more. You’ll get live monthly training workshops on topics that are relevant to you. You’ll get exclusive expert interviews with some of the best worship leaders in the world. You’ll get done for you ministry admin systems, an audition process, onboarding documents, team training materials, and even team discipleship materials.
Alex | (01:04)
We will take care of you so you can focus on leading your team. If that sounds like something that would be of help to you, you can try the Worship Ministry Training Academy for just one dollar by going to worshipministrytraining. Com. Sign up today for your one dollar trial and I hope to see you inside of the academy. All right, let’s get into today’s episode. In recent years, worship music has focused more on creativity than clarity, more on catchiness than truthfulness. The problem with that approach is that Biblical worship is always revelation first, then response. When Christ is clearly revealed in our songs, then the people will passionately respond in praise. That’s just how it works. It’s almost a formula. It’s the Biblical formula of worship. It’s revelation, then response. The problem is where can we find these rich, clear, deep Biblical songs? The truth is sometimes we just have to write them ourselves. That’s what today’s guest did with his team at Journey Church in Nashville. In today’s conversation, we’re going to be talking with Brett about how do we focus on clarity over creativity, and then how do we consider the important factors of the types of songs we should be choosing to sing in our churches for our churches good.
Alex | (02:17)
Let’s welcome Brett to the podcast. Hello, Brett.
Brett Perkins | (02:20)
How are you? What’s up? Hello. I’m grateful to be here. Thanks for having me on.
Alex | (02:25)
You’re coming all the way from Nashville, Tennessee, where all the great musicians live and serve, right?
Brett Perkins | (02:30)
That’s right. We’re actually in Lebanon, which is east of Nashville. We claim Nashville, and Nashville has to claim us too at this point. We’re about 25 miles from the heart of Nashville. But yeah, we’re close.
Alex | (02:45)
Close enough to have all the good musicians.
Brett Perkins | (02:47)
That’s right. Yeah.
Alex | (02:49)
I’d love for you to tee this up. Your church started to write your own worship songs because you were frustrated with the lack of clear Biblical songs that you were finding out there on Spotify. So you’re like, Let’s just do it ourselves. Can you describe the problem or the trend that you were noticing for our audience just so that they can get a little bit into your head and be like, Yeah, what was the problem you were seeing in our modern worship world?
Brett Perkins | (03:16)
Yeah. In 2020, when everything shut down and churches weren’t meeting live in person, it was obviously a good time to look at all the resources and all of the everything that was being put into our services and whatnot. For me, as a worship leader, I started thinking through the worship music itself. There’s something so formative about looking at a screen and no one in the room whenever you’re leading worship. We started picking songs. What I realized was this growing trend of songs where content was being sacrificed at the altar of creativity. Ultimately, what I mean by that is there were these songs that it seems to be, I wasn’t in these writing rooms, so I don’t know what the conversation was, but it seemed to be that when it came time to write something clear or creative, creativity was always chosen over clarity. There grew this influx of songs where they were cool and compelling and musically, they would grab people and move people because of the music, but they weren’t as clear as they could have been in the content that was being presented. There were cool songs that were actually ambiguous about a God who’s made himself clear to us in scripture.
Brett Perkins | (04:53)
I think that’s damaging. I think that’s misleading. It’s not that these songs were untrue or inaccurate as much as they were just inadequate. They were missing something. We got convicted about that, and we decided we were going to start fighting for truth for our people. I think these songs really are supplementing or becoming the sound bed for the deconstruction that you see around us because God can be anything. Jesus can mean whatever. If a song is unclear enough, but it’s truthful enough without the qualifiers around truth that are in scripture, then they can mean whatever anybody has deconstructed their faith to mean, if that makes any sense. That’s the heart behind what we saw and then leading to a screen, leading to a camera where there’s no music to move people and no crowd response to make the song actually feel like it’s saying more than what it is. You really get down to the heart. Everything’s stripped away. What’s the song actually saying? It doesn’t matter to the believer? If I wasn’t leading the song, would I sing it myself? That’s some context around all of it.
