The Sound Of Your City

By Rob Wilson

As worship teams, we have the beautiful opportunity to use music and the arts as a means of exalting Christ and providing space in people’s hearts and lives for the Spirit to do what only He can. More specifically, we hold the great honor of pastoring our congregations through the arts, readying them for gospel-centered living. 

That should look and sound different for each one of us. We lead differently because we’re involved pastorally. 

To be effective pastors and leaders, I would argue that just as important as the Truths we’re singing are the means by which we sing them. Throughout scripture, we see Jesus and the Biblical writers contextualizing the message for their hearers. We have the opportunity to do the same with music. 

That’s one reason I love the band, Citizens & Saints. One quick pass at their driving-grunge bass and near-breaking vocals and you can tell they’re clearly from the Seattle area. They’re writing gospel-saturated songs in a way that resonates Truths in their congregant’s hearts and minds; their songs are involved and woven into the fabric of their people. Their sound is authentic to who they are and the community they belong to. 

Now, as much I personally connect with Citizens & Saints, I’ve only led their song, “Made Alive,” a couple of times in my current North Texas context. I’ve found it’s simply not the sound of our community and, therefore, isn’t as effective in providing our people with the means of worshipping God and encouraging one another. 

To lead pastorally is to have a growing knowledge and practice of the best ways to strengthen your people’s pursuit of, and dependence on, Christ. Worship planning with anyone in mind other than those who gather with you each week leads to shallow and narrow worship.

What is the sound of your city? Even more, what is the sound of your people (not the sound of the people you hope to attract)? Take Citizens & Saints’ example of authenticity as you pastor your people through the arts. 

Rob Wilson is a family-man, singer/songwriter, worship leader and pastor at Bent Tree in Dallas, Texas. You can find his music and worship resources at and connect with him on Twitter @robwilsonmusic.