Everybody Gets to Play

by Justin Clifton

One of the biggest values of United Adoration is that everybody gets to play.

It was starting to get a little chilly in late fall of 2015. UA was having our Chicago Songwriting Retreat and I decided to bring my then 11 year old son, Elijah, to experience it. He had been learning piano for awhile as well as starting to help out with the worship team of our church on Sundays and really wanted to come. I had quite a bit on my plate, just making sure the logistics of the retreat were working, but I had a not-so-secret goal to give my son the surroundings he needed to write his first worship song.

The retreat was a couple of days long. My son is a bit of an introvert like me and decided he really wanted to work on some words and melodies on his own for awhile. So the second day, I sit down with him and see that He has written beautiful verses about actually being there at the cross, at the tomb with Jesus. I was actually blown away, all this profound thought and interaction with God going on in my son (and frankly I may never have known it otherwise, since he is pretty quiet). I worked with him for about 30 minutes getting the melody tweaked a bit and adding a little chorus with him. And voila! A new worship song was born.

Probably one of the moments I will remember the most with my son Elijah during our lives together, is the time we shared our song, “Take me to that place once more”. Tears. Joy. From a father’s perspective, priceless. From a son’s perspective, a lasting memory. Wow.


But that was not the only song like that. We had almost twenty songs written at the retreat in Chicago from 20 different people. Some professional musicians. Some retired. Some children. Some who had never written before. What always reminds me of this value is coming back to these retreats. Every retreat. Every time. Moments of God working in people of every age and stage.

Why is this such a high value with United Adoration?

  1. “Sing a new song to the Lord” is a command for every believer to joyfully participate, not just those with a lot of experience. It strengthens our own relationship with God.
  2. Worship heals the worshipper. Who would want to deny someone the opportunity to find healing in those intimate times of songwriting with the Lord?
  3. Worshipping and creating new worship songs builds community. A lot of barriers that divide us fall (language, style, culture, age, etc) when we look at the beauty of our creator and savior together, and put that awe and wonder into our music.
  4. It’s hard to nurse an ego or nurse our own insecurity when we partner with people in diverse backgrounds to worship the One Who Made us in His Image.
  5. Worship is warfare. Each of us, from 8-80 is going through situations that the Lord is working in. This specific act of worship, songwriting, is a powerful avenue for God to release new wisdom and breakthrough in those areas.
  6. It’s so great to be an active part of what God is doing in someone. For example, when I was able to share my son and I’s song, and people were singing along, wow. How are there words for that? That, I believe, is the same feeling the Lord gets as He watches His children worshipping and creating together.
(Note: If I had waited to get “good enough” to write my first song, I wouldn’t have written it. Was it going to sell a million copies and sky-rocket on the charts? No. In fact, I have never shared it in church ever, because it really isn’t for corporate worship. But it is a song I still sing to myself, because it is meaningful. But I want to do say more on that in the coming weeks!)

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