You are in the Music Workshop topics (classroom design, resources, techniques) -which is part of our general Workshop resource forum. This Music topic covers a wide range of teaching ideas and resources for using music in Rotation Model and traditional Sunday Schools. Many of the suggestions have been submitted by members. Some come from our creative team. You are welcome to add your suggestions. Members can start a new topic. Songs for specific Bible stories can be found in the story-specific lesson forums.

Good Contemporary Christian Music We Can Teach With


This is a NEW resource within our Music Workshop forum. We'll be adding more links. Your links are welcome too. Below we'll also soon be adding a list of "teaching techniques" (ideas, examples of how to teach with a music video, lyrics, etc.) in this "general" forum. A few tips are already mentioned below, and there are more detailed "how-to's" suggested in various Bible story Music Workshop topics. The Writing Team sets have even greater "how to" detail when music is incorporated into one of their sets.  -Neil


GoodChristianMusic400


We've started this topic to bring attention to a growing bunch of great teaching resources here at Rotation.org --and help teachers who love the idea of teaching with music to realize that good contemporary Christian music can help them do just that. 

If you enjoy contemporary pop-rock-country styles of music, like the idea of teaching with Christian music, then I believe you will like many of the songs and music videos I've highlighted below and posted in Rotation.org's various Bible lesson forums.

This topic is especially for my mainline friends who think "contemporary Christian music is theologically thin" or "only for evangelicals," or only for contemporary worship.  I hope the tunes and videos posted below will open their teaching eyes and ears

You are welcome to post song titles, links and teaching ideas for them. If you can, also post your suggestion in our specific Bible lesson forums. If you're not sure what Bible story or topic the lesson might fit, post it here and we'll figure it out together. This is not meant to be a comprehensive listing, but an introductory one.

HERE IS A TEST 

Here's a mellow 2016 Chris Tomlin song to test your "openness" to what's good among today's contemporary Christian music. If you don't like it, then let me suggest you forget the rest of this topic 

YouTube is a fantastic source for finding, listening to, and teaching with Christian music. The above clip was posted for free use by Tomlin's publisher. And you can find many "fan video versions" of great songs on YT as well. 

Scroll down this page for more great songs like this one and a few teaching suggestions.



What is "good" "contemporary" "Christian" music we can "teach" with?

  • By "contemporary" I mean the style of music that sounds similar to the secular music kids and adults listen to on the radio and online. (I'm not including gospel or hymns,  or "children's" songs.)
  • "Good" to me means lyrics that are rich and theologically legit (according to me), as well as having a good tune.
  • By "Christian" I mean those songs that have an overtly Christian message.
  • By "teach" I mean songs that we can use in creative ways to teach our kids and youth (and not just "listen and/or discuss" though that's cool too).

Lyrics matter

I'm a mainline Presbyterian-leaning Christian. I love a good tune, but I listen more closely to the words of Christian music than I ever did with secular songs. Why? Because I want to be inspired, not just entertained. That's the burden of Christian music, and I'm thankful that there are MANY artists who live up to that burden with good tunes and good lyrics. 

Sadly, the use of music in Sunday School has been on the wane for decades in many churches and curriculums.  I won't take the time here to get into the reasons why it has been waning, but suffice to say that the Rotation Model was originally designed to give creative teaching methods a "classroom to call their own," and not get continually overlooked by our volunteers. And yet, our Music Workshop forums have been under-served, in part, due to the "wane," and because many teachers still haven't discovered the "good" contemporary Christian music that exists and keeps coming.

For the past couple of years we've been posting new lessons and ideas about teaching with music and music videos. We've been posting contemporary songs and music video suggestions with lesson ideas in our various public Bible story specific forums. And we've been including more music in the Writing Team lesson sets. Sometimes we of course post them in the Music Workshop, ...but depending on what we're going to DO with the song in the lesson, we might recommend a song video be used in a Drama or Video workshop, or as a reflection in any kind of workshop. Yeah, we're not just watching and talking!

If you need help finding or picking a song to go with a lesson, or coming up with a song-lesson activity for a song you want to teach with, post your song question in the Teachers Lounge.


The following posts are not meant to be a comprehensive list of "songs to teach with."

Rather, my purpose is to introduce some teachable favorites to those of you who might not be "up on" what's out there and make a few suggestions about how to teach with them.

POSTING GUIDELINES

If you want to add your own suggestions please include the title, artist, and a LINK so we can click to listen to the song or see and hear it on YouTube.   

