Monday, September 7, 2009

Worship vs Outreach

Along the lines of the previous post, I do have a bunch of songs written, and up until now most of these have been worship songs. Lately I have been learning the difference, and more importantly, the value of the outreach song. Consider these two snippets of popular Christian songs:

  • "I Love You Lord, and I lift my voice, to worship you, oh my soul rejoice" (I Love You Lord)
  • "Everyone needs compassion, a love that's never failing" (Mighty to Save)
For a non-believer, which is more likely to get you to stick around and hear the whole song? It's not hard if you can put yourself in their shoes. Which is really where outreach has to start and end. If you aren't meeting the people where they are, physically and emotionally, how are you going to get them to pay any attention to you?

Now don't go thinking I want to sell the message of the outreach songs short here. There's no reason that the lyrics can't have a Christian message and retain the attention of a non-believer. In a recent Rob Bell message he described the philosophy of the Jewish story teller, where it was often their goal to embed multiple stories and themes within a single piece. This was done by careful and clever use of language and metaphor.

Please remember, I'm talking about outreach events here, like secular coffee shops and other public events not at a church building. There will always be a place for worship songs singing praise and love for God. Furthermore, there are outreach songs that are simply inappropriate for a worship setting, although that is less common than the other way around.