Alex | (06:17)
You just said something really profound. I always like to ask why these things matter, because if people don’t understand why something matters, they won’t care what you have to say. That’s why I always like to start the podcast why something matters. But you just said something that leads into that, which is these songs are so unclear that it’s actually fueling the deconstruction movement, which we’re seeing across Christianity of people leaving the faith or tweaking the faith to fit their own desires or their own perspectives. You’re saying that potentially these songs are helping fuel that deconstruction movement. Is that what you said?
Brett Perkins | (06:54)
Yeah. If something’s not clear enough, the deconstructed movement, it’s not that it’s packaged in all untruth. Some of it is packaged inside truth, but it’s what’s inside the truth that makes it untruth, if that makes sense. So to deconstruct something, for it to be appealing, it has to be masked in something. I’m not saying this isn’t a broad brush like all worship music is terrible and all camps are bad. That’s not me saying that. I’m just saying I think there was a growing movement of creativity, trumping, clarity, and content that we saw. And instead of taking it to Twitter and just joining people who like to be mad about things and not really moving the needle, we were like, you know what? We can care for our people. So we’re going to fight for truth and clarity inside our walls.
Alex | (07:51)
Yeah, that’s so good. And I think this conversation, it’s probably not going to be a release for a long time to the public, but it’s coming right off the release of an episode I did called Our Mega Churches Monopolizing Our Worship Music, basically, that the study found that there were only four churches that have written the top 32 songs that we’re singing. And you’re saying instead of complaining about that, we’re just going to write our own. That was one of the things that the people who created the study, they said, Go look for smaller artists. You don’t always have to choose songs just because they’re easy to find, just because they’re at the top of the charts, just because they’re promoted on CCLI doesn’t mean you have to sing them, write your own or find small artists like Journey Co, stuff like that. They didn’t say Journey Co, but I’m saying it. That’s great. Besides that huge issue you just brought up about deconstruction, are there other reasons why it matters that our songs are both Biblical and clear? Do you want to speak any more into that?
Brett Perkins | (08:49)
It’s all over scripture. You had referenced it even in your prayer before this, and I appreciated it. Colossians 3, Let the word of Christ dwell among you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. It’s there earlier in Colossians. It says, Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus, the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith. As you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving, see to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty to see according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. Ultimately saying, You know the truth in Christ. If you’re in Christ, you know the truth. So fight for the truth and don’t be deceived. There’s so many other passages around it. But so much of church movements have become geared around nonbelievers and trying to be a church for the unchurched that we’ve lost the focus of the church, which is the people of God and fighting for truth for the people of God, with the people of God, alongside, among, letting the word of Christ dwell among us richly.
Brett Perkins | (10:02)
And so it matters because it’s a Biblical command. It’s a powerful thing when the people agree on the truths of God because it’s a command of God. And so what better way can we spend our time than to try to articulate the things that got better for our people?
Alex | (10:21)
Now, I’m assuming you’re not only singing your own songs at your church. You’re probably still using other people’s songs, probably. Maybe I’m wrong.
Brett Perkins | (10:30)
Alex | (10:30)
What were you looking for in a clear biblical song? What’s the criteria that you use to find a good congregational song? Do you have a certain set of filters that you use? And if so, can you share those with the audience?
Brett Perkins | (10:44)
As far as theme goes, it needs to be Biblical. If there are obvious scriptures that were driving a song, are you familiar with the term proof texting? So proof texting is when you have an idea and you find a text to support your idea that you came up with. Whereas the opposite would be reading scripture and scripture influencing a theme and then writing around that theme. It’s funny, early on, whenever I was looking at multitracks, they have scripture references. You can tell which songs are proof text a lot of times by they wrote a song and all of a sudden they need a scripture reference. They just pull one out of the air and throw it on multitracks and you read it and it’s like this has nothing to do with the song. Finding songs that sing scripture, I think singing the word is incredibly powerful. You’re putting melodies to the word of God. That’s amazing. Or at least finding songs that say something that’s like a theme within scripture. It’s got a really strong base to it. That’s one thing. Then the other is more practical, but singability and followability is huge. Some people place a lot of importance around familiarity, which I think is great.
