I recently lead worship for an event at a different church. I gave them the set I planned to sing ahead of time to prepare their tech team and band. Everything looked good until about a week before the event was scheduled. At that point, I got a call from the young lady organizing everything.

“Hey Jared, we’re really excited to lead with you. We’ve got one issue. In one of the songs you’ve listed, it has the word ‘damned’. That might be a little too strong for some of our people. Do you think we could change it to ‘down’?”

Words Have Real Meaning

I had honestly not given this song much thought. It is a new favorite at Valley Life, and our church sings it out. The line in question goes, “I’m not a slave to what once held me damned.” To interchange those two words drastically alters the meaning of the entire song. Instead of humanity being utterly hopeless in the wake of sin, we become victim to something that is an inconvenience.

I called back and relayed what I wrote above. Instead of editing the song, I asked that we swap it out for another. The week went great and all was well. But I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because I love words. I love to read great authors and listen to great lyricists.

Words Have Real Power

There is a risk of losing power in the songs we sing and the sermons we preach when we edit ourselves. We should sing about the blood Jesus spilled on the cross. It shouldn’t scare us that someone might be offended. We should be offended. The crucifixion is a horrific story, but we Christians find beauty in the brokenness.

We say at Valley Life that we use good words to describe good things and bad words to describe bad things. That’s why God calls infidelity adultery, not an “affair”. Words carry a weight to them. So, we can not shy away or tone down our language when we sing. Sometimes it’s good and right to be offensive.

Jared Johnson

Jared Johnson

Jared Johnson is the worship and communications leader at Valley Life | Tramonto.