at Freedom Church
at Freedom Church
Thank you for your interest in song writing at Freedom Church. Our goal is to empower people to create the lyrics and songs God has planted in your heart. On this page you'll learn about our vision for song writing, the process, and find a growing list of helpful resources.
It is our dream to author God-breathed songs for Freedom Church. Our ultimate goal is to see the people of Freedom worshipping God to songs that He has placed on our hearts specifically for these people in this time.
We will also create a ministry to support the creative people of Freedom Church to author their own songs that God has placed on their hearts. We accomplish this by providing the framework to support the creativity of each person on our team.
God-breathed inspiration can happen at any time so we recommend using a notes app on your phone to keep a record of things God places on your heart. It's important to always be seeking God for inspiration and looking in his word for things that he wants to say to you, and through you.
The process of writing may look different for everyone. For some it may be a melody, for some it may be a lyric; maybe a chorus or a verse. This will get easier as you develop that skillset in your life. We recommend using voice memos on your phone to create a simple recording to track your progress.
As you feel led or need a musician's help, invite peers into the process to help you finish lyrics, melodies or chords. Who you invite into your song is completely your decision.
Submit your song to our worship staff for review using the form below. As this ministry develops different teams will be formed to help review songs at each step in their journey.
Our team will provide feedback within 7 days. Important note: We understand that not everyone will agree with feedback given. In order to have your song considered for a church gathering you must utilize the feedback given from our team. We completely understand if you want to develop your song in a different direction than we recommend. Our feedback is geared towards development of songs usable in our FC gatherings and events.
Make adjustments to lyrics, melodies, and chords based on the feedback from our team.
Make additional adjustments based on feedback received.
The final submission will undergo a review with our team and Pastor Wade prior to usage at any FC gatherings or events.
A final approval means the basic structure of the song, lyrics, and melodies are in line for consideration for our gatherings. Additional feedback may be necessary as the final recordings are developed.
As a song develops to this point our team will assist you with recordings as margin allows. We do not have an in-house studio, so we will address needs on a song-by-song basis.
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10 Ways to Become a Better Songwriter
By Taya Smith, hillsong.com
1. Read A LOT.
Seriously!!!! (Poetry, scripts, stories, etc.)
2. Listen to a LOT of music
In a variety of genres.
3. Write with others.
Develop strong co-writing relationships.
4. Focus on your strengths.
Whether they consist of your ability to write lyrics or melodies, etc. Become the best at those strengths!
5. Spend time with God and learn to hear His voice.
Don't just spend time with God in order to get some inspiration, do it because you genuinely want to know Him.
6. Try writing in different locations.
Move into unknown environments - they often spark new inspiration. Go to a cafe, to the mountains or wherever is far away from your usual surroundings.
7. “Throw a spanner in the works”. (No idea what this phrase means. :))
Change up your approach to writing. For example, if you always start by writing chords, maybe try starting with lyrics instead. It might be as simple as changing from a piano sound on Logic to a synth sound.
8. Give yourself a deadline.
Set a time frame for when a song should be finished. It helps to motivate you and keeps the song feeling fresh.
9. Write every day.
One thing I've learned lately is that it is absolutely vital that you don't miss a day of writing. It could just be 20 minutes on an acoustic guitar whilst you watch TV or it could be recording a voice memo on your phone whilst you're walking around - these things help so much to keep your mind flowing. Not only that, but it also strengthens your craft. Once, I didn't write for around two months and it was the worst thing I ever did because it took so long for me to get back into the rhythm of things.
10. Ask for feedback.
Find your favorite writers and ask for feedback!
5 Things to Have in Mind When Writing a Congregational Song
In John 4:24, Jesus expresses the often reiterated words "God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth". As writers that place words in the mouth of the Church, we must be committed to discovering and expounding truth. The Church needs to sing The Bible. Our words and thoughts are important, but they must be grounded in a higher authority. All of the songs we sing in church now go through a lyric approval process to test and critique the theological accuracy of our songs - this is incredibly important for us. All of the great hymns and influential contemporary songs have strong echoes or verbatim usage of scripture. Don't forget Jesus! He said that He was the "way, the truth and the life". True Christian worship must involve the reality and centrality of Jesus.