Brett Perkins | (12:07)
Old hymns, songs that people have known for a long time. But also, I think singability, like what keys are you doing stuff in? I know some songs are recorded. You could just drop the key or a height in the key, whatever it looks like, but also followability. Some songs are written in such a creative way that you lose people in the leading of it. So instead of leading people in worship, you leave people behind while you’re singing a song because the melody just goes in a direction that they either can’t do or aren’t expecting. Those are a few things.
Alex | (12:44)
That’s so good. The proof texting thing, it’s like there’s a couple of fancy terms like isagesis is reading into the text what you want, and exagesis is reading out of the text what’s actually there. And that’s a mistake I see a lot of young worship leaders make because I always encourage worship leaders to build their sets based on the theme of the pastor so that there’s a nice cohesion between the two. I always say, Be careful that you don’t see the word grace, and then you think that the passage is about Grace. You pick a bunch of songs about Grace just because you saw one word about Grace when actually the passage, that’s just part of the greeting, grace and peace to you or whatever. You know what I mean? I think it’s really important what you’re saying is we, as worship leaders, we must be Biblical people. What we should care about more than anything else is helping the congregation sing God’s word back to God. I think we’ve gotten way too far into the musical side and we’ve forgotten that it’s just about us helping them sing God’s word back to God. I mean, it’s obvious, but I think we’ve lost that.
Brett Perkins | (13:45)
Absolutely, I think we have. We’ve gotten so concerned about what we want to happen in worship that we forget maybe what’s prescribed in scripture about what should happen and how things should be laid out. So yeah, I’m with you on that.
Alex | (14:05)
Wow. I didn’t send you this question in advance, but what can someone do? Let’s say there’s a younger worship leader listening or there’s a maybe older worship leader, but who’s lost his way, her way, so to speak. What can they do to get more back to the heart of I care about the Bible, I care about scripturally investing into my church through scriptural songs. How can they change their perspective or their heart or their habit of what they focus on? How can they become more of a biblically saturated person? Do you have any thoughts?
Brett Perkins | (14:38)
I think just fall in more in love with the word yourself. So many worship leaders in churches who don’t read the Bible, again, that’s not saying every worship leader doesn’t. It’s just saying I’ve met so many who don’t. For the word of Christ to dwell among you richly in context that you’re leading, it has to dwell in you personally, richly. You can tell when someone’s leading if the word is in them or if it’s not. I think a big call is love the word, depend on the word. What if the challenge was, I’m going to be the most dependent on the word and the Spirit of anyone in the room and seek that, not in a way of in a prideful or arrogant way, but just because you’re so aware of your need for the guiding of the Spirit, and you’re also aware of how misleading you can be without the help of the Spirit. So yeah, growth in your own studies of Scripture will, I think, change the way that you lead and the way that you think about leading the people of God. Because your own hunger and thirst for righteousness grows and you realize that the only nourishment comes from the Word yourself.
Alex | (15:55)
Hopefully there’s no one out there listening to this or watching this that feels way, but I’m envisioning someone who’s just gotten into worship ministry because they like, I don’t know, they saw how cool it looks on the Instagram and this and that. They’re like, This is such a boring conversation. Who cares, guys? You’re taking it too seriously. I just want to play with my guitar pedal. Unfortunately, I think there are some people out there, not who listen to this podcast, Amen, but there are some people out there who probably, like you said, there’s so many worship leaders out there who aren’t reading the word anymore. We’re addicted to our phones, we’re addicted to Netflix, we’re addicted to the newest movies that came out. We’re like, shallow, shallow, shallow, shallow, shallow people. It’s like, let’s get into the habit of Bible reading. I know maybe this does sound boring to someone young out there or whatever, but it’s like, you know what? There’s nothing more foundational than this. This is what changes people’s lives. Not fancy screens, not lighting, not awesome guitar tone. All those things are just tools. I just want to encourage us to, and you are as well, to get back to the Bible.
Brett Perkins | (17:06)
I really believe a worship in the absence of truth is idolatry. If you are a worship leader listening, thinking, Man, this is boring, I would challenge you maybe to take a little bit of time off and get back into the word, because the chances are you are probably contributing more to idolatry than leading people in worship because you’re more consumed with what you offer than what you carry.
