The modern worship music explosion has certainly had its benefits, helping many believers develop a deeper appreciation for worship and for drawing closer to God.

But while many of today's worship songs certainly have style, they often lack substance, relying on "me-focused" lyrics and shallow choruses, often repeated ad nauseum. What gives?

I think often, though not always, the answer is as simple as this: The songwriters simply haven't yet matured enough, theologically or experientially, to get it just right. They haven't been through the fire, so to speak, that's often needed to ignite the insight necessary for penning lyrics of depth and eternal significance.

Shawn Craig knows what I mean. He's been in the music industry for 14 years as one-third of Phillips, Craig & Dean, popular for their worship music. But he's been in the business of pastoring souls even longer at South County Christian Center in St. Louis. When he writes songs, he's got something of real substance to draw from.

"As a pastor, I've learned the importance of reinforcing the doctrines of the church," Craig says. "There are some popular worshipchoruses that I have refused simply because they are not in alignment with basic Christian doctrine. The ones I am most concerned about are those that trivialize God."

How did Craig make sure he didn't fall into those same errors? "As a theology student, I've seen the importance of emphasizing the major points of the gospel. How easy it is to get off track! I'm still trying to write a song that the church will sing 100 years from now. So far, I'm not even close! How did Charles Wesley do it?"

How indeed? Wesley, like other great hymn writers whose works have stood the test of time, first went through the fire before ...

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