The great lyrical tutor Pat Paterson describes a well-written lyric as one which could be naturally spoken. Following that analogy with phrasing and metaphor is also helpful. A clunky or long phrase that is difficult or awkward to say will be difficult to sing. Then one must consider melodic structure and range. Cleary the more achievable and perhaps narrow the range, the more likely the song can be comfortably sung by both men and women, and the less proficient vocalists among us.
Just as authenticity is important in the words that we write aligning with the way we live, so to it is important that what we are singing/saying musically aligns. A lyric about the awful brutality of the crucifixion will not readily be placed to a bright and bouncing melody. Prosody is about writing a lyric and melody that feels authentic. Does the melody want to say what the lyric is saying?
One of the most common traps in songwriting is not providing enough contrast within a song. Light and shade provides ongoing interest. Perhaps the melody in the verse is spacious, descending and narrow. If this leads into a chorus that is also spacious, descending and narrow, the song will tire quickly. Hooks become very important. Each section of the song should have a hook or its own personality (preferably an affable and charismatic one). There should be something to look forward to in each section of the song. We need to get the balance right of joy overdoing it though. Continuity is the counterbalance to contrast. We often sing the same songs in our churches for years. So we need to try to write interesting and robust melodies that can stand up to years of road-testing.
Another common trap is the desire to summarize each book of The Bible in every song. (I guess this is still better than no semblance of reference to The Bible). But our goal should be that each song has its own theme and unique articulation. We should be able to succinctly explain what the song is specifically about. Sometimes even beautiful and brilliant lyrics get lost in song that has no clear thematic direction.
Theme matters greatly. Again, look at all of the great songs that have stood the test of time - they invariably have a strong theme and consistent message.
5 Life Lessons Learned from Our Hillsong Songwriters
By Autumn Hardman, hillsong.com
1. Your first song won't be your best song.
Our songwriters write and write and write. Many of the songs they write aren't worth seeing the light of day and so they discard them. Then they get back to writing. Some people would see this as failure, but our writers don't. They use everything they've written and all they've discarded as learning opportunities. They don't give up, they continue writing, and they continue moving forward.
Life is long. Anything worth doing will take time, effort, and hard work. You're not as good as you will be. You can get better. Stick at it, be tenacious and use the "failure" to push you forward, not to hold you back.
2. Great songs don't just happen - they take work.
While the inspiration for songs, melodies and lyrics, do have their foundation in the Word of God, and despite our writers being Holy Spirit lead, they still have to sit down and do the work. In other words, the songs don't write themselves. Our songwriters have to actually set aside the time to do the work of coming up with the ideas, creating melodies, writing lyrics. Although some songs come quicker than others, it's generally not an instant process. It takes effort, real concentration, thought and prayer. Often it's an all consuming activity - it takes all their concentration. And, even after the song is written, there's the honing, editing and reworking.
The same could be said of any endeavor. It won't just happen. Sometimes we think because we're Christians, we shouldn't have to work hard. The reality is, anything worth doing is worth doing well and that simply takes a lot of work.
3. The better the feedback, the better the song.
During the song writing process our writers will share their songs with other people. Many of them have trusted advisors who they'll show and ask for truthful, almost brutal feedback. By being open to real feedback from these trusted friends, they can make sure they're not being blinded by their own proximity to the song. This isn't easy - especially when you put so much time and effort into crafting something. The benefit though, is that the writer can see the song for what it really is and not just what they want it to be.
We all need feedback, although few people are game enough to ask for it. Instead, we tend to be scared that people will tell us things we don't want to hear. Or, we already know what they're going to say, and we're not willing to make the changes in our life.
Instead, let's choose trusted advisors, and seek real feedback on our lives. That way we'll be able to grow and mature and ultimately be the very best we can be.
4. We're Better Together.
Many of our songwriters have discovered the joys of co-writing. They set aside time not to just write alone, but also with other people. Often these co-writes are between an experienced song writer and a newer writer. Often the experienced writer will be able to help teach the newer writer, and the newer writer will be enthusiastic which can help inspire the experienced writer.
What a great example of how we should be as Christians - taking time out to disciple and encourage each other. Often we try to live and grow our Christian lives alone - in reality we're better together. We're better when we help others and when we're open to them spurring us on along the way.
5. Success is in building the Church.
Success for our songwriters is pretty clear. After writing a song, if it ends up being sung in church and being useful for building the Kingdom in that way, they've succeeded. If the songs help other people to worship God, expand their thinking about Him and to be able to express Biblical truth, then they've done well.
