I once read a post from Bob Kauflin about people trying to change the lyrics of worship songs to fit their church’s needs/doctrine. I resonate with what Bob said about being grateful that worship leaders out there are being careful about the words their churches sing. I’m also glad that Sovereign Grace doesn’t generally allow people to change the lyrics of their songs. Their lyrics are clearly the result of careful Bible study and revision. However, I’m glad that they don’t often allow changes for a whole different reason.
There’s a ton of sacred music available and it really doesn’t make sense to be disappointed with any of it. A lot of worship leaders only buy the latest albums from their top 5 favorite artists/bands and seldom take the time to dig any deeper. One could argue that they’re being efficient by not wasting their time sifting through the garbage. But then they probably spend just as much time writing new lyrics for songs they shouldn’t be married to, and writing emails to artists asking for permission to improve upon a song that’s probably already been through months of revision. The exact song you’re looking for is out there, you just have to find it.
But I’ve got one more bit of advice to all the tinkering worship leaders out there. If you’ve got enough skill and creativity to fiddle with someone else’s idea, you’ve got enough to write your own song. If you’re doing your job as a worship leader, you know exactly what types of songs your congregation needs. You know what the song should teach, what type of language it should use, what style it should be, and what instrumentation would work well for your team. God gave your church a worship leader, and it’s not Chris Tomlin, it’s you.
There are some worship leaders who can’t write a song to save their life. That’s fine. That’s why why many artists put their songs out there for them to use in their church. There are others who have the capacity and calling to write the exact song that their church needs, but they’d rather “steal someone else’s sermon,” so to speak. This is really a stewardship issue so as God has called each one, in this manner let him walk. But don’t shy away from your calling out of laziness or fear.