Song-writing contest - English only

Revised May 12, 2020     (Click here for global contest in other languages)

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Changes to contest rules and prizes as of May 12, 2020


Winning criteria




Concept Proposal Form

Song Entry Form



The Global Consultation on Music and Mission has been postponed from July 2020 to July 2021, which means we cannot award the Grand Prize of a trip to the Consultation this year. Here is the new plan.


1. New contest to help people cope with COVID. The new contest is running from April through July. Winning songs will encourage, bless, and strengthen people as they battle the pandemic and its aftermath. Our prayer is that the global Church will not just get through the pandemic but will actually emerge stronger and larger than before, and that music will help things turn out that way. Your song could be part of that music. See details below. 


2. Note about rescheduling the previous contest. The contest that was scheduled for January through April this year will be postponed by one year, with the Grand Prize in July 2021. Song concept proposals that have already been submitted will be deemed to have been submitted on January 1, 2021, and those that have been approved already will be automatically approved, unless the song-writer opts to replace the song with a new one.


To stir up the creative gifts of Christian song-writers so they do the good things God has prepared in advance for them to do (2 Timothy 1.6, Ephesians 2.10)


In the next few months, the new challenge of the pandemic will take us to emotional and spiritual places we have never been. This will cause certain verses and themes of Scripture to jump out at us as never before, and when they do, they need to be turned into songs that strengthen people for the current fight and the long rebuilding.


Authenticity. An authentic song is not something you create for a contest because somebody else wanted it. It comes from deep inside of you. We are praying that as you browse the "Vaccine" file of song starters and titles, you will see yourself in some new ways (SYNC = See Yourself iN Christ). You will see that God really is putting something into you that will help the people around you deal with the damage of the pandemic and make use of the spiritual window of opportunity it opens. Then from your core identity and your gifting as a songwriter you will come up with an authentic song. 


Appropriateness. Any musical genre is eligible---worship song, seasonal song, ballad, kids' song, rap, country/Western, etc. The criterion is appropriateness for the audience that you describe for us on your Song Entry Form, and the power of the song to move that audience. The song must be entirely in English. (See other contest for songs in other languages)

Clear linkage to SYNC and to the pandemic in some way. See "Your song as a COVID vaccine" for some starter ideas and sample titles. Browse through that file for something that somehow connects your experience of the pandemic with the story of Scripture. 


Your song does not have to mention the pandemic specifically. It just needs to be the kind of song that would be useful to sing during/after the pandemic. Neither does it need to mention the term SYNC or the concept of "syncing with God's story."


What your song has to do to win is this:  it has to SYNC the singers somehow with the biblical story, not just with biblical concepts. The difference between story and concepts is crucial in this contest. Most worship music today focuses on concepts not story. The exception is Christmas carols, which connect concepts and story. Take them as your model songs.


Please note: Video sophistication is NOT a consideration. Don't be hesitant to enter if you are new at this. The song itself is being judged, not the performance or the sophistication of the YouTube video involved. It is fine to record your song using a single phone and to publish it on YouTube without editing. Simple is as good as sophisticated in this contest. 

Do things as you would normally do them for your audience with whatever tools you already have available
. If your song wins and your video is not polished, we will allow some extra time for you to polish it before we announce it to the world.


Four equal cash prizes: $400 each. The four will share "first place" in this contest.

At least ten Honorable Mentions: songs that will be featured on with descriptions and photos of their composers, plus the story behind each song. Judges may opt for more than ten.

Early bird cash prizes: The first 30 approved Concept Proposal Forms will receive a $15 cash award, even if the person does not later submit a Song Entry Form.



June 15, 2020 -- Concept Proposal Forms

July 30, 2020 -- Song Entry Forms, midnight, Chicago time (UTC-6)



Song-writers may collaborate. Work on your own or together, whatever you normally do.

YouTube video content. You must publish a recording of your song on YouTube in a form you would like to show to your friends. This may be lyrics on a blank screen, lyrics with one or more still photos, or a video of the song being sung and/or other video content appropriate for the words. It need not be technically sophisticated. (See note about this in "Winning Criteria" above.)

Anyone may sing the song in the video. The song-writer often will sing it, but that is not required. It may be sung by an individual, group, or choir. The quality of the voices or the sound recording is not being judged. If it is good enough for your friends to see it on YouTube, it is good enough for the contest.

YouTube publication is required for three reasons:

  1. It is simpler for many song-writers to publish on YouTube than to submit a musical score for judging. 

  2. If you put it on YouTube, you will tell your friends about it, and they can benefit from it. Their benefit is a major objective of this contest. (We opted not to allow audio file submission because we think song-writers will be more likely to promote their own work if they have done the extra step and put it on YouTube.)

  3. It is simpler for us to publicize the winning songs if they are already on YouTube.

Copyright. You retain the copyright to your song, but you must grant permission for us to publish the lyrics on If your song infringes a copyright, it is disqualified. 

Previously published works. Most entries will be new compositions; however, if you have already written something that comes to mind as you are looking through Your song as a COVID vaccine, you may enter it. Reworking your lyrics is permitted but not required.

Amateur and professional song-writers are eligible. We expect that most entrants will be amateurs, and they are the ones we most want to encourage with the contest. The professionals already have their gift stirred up without this contest (but we won't exclude them).

Employees of, judges, and their relatives are not eligible. 

PREPARING YOUR CONCEPT PROPOSAL FORM  - deadline June 15th (first 30 receive "Early Bird" award) 

  • Open up to God. God wants his people to bring his life to the world in the pandemic. When you seek his inspiration for a song, you are SYNCing with his intentions. That's what SYNC is all about. "SYNC and ye shall find."


  • Read Your song as a COVID vaccine to see how to turn your experience of the pandemic into a song. If you already have a song concept, read that document to see which of the seven SYNC themes fits best with your idea.

  • Check the contest's Facebook group, "SYNC 2020 Contests" to get a feel for the group and the process. You may join the group before your own Concept Proposal Form is ready.

  • Submit your Concept Proposal Form. This is a preliminary "concept check"  to make sure your inspiration is generally in sync with SYNC. Post it as a file attachment in the Facebook group, "SYNC 2020 Contests." Cash award if you are one of the first 30. Stan Nussbaum, the contest organizer, will post feedback. Once your Concept Proposal Form has been approved, you are eligible to submit your Song Entry Form.


  • Develop the song idea that was on your approved Concept Proposal Form, and try your song out with friends

  • When it's ready, video it being sung by you, someone else, or a group (a simple one-phone video is OK; this is a song-writing contest not a music video contest) 

  • Edit your video until you feel good posting it on YouTube, and promote it on social media of your choice

  • Submit your completed Song Entry Form by e-mail to by July 31, 2020