Alex | (17:33)
Brett Perkins | (17:36)
One point. Another thing I want to say with that, I was at a pastor’s conference a couple of years ago, and there was this pastor who was talking particularly about prayer within his service. He made a comment that they spend 30 minutes. It’s like three, 10-minute segments in their services. They devote that to prayer. When he said that, there were over 600 pastors in the room, and they all grumbled. They were like, Oh. He said, I know what you’re saying. I hear you. That must be so boring to have 30 minutes of prayer in your services. He said, But I want to challenge you. Boar the people who pretend to have a relationship with Jesus and feed your sheep.
Alex | (18:22)
Brett Perkins | (18:23)
It wrecked me because I think so often we care so much about entertaining goats in our midst that we fail to feed the sheep of God, and our responsibility is to feed the sheep.
Alex | (18:38)
Brett, I don’t have the gift of prophecy, but I think you might end up being a teaching pastor at some point because you have such a way with words. I noticed at the very beginning of the conversation, I didn’t say it back then, but I was like, Dude, this guy is turning all these phrases that are deep and insightful and punchy and rhymey and song-writers-ish. You’ve got a gift with words. So we’ll see what happens. Appreciate it.
Brett Perkins | (19:02)
I hope it’s making sense.
Alex | (19:04)
No, it is. It’s really great. Let me throw a curveball at you. What do you do when you find a song that is awesome but it has one questionable lyrics or line? What do you do in that instance? Because that seems to be something that happens over and over. There’s these great new songs coming out, but they’ve got this one line or this one lyric or part of the bridge is weird. What do you do? What do you do, Brett?
Brett Perkins | (19:27)
We find a different one. It’s a simple answer. But dude, there are a hundred, I think there’s 120,000 songs uploaded to streaming platforms per day. And so we’re not at a loss of other song options. And I think there are so many people who think, wow, I mean, this is a big song and everybody’s doing it. And it was in my inbox from this company that I’m a subscriber to, so it must be just taking on the world. We have to do it. It’s on the radio, all these things. I disagree with this one line, but everybody’s connecting to it. We’ll either do it and change the line ourselves and then it’ll come across cheesy, or we do it and we don’t change the line and we just deal with some either misleading people or people getting frustrated with it. I mean, these are all things that I’ve thought through and have had to work through in years past with some songs that I loved but said one thing that ruffleed everybody’s feathers. Ultimately, where I landed was there are other songs that are more clear and just as truthful, maybe even more truthful, that serve your people better.
Brett Perkins | (20:46)
If your people leave your church thinking about a lyric that bothered them, even if they’re singing a song that you changed the lyric of and they know that that’s not the real lyric, they’re leaving thinking about things that they shouldn’t be in my mind. And so to eliminate distractions, to eliminate roadblocks, we just find songs that work as they are.
Alex | (21:13)
Yeah, that’s good. And that’s a hard answer. That’s hard to hear, but it’s good. I do think that Hillsong, under Brooke Ligerwood’s leadership, has moved from more ambiguous to more clear. And I’m thinking of songs like King of Kings. Well, that one’s a great example of very, I think, very clear. Maybe I’m wrong. You could disagree. That’s fine. I won’t be offended. But very clear and very congregational. It doesn’t even really have a bridge. It’s the same melody throughout verse chord. It’s like an old hymn, 10,000 reasons is another example of a new modern hymn. It’s like, Why are those songs so impactful, so popular? Because they hit those two topics that you were talking about earlier, which is Biblical, clear, and singable, easy to follow.
Brett Perkins | (22:01)
Yeah, singable, followable, Biblical, not controversial. It’s up the middle. It’s creative, it’s beautiful, and it’s truthful. Nothing was compromised. I think there are a bunch of those songs that are out there.