The same is true for all of us. It's so easy to get caught up in life - with family and work and studies and everything - all the while forgetting the big picture. Real success, no matter the work we do, is in building the Kingdom, and in seeing our family and friends find Jesus.
Writing by theme and within a time limit:
An exercise we did a lot was to split people up in groups, give them a theme and a time limit. They had to write a verse/chorus, chorus/bridge, but it needs a hook. Each group then performs on the spot. Record it. You never know what gold is there.
Grace of God
Love of Jesus/God
3 Questions a Songwriter Should Ask Before Writing Another Song
1. What Is Missing?
Christianity has a rich tradition of putting music and words to what we believe. Our God is infinite, which means there is always something more to discover and always a new song to be sung. I think as writers we always need to push ourselves to express ourselves in new ways. That is certainly not to say that we can’t find new ways to sing themes that we have sung before, in fact it is perhaps important that we do. It is natural to be inspired by the great writers around us and by the songs that speak to us the most. Though we need to be careful that we don’t end up writing songs that are in the same lane as a song that has just done the same thing really well (maybe better…). The song ‘Good Good Father’ is an amazing song in so many ways; I think at least one reason it has had such a connection with all of us is that we were so ready to sing a new song about the Father’s love. When I first heard ‘Good Good Father’, the theme resonated; it felt like an important and necessary song to sing.
Perhaps a good process to go through lyrically is to consider each line individually and ask whether it has been said before and whether there is a new way of expressing the thought. On the other hand, a familiar line might really help make a section feel friendly and comfortable and may support more adventurous lines. The same applies melodically. While melodies and cadences can be familiar. Sometimes a creative melody can make a word like ‘Hallelujah’ sing like it has never been sung before. I guess it is just important that we are intentional about the way we decide the familiarity of a song’s theme and musical elements. So we should ask, what are we not singing that we should be? Start by thinking about what you would personally like to be singing in church where there is a current void. In other words – let’s write where there is need.
2. What Is Authentic?
I think this is often closely linked to the previous consideration – as your answer to the question of what is missing will likely fall somewhere in the perceived gap between your own personal revelation and that of others (expressed in the songs around you). What we feel passionate about writing should be allowed to germinate – allowing time for our revelation to develop. Often we also need to dig deeper and continually search for a greater understanding of God. I love writing with people who do this. One example is Brooke Ligertwood who has been known to send through what is basically a research thesis on the theme being written 🙂 It is a useful reminder that what we write about should be something that we have taken time to explore and that also comes from a real place. We must make sure that our songs are authentic and feel authentic, thinking about the prosody of each line.
For example, if the melody is reflective or intimate, the lyric should suggest the same tone. There is a perceivable difference between an intellectual assent and that which has a heart connection. Both intellect and heart are important, they must work together. The best songs get this balance right. They are carefully crafted and have a depth that has been tastefully crafted into the ‘feel’ or emotionality of the music. We can all fall into the trap of trying to write like other writers. But there is something more honest about trying to just write better songs that reflect your own personality as a writer. Discovering, honing and trusting your own instincts is an important part of maturing as a writer.
3. What Is Memorable?
The best songs leave an indelible mark. The best melodies and the best lyrics perpetually resonate. To my mind, it is the pinnacle of songwriting, when your favourite lyric and melody coalesce naturally. These are the inspired lines that we need to actively pursue in our writing. Sometimes they will come easily, sometimes they will require days, weeks and even months of searching and refining. I think the key is for us not to settle for writing a song that simply works, but to be searching for that indelible quality that makes certain songs timeless. A useful gauge is what you (and if relevant, your co-writers) keep thinking about and wanting to listen to over and over. You can also get a useful indication by showing other people the song and seeing if they continue to ask or talk about the song – I find this to be very useful in deciphering what is likely to connect more broadly. It will require giving your songs time to breathe.
May God continue to inspire you as you engage in the ongoing process of refining the gift that you have been given, and may you write the best songs that you ever have.
Simple Ways to Co-Write During Self-Isolation
One of the best resources we have as songwriters is the ability to co-write. Writing with others is a remarkable way to take a song idea that you might be stuck on forward, or even a great way to bring it to the finish line. Co-writing also can help spark an idea to take a path that the song might not have otherwise taken if you wrote it solely by yourself.
