My wife Ellie made a record in the summer of 2007. She got to work with one of our favorite musicians, Andrew Osenga. Before actually showing up at Sputnik Sound and hitting record, we came to Andrew’s home for what they call pre-production. Ellie and I played through the batch of songs we had written for the record. Andrew played along. And then he brought out Ockham’s Razor.
He had reluctantly made his peace with the number one songwriting rule: Don’t bore us; skip to the chorus.
So we slashed our songs by up to 40% in some instances. We cut our intros in half. And we threw away a solid 1/4 of our lyrics—especially the ones that stood between 0:00 and the chorus. Like with this one.
The worst thing is a boring preacher.
Be faithful to your text. Work hard to identify the grace of Christ in the text. Reckon soberly with the challenge the text issues. Bring the grace and challenge of the passage to bear on the present lives of the people in concrete ways. Yes, do all of this.
But please, please work hard to find the hook. Search high and low. Be provocative. Be outlandish. Be cutesy. Raise a thorny question. Propose an unsolvable problem. Expose the weirdness and otherworldliness of the text. Find a motif. An overture. A chorus.
Get there quick. And come back there frequently, even while your preaching moves along toward its climax and resolution.
Don’t bore us. Skip to the chorus.
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