Can you imagine a church without music?
Contemporary Christian music in particular has evolved to a point where you might not even recognize the difference between a Christian rock or country song and its secular counterparts.
Conversely, traditional rockers have written hit songs about faith that flew under the radar as mainstream. Most fans of the Christian rock genre know that bands like Creed and Switchfoot have blurred genre lines, while remaining unaware that songs like “Are You Gonna Go My Way?” by Lenny Kravitz and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by U2 were inspired by the Christian faith.
The biggest difference between a Christian and secular song is in the lyrics. Uplifting messages and words of praise are what make Christian music what it is.
But did you know that Christian song lyrics also contain helpful advice for church leaders? That’s right. The best songs are super catchy AND help you lead your flock more effectively.
To prove my point, I looked at the best of the best: the Christian and Gospel music award winners at last weekend’s 60th Grammy Awards. So pop in your headphones and prepare to be inspired.
2018 Christian Praise and Worship Grammy Winners
Even though they weren’t televised, the stars of the contemporary Christian music scene came out to play on January 28 at Madison Square Garden.
Christian music fans shouldn’t feel too slighted by the omission. Heck, the awards for Best R&B and Rock songs were among those that didn’t warrant prime-time coverage.
I’m here to give the big winners the attention they deserve, and highlight lessons that church leaders can take from each award-winning song.
1. Best Gospel Song
“Never Have to Be Alone” by CeCe Winans
Winans is no stranger to the spotlight, having sold more than 12 million records. This was her 12th win; she won her first Grammy in 1987.
“Never Have to Be Alone” is a powerful song reminding you that no matter how difficult things get, you never have to be alone.
As a church leader, your people are the entire reason for your career. They look to you for support, but you should also lean on them as volunteers, emotional supporters, and advisers. And if you feel alone, it’s time to step outside the walls of your church and get back out into your community to make new connections.
Have “church” in a local park on a nice day. Invite the community into your church building for a potluck supper or pancake breakfast. Your next new member might be looking for just such an opening to join you.
2. Best Contemporary Christian Song
“What A Beautiful Name” by Hillsong Worship
Christian music’s original supergroup Hillsong Worship has been producing inspirational hits out of Sydney, Australia, since 1983, but this is their first Grammy.
“What A Beautiful Name” was written and performed by Brooke Ligertwood, a member of Hillsong Worship and a Christian music superstar in her own right. The video above has garnered more than 113 million views on YouTube.
Ligertwood told Billboard that the song was primarily written to build human connections. “When you connect with people, you can feel their spirits being lifted,” she said. “When people connect, it’s freeing for them and breaks chains and creates faith.”
As a church leader, you might not be blessed with the musical talent of a Grammy award winner, but that shouldn’t stop you from connecting with as many people as possible via social media.
Here are some articles to help you do just that:
3. Best Gospel Album
“Let Them Fall In Love” by CeCe Winans
This is the third year that Winans has won double Grammy awards for Gospel song and album.
A standout track on this disc is the raucous “Dancing in the Spirit,” featuring Hezekiah Walker’s Love Fellowship Choir.
Press play, and try not to tap your feet! This song is a good reminder that church leadership can be serious business, but—like life—should also be fun.
As Winans sings, “When I think about what the Lord has done, look at where He has brought me from, I can hardly hold my peace and I sure can’t keep my seat.” Even when you’re having a rough day or the world seems like a dark place, don’t forget to laugh and dance.
As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “It is cheerful to God when you rejoice or laugh from the bottom of your heart.”
As a church leader, don’t be afraid to tell a few dad jokes or talk to your congregation about the Metallica concert you went to last weekend. It’s also OK to have a board game night or a talent show every once in awhile. Church doesn’t need to only be about services and scripture.
Check out these articles to help you keep the fun flowing at your church:
4. Best Contemporary Christian Album
“Chain Breaker” by Zach Williams
Leading up to the Grammy awards, “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Jurassic World” star Chris Pratt used the title track from Williams’ award-winning album in a fan video celebrating #FarmLife that he posted on social media.
The Arkansas-raised crooner seems to have caught the attention of the awards committee as well with his breakthrough album, a catchy blend of southern rock and Christian pop.
“Chain Breaker” is about breaking chains and finding a better life.
If you’ve been doing things the same old way—hosting the same bake sale fundraiser every fall despite diminishing returns—and encountering the same problems in your church over and over again, why not try a new approach in 2018? Attend a church leadership conference. Read a magazine on emerging church management technologies. Have a chili cook-off this fall in addition to the bake sale.
Here are a few articles to get you started:
5. Best Roots Gospel Album
“Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope” by Reba McEntire
Believe it or not, this is just the third Grammy award for the queen of country music, and her first since 1993 despite 15 total nominations. This is her first nomination in the Gospel category, but she said that she’s been wanting to do a spiritual album since the mid-1980s.
The double album is full of inspirational songs, old and new.
One standout cut on the second disc is “Angel On My Shoulder.” For McEntire, the song is about having a guardian angel watching over you.
For church leaders, church management software can sometimes feel like a guardian angel when it takes the pain out of tasks like attendance tracking, donation management, and volunteer scheduling.
If you’re afraid that church management software isn’t in your budget, here’s a guide to seven free options. If you’re considering something a little more robust, check out our comparison of the five biggest ChMS vendors. And if you’re not sure if you really need church management software, we’ve got a story for you.
Your favorite Christian praise and worship songs?
What are the Christian songs that inspire you to do the great things you do everyday? Share them in the comments, or tweet me @ “That Works” – SLGAC!