I also believe that God loves it when we come together, in a creative sense, in search of a new way to express our worship to Him; in pursuit of words, melody and music that is pleasing to Him… but really, this applies to any other creative outlet you find yourself doing as well.
We see it time and time again in the Bible, God commands a blessing when we come together in unity… I’m a big believer that this is the case with songwriting as well. Saying that, we find ourselves in interesting times, where being able to sit in a room with others and write music together just isn’t feasible for most of us right now. However, we also live in time when it has never been so easy to connect with someone who is not in the same room as you.
As a songwriter, I have had to adjust, just like everyone else I know, to the challenges that seem to come thick and fast every day. So, for songwriting, many of us have turned to technology to stay connected and writing together. As I’m writing this, I am scheduled to meet up over zoom with two of our songwriters here in Sydney in an hour. I have used FaceTime for years but have started using zoom as the quality is just so much better (little tip there).
The last few weeks have had an ease when it comes to finding what it is we should – and want – to write about. There is an urgency to put the word of God in people’s hearts, minds and mouths right now. We are seeing a great number of people looking to us, the Church, for a place of comfort and calm in these crazy times. How incredible that we have the opportunity to declare the promises and truths of our God, and to direct people’s eyes above the storm and waves and see the One who is in control. This urgency seems to bring an authenticity that can sometimes escape us when we are feeling creatively or spiritually dry. I myself feel drawn towards God like never before and my writing has recalibrated into a place of declaration and boldness like never before. This has translated into the number of sessions I have been involved in, where everyone is on a similar page.
If you are a songwriter, and you are looking for the words to say when writing with others, or even by yourself, I would encourage you to dive into the words that God says. He speaks mercies and promises over us that we should be singing out and changing the atmosphere of our spirits with. At the start of a session, open up the Bible and see if you can wrap melodies around some of the Psalms, or even some of the other well-known verses. How many people on the planet have seen John 3:16 on a sign at a football game; imagine a song that connects someone else’s spirit to that Bible verse in a way that brings a simple yet powerful scripture to life for them for the first time in their life. Take it on as a challenge and a commission.
Another important aspect of songwriting is being open to other ideas besides you own. This is what I love so much about writing with others. My idea won’t always be the best, even if at first the other persons idea seems like nothing special, try giving it a minute or two. Many times, I have realised after the fact, that the other songwriters idea is actually so much better than what I had, or that it makes my idea so much better. We truly are better together. Bounce ideas off each other with open hands and be ok with them making changes to your idea to see if it could be better. It doesn’t hurt to allow yourself to go down that path sometimes.
The last thing I would say is to keep collaborating light-hearted and fun. You don’t need to put all the pressure of the world on a session. God wants us writing and working together to write songs, but sometimes I think He literally wants to enjoy that moment with us. Not every song will or has to be a song that the masses need to sing. It’s actually really special to have some songs that are just between you and God… and who knows, maybe that song will present itself at a time and place that has been set in place before the start of time itself.
Let’s be writing songs of truth, boldness and declaration, but also writing songs that are full of uncontainable joy and fun. While the world is full of uncertainty, pain and confusion let’s be pointing those who listen to the constant love and assurance of Jesus Christ.
If it doesn’t move you, it won’t move a crowd.
If it moves you, but not a crowd, you haven’t found the right way to say it.
Ruthlessly eliminate useless words
Don’t try to make something out of nothing
Song ownership is split a few ways. We are currently working to secure a publishing deal for any song written through and approved by Freedom's team. This will likely end up with the publishing company owning 50% of the song, while the church and writers split the remaining 50%. Freedom Church will by default own 25% of the writers split, and the remaining writers will own 75%. This will help resource Freedom to equip our writers with resources, studio time, and more.
The publishing company will be responsible for marketing, promotion, radio/streaming, copywriting, and distribution.
Once a song is finished it is the burden carrier’s responsibility to sit all contributors down for a meeting and create a simple document to state WHO wrote WHAT portion of the song. Once you acknowledge that, you then make a suggestion as to what portion of the song authorship you feel is appropriate. Freedom will not be involved in this part of the process, it must be fully managed within the team of writers.
Once a song has gone through the approval process we are building resources to assist with basic production for use on weekend gatherings. If a song has greater potential for distribution our team will help guide the process with a larger studio for official production.