Alex | (22:19)
Yeah, there are at least hundreds and hundreds of them that you guys can use. Because I’m the same way as you, Brett. There might be a song, I’ll give an example, like We Praise You. Oh, we praise you, that song. That song, I think it’s a decent song and it’s upbeat, and so it fulfills that upbeat song purpose that we all need more of. But The Bridge, this is what heaven sounds like we pray. I’m just like, That’s a throw away. I personally, and no offense to anyone who either wrote that song, who’s listening or who likes to use that song, that bridge, it just tanks the whole thing for me. To me, like you said, you use the word compromise, it’s a compromise. I’m not going to sing that song. I don’t need to sing a song that’s mostly good, but then it gets lame in the middle. Then it’s like, let’s look for something better. Let’s find something stronger. Another one, honestly, is the one where the bridge sings like, sing a little louder, sing a little louder. It’s like, okay, what is that? That bridge just ruins that song for me. There are other parts of the songs that potentially are weird or whatever.
Alex | (23:30)
I’m just like, we can do better. Let’s just find a better song that doesn’t have any compromises. I think compromises are killers. And so, yeah, thank you for bringing that up.
Brett Perkins | (23:38)
Yeah, for sure. I’m with you on that.
Alex | (23:40)
Yeah. And sorry, everybody, for having my little rant. But this is my podcast, so why not? True. So what you did, Brett, you started combating this by first looking for more Biblical songs, but then starting a songwriting ministry at your church. So tell us a little bit about that. What is the purpose of Journey Co-Worship and what is the purpose? And then I’m going to ask you a bit more about the mechanics of building a songwriting ministry because I think some worship leaders are going to want to do that as well. So let’s just start with why did you start Journey Co-Worship? It’s a natural progression out of this conversation, but just share what you want.
Brett Perkins | (24:19)
Yeah. We saw the need and we took it as an assignment given. The need was that there were songs that were not as clear and not as truthful as we wanted them to be. So our response, our purpose is to write songs that are truthful and clear. We want to hold true to the Biblical integrity, but we also want to pursue non-compromising creativity in our approach to say things that are truthful and clear. We don’t want to unsay beautiful truths with a bad song musically, but we also don’t want to beautify something that’s untrue or unclear. So that’s the purpose of Journey, Worship Goat. That’s why we exist.
Alex | (25:14)
Okay, now let’s talk to the worship leaders who are like, I think I’d like to start writing songs for my church that are more clear and more beautiful. Where do they start? Any advice? Maybe it’s just them songwriting or do you recommend having a group of people songwriting and just really general advice from you, you’ve done it. You’re two, three years ahead of us. What would you tell someone who’s two or three years behind you?
Brett Perkins | (25:42)
It all goes back to the why. You have to have conviction driving you. If you don’t have a why, you have nothing and you’ll just find something else to do. It’s also a really expensive hobby to just put out music because there’s so many people putting out music. So you need to have a why. Again, our why is because we want to produce songs for our people, fight for truth that are clear and biblically saturated. I cast the division to our team, and I told them what I saw was an issue, a gap in our worship. They agreed, and I’m casting vision to like, there were 35 people in the room at the time. I said, I think this is what God’s calling us into this next season. And so we didn’t all call. We just said, Hey, if you want to be a part of this, then we’re not going to tell anybody no. We’re going to put together writing groups of four, hopefully, sometimes three. And if we got a weird number, we’ll put five in a room. Five is a little bit much. Four has been a sweet spot for us, three and four.
Brett Perkins | (26:50)
But we put everybody together. We called writing days. People started writing. We started seeing people who bubbled up as gifted in the writing, and songs started being produced. Another thing that we did that I think freaks people out, but it was part of our vision, part of our conviction. If we wanted to be theologically rich, theologically sound in our songs, we needed theological gatekeepers to help make sure that we’re not going out of bounds and what we’re doing. We’re still fighting for the right things. I actually asked a couple of our pastors to be in our rights. We surrounded them with creatives, and it was the most incredible thing that happened. Pastors, preachers, they know how to start a point and end a point, tell a story, get a theme out, and creatives can make it creative. What ended up happening by happenstance is my team then started getting discipled by our pastors in these three-hour increments of time while they were writing songs. It was amazing. There was something very glorifying to God about it, I think, that we were writing songs within our church. There was something really edifying to our body, having songs that were written within the walls.
