WENATCHEE, WA (March 6, 2015) — “If Covenant songwriters don’t write new songs that remember and celebrate what it means to be followers of Christ in the Covenant church, who will?” Andrew Thompson wonders.
That’s why he and other worship leaders throughout the denomination are encouraging efforts to nurture Covenant songwriting, with the hopes that the best of the work will spread throughout our churches.
Thompson, pastor of Columbia Grove Covenant Church, was studying the top 50 songs on the CCLI charts when he noticed that about 40 percent of those songs came from the Vineyard Movement, a network of churches roughly the same size as the Covenant. Churches that sing contemporary music almost certainly sing at least one Vineyard song a month.
“The Vineyard had been proactive in developing songwriters to spread their theology,” Thompson says. “There’s nothing preventing us from doing that.”
He says it’s important for the Covenant to raise up its own songwriters as a way of carrying forth the denominational distinctives that include freedom in Christ, holistic mission, and “multifaceted understanding of the doctrine of atonement.”
Thompson has held several “Songwriter’s Bible Study” sessions in the past year via Google Hangouts. “It resulted in some cross-country collaboration between emerging writers,” he says. One result of the sessions is his collaboration with Michael Hill at Marin Covenant Church in San Rafael, California. “Using Hangouts we are able to do real-time writing together, even from a distance.”
Thompson co-led a “Songwriting for Christian Worship” class at North Park Theological Seminary. He and Geoff Twigg, who was then worship arts project coordinator for the denomination, taught basics of songwriting and discussed incorporating Covenant theology and liturgical considerations. Students broke into groups, and each group wrote a piece that corresponded with a particular section of a liturgical worship service. Songs were then used in the closing worship. Thompson will offer the workshop again in 2016 during the weekend prior to the Midwinter Conference in Chicago.
Songwriters also are invited to share ideas at Covenant Mix.