Church Youth Write, Sing, and Release Their Own Album
The Fearless Student Ministries youth group of Christian Life Church created their own album, "Uncommon," for youth service worship, including writing their own lyrics and melodies.Fourteen songs recorded for an album isn’t totally uncommon, but what is uncommon is those songs being written, sung, and released by artists who are nearly all in the neighborhood of 14 years old!
This summer, teens from Fearless Student Ministries at Christian Life Church in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, spent their time recording their first album, “Uncommon.” According to Michael Williams, student ministries pastor, and Marc McFadden, a long-time music teacher who assists the youth worship team, the album is not only unique, but it fills a need.
“I’ve helped create albums where adults write the songs and kids sing them, such as for VBS and children’s ministries,” McFadden says, “but this is the first time we’ve had kids write songs from scratch, including the lyrics and melody, and make it into a song we could use in our actual worship services.”
Williams says that the songs vary in style, from worship choruses to more of a reggae feel, but all are written with the purpose of glorifying God and using them in the youth services.
“When Marc first presented this idea to me, I instantly thought, What’s this going to sound like? Will it be cheesy? This would be the first time these kids have ever written a song!” Williams admits. “But as those thoughts hit my mind, immediately the Holy Spirit stopped me with the thought, None of that matters because these kids are writing these songs from their hearts to Me.”
But where does a song come from?
Williams and McFadden both had initial concerns that the lyrics could be problematic as they opened the opportunity to write and sing the songs to the entire youth group. However, aside from changing a few words here and there to help meet the musical composition of a song, poor theology and/or caustic vocabulary never came into question.
“There is a renewed dedication to taking worship seriously and their approach to God seriously,” McFadden says. “We encourage them to dig in and really hear from God by starting with the Word of God and prayer . . . when the Word of God is the focus, they’re going to write things that will reflect Scripture and what it means in their lives.”
Abigail, who is 13, shared that the song she wrote with her friend Joanna, who is 14, came from a sermon at youth service on a Wednesday night.
“I wanted to write a song with the message that Jesus makes you a new person,” she says. The song is titled, “Never Be the Same.”
“I played a little riff on the piano at my friend’s (Abigail’s) house and we started singing with it,” Joanna says. “'Never Be the Same’ is the first song we’ve ever written.”
“I was going through a rough time in my life, feeling lost and overwhelmed,” says 13-year-old Valentina. “I wrote the song ‘You Broke Through’ because God pulled me out of that situation.”
“Looking at the kids taking ownership of something has been really cool to be a part of and to witness,” Williams says. “The kids are eating this up — they love it and are ready to write more. And the ownership is pushing them, inspiring them to be even more involved.”
McFadden says he has witnessed a higher level of commitment to the youth group and in kids’ relationship with God since the project was first mentioned last fall, especially among the kids who decided to create a song for the album.
“We’ve got a pretty good spread of demographics — five songs composed by kids 13 to 14 and the majority of the rest of the songs by kids 15 to 17,” McFadden says. “These songs are coming from the heart of teens and kids are still coming up with new songs, wanting to get involved.”
Williams says he feels the seed for the album started when McFadden volunteered to basically give free music lessons to kids who wanted to be part of the youth worship team on Sunday mornings. The program, Level Up, helps kids develop their abilities and gifts to help them achieve their goal of being a part of the youth worship team, with some now even being on the adult worship service team.
And as Williams and McFadden have noted, the lyrics aren’t just a “catchy beat” or meaningless repetition, they have a purpose to them.
“I wrote the song, ‘God’s Masterpiece,’ to help teenagers who may believe there is no reason to live,” states Macy, age 14. “I wanted to tell them that God had a great plan for their lives.”
Elizabeth, 17, says her song, “To My Father” had newcomers in mind. “I tried to write simple lyrics so even a new believer could understand and sing along in worship,” she says.
In addition to creating music to worship God through and growing their commitment to God in the process, McFadden says that he’s also noticed that the kids involved are bonding and building strong relationships with each other.
Although Christian Life Church is larger than most (about 1,100) with a youth group that averages about 85, the point that hits home is it seems writing music that glorifies God has less to do with a person’s age and more to do with his or her relationship with God.
McFadden says that a number of songs are already posted online, with a few still in post-production, but should be available within the next few weeks. To listen to some of the songs on the “Uncommon” album on Spotify, click here (an account registration is required, but free).