Brett Perkins | (28:13)
It was something really unifying to our team, just unifying around these songs. A mentor had told me before in writing that there are three pieces to a song. You have the content, the melody, and the arrangement. One of the things that was really helpful for me as we started writing and as I started assessing the strengths of everybody was finding the people who were good at each of those things, so finding the people who contribute more to content but didn’t have melody ideas or arrangement ideas, or finding people who were more contributors in the melody lane but didn’t contribute as much with content or arrangement, or then even the producers of the group who could take content melody and make an arrangement that was creative and worked for the theme. Most writers can do one of them really well, maybe a second, but rarely can a writer do all three. And so trying to figure out what I was good at and then being able to explain it in such a way to say like, hey, these are some things that I can work on, but I need to plan right around my strengths and my weaknesses.
Brett Perkins | (29:29)
And so I just I serve as a baseball team GM where I was looking and assessing strengths and weaknesses and putting together strengths in each of those categories. And that’s where all the songs were coming from, ones that had content, melody and arrangement. And that was really helpful for me and for us.
Alex | (29:48)
I have a lot of questions, and I think the listeners and viewers will have questions about more practical questions about what you’re sharing. One of them was you got 35 people in a room, 30people in a room, you shared your vision. In your vision, did you also share, Besides, we need to do this because blank, did you also share like, I want the songs to be stylistically like this or sound like this because we’re trying to write singable songs. How did you cast a vision for congregational? Because creatives, everybody’s got their own style. So how did you direct the style? That’s one question. The other question is how often are you doing these cowriting sessions?
Brett Perkins | (30:29)
In the initial right or in the initial vision casting, it was less about the nuts and bolts of how it was going to happen, and it was more about why. So it’s just a really clear why. I read the parable of the talents. Essentially, two of the people invested and one didn’t. And the biggest thing about that, I mean, there’s so many stories within it and so many takeaways within it, but the one that didn’t, not only were they disobedient, but their talent was then given away to somebody else who would invest. The way I shared with them the conviction around that was, I think God has put something in our hands to steward well. And the thing that I don’t want to happen is for us not to steward it well and for us not to invest and for it to be given away to somebody else. And then we see like, we could have done that. I think that there’s something there that it’s just a stewardship aspect of our team that I started assessing and seeing like we’ve got to do something with this. So that was part of the vision casting.
Brett Perkins | (31:46)
Then when we got together, it was more like, let’s just see what we can do. I don’t want to put any parameters around people. We all have a sound already, so let’s just lean into that. There are already songs that were working really well at our church, so we leaned into that too. Around that time was when City of Light came on the scene. They were inspirational. Matt Popp and Matt Boswell, they were writing modern-day hymns, and so some modern-day hymns were some things that we were trying to chase down in our own context. But also we have other influences that would lend itself to an upbeat opener or more of a like, rejoice type energy song, but full of content. We just got together, explained the why, and then chased down biblical truths in lanes that the makeup of the write would lend itself to. Then from there, for me, as the leader of the team, I had to work through like, Okay, what is our sound? We started working with a producer internally, which was cool. One of our writers became our producer, and he and I really worked through then the makeup of a song.
Brett Perkins | (33:10)
So some songs, when they were presented and demoed and sent to me, they sound completely different now that they’re recorded than what they were as demos. But it was just we didn’t really put any restrictions around anybody.
Alex | (33:22)
And then how often are you guys gathering to write?
Brett Perkins | (33:26)
Yeah. So we do seasons. I was just talking to one of our pastors today. Fall always feels like an exciting time around here, especially since 2020, because the fall is when we’ve historically written. 2020, ’21, ’22, now this year, we get together and we will write a lot more. We did a writing retreat last year. We’ll do another one this year, and we’ll have a couple of writing days as well. So as far as frequency, it’s more seasonal because there’s a time to, like what I call is shovel and coal. You’re in the whole of the ship, just like shovel and coal, making sure that there’s energy in the ship to go where you’re going. And then there’s other seasons where we’re traveling and recording. And so as far as full on team, all hands on the fall is the time that we jump into it. And we’ll do one big session every month or for a few months. But we also go through seasons of trying to write one time a week just to build up a bunch of songs so that we can shave off songs that maybe they’re almost really good, but they’re not great.
Brett Perkins | (34:48)
Right. So yeah, it’s a seasonal thing.