This topic is NOT for songs like "Lean on Me" or "Father Abraham." They are fine, but they are not "contemporary."  This topic is also not for "hymns" -unless you're posting a contemporary 'take' on a hymn (and there are some great ones). In other words, do not post "Jesus Loves Me This I Know."  



Rotation.org has been innovating in Christian Education for over 20 years. We helped invent the Workshop Rotation Model and online sharing of lesson resources (yes, we were the first across the Church to do that!). And we continue to innovate and stay current with tech, media, music and teaching techniques. One of the virtues of being an online resource is that we can link you media that's out there, like music videos and songs. 

I invite you to join in supporting our unique ministry and resource efforts. 

--Neil MacQueen 

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Five of my favorite contemporary Christian songs that I have also used in Sunday School.

I'm not going to list everything I've ever liked because I've already added a bunch of them in the "Music Workshop" topics in the Bible story specific lesson forums here at Rotation.org. The Rotation.org Writing Team has also included many of these in their supporting member lesson set Music and Drama Workshops. (Yeah, we have lessons that turn music videos into skits!)



1. Start a Fire, by Unspoken

These guys are one of my favorite groups. As you can see, this particular music video was created by a bunch of camp kids and posted to YouTube. That's something you see a lot of on YouTube --fan-created videos featuring a Christian song. And most of the artists allow it. Luanne and I wrote a Pentecost Music & Movement Workshop lesson using this song for the Writing Team's Pentecost lesson set. We did it as a motions activity and incorporated blacklight for cool effect. 

Start a fire in my soul
Fan the flame and make it grow
So there’s no doubt or denying
Let it burn so brightly
That everyone around can see
That it’s You, that it’s You that we need
Start a fire in me     (Isn't this the song we want all our kids singing?)




2. Chain Breaker, by Zach Williams

This gravel-voice relative new-comer to Christian music has some great songs. I wrote a lesson for the Writing Team using this where the kids created and showed "signs" while they stood in the projection of this video --as a way of thinking about the "chains" kids can feel bound by. Check out the "how-to-do-that" lesson idea in this article: Over-Projection Drama

If you’ve got pain
He’s a pain taker
If you feel lost
He’s a way maker
If you need freedom or saving
He’s a prison-shaking Savior
If you’ve got chains
He’s a chain breaker




3. Overwhelmed, by Big Daddy Weave

If you don't like this song there must be something wrong with your computer.  It's one of my go-to inspirational songs during long days.

It was also a great discussion starter with my older kids about what faith can feel like. We also asked, "why did they choose to show their 'Africa mission' video to go with this song in their 'official' video?"  (Hint: Being 'overwhelmed' by God moves us to care for others.)  Each student created a sign of something that makes them feel overwhelmed by God's goodness, and they held theirs up in sequence around the group, every time we heard that word in the song.

I hear the sound of Your Voice
All at once it’s a gentle and thundering noise oh God
All that You are is so overwhelming



4. Shake the World, by Finding Favour

Awesome song to watch and talk about from one of my favorite groups. What's our role as Christians? When you start taking your faith seriously what will you do with it?

Yeah with mercy as our melody and justice as our guide.
We're gonna sing to all the broken that 
the world has cast aside.
Singing don't you think it's time to just be free.
Our God's the only God 
bringing hope to all the lost.
There's healing and forgiveness in the anthem of the cross.

O my I love this song's lyrics!



5. "Even If" (You Don't) by Mercy Me

Super group, super song. super video. I turned this video into a Music Workshop lesson for the Rotation.org Writing Team's Gethsemane lesson set. You can hear Christ singing it, and you can hear us singing it when we are struggling. 

I know You're able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone

Three more great contemporary Christian songs to teach with.

I'll bet you've heard this first song many years ago. In this updated version,DeAngelo, a contemporary worship singer, turns it into a powerful personal anthem with vocals like you hear today on the radio.

That's the cool thing that's now going on with many 'older' contemporary Christian songs --a new generation of singers are updating them for a new generation.  I posted this in the Nicodemus lesson ideas forum, and then turned around and put it in one of our Writing Team Music Workshop reflections.

Open the Eyes of My Heart, as sung by DeAngelo Gardner

Open the eyes of my heart, Lord
I want to see You




This next song gives me goosebumps.

Broken Together, by Casting Crowns

Is this song about a marriage? or about congregations?  or the Body of Christ?  I haven't taught a lesson with it yet, but perhaps it should be a lesson for church leaders.

