I would rather sing a new song in the wilderness than be heard all over the world singing an old one.
It's hard to get excited about an old sound. The Bible exhorts us to sing a new song to the Lord. As christian songwriters we should be "hearing" something fresh since our worship largely depends on our hearts being awakened in a fresh way to the wonder of God's love and purpose for us. If we are going to have "new songs", then the songwriters of the day need not only to be writing new material in the format of the known and accepted genres of the day, but also to be finding ways of writing songs outside the conventional boundaries. Then we will truly have NEW songs!
One way to ensure we keep things fresh is to be prophetic in our songwriting. We are not limited to our natural talent when writing a song. We should consider our songwriting as something more than that. We should see it as something that can also be "super-natural" - something that the Holy spirit longs to participate in.
The kingdom is "not of this world". If we are truly writing songs that are "not of this world" then their origin should be "other worldly" ie - supernatural in origin.
I believe God wants His people worshipping supernaturally with songs that are supernatural in origin. This does not mean we leave everything up to inspiration. The "God gave me a song" mentality doesn't really give God much of a reputation as a songwriter!
I think it's important to develope your songwriting skills as a craft like any other. There can be no substitute for the skill of a writer using the basic tools of songwriting - things like melodic shape, variety versus repetition, structure, the craft of lyric writing, harmonic interest, making sure the song has a "hook" etc- all these things are important and can and should be developed over time. "Making His praise glorious" means we must be masters of our craft.
There is no room for "good enough for gospel" here.
I believe we should be doing everything with excellence, and I have included some links to assist the aspiring songwriter to gaining access to some of the necessary tools for developing their craft in this way.
But we are entering a new era of christian songwriting that cannot be so easily taught or acquired, and that is the area I have begun to explore recently in my own songwriting, and that is the prophetic element. For examples of this style of writing go here:
Send me your questions, and I'll answer them here!
Yours in the joy of songwriting