Alex | (34:52)
Just to point out, your pastors are investing in this financially to send some of you guys on writing retreats. And just so the listeners and viewers can just think about that, it helps if your pastors are bought in and one hack to get them bought in is to include them in the writing. I mean, it’s not that you did that for that purpose, but that’s a really cool benefit of including your pastors in the songwriting is like, first of all, they signed off on, yes, we want to be a songwriting church, so you got to pitch that. Secondly, getting them involved will then allow them to be boots on the ground with you, which will then help them to see like, Wow, we should pour more fuel on this. Let’s send a few people away on a songwriting retreat, etc, etc, etc. By the way, for the listeners and viewers, I’ve done a lot of episodes on songwriting and starting a songwriting ministry at your church. Look in the past episodes for episodes by Stephen Duncan. That’s Stephen with the PH. Then Andy Rosier has a couple of episodes. One of them, I think specifically is about starting a songwriting ministry at your church.
Alex | (35:54)
Look for those and I’ll try to remember to put them in the show notes. But what I want to ask you, because I want to continue to focus this around biblically-rich songs, what have been some of the effects that you’ve noticed on your church body as you’ve made this shift to more biblical songs? What are some of the results that you’ve been seeing, if any?
Brett Perkins | (36:15)
Yeah, I mean, more engagement. When I got here at the church over seven years ago, one of the things that was said was our church is not a singing church. My pastor, he told me, I want you to reframe that and say instead of our people don’t sing, I want you to reframe it and say we haven’t let our people sing. I didn’t like that at all because I hadn’t contributed to the culture that was here. But it was really good for me to work through because ultimately, without getting into all the details, I could. But ultimately, we just realized it was a consumer culture where it was a come and see as opposed to join in this. What led to the response was the presentation of the gospel and the reading of the word. Songs that matter, songs that were clear and substantive and truthful, and supplementing transitions of songs or opening of service with scripture that will stoke the flame inside the believer. That’s what has led people ultimately to sing. The biggest reaction, the biggest response to robust songs is a greater engagement in the room.
Alex | (37:41)
Hello, everybody. I’ve been saying this for so many years. Thank you for saying it with a different person’s voice because it is not about the lights, it is not about the sound. If you want to see more engagement from your congregation, it’s what I said at the beginning, revelation, then response. Sing better songs and lead pastor the room in Biblical ways. You will see more engagement. Brett is just reiterating that. I wish people would get it because they’re just like, more lights, louder sound. It’s like, no, that’s actually going to decrease the engagement. I think, that’s going to decrease the engagement. Unless your senior pastor works really hard to create a culture of engaged worshippers through the Biblical truth. Thank you for sharing that. That was the result that you saw as you started to sing these songs. Last question for you. Besides writing your own songs, where do you find good biblical, rich songs? You mentioned City of Light. Where else are you finding these so that our listeners and viewers can find them as well?
Brett Perkins | (38:50)
Yeah, we have a tighter pool, but City of Light is a great resource. I think Shane & Shane, their Psalms, albums are incredible, Psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, albums are awesome. They are also just really great to listen to. They’re very talented. They don’t lack creativity with what they do. Some of the Worshift Initiative guys within that, Aaron Williams is a new guy who is in some of the same environments that we’re in. He writes really great songs and he’s really thoughtful in his approach. The Gettys, I know that some people might think, Oh, that’s the Gettys. They just do hymns in an Irish way. But I think that what they do is just serving the church really well. We don’t do all their songs, but there are some that come from their mix that have been really great for our people, and I’m really thankful for their ministry. Matt Papa, Matt Boswell, they’re like the new dynamic duo when it comes to resourcing churches that are trying to sing rich songs. They’re really great. Andrew Peterson, Izzy Worthy has been a great one as well. That’s a few that we are going to pull from.
Alex | (40:21)
That’s awesome. Then obviously we’re going to tell people where they can find your original songs as well. Before we do that and before we go into our Academy Q and A session with our people watching live, hello, everybody, who’s still watching live, thank you. Do you have any final encouragements, exhortations, words, wisdom for people about this topic of biblically, rich, clear songs?