Maybe you and I were never meant to be complete
Could we just be broken together
If you can bring your shattered dreams and I'll bring mine
Could healing still be spoken and save us
The only way we'll last forever is broken together





"Home" ...a secular song that was sung by Jesus!

You will definitely recognize this next song, but did you ever think it was a song that JESUS could have sung to his disciples?  The Passion~Live used "HOME" (the mega hit) in its 2016 TV Passion drama.  That's Latin popstar JenCarlos (Jesus) talking to his disciples in a coffee shop, then singing to Peter (played by Prince Royce) just before they went to the Last Supper.  Michael W. Smith is in the group, as is Chris Daughtry. Great musical that uses secular songs in a sacred way.  The Writing Team has used several songs from this musical in its lessons.

Hold on to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave, is stringing us along
Just know you're not alone
'Cause I'm gonna make this place your home

Settle down, it'll all be clear
Don't pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble—it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you're not alone
'Cause I'm gonna make this place your home

Sing it Jesus!

Here are two contemporary Christian songs you should find a time and place to teach with.

Teaching techniques shared below too!

Flawless, by MercyMe

MercyMe has a lot of good songs for teaching. "Flawless" is one of their best and is a message every kid needs to hear --and see. Their official video seen below on YouTube/Vevo is a homerun. 

The images of various people and their "flaws" is inspiring. What makes us flawless? Looks? Knowledge, Popularity? Never making mistakes?  How does God view and deal with our flaws? What "flaws" would your kids come up with and re-enact to the song?  Possible Bible Story Topics:   The Cross, Sin, Salvation, Self-Worth, Your Problems/Flaws.

Well let me introduce you to amazing grace
No matter the bumps
No matter the bruises
No matter the scars
Still the truth is
The cross has made
The cross has made you flawless
No matter the hurt
Or how deep the wound is
No matter the pain
Still the truth is
The cross has made
The cross has made you flawless

For Youth: Have them pull up MercyMe's lyrics and Beyonce's "Flawless" lyrics on their cellphones and do a comparison. Conclude by asking, "What's the source of flawlessness according to each song?"

One way to prime or prep students for discussion is to assign them things to "look for in the video."  In the above video, for example, while previewing it I took several screenshots of its images (using Windows' Snippet app) and pasted them into a Word Doc. I gave the kids the printed images and assigned them to individuals to "watch and be ready to explain what that was about!"  Invariably, they want to see it a second time before answering.  Example below.

snippetsPictured: Image snippets handout created to prime discussion with the Flawless video.



O Glorious Day by Casting Crowns 

Casting Crowns, the Christian music superstar, has many songs I like, and are good to teach with. O Glorious Day is one of them.

This song is a creed set to music. It's a great lyrical summation of the Gospel. ....And when this fan comes along and adds VISUALS to the song that just blow you away, SUDDENLY we have a great teaching tool instead of just a great song.

The fan 'mashed up' clips from Son of God movie to match the lyrics.  I could immediately see using this during Holy Week when classes grow with kids who don't know the Gospel. This song and video summarize Jesus' mission to them in the coolest way. Can also imagine Peter showing it on Pentecost.

Lyric Excerpt:
One day they led Him up Calvary's mountain
One day they nailed Him to die on a tree
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected
Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He
Hands that healed nations, stretched out on a tree
And took the nails for me
Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He's coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day


Each line of the lyrics is packed with meaning. I haven't used this one yet, but I can also imagine using it on Easter to teach "the whole story" to our kids, why we're celebrating. Could also use it for Pentecost --modern Peter's "What is the Good News?" that he announces in Acts 2. 

Using the video in a drama workshop, we could project it behind the kids who re-enact Pentecost day and lip-sync the lyrics as if they were Peter's speech. Definitely would videotape that with my cellphone. (This is the "over projection" technique described here.)


Another way to do activities with BOTH of these songs would be to create a series of POSES for key lines/lyrics, and have students "pose" them behind a shadow screen. This is a neat drama technique that is often used with narration too. Students stand behind a white sheet with a single spotlight behind them pointed towards the sheet. It turns them into a "shadow" to those viewing from the front of the sheet. Very effective and gives the kids a degree of anonymity so they don't feel self-conscious.  You can do poses, or hand-motions, or full props. You don't act out every lyric, just a few, and you definitely video it with your cell phone because the kids are going to want to see themselves.

shadowcross2

"The cross has made you flawless."

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