Brett Perkins | (40:46)
It’s really hard for you to build a culture that sings rich theology and cares for the scripture if you aren’t in the word yourself. My call to all worship leaders would be grow more in love with the word of God. Be in the word, pray the word, read the word in your gatherings, write songs that are biblically truthful and aligned, sing songs that matter, and let the word dwell on you richly and shape you. I think your people will be better for it because you’re oozing the richness of the gospel because you’re lapping it up yourself. It really just is a call to be in the word yourself. If you’re not in the word, it’s really hard to present something that you don’t know really well. My prayer, one of the prayers I have for myself often is, Lord, make me a more accurate representative of your word so that we will respond more accurately to your word. Help me be a more accurate representative and may that fuel my response in a more accurate way. That would be my prayer for all who are listening.
Alex | (42:20)
That’s so good. Basically, be more of a pastor and less of an artist. Get in the word. Yes. Okay, so where can people find your music online and/or track along with you guys?
Brett Perkins | (42:33)
Yeah, all streaming platforms. We just released volume two, which is the very non-creative way to say it’s the second volume of all of our songs that we put out.
Alex | (42:43)
And it’s Journey, Co, Worship. Journey, Co.
Brett Perkins | (42:46)
It’s Journey Co. It’s Journey Worship Co.
Alex | (42:48)
Journey Worship Co. Thank you. That people would not have found it. And I will link it below in the show notes or the YouTube description.
Brett Perkins | (42:57)
Yeah, Journey, Worship. Co, it’s on all our streaming platforms. We have resources on multitracks, Praise Charts, Loop Community, CCLI. All the songs are available there. We have a YouTube channel where you can find some videos that we’ve done some green room sessions where we just come in here in this room and do an acoustic version of the song and others that are live and others that are more rehearsal sessions without a crowd in them. But yeah, all those places. And we have a Christmas record coming out in a few months as well.
Alex | (43:31)
Probably about the same time as this podcast actually goes out to the public. Perfect. Yeah. So everybody check out. Do you know what it’s called yet or it’s too early to say?
Brett Perkins | (43:42)
We have some names. But not decided. -that are in the works. None decided, but the whole idea of it is we’ve internally been saying we want to resolve Christmas. There’s so many Christmas songs that talk about Jesus’s birth and the excitement around his arrival, but they don’t get to why he came. We sing a lot about the cross at Christmas because that’s why he came to come and save his people. It’s more of a Christ has come type record, and this is what he came and did.
Alex | (44:16)
Nice. I will probably link that in the show notes as well, but it should be releasing… Your album about Christmas Stuff should be releasing about the same time as this podcast episode goes out to the public. But thank you for sharing all this with everyone who’s listening after the fact. For those Academy members who are watching live, we are going to go into our private Q and A session. And for anyone who is listening to this after the fact and you’re like, I want to be part of these private Q and A’s, you can. You can try the Worship Ministry Training Academy for just $1. By going to worshipministrytraining. Com, you’ll get 15 days. It’s actually free. I’m just going to be really honest. I say $1 so that you’re not afraid to go through the process of entering your credit card, but I actually don’t charge you at all for 15 days. So at least come inside the academy for 15 days for free and hang out with us and be part of these conversations. Plus, we have all of our courses and our community and our live monthly trainings that we do. So it’s been really fun building this and we have a great community here.
Alex | (45:17)
So join us, worshipadministrytraining. Com. Thank you, guys. And let’s jump into our live Q&A. Academy members, hold tight, we’ll be right back. Thanks for tuning in today. I hope this episode encouraged you, helped you and pushed you forward in your ministry. If it helped you, can you take a second and help us by sending it to just one person that you think needs to hear this? If you’re feeling extra nice, leave us a nice, shiny, five-star review on Apple Podcasts or like this video if you’re watching it on YouTube. If you want to discuss this episode or ask questions, we do have a free section in our academy where you can post comments and questions and chat with other worship leaders just like you and also sample some of our courses. You can go to worshipministrytraining. Com/free to join us inside the free portion of the academy. If you’re looking for more, check out the full Access Academy. You can get 15 days for just one dollar to start and try things out. Again, you can try all of it for 15 days for just one dollar by going to worshipministrytraining. Com. Hope to see you inside the academy or else I’ll see you next month for another helpful episode.